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Oklahoma, Vatican Take Opposite Tacks On Evolution 1161

nizcolas writes "Notable evolutionary biologist, author, and speaker Richard Dawkins was recently invited to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma as part of the school's celebration of Charles Darwin. However, Oklahoma lawmakers are working to silence Dawkins with the passage of House Bill 1015 (RTF), which reads in part: '... the University of Oklahoma ... has invited as a public speaker on campus, Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published opinions, as represented in his 2006 book "The God Delusion," and public statements on the theory of evolution demonstrate an intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking and are views that are not shared and are not representative of the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma ...'" Pending legal action, Dawkins is set to speak tonight at 7 pm. (Luckily, we no longer live in the era of Bertrand Russell's court-ordered dismissal on moral grounds from the College of the City of New York.) And reader thms sends word of the Vatican's Darwin conference (program): "The conference, marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of "The Origin of Species," has been criticized by advocates of Creationism or Intelligent Design for not inviting them. The Muslim creationist Harun Yahya, most famous for his Atlas of Creation, also complained about not being invited."
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Oklahoma, Vatican Take Opposite Tacks On Evolution

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  • OU Student Here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by knapper_tech (813569) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:11PM (#27093897)
    OMFG! This is after we had to put up with giant anti-abortion posters on campus during the presidential election week that just happened to have horrid pictures of late-term abortions that are already illegal everywhere as far as I know anyway. WTF. It's been a given for a long time that I'm leaving after graduating, but OK continues to find ways to make me worry less about what I leave behind.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamie (78724) * Works for Slashdot <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:13PM (#27093943) Journal

    No kidding. The resolution begins:

    WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma is a publicly funded institution which should be open to all ideas and should train students in all disciplines of study and research and to use independent thinking and free inquiry...

    By paragraph THREE it is condemning Dawkins for, and I am not making this up:

    views that are not shared and are not representative of the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma

  • Wow. Just wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:13PM (#27093945) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone in the Oklahoma heard of the First Amendment? Cultural diversity? WTF does cultural diversity have to to do with science, anyway? Free speech was intended to protect offensive speech. This should apply especially when said offensive speech is based on solid scientific evidence.
  • Re:Dumb Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `'> on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:14PM (#27093957) Journal

    Still stupid. Not like they don't have real problems they could be trying to solve, rather than trying to condemn a guy for saying mean things about their imaginary friend.

    When you're more conservative than the Vatican, there is a problem.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:22PM (#27094133) Homepage Journal
    If the majority of the citizens of Oklahoma believed in a vast government conspiracy to cover up the existence of extraterrestrials as a result of watching one too many episodes of The X-Files, would be it okay for them to pass legislation to squash the free speech rights of someone proving that no such conspiracy exists? C'mon, this is just completely ridiculous.
  • Re:Dumb Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrLang21 (900992) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:24PM (#27094167)
    Strongly encouraging does not equate to legislating. I highly doubt that the Oklahoma State government would hold back funding from the university next year if they went ignored.
  • Re:Dumb Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:25PM (#27094177) Homepage Journal
    Not to mention that it probably won't stop there.

    If they can intimidate and/or legislate pro-evolution and/or anti-religion out of the state then you can expect OK to plunge into the dark ages and other states will try and follow suit.
  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:25PM (#27094179)

    Agreed, being a militant atheist (one who aggressively attacks people's beliefs as well as the people themselves) is no better than being a militant creationist (one who aggressively attacks people's beliefs as well as the people themselves).

  • Vatican. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@prae[ ] ['can' in gap]> on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:29PM (#27094241) Homepage

    Not surprised by the latter one. Catholic teaching has leaned hard towards "Science is 'what' and 'how.' God is 'why.'" for a long time now.

  • by n1hilist (997601) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:29PM (#27094247)

    I admire his works and his point of view, but I find a lot of the time he can be callously disrespectful and religiously athiest. I'm an athiest myself but I find his pushy nature to be a bit much soemtimes.

    I feel the way he handles some questions and situations doesn't help his cause.

  • by cowscows (103644) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:33PM (#27094295) Journal

    Please don't forget that it is a subset of "religious people" who are fighting to discredit science and impose their beliefs via government and laws. There are plenty of religious people who don't support those more extreme views. Belief in God and a respect and enthusiasm for science are not mutually exclusive. Maybe you should try to be more careful about making that distinction when using your vehement means.

    I guess the question is, are you fighting against anyone who believes in God, or are you fighting against people who use their beliefs to justify controlling other people? If it's the latter, then myself and many other people who believe in God will support you. If it's the former, then you're turning us into enemies.

  • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:35PM (#27094339) Homepage
    enlightened atheists shall have no remorse in discriminating against the religious, and making it known
    That word, I don't think it means what you think it means. And if you were so truly enlightened you recognize how two wrongs do not make a right, or the irony of your dogmatic discrimination against those who disagree with you.
  • Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nukeade (583009) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:35PM (#27094341) Homepage

    On the plus side, the resolution isn't forbidding that Dawkins speak. Unfortunately, it is a thinly veiled threat to the president of the university that funding or job could be on the line if he lets Dawkins speak.

    "Whereas the University of Oklahoma is a publicly funded university..."

    I read that the US has lost 650,000 jobs in the last month. Maybe enough bad debt, cold and hunger will finally get people to realize that real science can be a vehicle to productive jobs and accept that their 6000 year old Earth hypothesis doesn't hold water.


  • Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:36PM (#27094353)

    Has anyone in the Oklahoma heard of the First Amendment? Cultural diversity? WTF does cultural diversity have to to do with science, anyway?.

    That's a nice buzzword to make people who oppose their actions appear intolerant and narrow minded. Ignorance is now part of that vast cultural diversity that we must all respect.

    Of course, the legislature ignores that Catholic teachings allow for the coexistence of evolution and creation; after all we can not fathom how God accomplishes his goals. One is faith, the other science and neither need be exclusive.

    Of course, many of those same legislators might not consider Catholics Christian (and no, that's not sarcasm but experience).

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:36PM (#27094365) Journal

    Richard Dawkins does "demonstrate an intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking". I see him as the atheist's Rush Limbaugh.

    Apart from his pro-atheist writings, speeches and such, Dr. Dawkins actually does do real scientific research. He has published numerous papers, as well as a number of rather good easy-to-understand books on evolution.

    Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. He isn't even a real politician.

    So how is it exactly you can equate Limbaugh and Dawkins?

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@yah o o .com> on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:38PM (#27094415) Homepage Journal

    A government taking a stance against free speech does effect someones right to free speech, and in this case it also violates freedom of Religion in the constitution.

