Do you like how Dawkins, Hitchens et al. represent atheists?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by francois, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Well I'll take your word for it. I have not spoken about this personally with astrologers, simply read what's written about them. Apparently they downplay the harsher parts of their beliefs for the mass market.
    And that in a nutshell is what went wrong with communism. They tried to do it backwards.
    That was only a "large proportion" of the people who voted. It's often been argued that the reason so many people don't vote is that neither candidate speaks for them. As both a libertarian and a Libertarian, I can certainly relate to that. I vote, but it's a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber. Let's see, do I want them to deprive me of my money first and then my civil rights, or vice versa?
    I agree. They can cause a lot of grief, but not enough to change anyone's politics. I don't think terrorists will ever be able to kill 20,000 Americans every year the way drunk drivers do, and we don't even report those people to the police.
    I disagree with that. I have written about this extensively in other threads. The entire ten thousand year process of civilization has been one long battle between our uniquely massive forebrains and our animal midbrains. One long lesson in overriding the pack-social instinct of our Mesolithic ancestors with reasoned and learned behavior. And the forebrain is always the victor. At first we could only live in "peace and goodwill" with a couple of dozen people we had known intimately from birth. Then we built villages and learned to expand that instinct to include neighbors who weren't family members. Then we built towns and learned to expand it to people we didn't even run into very often. Then we built cities and expanded it to total strangers. Then we built nations and expanded it to people we've never even seen.

    And it works. Civilization is very durable, surviving all of our lapses and dealing with the occasional throwback who doesn't want to live in harmony and cooperation. People in small cities leave their doors unlocked, keep an eye on each other's children, and pitch in to help the unfortunate without waiting for a social worker. That's an expansion of our pack-social instinct by three orders of magnitude over the Mesolithic, plus a transcendence to partially extend it to hundreds of millions of Americans.

    The next step is to transcend nationalism and combine the whole race into a single "pack." That requires extending the pack-social instinct to people who speak different languages and have different cultures. Europe is already well on the way to that. It requires extending it to people on the other side of the planet who are mere abstractions to us. Well a lot of us have already achieved that too, proving that it can be done. You could say that we do our part to advance civilization out of purely selfish reasons: it works!
    Well it is an archetype. It's a motif that occurs in almost all cultures in almost all eras. But archetypes are just instincts, some of those pesky leftovers in our Mesolithic midbrain like the pack-social instinct. We can transcend them all.
    War is in fact on the wane. The percentage of the world population killed by government violence has been falling since WWII. Only four wars have had seven-figure body counts, the civil wars in China, Korea, Vietnam and the Congo. We weep over the dead in Iraq but the total for the entire war there would add up to one bad day in WWII. We're letting chaos reign in Darfur precisely because it's better than the alternative of the U.S. and China going to war over it. It's possible that the nuclear attacks on civilian targets by the U.S. really did force humanity to come to its senses and stop thinking of escalating violence as the best way to resolve disagreements.

    "Stratification between the rich and poor" is just the manipulation of statistics. The per capita GDP of the human race is rising at an enormous rate. Ten percent per year in India and China, which between them have one third of the world's population. Just the other day the Washington Post reported that the percentage of the world's people who live on less than a dollar day has fallen by half in just the last twenty years. Find a nation in poverty and you'll find a despotic leader; it's a political problem, not an economic one. And the number of democratic countries on this planet increases with every passing decade.

    The world is improving, more or less steadily in the long run. We have a lot to be proud of and much cause for optimism.
     
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  3. Xev Registered Senior Member

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    To sum: GeoffP is a pineapple, Spurious is purportedly a monkey, One Raven is the Eggman and I am the Walrus.

    Now we have Fraggle Rocker talking about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, just to continue the theme of 60s music.

    Fraggle:
    Ah, but I was referring to a trope, not to reality.
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I finally ran across a review of Hitchens's latest book. If the reviewer was accurate in his abstraction of his points, he is definitely an atheist extremist and does not speak for us. If he actually insists that religion has been a constant and unrelenting cause of violence and suffering, he's either deliberately writing hyperbole to rouse rabble, or he's a very poor student of history, and in either case he maligns us by pretending to represent us. Of course there have been eras and regions in which religious people behaved nobly. Today's Tibetan Buddhists, the Jews who led the civil rights marches during my university years, the Hindu followers of Gandhi, and America's Quakers--AFAIK consistently throughout their movement's entire existence.

    No atheist with a rudimentary education is ignorant of these facts. No hay mal que por bien no venga, to quote Gloria Estefan and keep the musical theme going. "There is nothing so bad that some good does not come of it."

