Richard Dawkins’ Sunday Sermon

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    Reading from his new book at Kepler’s tonight.

    Wired just published a provocative discussion, sparked by Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion. It issues a challenge to scientists who are on the fence, in denial, or in the closet. And it raises some troublesome questions about how we inculcate children.

    Kirpernicus, benjiman, Shoshin Seishu, and 12 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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    1. jurvetson 91 months ago | reply

      What? You don't love the creative artistry of the shot?? (Hey, there are no faves yet....)

      And as for the discussion, it seems that oddwick's observation is playing out... ;-)

    2. Todd Huffman 91 months ago | reply

      Steve! Quit antagonizing them!

      I got much <3 for Dawkins, but when I see him talking about Atheism my mind pulls up memories of throwing stones at hornets nests.

      Personally, I am fighting a war of attrition against theism. Their ranting and raging against the dying of the Light costs them a lot of energy. Let them expend their energy, I would rather gain converts to Science and Technology by building science and technology that benefits society.

      I think rationality will prevail as my side offers a higher quality of living, while religion devolves into only offering snake bites. (

    3. benjiman 91 months ago | reply

      There Steve, I faved the damn thing! Oh crap, someone beat me to it.

      And I actually really enjoy your composition with the lonely bottle of water standing silently as it guards the podium.


    4. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ 91 months ago | reply

      This discussion is turning into an exemplar illustration of Hegel´s dialectic process... Thesis - Antithesis - Synthesis

      We would rename them, though, into: Theism, Atheism and Syntheism.

      I am glad to have found a word to label my postiion on the subject:

      I am a syntheist.
      -which casually sounds pretty much like "Sine (without) - Theist"

      Thank you for fostering this insight! :D

    5. Colin Purrington 91 months ago | reply

      I thought it was a lonely bottle of gin, disguised as water.

    6. jurvetson 91 months ago | reply

      Alieness: that's a cool name, and I think I might finally understand what you were getting at with the false dichotomy of believing and thinking.

      Embracing “I don’t know” is a wonderful suggestion. Karl Popper posits that there is no truth, and thus nothing can be known for sure, yet, the scientific method compounds our learning and understanding over time. It's a process for the evolution of paradigms – or memes – over time.

      P.S. Update: Our host for the dinner with Dakwins, David Cowan, has posted links to the full audio and video of the talk.

      Here is the text of David's introduction, with a personal tale of revelation and epiphany.

    7. Today is a good day 90 months ago | reply

      It would have been great to hear this "live" - many thanks for posting the lnks to the audio, video and transcriptions

      Very much enjoyed the comments above too

    8. Colin Purrington 90 months ago | reply

      The Dawkins Foundation has a lot of clips from his presentations.,ALL,page1,n,Video,n,n

    9. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ 90 months ago | reply

      I´ve just came across this reading, an excerpt from the book "the Question of God". Never read it before. Thought of sharing it here, the author´s approach to the debate -bah, to the human life dilemma itself- sounds to me quite interesting. Perhaps to you too.

      "Whether we realize it or not, all of us possess a worldview. A few years after birth, we all gradually formulate our philosophy of life. Most of us make one of two basic assumptions: we view the universe as a result of random events and life on this planet a matter of chance; or we assume an Intelligence beyond the universe who gives the universe order, and life meaning. Our worldview informs our personal, social, and political lives. It influences how we perceive ourselves, how we relate to others, how we adjust to adversity, and what we understand to be our purpose. Our worldview helps determine our values, our ethics, and our capacity for happiness. It helps us understand where we come from, our heritage; who we are, our identity; why we exist on this planet, our purpose; what drives us, our motivation; and where we are going, our destiny. Some historians of science such as Thomas Kuhn point out that even a scientist's worldview influences not only what he investigates but also how he interprets what he investigates. Our worldview tells more about us perhaps than any other aspect of our personal history. [...]

      "Are these worldviews merely philosophical speculations with no right or wrong answer? No. One of them begins with the basic premise that God does not exist, the other with the premise that He does. They are, therefore, mutually exclusive -- if one is right, the other must be wrong. Does it really make any difference to know which one is which? Both Freud and Lewis thought so. They spent a good portion of their lives exploring these issues, repeatedly asking the question "Is it true?"."

      -bolding is mine-

      Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

    10. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ 90 months ago | reply

      Me again. I found this excerpt from Dawkin´s book, so I thought of sharing the link here for anybody interested:

      Why I Am Hostile Toward Religion
      I oppose fundamentalist religion because it is hell-bent on ruining the scientific education of countless eager minds.
      By Richard Dawkins

      The page has a related link to an interview to him too, here.