  • Re:OU Student Here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xutopia (469129) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:41PM (#27094447) Homepage
    Anti-abortionist take an unreasonable approach to limit abortion. They feel as though a bunch of cells that cannot possibly have a consciousness yet have the same human value as a late term fetus. I'm pro-choice up until the point where the fetus develops a conscious brain. When anti-abortionists put up pictures of late term abortions they build a straw man and misrepresent me. It's disingenuous and offends me.
  • Re:Dumb Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mjeffers (61490) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:41PM (#27094451) Homepage

    Include the next 2 paragraphs though and you can see what this actually has them doing.


    THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

    THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives encourages the University of Oklahoma to engage in an open, dignified, and fair discussion of the Darwinian theory of evolution and all other scientific theories which is the approach that a public institution should be engaged in and which represents the desire and interest of the citizens of Oklahoma.

    THAT a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the University of Oklahoma, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Oklahoma, and the Chair of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

    (bolding is mine)
    They're sending a strongly worded letter. That's it. This is a complete non-story and the sort of symbolic political crap that pols do so they can send out fund raising letters to the fundies saying how they fought the darwinists without actually having to do anything. If they're preventing him from speaking that's an issue but there's nothing here that at all suggests that.

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:42PM (#27094485)

    I find a lot of the time he can be callously disrespectful and religiously atheist.

    Having seen him many times, the only offense he may have committed is *not* entertaining the rediculous notion that a god exists without any proof.

    It is very hard for people to accept atheists simply because we DON'T believe. That is not being religious at all.

    I don't have to be tolerant of the belief in Zeus. I can see flat out, it is bunk. There is no god Zeus, and no one will be offended.

    If I say, there is no god and I will not entertain any such nonsense, people are irrational. They will say I am intolerant. I submet it is they who are intolerant as they don't have any credible evidence to even support their nonsense. I'm just calling it as I see it, and they are expecting special treatment for their own neurosis.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:48PM (#27094599) Homepage Journal

    I did. Whether they are simply advocating the squashing of Dawkins' freedom of speech or are actually squashing, if the University tells Dawkins' to pack it in, the end result is the same.

    Let's also not forget that First Amendment also includes the freedom to practice a religion of one's choosing. This also includes the right to practice no religion at all. IOW, Dawkins' has a Constitutional right to be an atheist and to speak about his own beliefs (or non-beliefs) as an atheist.

    I'm not an atheist myself, but I will defend the rights of atheists to believe (or not believe) what they choose.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:51PM (#27094649) Journal

    To be fair, I can see them as being offended by the "people who believe in god are delusional" theme suggested by the title of the book. That's no less offensive to Christans than some whackjob running around saying various "atheists are ..." statements.

    Both sides of this argument need to realize when they are being insensitive to the other side, and stop thinking that the other side should clean up it's act when they won't clean up their own.

  • Re:Vatican. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cowscows (103644) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:52PM (#27094679) Journal

    There are many religious people who value the bible yet don't consider it to be a literal encyclopedia of how the universe works. We are willing and able to reason enough to understand that it was written in a time and primarily for an audience with a significantly different understanding of the world from what science has provided for us today.

    I've had many discussions with atheists where I am consistently asked to defend literal interpretations of the bible, when in fact I don't consider literal interpretations correct or useful.

    There are many people out there who have decided to take much of the bible word for word as absolute truth, and I find that foolish. Please take care to not condemn all religious people just because some of them can't be bothered to think for themselves.

  • by DaFallus (805248) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:56PM (#27094761)
    I'm not posting to argue for or against your point but to simply ask why you felt it was necessary to make your entire paragraph a hyperlink. Is it 1994 again?
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frigga's Ring (1044024) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:57PM (#27094777)
    You are correct: the state legislature is not banning the speaker. However, what happens if the university rescinds its invitation to the speaker for fear of losing any state funding? You don't have to state, "we forbid you for doing something we don't like" in order to get that message across.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Strange Ranger (454494) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:58PM (#27094785)
    I am not surprised at this turn of events because Dawkins' comments in the God delusion are widely considered to be hateful in nature. Consider that, in the United states, some 93-96 percent of people believe in God and some 40% of people believe in evolution. The intersection of these two is still significant, but the symmetric difference of these axioms is not. Dawkins holds that to be an intelligent scientific thinker you must hold to both strict naturalism and evolution apriori, which is not so subtly implying that all of the other 53-ish percent of humans living in the United states are basically drooling morons.

    The truth hurts, news at 11.
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:59PM (#27094815) Journal

    The theory of creation is the natural product of theological studies of specific scriptures.

    That makes it the product of the study of fairy tales with no basis in reality. Attempting to put science and fairy tales on the same level is ridiculous and is the same as passing laws banning kryptonite because it is harmful to Superman or allowing people to shoot at one another because in the cartoons it just makes one's face dirty.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EyeOn (541671) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:01PM (#27094865)
    Bah...if anything suggesting that only 53% of human beings living in the US are drooling morons is being generous. Or the world at large, for that matter.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:03PM (#27094893)
    okay captian flamer, look at a county by county voting trend and tell me that it is valid to blame an entire _region_ for the actions of some people you disagree with. there are a lot of people with a variety of opinions everywhere you go. don't generalize and you won't sound like an elitist coastie.

    and i don't care one bit what you take seriously or not.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:05PM (#27094915) Homepage Journal

    Dawkins holds that to be an intelligent scientific thinker you must hold to both strict naturalism and evolution apriori, which is not so subtly implying that all of the other 53-ish percent of humans living in the United states are basically drooling morons.

    No. You don't have to be a drooling moron to be Just Plain Wrong. Sometimes intelligent, honest people are Just Plain Wrong. Hundreds of years ago, the religious also honestly believed based on biblical evidence that the Sun revolved around the Earth. They deluded themselves, just as people today delude themselves about evolution, which is as absolutely factual as the Earth going around the Sun.

    And hopefully someday people will realize they are Just Plain Wrong about the existence of God, but unfortunately that's not as easily proven beyond a reasonable doubt as evolution.

  • Re:OU Student Here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Butterforge (1443045) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:08PM (#27094985)

    anti-abortion posters on campus

    The word is "anti-choice." No one is really "pro abortion," except maybe a few inconsequential lunatics. What anti-abortionists are fighting against is the right to choose, not the right to have recreational abortions - I don't think those exist. So those of us who believe in a woman's right to have control of the insides of her body call it an anti-choice stance. Anyway, Oklahoma sounds like a terrible place for the progressive and diverse. I hope Dawkins gets to speak there. The QA session would be great to see.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:11PM (#27095031) Journal

    Dawkins holds that to be an intelligent scientific thinker you must hold to both strict naturalism and evolution apriori, which is not so subtly implying that all of the other 53-ish percent of humans living in the United states are basically drooling morons.