    My position is that three unforgivable sins have been committed under the inspiration of Abrahamism: the obliteration of three of the world's six civilizations. "Unforgivable" means unforgivable, and the occasional century or two of a relative handful of Abrahamists joining an honorable movement is not enough to expunge the community's record. Particularly given that a major Christian nation tried its damnedest to exterminate the entire Jewish people during my lifetime. Christians have stopped committing genocide for a paltry threescore years. They probably just need the rest.
     
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Much as I approve of the Quakers and their general record, there were a couple of bad patches early on with regard to the local pagan Reds.

    The notion that religion is a constant and unrelenting cause of violenceand oppression, probably derived from the patterns of the obvious, formal, theistic religions that have governed large areas and armies, is not all that far fetched given that derivation. We would say that a river is an entity of constant and unrelenting downhill flow, despite the many eddies and counter currents we observe in actual rivers.
     
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    He's a rabble rouser:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn06272006.html
    (scroll down to see the second article)
     
  9. Atom Registered Senior Member

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    << have not spoken about this personally with astrologers, simply read what's written about them. Apparently they downplay the harsher parts of their beliefs for the mass market. >>

    Exactly. There's a distinct tendency to concentrate on the merely trivial and Dawkins is in an expert on this because his knowledge is meagre so to do a programme on astrology he concentrates on the ephemeral. To go into detail would take too long but he is by no means exempt because in all fairness the Politicians who consult astrologer..and wait for this..not just the REAGANS but everyone from MITTERAND, CHIRAC TO YELTSIN TO INDIRA GANDHI and in fact many Eastern leaders. Now that going to come as a shock to a few people although its nothing new...many leaders and Rulers and even Popes have consulted astrology...what has happened is that nowadays its done on the sly.

    Whats odd about say..the Astrologers used by Reagan and the rest is the fact that they - as with Dawkins - stuck to what were essentially "soothsayers". I mean I can't comment on just how good these people are but they aren't "highly educated" scholars such as Denis Elwell author of 'The Cosmic Loom' or Noel Tyl, John Frawley, Robert Hand or Nick Campion.

    One of huge myth is that only Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers, but in fact Ronald Reagan would even go against all US History by insisting that his Inauguration was held at Midnight rather than the long held tradition of Midday. And this was by no means a one-off..throughout his political career he was suddenly disappear from view and time meetings with leaders at peculiar times. A sacked adviser called Regan told the media that the Reagans wouldnt do anything without consulting an astrologer first.

    Now whats odd is that this astrologer Joan Quigley was again, strictly of the soothsaying school. In effect she did a good job because any mere amateur could suggest a beneficial time..its really not that difficult.

    So for some reason, all these politicians and Rulers and Royalty..like Pr. Diana seems to always choose well turned out women who are very reassuring but tend towards soothsayers rather than astrologers. They don't think..I must get the most learned and respected....they dont want to get bogged down in the minutiae and get an analysis as complex as life is...they want quick easy answers to problems. I mean Joan Quigley hasn't written any books..she's a newpaper columnist cum astrologer and oddly enough these are exactly the type of people Dawkins sets out to repudiate.

    Now here is the huge error he makes. Sunsign astrology is mere modern invention. It came to prominence in order to sell newpapers...it was 'invented' in 1920!

    Astrology as we know it...was developed in Sumeria (now Iraq!)..at the very cradle of Civilisation. This doesnt make it right of course but we can't deny it has stood the test of time and was based on thousands of years of careful observation. So why is Dawkins merely seeking out sunsigns...its ludicroulsy lazy thinking on his part and merely another grab at popularism. And that is exactly what he is - a Popularist....he has seen a market and a modern cynicism and he has milked it!



    << Civilization is very durable, surviving all of our lapses and dealing with the occasional throwback who doesn't want to live in harmony and cooperation. >>


    People in times past have always felt, with equal justification, that they were living in 'momentous times' and never moreso than the last few hundred years. After the so-called 'Enlightenment' - a misnomer if ever i heard one - we became even more excitable after every new scientific fad and technological invention. Yet as Lou Reed opined

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    .."two tv sets and a cadillac car" aren't necessarily an advancement on a mere horse and carriage and an evening playing on the piano. The 'Myth of Progress' leaves us open to all kinds of brainwashing. The mere sweep of technological advance isn't necessarily an example of progress say..if you are working as a 13 yr old girl working 18 hrs a day in a Cotton Mill doing backbreaking work that can only lead to an early death. If thats progress then it can only be so to the owner of the Cotton Mills!

    So yes..on one hand you maybe correct that Apocalyptic fears aren't justified however to argue that it is due to less deaths is a somewhat false argument. The only reason there are less deaths now than last century lies in the threat of Nuclear Holocaust...so in essence the precise opposite is true! Thanks to science we now have a proliferation of Nuclear Weaponry so it comes as no suprise that Apocolyptic views are alive and well and even more fueled by the imminent threat of Global warming.

