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

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

  1. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    It can be repaired. What are we arguing anyway, though? I think there are genes for "snailness" and "albatrossness" and so forth, which I think sounds right and is in line with the concept of fixed developmental epistacy.
     
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  3. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Frankly that's what I am trying to determine. Wtf is fixed epistacy? And how is it separate from environmentally induced mutations?
     
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Would you argue thus about the existence of civilizations on Mars in the 1800s when the canals were visible, or the existence of any deities except your own ? Where there should be empirical evidence, and there is none, its lack is significant.
    The choices are not "faith based" and "scientifically determined". We also have "argument from evidence", which may include evidence from any source - even science. As in the "Hank" link - do we seek a scientific denial of the existence of Hank? Do we need faith, then, to reject Him?
    Then you are victim of the same error of comprehension Gould was. Dawkins nowhere postulates or assumes direction in gene competition.
    Or a Dawkins critic - such as Gould.

    It's not all that easy a concept. Human intuition has a very difficult time dealing with Darwinian evolutionary theory - we find "cause", or we find "chance", inevitably, unless we proceed with care and agaisnt our own inclinations. Gould was a very intelligent, learned, even wise, professional scientist specializing in the field - yet he wrote nonsense about "spandrels" and the Burgess Shale "punctuated" record, simply through misunderstanding.
    Your objections to his "tone" seem visible, to me, in your choice of phrases such as "platform for his atheistic aspirations". I do not think your primary concern is any damage done to what you find misused as a "platform", and others would simply take as structure in an argument.
    Yeah, but it's drawing flies. You're leaving the impression that you think certain parts of the genome are immune, intrinsically somehow, to evolutionary processes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2007
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  7. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Assuming that the lack of empirical evidence is not a function of limited perception.

    And argument is not from evidence, argument is from lack of evidence of falsification; ie the null hypothesis.

    As for direction, considering the gene a unit of selection is an argument of direction.
     
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Which in practice is not assumed, but investigated.

    Say what?

    What would you consider "units of selection" that are not "arguments of direction" ?
     
  9. Xev Registered Senior Member

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    And that is why I never said "computer viruses and their course are representative of biological evolution." I claimed parallels.

    Or at least more protected, and I am not at all sure how that could happen. How would those especially important genes be targeted for more protection against mutagenic agents? :shrug:
     
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    It is not an irrational fear. Some theists--the monotheists to be specific--have risen up en masse on numerous occasions and destroyed whole cultures. If I can claim to be Jewish because of one branch of my family tree (I don't qualify by their definition but I do by Hitler's), then I can say that the monotheists at one point destroyed more than half of "us." People quibble over laying the blame for the Holocaust on Europe's Christianity, even though Europe's Christians had been persecuting Jews for more than a thousand years, so if anyone takes that point of view... It's an incontrovertible historical fact that armies of monotheists obliterated three entire civilizations in the name of their god: Egypt, Aztec and Inca, one half of the total number that have arisen on this planet. From the standpoint of the scholars in the SciForums community there can be no greater sin than eradicating all the ideas and culture of a whole civilization; that loss can never be recovered, never atoned, never forgiven.