    Perhaps Dawkins is not implying that these people are unintelligent, but that they are unscientific.

  • Re:OU Student Here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LUH 3418 (1429407) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:14PM (#27095079)
    >> That would be like saying you are offended by goatse but are A-O.K. with gay marriage.

    First of all, goatse has nothing to do with gay marriage. The goatse guy could very well, in fact, not be gay, and you'd be foolish to assume all gay people practice anal sex, or portray their masturbatory acts on the internet. As for gay marriage, it's just like straight marriage, but with two same-sex individuals.

    As for being A-OK... I'm A-OK with *both* gay marriage and the goatse guy. Why? Because both involve other people doing things that don't impact my life in any way, and I'm not a bigot who runs around telling people how to live their life. You also have to realize that encouraging gay people to have stable relationships and safe sex is probably better than trying to deny their existence and force them into some underground subculture full of prostitution and unsafe sex.
  • by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroillini AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:17PM (#27095117)

    The computer you're typing on, the principles behind the electricity and the circuit boards and the plastics and the manufacturing... are all products of the scientific method. Every single human advance that allows you to spend your days doing something other than sitting in the jungle naked waiting to be eaten by a big cat are the result of the scientific method.

    The scientific method produces theories that make correct predictions about the world around us. Theology does not. Simplistic philosophical talking points like "Truth" have nothing to do with it, and maintaining that robust scientific theories that make such correct predictions are just "opinions" is hand-waving at best and intellectually dishonest at worst.

    The fact that you and I are even able to converse about this subject over an electronic network is a direct result of the discoveries of science. Theology may give emotional comfort, but it is not, and never will be, in the same realm as science. Don't drag rational thinking people into the navel-gazing fairly tale world of theology.

  • Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbeaupre (752124) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:17PM (#27095125)

    Unfortunately or fortunately depending on the circumstances, the 1st amendment doesn't say there can't be consequences for speaking freely. Just that laws can't be passed preventing free speech. Relative merit, such as it being solid scientific evidence has no bearing on whether the speech is permitted (no "especially" clause). But it does have a bearing on consequences.

    In this instance, the legislature is stating that they are going to be pissed. The implication is that the university may not get the support is wants next time it comes calling. They aren't putting anyone in prison. Not taking any property. Just hinting they may not give money.

    You might say not giving money money to the university is the same as taking it, but it's not. Any organization that takes in money has to keep their benefactor happy. Golden handcuffs are part of the bargain. Even when the benefactor is a douchebag. Solid scientific evidence means the consequences are that everyone now knows the OK legislature is filled with douchebags. That's the consequence of their free speech.

  • Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:17PM (#27095131)

    we can not fathom how God accomplishes his goals. One is faith, the other science and neither need be exclusive.

    Good fathoming. Is it your conclusion that God's goal is war leading to extinction of humans? That seems the only way to interpret your assertion that God's means are "science" and "faith".

    No, war is the result of our being given free will.

    I can see where my ending could be misconstrued - I did not mean that faith and science are means; rather that a belief in a God that created man is faith and evolution is science and those two items do not need to be mutually exclusive.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:18PM (#27095147)
    Yes, but if the school is being funded my people, they have a right through their lawmakers to say that they don't want their money going to this guy, and its not taking his rights away, he would still be free to go on the street corner and shout all the non-sense he feel like.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:21PM (#27095211) Journal

    Did you read what the bill says the stand is about? Seems reasonable to me if it's true, I haven't read his books so I don't know how polarizing they are.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:22PM (#27095247)

    No they can't.

    Otherwise the people could have the lawmakers revoke funds for anyone not of religion X, and claim that Y and Z can still do it (if they can secure private funding.)

    The state MUST remain impartial even if the people are raving nutcases. Otherwise you miss the point of the First Amendment entirely. If they force the University to deny Dawkins the ability to speak because he is an Atheist, then they must deny anyone else who comes to speak on religious grounds as well.

    Yes, if the Pope wanted to speak they'd have to deny him too.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheoMurpse (729043) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:25PM (#27095297) Homepage

    Under GP's formulation of Dawkins's stance, we have the logical expression

    Intelligent thinker --> strict naturalist

    The converse of this is

    not strict naturalist (= believe in God) --> not intelligent thinker --> not intelligent

    Thus, GP was correct to assert the equivalence between "Dawkins holds . . . to be an intelligent thinker . . ." and "Dawkins calls [a lot of people] morons")

    Whether it is a correct assertion that "Dawkins holds . . . to be an intelligent . . ." I do not know. But it is true as a matter of first-order logic that if that is true, then Dawkins is in fact calling a large number of people morons. Drooling morons? I don't know. But morons? Absolutely.

    Full disclosure:
    (1) I have never read The Selfish Gene, so my real exposure to Dawkins has in general been through discussion on /. of what he actually says regarding religion. Thus, if there is massive deceit about his actual writings on /., then I'm misinformed about him and my post in general is not correct analysis.

    (2) I respect some of what Dawkins is doing (advocacy of evolution). However, I think he is the atheistic equivalent of the guy on the university corner with a bugle calling passing girls "sluts" and telling them if they don't believe in God, they're going to hell. He generates bad PR for his cause in the same way fundamentalist believers do.

    Hitchens is far worse, though (although my evaluation of him is colored by his support for the war in Iraq). Dawkins in general I find agreeable (and I am a Christian).

    However, re: Hitchens, I will say that I respect him massively for one reason. He talked up a bunch of shit about how waterboarding wasn't torture. Then he voluntarily underwent waterboarding and published a detailed retraction about how it actually is torture. It takes a professional person to so publicly retract previous statements.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:25PM (#27095299) Journal

    Yes, but if the school is being funded my people, they have a right through their lawmakers to say that they don't want their money going to this guy, and its not taking his rights away, he would still be free to go on the street corner and shout all the non-sense he feel like.

    That's precisely how the First Amendment *does not work*. If it is funded by the government, then it must remain neutral (a-theistic if you will), regardless of the religious affiliations of any or all taxpayers. That is the point of the First Amendment.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neon Aardvark (967388) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:27PM (#27095335) Homepage

    The religious don't have a logical leg to stand on, so attack the messenger. That's their idea of debate.

    There's nothing hateful about arguing against mere ideas. Especially bizarre and plain wrong ones.