    << The world is improving, more or less steadily in the long run. We have a lot to be proud of and much cause for optimism. >>

    Its hard to know in what respect it is improving. Medical care - yes, do we live longer than at any time in History - probably yes.

    However this is the easy veneer of the modernist view. Below the surface its highly questionable whether life really is improving once we remove the scientific chimera.

    Are we really happier than we were in the 17th century or even 0 AD? If we are so optimistic and positive about life then why are lost Indian and African tribes happy and contented whilst in the modern cities of the USA..people are either shooting one another or shooting up..taking various drugs..from Crystal meth to Crack....and if not...we go into suburbia to find 50% of children on various concoctions of prescribed drugs. Why do the African tribes not need these drugs?
    .
    Sad to say.. once you scratch the surface, Fraggle, the super, streamlined cocoon of science is merely a shiney veneer covering a very deep malaise.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2007
  10. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Hitchens is a genius. Ahmendinejidad is a rabble rouser. And a poor dresser.
     
  11. Atom Registered Senior Member

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    Thats exactly what Hitchens thinks.
     
  12. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    The last bit being correct why bother with any more?

    Still posting unsubstantiated nonsense Billy?
     
  13. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    And he's so right, unspecified-deity bless him.
     
  14. Atom Registered Senior Member

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    Like he was right about the Iraq War.

    Like he was also correct that George Bush is greatly misunderstimated and that 'underneath' the image he is a very clever man.

    ..........stop please...we're all falling off the chair with laughter.

    Hitchens is simply a maverick who likes to be controversial in order to sell very silly books...so yes he has much in common with Dickie Dawkins.
     
  15. Xev Registered Senior Member

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    Sometimes I read Billy Chydishe's posts just to experiment with the way crack must feel. Is that wrong of me?
     
  16. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

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    Yes, white americans are supposed to do cocaine.
     
  17. Xev Registered Senior Member

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    Which doesn't make one feel as foggy and stupid as reading about how astrology means that Richard Dawkins voted Bush into office because atheists have no souls.
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Astrology--the belief that the relative positions of the stars in the sky as viewed from our position in space have a major influence on our lives--was developed independently in several different places including Mesoamerica and China. Like religions and other types of spirituality, it is a collection of archetypes: motifs that occur in all societies in all eras that are easy to interpret as facts because we believe them by instinct instead of by learning and reasoning.
    In times past a different subset of people have also always felt that they were living in the worst of times because technological and/or social progress was exceeding the capacity of humans to adapt to it. This feeling is particularly keen right now because the past couple of generations are living through a Paradigm Shift, a transformation of civilization from the Industrial Era to the Information Age. Many people felt just as lost and uprooted when industry arose, and going back to the invention of steel, bronze and civilization itself. We have no records from the Neolithic Revolution--the dawn of agriculture and the transition from small groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to large groups of people in permanent villages--but it's easy to suspect that just a whole heckuva lot of people were not entirely pleased with that first Paradigm Shift. It's not valid to judge the overall satisfaction of mankind with civilization because you happen to live during one of the highly stressful periods that have occurred six times over the past twelve thousand years.
    You have to ask that question of each individual. One of the attributes of civilization is that it offers many different advantages to suit people with different temperaments. For the sake of argument I will accept the veracity of every advantage you can think of that my Mesolithic ancestors had, and I will foreswear all of them so that I can live in an era when professionally performed music can be heard anywhere, at any time, usually with thousands of choices. I'm sure everyone alive has their own dearest feature of civilization, but a lot of people would just think of their houses, furniture, climate control and plumbing and call you a looneybird.

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    Once again, you're cheating by taking a snapshot of civilization at one of its most stressful moments, a Paradigm Shift.
    What makes you think that premodern people didn't and don't have drugs? Neolithic people discovered fermentation, burned marijuana, and chewed coca leaves.
    I suppose that's the glass-half-empty way of looking at it. I see the malaise as transitory. After a hundred years of the post-industrial revolution, commerce, politics and religion will have been redefined and culture will settle into the new paradigm. There will be more diversity and more harmony than we have today, and people will be happy.
     
  19. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    He was right that Hussein was trying to buy nukes from North Korea. Maybe everyone should have waited until after he was done?

    Don't recall him saying that, but I do remember him blasting Bush a little while ago.
     
  20. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Nothing like a little personal involvement to alter your viewpoint:

     
  21. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

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    Heh....
     
  22. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    I do recall him being quite adamant about Palestinian rights. You have quote for change of heart? (Psst: at least his viewpoint is capable of change.

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    )
     
  23. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, can't wait to see what he changes to next.

    Bush is secretly smart, Bush is smart, oops Bush is dumb; Iraq is good for democracy cos its how secular values are being defended (snicker snicker), Palestinians are victims, Israelis are oppressors (oops sorry auntie) Jews are victims, Muslims are bad.

    Can't wait to see what intellectual hysteria he presents with next.

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