    I in fact have no fear of Buddhists, Baha'i, Hindus, Rastafarians, and other religionists who do not rise up at regular intervals in orgies of hatred and intolerance, slaughtering everyone who does not agree with them. But at this very moment the survival of our precious civilization is threatened by armies of Christians, Muslims and Jews, as it has been in the past. I find it a perfectly rational position to say that, based on empirical evidence, I have no respect for--and indeed am frightened by--the pathetic one-dimensional model of the human spirit preached by Abraham, newer and more virulent strains of which keep metastasizing out of the Mideast like cancer epidemics, engulfing increasingly larger regions of the globe in conflicts, and threatening to reverse ten thousand years of progress in creating civilization. Monotheism--based on empirical observation--reinforces tribalism, and we have to move far beyond tribalism to sustain the global civilization that is congealing during this century.
    I believe the empirical observations I submitted above demolish this apologist argument. Moreover, communism is an offshoot of Abrahamist morality, which is drenched in the socialist philosophy that there should be no correlation between a person's production and his earnings. As Hindus and Confucians are quick to point out, this quaint idea could never have been developed by their societies. A Hindu aphorism says, "The world is full of holy men who seek to eat the food of those who toil," and you can find the Confucian view on this in every third fortune cookie.
    There are atheists who take that position, but they are not scientists and if they show up in one of the scientific subforums on this website I will persecute them personally for their anti-scientific propaganda. No self-respecting scientist would say that the existence of a "supernatural" universe outside the boundaries of the natural one we can observe empirically is impossible. He would merely say that any theory based on that existence is not scientific because it lacks the essential quality of falsifiability. He would say that all hypotheses deduced from those theories are inadmissable in scientific work. He would say that Occam's Razor tells us to look at simpler explanations of the mysteries of the universe first, simply because if they are false it will take less effort to disprove them. He would say that those theories are extraordinary and the scientific method requires that they be accompanied by extraordinary substantiation before we are required to take them seriously. He would say that lines in a book that was passed down orally for many generations before even becoming a book do not qualify as extraordinary substantiation.

    He would not say that they are false unless he is speaking in layman's legal jargon: false beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Because they are not trained to understand the concept of metaphor, which is neither true nor false. In many cases what they say about events and conditions in the supernatural world are very profound and inspiring metaphors for the events and conditions in the real world.

    This is another reason that I dismiss Abrahamism with extreme prejudice. The pantheons of the traditional polytheistic religions had one god for every dimension of the human spirit: the Healer, the Hunter, the Leader, the Lover, the Reveler, etc. The complicated stories of the alliances, affections, betrayals and other interactions of these gods are fantastically illustrative metaphors for the conflicts inside each of us, as one day we are called on to be a warrior, the next day a father, but what we really want to be is an artist. And they also tell us much about our alliances, betrayals and other interactions with the people around us. Judaism, Christianity and Islam squeeze all of that rich multi-dimensional spirit onto a linear scale with Good at one end and Evil at the other. Every few generations, almost as regular as clockwork, the people who try to live by that paradigm erupt in frustration as whole parts of their spirit have been suppressed as "evil" and exiled to fester in their Shadow, and they start killing us non-believers, and the other monotheists who use a slightly different version of the model.
     
  11. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    And how do you know that this is not a part of the natural processes of species control? After all lemmings commit suicide when their populations increase, would you advocate psychotherapy for them? I think you have bought into the fear psychosis of the likes of Dawkins. Even Buddhists are setting fire to churches in Sri Lanka and are devotional enough to set themselves on fire or commit mass suicide. Why should atheists be any different? They just need an ideology (like communism) to convince them of the rationality of their choices. Thomas Paine thought Napolean heralded the new Enlightenment, GB Shaw thought Nazism and Stalinism would cleanse society.
    You obviously don't know much about the history of Hindus and Buddhists.


    You might want to look at the periodic instances of genocide in their history as well.:shrug:
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    You must practise a different brand of science; all the science I have learned is based entirely on assumptions and inferences derived by observation and testing.

    None, since I do not consider genes to be units of selection, but units of evolution.
     
  13. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think they should be considered parallels, it is a misleading argument. Genes do not evolve as viruses do.

    And the genes are not protected in my opinion, they just haven't received sufficient pressure to change or mutate. Ingesting a powerful carcinogen should do it though.
     
  14. Xev Registered Senior Member

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    It's not an argument. I was interested in things that "evolved" without ribonucleic acids and I gave a parallel. You ascribed an argument to me.

    I am not saying that specific genes are protected, GeoffP said that (or something simular) and I was replying to that.

    Fraggle Rocker:
    And that is why I said that the hypothetical "strong athiest," the "fool who has said in his heart: there is no God," that dude is a :

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  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Gawrsh Durn it Gurl, I jest sed twas aye misleading argggooment, dinna saye twas yore misleading argggooment!!!

    Annnd aye dinna dechlaaare twas yorn dat said dem jeans were purtected neither.

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  16. Nutter Shake it loose, baby! Registered Senior Member

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    So you're maintaining that "snailness" is as the syngameons of which Ice Age Civilizations spoke. Now we understand.
     