  • by cens0r (655208) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:28PM (#27095355) Homepage
    And you think that they would edit him to look non pompous and intelligent? That would have defeated the entire purpose of the movie.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:30PM (#27095379) Journal

    to put it simply:

    A "god" answer is an answer to /who/ and maybe /why/. Science is about asking /how/.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:35PM (#27095481) Homepage Journal

    Name one of Dawkin's "fallacies". Go ahead.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Doctor Morbius (1183601) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:37PM (#27095541)
    Were talking about Oklahoma here. One of their senators is James Inhofe who vehemently denies global warming among other things so it's not surprising that they would pass this resolution. This is all about evolution. This resolution is nothing more than a thinly veiled defense of religion and creationism and intelligent design. The majority of the christians who live in Oklahoma couldn't care less about free thinking. They want to shove their religious beliefs down other peoples throats.
  • Biblical evidence? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:37PM (#27095545) Homepage

    You don't have to be a drooling moron to be Just Plain Wrong. Sometimes intelligent, honest people are Just Plain Wrong. Hundreds of years ago, the religious also honestly believed based on biblical evidence that the Sun revolved around the Earth.

    Um, "biblical evidence"? Ptolemy and Aristotle?

    Not to say that the authors of the bible were heliocentrists, but the church in the time of Copernicus and Galileo rejected heliocentrism for scientific reasons: it contradicted Aristotelian mechanics, and was not predictively superior to geocentrism. This is one of the reasons Newton was successful where Galileo wasn't--Newton provided a alternative to Aristotelian mechanics that had a number of very clear advantages; Galileo was trying to do so, but didn't get nearly as far.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wclacy (870064) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:40PM (#27095603)

    The constitution does not guarantee anyone a forum in which to express their freedom of speech. Only that you have freedom of speech.

    This is a state funded University, and has made the decision to invite Dawkins to speak. The University is Governed by the state Government, which in this case has decided they don't like the decision made by the University.

    This is not a case about First Amendment rights, but a case of how much control the state Government has over their Universities.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:42PM (#27095641) Homepage Journal
    "That's precisely how the First Amendment *does not work*. If it is funded by the government, then it must remain neutral (a-theistic if you will), regardless of the religious affiliations of any or all taxpayers. That is the point of the First Amendment."

    First...I think the guy should be allowed to speak, and it appears he will.

    However, I'm not so sure about your take on the 1st Amendment. It is for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. It is just that there cannot be a national religion that is forced upon the populace. At least that's what the framers we going for I believe.

    I think mention or discussion of religion in general, or even pure scholarly looks at certain religions is wrong in a public how medieval monks in the churches kept written historical records, etc. I know the trend has been lately to do as you say...take all things public to their lowest denominator (no God)...but, I don't think that was how it was supposed to be translated. I think it really was going for not forcing a religion no anyone...but, not that any religion could never be spoken about. The mere presence of a mention or investigation into religion is not forcing anything upon anyone isn't like you won't pass a course if you don't convert.

    And if you're studying mankind...well, the mere fact that so darned many people out there believe in some form of God(s)....makes it worth while to consider that fact, rather than ban the though or discussion in any publicly funded venue.

  • How on Earth do you think it could be possible to prove the non-existence of an omnipotent entity?

    I didn't say "prove", I said, "prove beyond a reasonable doubt." You can't prove it beyond all doubt. You can only continue to remove all the superstitious nonsense and hope that when people see that absolutely nothing is left that they decide for themselves that it's most rational to conclude that nothing was ever there.

    We don't have "proof" that the Egyptian god Ra never existed, or that Zeus was never real, but most people accept those. Someday (hopefully) people will accept that the Abrahamic God was every bit as real as Ra and Zeus -- not real at all.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:49PM (#27095783)

    Name one of Dawkin's "fallacies". Go ahead.

    That science, which is the systematic and empirical study of the natural world, can prove the non-existence of a supernatural entity. ("Supernatural" being, by definition, outside of the purview of science.)

    Dawkins is an impressive scientist, but when he ventures into theology, he reminds me of a Feynman quote: "I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."

  • I'm not posting to argue for or against your point but to simply ask why you felt it was necessary to make your entire paragraph a hyperlink.

    So the guy I was responding to couldn't miss the fact that it was a hyperlink. He's apparently missed obvious things before.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fred Ferrigno (122319) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:56PM (#27095953)

    The intersection of people who find The God Delusion hateful and the people who have actually read The God Delusion is probably less than 1% of the total population.

    Dawkins holds that he is correct, as does everyone else with a position on any given issue. It's hardly his fault that the logical consequence is that people who disagree with him are incorrect.

    If this were, say, a political discussion, Dawkins' message and tone would positively mild compared to partisans like Rush Limbaugh. Political partisans don't bother with implication. They directly insult the other side's intelligence all the time and no one really bats an eye. I don't seem to Dawkins ever telling someone from the opposition to go fuck himself, [] for example.

  • Re:Disingenuous BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:04PM (#27096085) Journal

    I think you have suffered the results of the Evangelical atheist. You have Abiogenesis and the bubble theories of evolution which are scientific theories. You have scientific works done by Young earth scientists which is now actually the accepted idea for the creation of some canyons and low lands in western the United states that were created in weeks and days instead of millions of years.

    The problems isn't really the lack of other theories to compete with Evolutions, it's alternatives within evolution that could lead to a better understanding of the process. The evangelist evolutionist or evangelist atheist seem to want to lock understanding into what we know of today and only refine those processes instead of allowing other theories to play out to their validity if it might upset what he believes. It's like saying Science is the pursuit of the truth because it is always evaluating the weight of the facts and review them across the community, then saying shut up, this is the way things are, the way they always are, and I don't care what you or your evidence says. It sort of makes a religion out of science, especially concerning evolution which is apparent with Dawkins.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:05PM (#27096113)

    you should easily accept that at least 1 in 2 Americans are drooling morons. For Christ's sake, we have *cooking directions* on POPTARTS. We have chain saws with explicit warning labels to keep you from touching the flying blades with your fingers.

    See, to me that doesn't say anything about how stupid we are, that only speaks to how litigious we are.

    Although, they do have stupid warnings in other countries that don't sue as much. On japanese subways they had little stickers on some of the windows. They say "Warning: this window does not open." I guess it's so that no one will break their fingers trying to get a fixed window open?

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leathered (780018) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:08PM (#27096171)

    Quotes please.

    Dawkins freely admits you can't disprove the existance of a God or any other supnernatural being, no more than you can disprove the existance of pink unicorns, FSM or Santa Claus.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:09PM (#27096193)

    Full disclosure: I'm an athiest

    What the hell do you think religious people have been doing? They've gone a hell of a lot further than 'bashing atheism and nonreligious people'.

    I'm not a huge fan of Dawkins, but to be fair, there's a lot less of 'evangelical' atheists (and I'd bet a smaller percentage) than evangelical Christians/Muslims/etc.

  • by D Ninja (825055) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:15PM (#27096295)

    I didn't say "prove", I said, "prove beyond a reasonable doubt." You can't prove it beyond all doubt. You can only continue to remove all the superstitious nonsense and hope that when people see that absolutely nothing is left that they decide for themselves that it's most rational to conclude that nothing was ever there.