    11. jurvetson 90 months ago | reply

      Alieness: thanks! Hey, this should get your antennae all a twitter:

      “The equivalent of the moth’s light-compass reaction is the apparently irrational but useful habit of falling in love with one, and only one, member of the opposite sex. The misfiring by-product – equivalent to flying into the candle flame – is falling in love with Yahweh (or the Virgin Mary, or with a wafer, or with Allah) and performing irrational acts motivated by such love.” (p.186)

      Dawkins was addressing the question of why something “so wasteful, so extravagant” as religion would have evolved to be so pervasive. He concludes that it is primarily a by-product, a misfiring of a useful trait making the mind susceptible to certain viruses of thought:

      “Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival: the analogue of steering by the moon for a moth. But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses.” (p.176)

      “Religious leaders are well aware of the vulnerability of the child brain, and the importance of getting the indoctrination in early.” (p.177)

    12. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ 90 months ago | reply

      Whoah! ...those moth connection-metaphors are awesome! Perhaps I may start to like this sir dawkins after these quotes... or dislike him less...

      (no, seriously I don´t dislike you, Richard! -just in case you may read this someday!)

      And, see, about the love thingy, it´s just what I was meaning to say with my comment here [may need to read the caption and whole thread to understand my last words there]

      Mis-fires... yes, definitely, we are a bunch of genetic misfires with a given self-consciousness and an intellect enough which to realize these imperfections with... Plus a primitive system -"feelings"- which to be able live by with, hang on and sublimate the ultimate frustration such intellectual awareness of our genetic bugs brings. The recursive and circling nature of being human.


      ha! =)

    13. Shoshin Seishu 90 months ago | reply

      To use the term "atheism" is, of course, an instance of de facto religious sectarianism because it only has meaning and/or relevance to/with theistic religions, which Gore Vidal terms the "Sky God" religions of Judaism, Christianity, & Islam. To use the term "atheism" to discuss NON-theistic religions such as Buddhism is, therefore, nothing less than an instance--& a revelation, of Sky-God or theistic bias & serves to undermine any serious discussion of superstition of any sort or stripe, be it theistic or non-theistic. In any event, the implicit assumption, & power relations, inherent in the utterance "atheism & ...(other) faiths." is a brash reminder of the (still) near-hegemony with(in) which Sky-God theisitic superstitions operate.

      We need only refer to the classic formulation by Feuerbach to understand the mechanism driving all superstitions predicated on beliefs in the supernatural: Sky God religions represent instances of reverse anthropomorphism. The hilarous--(& grossly insulting, particularly to all other sentient life forms) proposition, in the Sky God religons/superstitions that God created humankind in his image is, therefore, correctly restated that humankind created "God" in her/his image.

    14. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ 89 months ago | reply

      I am reading this article: 13 things that don´t make sense for scientists, and I naturally linked it in my mind to this thread and the afore exposed "I just don´t know" possible position in regard to some intrincate problems as the "God" issue is.

      The article is very interesting, it talks about the not so constant constants in science, for example (something I always recall as the paradox of "Relativity" -to be based on a constant-) ... and btw it mentions a study being done down here in Mendoza, Argentina.

      Perhaps some of you may find this interesting to read too.

      Aur revoir...

    15. Shoshin Seishu 89 months ago | reply

      Totalizing "paradigms" (replete with their attendant tropes or metaphors), such as Hegelian dialectics are a (snooze--wake me up when that part of the discussion is over) thing of the past & have little or no descriptive--let alone explanatory, utility & power. As Christopher Jencks has so often commented: It's (discourse about the phenomenal world) all about chaotic "order," atomism, fragmentation, anti-epistemology, &, among so many other things, bold skepticism of & irreverence toward any "authoritative" statements about the world in which we live (& please discard those anachronistic references to weltenschaung & its alleged deterministic origins & trajectory across the life span)!

    16. Rainer Ebert 83 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Animal Ethics, and we'd love to have your Richard Dawkins photos added to the group.

    17. mrccos 83 months ago | reply

      Please add this to the group pool at RDFRS


    18. menlo 80 months ago | reply

      “Religious leaders are well aware of the vulnerability of the child brain, and the importance of getting the indoctrination in early.” (p.177)

      Sounds sneaky. No one else seems to notice this except religious leaders. The rest of the rational world begins education somewhere in a person's 20s, a good deal after the human brain has matured. Is that what you believe?

    19. jurvetson 79 months ago | reply

      menlo - Gosh, no. I believe that in other areas, we try to teach children how to learn. We don't try to brainwash them with concepts that defy common sense or evidence.

      “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” – Yeats

      P.S. For mrccos & the rationalists:
      "After more than a year of expensive negotiation, we are delighted to announce that both the US and the UK versions of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science have been granted charitable, tax-exempt status in their respective countries."

    20. nels1 73 months ago | reply

      it is finally revealed...Dawkins IS God:)

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