  17. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Nutter: can you support your claim? Why do you say so?
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Perhaps it is. But the uniquely massive human forebrain gives us the ability to override our instincts and transcend nature, something lemmings can't do. I have expounded on this at great length in other threads and I won't rehash it here. The technological civilization we have developed as a result of this transcendence has delivered methods of population control far superior to warfare, which have brought the birthrate to (or below) replacement level in all advanced societies, and the total world population is predicted to begin shrinking before the end of this century. War has never been an effective means of population control. WWII killed one or two percent of the earth's population in six years, at a time when it was doubling every thirty years. Notwithstanding all of that, to control population by destroying entire civilizations rather than by selective culling is to reduce both mankind's genetic diversity and its resources of the intellectual variety. It is difficult to see this as a long-term strategy for enhancing species survival, except for tribalists who can't see beyond their own community and regard the deaths of their enemies as beneficial to themselves. As I've said, Abrahamic religion is congenitally stuck in the tribal period of human history and appears handicapped in its attempt to move forward into a period of much larger communities.
    How can you pick up a newspaper and see what the Christians, Jews and Muslims are doing to each other in huge swaths of the world, and say that the Fraggles are the psychotics?
    There are atheists in every political movement, from the Nazi party to the Libertarian party. The largest contingent of the Nazi party were Lutherans.
    No I don't. If you think by my standards they deserve to be lumped in with the monotheists, I'll be happy to oblige. I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt to religions whose evil side I am not familiar with. An American education is very Eurocentric.

    Belief in the supernatural is an instinct, an archetype that appears in all cultures. Perhaps it is not monotheism per se that reinforces mankind's tribalism and our tendency toward intolerance and warfare, but all religion. Tribes who allow themselves to be dominated by their instincts cannot reach the same level of achievement as those who override their instincts with reason and learning. It is necessary to overcome the tribal instinct in order to put an end to war and create a single world community. Perhaps overcoming that instinct means not merely transcending Abrahamism, but all religion.
     
  19. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry SAM, but this is now known to be false.
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/k2/moments/s1081903.htm

    I saw that film as a little boy, wearing his jammies on a Sunday evening in the early 70's. I was a bit taken aback to find that the Wide World of Disney had lied to me all these years later!

    Strong atheism virtually only exists as a strawman attack by theists, as previously mentioned. Saying "There is no god!" as anything other than a joke does leave one open to criticism. Criticism that is easily sidestepped by leaving it at "I'm unaware of any credible evidence of any gods".

    As it is now, I'd say most who self identify as atheists are people who are wary of dogma. If they weren't, they'd most likely be some form of theist. For large groups of people to commit atrocities, the dogma doesn't have to be religious. The excesses of the French revolution prove that easily enough. But those sorts of events are almost indistinguishable from the ones inspired by religion. Utterly certain of being correct, hostile to criticism, persecution of unbelievers; groups of true believers led by charismatic speakers who never let the shadow of doubt cloud their minds for even the most fleeting moment.

    Forgive me if I still cling to some shreds of hope that humans might learn to do better.

    I see Dawkins as carrying on the tradition of Mencken and Russell. Though not as eloquent, he is still fighting the good fight. Perhaps he is closer to Asimov, or Carl Sagan.
     
  20. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    There is SO much truth in that statement!
     
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    What are you talking about?
    This is getting strange.

    Let me rephrase: what are you talking about, when you use the word "units"?

    And how does anything not subject to selection among its varieties evolve, in Darwinian theory?

    And where does "direction" come from, in either a unit of selection or a unit of evolution?
     
  22. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Gasp!

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    Tell that to all the atheists who keep educating us on hard atheism; I for one do not believe in the distinction.

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    Sad to say, its not only Disney that has you fooled; that last statement applies as well to Dawkins and his troupe of dancers.
    Hope is good, it shows you still have shreds of faith in people.

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    Very eloquent.
     
  23. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Science is based on assumptions which are used to formulate hypotheses. Observations are used for testing and results are used to draw inferences.

    Whenever you select, it is a direction of fitness. (e.g. one of two apples in a cart, you select the one that looks better). Thats not how evolution works.

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    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007

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