    I never actually understood the fight between creationism and evolution. It's not like they have to be polar opposites. The Bible never actually says anything about how long it took to create the world (unless, of course, you take a literal look at the Bible, and then it's 6 days). However, it's quite feasible that evolution was used in the creation of the world. Why not use some excellent tools that would allow growth and expansion of so many billions of creatures? I can't see God just saying, "Let me do things the hard way, when there's this really awesome way of doing things..."

    Maybe that's just me.

    As to your "prove beyond a reasonable doubt" and "no real" remarks - whether God is or is not real (and I believe that he is), is it really such a big deal that people want something to believe in, even if you don't particularly want or need that?

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:17PM (#27096329)

    He's said that people who teach their kids religion are child abusers.

    From a logical perspective, that is not unreasonable or unheard of. We remove children from "christian scientists" when they refuse critical care.

    He ends one of his lectures by saying how religious fundamentalists crashed into the twin towers, and therefore it's time to stop being so respectful of religion.

    Religious fundamentalists *DID* crash into the twin towers.

    Those are pretty offensive comments to me...

    Truth is often offensive to those who refuse to accept it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:18PM (#27096343)
    This is true, however Richard Dawkins bases his ideas on facts and observations and, like any good scientist, adjusts them to account even for inconvenient facts. Rush just ignores or tries to shout down inconvenient facts that don't match his ideology.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tenek (738297) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:20PM (#27096373)

    wishful thinking

    Oh come on. Watch some of his videos. You could get pretty drunk taking a shot every time he says something along the lines of "... but that doesn't mean it's actually true."

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueforce (192332) <(clannagael) (at) (> on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:28PM (#27096545) Homepage Journal

    Suppose you believed that Snow White and the Seven Dwarves are real. Is me calling you an idiot fair or bigotry?

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by canuck08 (1421409) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:29PM (#27096575)

    ...he states that unless you agree with his narrow understanding of reality and truth itself your must be both a deluded and unintelligent individual.

    Dawkins makes a case for building our understanding of the the Universe on logic and reason.
    Is this the 'narrow understanding of reality and truth' of which you speak?

    Dawkins does not say that religious people are unintelligent. In fact he takes the time to point out that lots of intelligent people are religious. He DOES say that they are deluded.

    Dawkins is only advocating a religion if you consider logic and reason a religion.
    If you think he was advocating religious faith in evolution, newtonian or quantum physics then you misunderstood and might want to re-read his books.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:34PM (#27096623) Homepage

    The point about dogs is actually a minimally good one. Some biologists like to bring it up when they think that paleontologists are getting too smug. But it doesn't quite work since we would see that the dating of all the species was about the same time period and would see that they have all all diverged rapidly from a very similar earlier species and would likely say "huh. Something weird is going on here." We would correctly get that the species were closely related but would likely have trouble telling much else.

    But there's a more serious problem with your comment: You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the primary evidence for evolution is fossil evidence. That's simply not the case. There are many different pieces of evidence from many different disciplines. For example, we have the nested hierarchy from morphology and the genetic nested hierarchy which agree with each other. Indeed, even if we had no access to fossils at all, the evidence for evolution would still be very strong simply based on genetics.

    The rest of your post has similar problems; whether or not we can identify the exact cause of any specific mutation does not mean we don't have a working theory of evolution. We in fact have a very good understanding of mutations and selection pressures and can identify certain types of mutations as due to specific effects. Moreover, you may want to look up the word "philosophy" since it doesn't seem to mean what you think it means.

    Your understanding of religion and Christianity is similarly flawed. Most major Christian denominations have little or no problem with an allegorical reading of the beginning of Genesis (indeed the summary of TFA says just that).

    Moreover, you misunderstand why many atheists care about evolution. Many atheists like many religious people care deeply about how we got here. Many atheists, like many religious people see the overwhelming evidence for evolution and get annoyed when people try to spread ignorance and lies about. Finally, the atheists who care about evolution for two additional reasons: 1) evolution leaves one fewer unaccounted things for someone to shout God did it and 2) many atheists think that the Biblical text was meant to be read literally. Thus, in that regard, those atheists are like many liberal Christians and Jews who are willing to concede that the text is highly imperfect. However, many atheists see this as an argument for rejecting the Biblical text as a whole. Thus, in that regard some atheists are actually in agreement with the Biblical literalists about how the text should be read.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Friday March 06, 2009 @03:34PM (#27096633)

    It is for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

    Actually, it's neither. It prohibits an established religion controlling the government. The government of Oklahoma taking a stance against someone, by their own admission based on his religious views, sounds to me like unequivocal church sponsorship of a contrary religion.

  • He's much more likely to speak at the Vatican than most religious institutions. Catholics are much more accepting of evolution than other Christian sects.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DamnStupidElf (649844) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:05PM (#27097263)

    It is a fallacy because it is inductive logic, which is not always true.

    Immanuel Kant proved that you cannot prove God exists or does not exist by Science long ago. Anything else is pure logical fallacies like inductive logic, which Dawkins uses as well as circular references and wishful thinking.

    Well, go ahead and explain how Kant's proof is still valid today (and will still be valid tomorrow). I bet you'll say something like "well, clearly logic isn't changing" but I dare you to use anything other than induction to prove such a statement. Humans inherently use induction when they assume that the universe, logic, or anything maintains its form over time. Specifically, you believe that because the proof has always been valid in the past (P(i), i<N, for the current time N), and a valid proof now is a valid proof in the near future (P(N) -> P(N+epsilon)), inductively the same proof will always be valid (P(t) for all times t).

  • by Jerry Beasters (783525) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:08PM (#27097313)
    How is he a jerk? He never attacks or even criticizes believers simply for believing. You anti-atheist bigots see anyone who dares publicly discuss their atheism and reason for lacking belief as jerks, no matter how nice they are. Dawkins is very nice to people who simply believe. He only insults those who do bad things, lie, etc. in the name of such belief, which is completely valid. You are the only one here being a jerk.
  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:20PM (#27097563)

    I was Catholic for 17 years, then became an EMT and decided a God wouldn't create a world like this - and if he did, we shouldn't worship him for it. I sure don't claim to know everybody's beliefs, but I know the official positions and most of the sub-positions.

    And I'm sorry if I came off as personally insulting. That 'you' was meant as 'one', as in people in general.

    Having said that, I think what Dawkins is saying is that some people are religious and nonscientific. He's calling those people stupid (really, it's ignorance).

    Then he's saying there are people who believe in a God whose existence is unprovable and undetectable, and a scientific method that says he is irrelevant (if he does exist) because his existence is unprovable and undetectable.

