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Seeing Richard Dawkins

Bush Has a fRiend in washington

Using special cameras, Getty photographs the president’s usually-invisible advisor

If you’ve been paying to the ongoing return of the Enlightenment, you know the name Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is a famous evolutionary biologist who, of late, has been spreading the message of atheism.

Dawkins' primary book that has been the subject of a great many counter-opinions is “The God Delusion”. Lauren and I both noticed that RD was doing a book-signing at BookPeople downtown ( although I’m very thankful to live in a town where BookPeople exists ) and we resolved to attend…but then we found out there would be an ancillary lecture that evening at my alma mater. As such, we decided to drop the commercial endeavor and head to attend the lecture that night at The Hogg Auditorium.

Ticket Stub from Dawkins Lecture

Dawkins delivered his “standard message” wherewith it is understood that the reader can make himself familiar via youtube. It generally falls into the summation that:

“Religion is a bronze aged explanation of an exceedingly complex and beautiful world around us – we would appreciate the world more sans the notion of an interventionist diety. Oh yeah, and evolution isn’t random you twats. And don’t call children ‘Christian’ or ‘Muslim’ they’re obviously the children of Christian or Muslim parents, if we’re honest about it.”

Either side of the question that you stand on, you’d do well to see if you can refute Dawkins' reasoning whilst remaining intellectually honest. I admit, I have a very hard time refuting his argument.

The four compelling questions Dawkins gives falls into this.

Reductio ad unum absurdumque

Dawkins (imaginary interlocutor): “List all the gods you think are false. ”
Christian / Muslim / Jew / Zoroastrian: Done.
Dawkins: Now just one more.

More exactly spelled out at Friendly Atheist.

And this puts us into the very odd place of grade-school anthropology. That is, what was up with Santa coming? My Santa came and brought his presents on the day of the 25th and my familial presents had been opened the night of the night of the 24th. But, as school playground discussion will attest, some other infidels were brought both familial and non-visible third-party spectre’s presents on the morning of the 25th.

And what about kids born to Jewish, Muslim, or Persian parents? Does the hospital given them a sheet with the birth-certificate “NO, WE WOULD NOT LIKE SANTA TO COME”.1

And what about the tooth fairy? Some kids got more loot under the pillow than others? Did I happen to lose my teeth with a great number of others and thus my tooth’s value on the fairy market was devalued such that it only merited a meagre dollar versus ten ( or, in foreshadow to the My Super-Sweet Sixteening of American Culture, $20 )? Or was the alternative explanation that my teeth were less desirable?

Even in my before 10th birthday I knew that something shifty was afoot.

And as Dawkins says, isn’t it a amazing that everyone who has one god is sure they’ve picked the right one.

Atheism destroys the magic of living, you cold, cold person

Well, first of all, this is simply baloney.

parthenon

Is the magic of The Parthenon diminished because you understand the that it’s composed by Golden Sections? Dawkins makes the compelling case that the world of religious tales is less beautiful than that promised by religion. Consider the root of Abrahamic religion: God grants insert-patriarch-here some bloodthirsty right to slay some tribe, some right to stone some barbarian tribe to death, some right to farm some dusty tract of land in Mesopotamia.

If these men were in contact with the supreme force why were they quibbling over land usage and not discussing scientific or intellectual leaps forward like:

  • The Cat’s Eye Nebula

catseyenebula
It should be noted that this was taken by the Hubble telescope; for showing the primitive grandfather to the Hubble, Galileo was almost burnt alive by Catholic nutjobs * The function of the recursive mechanism of 4 simple codons in an acid as data storage mechanism that allows for all protein sequencing in the animal kingdom * Economic behaviors that would enable buyout of the Egyptian oppressor without requiring bloodshed * The Tampon

Dawkins argues that instead of the limited and quaint world offered to chieftains in dusty books by their interpersonal god, it is science that gives us a much more beautiful world to live in.

Burden of Proof

Many religiously minded people put forth the argument that “since one cannot prove X does not exist, it is just as reasonable to take the counter-position, X does exist”. Dawkins handily dismisses this claim using the “Russell’s Teapot” story. By this same reasoning, the aggrieved Kiwi in the article below has just as much right to be trusted as the police that locked him up:

SYDNEY — A New Zealand man has been sentenced to community service after telling police he was raped by a wombat and the experience had made him speak “Australian”.

Arthur Ross Cradock, 48, from the South Island town of Motueka, called police on February 11 and told them he was being raped at his home by the wombat and he needed help, The Nelson Mail newspaper reported.

Source

Well, as we can’t prove the man wasn’t raped by a wombat, we’ll have to not hold him accountable for his actions subsequent thereto ( “speaking Australian” ).

The defense is simply nonsense. If we were to accept this argument then “The Devil Made Me Do It” would have to be made a valid legal defense ( and surely in this Christian nation of ours, that would occur overnight, right? ).

I always find this a compelling question, most religious folk would naturally say they believe in jurisprudence and fair trial. But if they likewise assert they believe in a supernatural, persoally-involved diety, “Possession” would have to become a valid defense. The science of equity i.e. “law” or belief in non-visible, singularly personal motivations beyond rational control: you can’t have both.

And one might say, that’s well and good, but who’s it harming, this ill-considered religiosity? Allow me to retort, er, report.

Non-interventionism == Death

Police: Girl Dies After Parents Pray for Healing Instead of Seeking Medical Help

poor_child_killed_by_religious_parents

Source

If a parent were to say that non-present, invisible voices told them to rape their children repeatedly and keep them in a cage in the basement it’d be called monstrous or attributed to mental illness.

What do we make of a person praying for help instead of turning to science? Let me note that in the history of modern times there are 0 recorded miracles, but medical treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis has long history reliable treatment vectors. Parents, let me ask you, when the chips are down are you taking your sick darling to the hospital or the church? I should suggest if you choose the latter, it would be convenient whilst there to make funerary arrangements.

Note further that this is not an edge case:

  • Heaven’s Gate Cult
  • Jim Jones
  • Massada

In any case, I found it a very interesting lecture and it’s certainly provided me questions over which to meditate. I hope that you do the same.

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