    No matter how you say it, those two ideas conflict with each other. Christianity holds that God exists, and we can't know his ways. Science holds that we shouldn't give a shit if we can't observe anything about it.

  • by cowscows (103644) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:23PM (#27097609) Journal

    What does that mean that "you will not entertain any such nonsense"? If I'm having a discussion about my beliefs with someone, will you insert yourself into the conversation and try to convince me that I'm wrong? Will you yell insults from across the room? Will you run over to us and start yelling jibberish so that we can't continue our discussion? Or will you just put your headphones on and mind your own business?

    Why shouldn't you be tolerant of the belief in Zeus. If someone wants to believe in Zeus, that's their business, and I don't see that as a reason to treat them differently from anyone else. Now if their belief in Zeus requires them to be an asshole to me, then I'll be an asshole back. But other than that, I couldn't care less.

    I'll certainly agree that there are way too many people in this world who worry about the religious beliefs of people who don't want their concern. What I'm seeing as increasingly common (and which Dawkins is one of the most public examples of) are atheists who seem just as concerned and vocal about everyone's beliefs.

    To be honest, I'm not particularly offended. I'm entirely indifferent towards your beliefs. Even if you want to go on broadcast TV and talk for hours about how everyone who has religious beliefs is a fool, I won't be particularly upset. The most disappointing part of all of this, to me at least, is that there are some very valid complaints about people with more extremist beliefs holding an undue amount of political influence, and using it to force aspects of their religion onto everyone. And the far too common response to this is that instead of attacking the blurring of that line between church and state, people like you choose to bash religion in general, call people names, and tell us that we're stupid.

    All that does is alienate the moderate religious folk, many of which are just as uneasy about fundamental Christianity as you are. Like it or not, atheists are way out-numbered in this country, and if you want to avoid being marginalized, then insulting everyone else is not the smartest way to go about it. But you know, that's just my opinion, and I wear a cross around my neck so my opinion is worthless.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:25PM (#27097657)

    Whilst there may have been a relative increase of literal interpretations of the bible in the 19th century I really think that line of thinking had been in place and exploited far, far before then.

    All the points in your paragraph beginning "It is conceptually" could basically be said to sum up the entire point of any religion in the first place - the means to control a mass and (usually) concentrate power and wealth into the hands of a few. That is not a new goal for certain members of humanity, it is as old as humanity itself.

    Of course there is as much ambiguity now as before - that's because the whole thing is and always has been bollocks! The Inquisition, for example, were not known for their liberal interpretation of the bible and they were around long before the 19th century. Look at Galileo. Those are just two simple examples off the top of my head but there are obviously many more going back right up to the foundation of the religion.

    I know you specified English speaking and I have only mentioned non-english speaking examples but if you look at the history of England you will see many cases where the supporters and proponents of religion were far more rabid and fixed on the literal interpretation than today. Throughout most of England's history the church fought with the crown (both covertly and overtly) for primacy.

    The trend to take the bible literally waxes and wanes but it is not a new phenomena at all, and as long as there are simple minded people who do not wish to question their reality, and as long as there are unscrupulous scum wishing to control and exploit that defect, there will be religion.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:27PM (#27097679)

    This is about a state government going "we don't like that you're going to have him come talk, please DO NOT LET HIM SPEAK."

    In this case, they are limited and -cannot- force the issue. If they were able to go "YOU WILL NOT LET HIM SPEAK BECAUSE HE OFFENDS US" then they would be forced to do so for anyone else the university invites if they ever offend anyone. Otherwise it is tyranny of the majority and the purpose of government is lost.

    It's not a case about first amendment rights, yet, because the government cannot force the issue.

  • by Xenographic (557057) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:39PM (#27097921) Homepage Journal

    > Hundreds of years ago, the religious also honestly believed based on biblical evidence that the Sun revolved around the Earth.

    Yeah, except not. Didn't you ever take a history of science class?

    At the time, the evidence they had made the theory that the Sun revolved around the Earth the weaker one. The theory you're repeating is widely claimed on the web, but it's so bad I'd say it's not even wrong.

    For one, no one could measure stellar parallax (it's too small). I mean, how could you expect to claim that the Earth was moving if the stars didn't move enough to measure? How can you expect them to believe that, just because it simplifies some calculations, the Earth is actually moving even though you CAN'T see the stellar parallax (and they DID know that they should be able to see it).

    The Bible had very little to do with it. Aristotle had a lot more. Please don't make up reasons why people believed things. We know the actual reasons people believed things. Although they were right (and eventually vindicated), they did not have enough evidence to prove their theories.

    Thanks to thinking like this, we can expect that someday, we'll be ridiculed for thinking that [crackpot scientific theory that happens to be right] was ridiculous just because there was only a little bit of proof for it and a bunch of gaping holes in the theory no one had yet filled in.

  • by cowscows (103644) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:41PM (#27097961) Journal

    *shrug* I'm not willing to die for my religion. I'm not willing to kill for my religion either. But hey, thanks for judging me based on the actions of a handful of nutjobs (with vastly different beliefs than mine) who did a terrible thing.

    People hurt other people over all sorts of random stuff. Maybe we should outlaw love, people get killed over that all the damn time.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:51PM (#27098143)

    That science, which is the systematic and empirical study of the natural world, can prove the non-existence of a supernatural entity.

    Clearly you've never watched anything that Dawkins has done, or read anything that he's written.

    Dawkins explicitly admits that he can't disprove the existence of God. He's said so many, many times.

    He also admits that he can't disprove the existence of a teapot in orbit around the sun. []

    You have the same problem that many theists have - you seem believe that your theology is above criticism. Dawkins may not be able to prove the non-existence of your God(s), but he can certainly criticize your religion in the context of the actions it promotes.

    I'm sure you're one of the reasonable theists who would never try to repress science, harm public health, or oppress the rights of a minority. But the fact is that there are people who want to do those things in the name of their religion. And many of those people are in the highest levels of the US and other governments.

    That's what Dawkins is criticizing. If you want to argue that Dawkins is wrong, that's valid. But Dawkins' arguments don't hinge on the belief that science can disprove religion.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:53PM (#27098181) Homepage Journal

    And hopefully someday people will realize they are Just Plain Wrong about the existence of God

    Once you've actually experienced an elephant, you can no longer disbelieve in the existance of elephants.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:54PM (#27098195) Journal

    These are pretty poor examples. Try to be more specific.

    5. The Non Sequitar â" âComments or information that do not logically follow from a premise or the conclusion.â(TM) [24]

    Stephen M. Barrâ(TM)s review of Dawkinsâ(TM) Unweaving the Rainbow is spot on:

    It is not often that one can find exactly the point where an author goes off track, but here one can. It is in the fifth sentence of the preface of the book, which begins, âSimilar accusations of barren desolation, of promoting an arid and joyless message, are frequently flung at science in general.â(TM) However, what people object to in Dawkins is not the science but the atheism. Because he cannot see the difference, he writes a book that is a 300-page non sequitur.

    It's not clear from this excerpt what Dawkins' premise is, and what his conclusion is. In fact, there's only one statement. So there's not enough information here to tell whether it's a non sequitur or not.

    3. The False Dilemma - Two choices are given when in actuality there are more choices possible.

    When it comes to explaining biological reality, Dawkins asserts: âThe only thing [William Paley] got wrong â" admittedly quite a big thing â" was the explanation itself. He gave the traditional religious answer [that life was created by God]. . . The true explanation is utterly different, and it had to wait for one of the most revolutionary thinkers of all time, Charles Darwin.â(TM) [14] Dawkins fails to point out that belief in the doctrine of creation and the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection are in fact compatible. Michael Poole explains why the choice between creation and evolution is a false dilemma:

    The fact that simultaneous belief in the doctrine of creation and the scientific theory of evolution is possible, does not prove that the ideas are in fact compatible. All it shows is that humans are capable of entertaining incompatible beliefs simultaneously. Here it is you who are making conclusions that do not derive from your premises.

    7. Wishful Thinking - âa fallacy that posits a belief because it or its consequence is desired to be true.â(TM) [28]

    Discussing the theory of âchemical evolutionâ(TM) or abiogenesis [29] (the supposed naturalistic appearance of life from non-life), Dawkins says: âNobody knows how it happened but, somehow, without violating the laws of physics and chemistry, a molecule arose that just happened to have the property of self-copying â" a replicator.â(TM) [30] Dawkinsâ(TM) belief in abiogenesis is wishful thinking in that he wants it to be true because it is necessary for an atheistic account of origins, despite there being a large body of scientific evidence against the theory. [31]

    Man, a theist accusing an atheist of "wishful thinking" is pretty rich with irony, don't you think? If Dawkins had taken the opposite position, would you be making this complaint? But you have a small point, he should qualify that with an "Our best explanation is..."

    P.S. What evidence is there against abiogenesis?

    9. Straw Man Argument - âa type of Red Herring that attacks a misrepresentation of an opponentâ(TM)s position. That is called to burn a straw man. It is a surprisingly common fallacy, because it is easy to misunderstand another person's position.â(TM) [36]

    According to Dawkins: âScience shares with religion the claim that it answers deep questions about origins, the nature of life and the cosmos. But there the resemblance ends. Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.â(TM) [37] But as McGrath responds:

    Dawkinsâ(TM)s caricature of Christianity may well carry weight with his increasingly religiously illiterate or religiously alienated audiences, who find in his writing

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Friday March 06, 2009 @05:00PM (#27098313) Homepage Journal

    Who's to say that there isn't a god, and he/she/it didn't design evolution?

    Nietzsche, and very brilliantly.

    The argument goes roughly like this (though he puts it a lot better than I can):

    Existence is defined by the effects something has on the rest of the world. If we take a hypothetical something, call it "thing an sich" or "god" or whatever else you like, which has no effect on anything else, then due to it not affecting anything, we can not verify its existence. Also, its existence makes no difference whatsoever. Therefore, it does not exist in any meaningful sense of the word.

    Now you might have noticed that "god" is on the retreat. Vast areas that were clearly "gods domain" a thousand years ago are now the domain of science. Science does not only prove "how", it also proves "who" in the sense that there is no "who". Evolution works perfectly well without any guiding hand. It rains due to atmospherics, not because god is angry. Kids are made by biological events, not given by a supreme being. Whenever science is sufficiently "done" with any of its research areas, there is no "effect" of a hypothetical god left. In the end, we will end up with a "god" that has no effect whatsoever, and therefore does not exist.


  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday March 06, 2009 @05:02PM (#27098359)

    I believe Dawkins has advanced the hypothesis that religious education during development is detrimental to intelligence. There are scientific studies that support that hypothesis.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @05:06PM (#27098425)

    You have no tolerance for what they believe. You said it yourself - "I don't have to be tolerant.." - you are intolerant by definition.

    Tolerance isn't about seeing their point of view, or agreeing with them because you respect them or any of that shit - its about being respectful to them as a person despite the crazy crap they choose to believe in.

    You aren't expected to be tolerant of violent people, or abusive people, or even self-righteous pushy gits who chase you down the streets with clipboards. However, your everyday 'only religious on Sunday mornings', generally non-intrusive church/mosque/temple goers (*deep breath*) really should be afforded the appropriate level of respect for a fellow member of the human race.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm nowhere near tolerant. I have a soft spot in my heart for Englishman/Irishman/Scotsman jokes and I wouldn't piss on a Tory if i found one on fire - but I know I'm meant to be better than that. Whether your religious, agnostic or militant atheist it should be fairly obvious that things work better when we mostly get along, and if you've got no better reason than being an arrogant prick, to insult and abuse people then you're a fucking idiot as well.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    However, I'm not so sure about your take on the 1st Amendment. It is for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

    I think what a lot of religious people forget is that religion can be a very oppressive force for those that don't accept the majority view. I have personally found religion to be a very hostile force against me in my life.

    The Catholic church still runs 90% of the schools in Ireland, and I, like virtually everyone else in the country, had no choice but to attend a Catholic primary and secondary school. It is not a happy experience to be marched down to mass when you don't believe in any of it, and don't practice any religion at home. The situation was in no way restricted to schools. Up to the 1980's it was common for non-Catholics in the workplace to stand up and make motions of prayer during the Angelus at noon so as not to stand out.

    It is a very difficult thing to be a non-believer amid believers. I can tell you that dissension in these matters will evoke severe hostility. The situation that I and many others else in Ireland found ourselves in is the exact situation that the American first amendment was designed to avoid.

    When religious people argue for prayers in schools, or courts, or legislature, they rarely consider the effect on non-believers. Religion does create a hostile work environment for just about anyone except the devout, and that's not something that any Government office should promote or enforce. If you want to go and pray or need time to do so, absolutely. But don't force a hostile environment on the people that don't want it.

    Your first amendment is as much about freedom from religion as it is about freedom of religion.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Draconix (653959) on Friday March 06, 2009 @05:20PM (#27098653)

    "God" is nebulous, and inherently impossible to disprove. So is anything else anyone could make up that is untestable! That was kind of the whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    It's perfectly fair for Dawkins to use the term "delusion", because theists have made an outlandish claim with no evidence to back it up. You can't assert something, provide no evidence for it, then claim you're right until someone proves you wrong. That's literally the logic of an insane person. The sane person observes a phenomenon, comes up with a testable hypothesis, and tests it, and doesn't claim their hypothesis is true unless it holds up to repeated and rigorous testing, and even then, there's no 100% "proven."

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jaypifer (64463) on Friday March 06, 2009 @07:33PM (#27100403)

    "god" is not an answer, it's the avoidance of an answer.

    Science asks "how" and accepts "I don't know" as a legitimate answer.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:28PM (#27100911) Homepage

    I believe he was pointing out the idiocy of the article author, not necessarily theists in general.

    I believe my reading of the remark was more reasonable than yours. The remark says that it is ironic if a theist accuses an atheist of being intellectually lazy. It doesn't in any way single out the article author, nor provide any particular reason for us to conclude that the remark must have been meant to single out the article author.

    But we're still waiting for examples of Dawkins bashing someone.

    Well, the problem here is that the participants in this discussion are being quite unspecific about what they mean by "bashing someone." I certainly know for sure that Dawkins regularly labels theists as being, as a general rule, superstitious, ignorant, unintelligent, unsubtle, simpletons, archaic, unprogressive, etc. And what's more, he seems to be in a crusade to go all over the world giving talks where he does so.

    My problem with that is very simple: while I very much agreed with him when I was around 18, over the past 12 years or so I've gradually come to see that Dawkins, while quite intelligent, isn't really very knowledgeable outside a very narrow field, but goes around acting as if he is, and won't listen to reason when people try to enlighten him about his errors and misunderstandings. He doesn't know enough about, for example, philosophy or the social sciences to understand that the scientistic, atheistic worldview he's crusading for is not nearly as solid as he thinks it is. It's like he lives in a time-warp where none of the philosophy of the second half of the 20th century happened. No Wittengstein; no Quine-Duhem hypothesis; no anti-foundationalism []; no Kuhn, Lakatos nor Feyerabend.

    Once you realize how many problems Dawkins' whole worldview has, you start to think that perhaps he is a bit intellectually lazy. Basically, he picks on the theistic crowd very loudly while pretending that there are no serious secular objections to what he wants us to believe.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Torvaun (1040898) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:10PM (#27101271)

    You kidding me? I've never seen a blurry photograph of God running through the woods.

  • Re:Oklahoma? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rts008 (812749) on Friday March 06, 2009 @11:04PM (#27101963) Journal

    I sincerely don't know who or what made them so angry and full of hate.

    Here in the USA, I think that the attitude you are describing is a result of atheists feeling like they have been backed into a corner lately.
    Think about the likes of:
    Jack Thompson, Tipper Gore, the whole teaching ID/Creationism in science classes in Kansas(that was fortuneatly derailed), the 'think of the children' war on well, everything, the 'Moral Majority' sponsored legislation, 'Family Values' legislation, etc. being constantly hurled at us in a country that is supposedly run by a 'seperation of church and state', secular philosophy that has broken down and headed the opposite direction.(attempted theism by the Moral Majority/Family Values camp)

    It's a defensive backlash, and IMO, justifiable.

    The 'other side' seems to not realize that 'freedom of religion' also implies the right of 'freedom from religion...'My way, or the highway' gets old after a while!

  • Re:Vatican. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07, 2009 @03:47AM (#27103111)

    How do you decide which interpretations are correct, if it's not literal ones? How do you decide which parts should be literally interpeted and which aren't? How do you decide which parts (if any) of the bible are ok to set aside?

    I can understand making such choices with a self-help book or someone's philosophy, but this is supposed to be the word of god isn't it?

    And if it's not the literal word of god, why the bible over any other text? Why has god not communicated something that doesn't require so much picking and choosing and which hasn't caused so many problems from people taking parts of it literally that you don't consider correct?

  • by Alsee (515537) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:29AM (#27111081) Homepage

    how can you know which of the alternatives are good and which are evil? The way I see it, this is a question atheists have no good answer for, period.

    It's funny how virtually every atheist successfully does so with no difficulty, yet so many theists are apparently so morally or intellectually handicapped that constantly experess their own lack of understanding and their own lack of capability to accomplish it, and quite often expressing how that apparently *they* would be evil rapists/murderers/thieves/whatnot if they didn't have a pre-cooked morality system imposed on them.


    I'm not going to build an entire system for you here, but I will give you give you an incredibly simple and incredibly powerful foundation for doing so. A single point capable of constructing almost an entire system all by itself:

    In a single word: Symmetry.

    You don't get to assign yourself unique status under the system. A coherent universal system applies to you on the same terms it applies to everyone else. I do not want you to kill me, I consider it "evil" for you to kill me, therefore it is immediately obvious that I shouldn't go around killing people. I don't exactly want people stealing from me or breaking my leg either. It's closely similar to the Golden Rule.

    Right there, a single-word principal, and I've already built a fairly comprehensive morality system. Symmetry.

    I'd like to make an additional point. If I were to ask you to come up with some strictly objective standard for measuring morality, can you think of any approach to attempt it?

    I have a proposed standard for measuring morality. I acknowledge that this is an extremely imperfect approximation for measuring morality, but I propose that crime is a completely objective standard and that it is a very reasonable approximation for measuring morality. People who are violent, who kill, rape, steal, commit fraud, or violate the standard assortment of other crimes, that is an imperfect but extremely solid indicator of violations of morality - measure of "evil".

    The fact is that atheists are quite significantly UNDER-represented in the prison population. It seems to me that there are only two ways to explain those statistics. Either (1) atheists are *more* moral than theists, at least to the extent that crime accurately approximates morality levels, or (2) atheists are equally or more criminal/immoral as theists, but that atheists are incredible supra-geniuses in crime and aren't getting caught.

    Personally I don't particularly buy into the second alternative there. Chuckle.

    I have some possible thoughts towards explaining first alternative. For one thing, an atheist has to put much more and much deeper thought into building his morality system. A theist is simply handed a set of rules, they don't need to figure them out, they don't need to think them over, they don't need to analyze them, they don't much even need to understand them. The theist is just supposed to do what he's told. So the atheist much more deeply internalizes the system. The atheist is also equipped to evaluate novel situations on his own when he runs into them. If a theist runs into a novel situation and he has trouble fitting it into the morality framework he was given, then he's just plain stuck over what is right or wrong in that situation. I also think people have less respect for rules that are imposed upon them - people can be very creative in rationalizing their way around rules they dislike at the time. For an atheist, he isn't circumventing the rules of some distant external entity, he knows damn well that any excuses or circumvention are breaking the rules, when he breaks a rule he's violating himself, he's failing himself. He's not fearing that maybe God will look down on him for it, he knows and he feels that he's looking down on himself for it. He's not breaking some outside rule, he's violating his own integrity.

    Several times I've seen theists essentially indicate that they would become some selfish evil monster

We all like praise, but a hike in our pay is the best kind of ways.