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  1. #1
    Mr Aphorisms Mr Aphorisms is offline
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    Does Richard Dawkins undermine atheism?

    I'm agnostic, so I tend to be on Dawkins side overall on the whole religion is bad thing. However, I've watched a lot of his debates before and I've never really been that impressed by him, as well as having watched him in a debate recently were he was basically torn asunder by the Muslim interviewer and the audience.

    The now deceased Christopher Hitchens, whom I strongly disagreed with on American foreign policy, was, on the subject of religion, quite remarkable regarding his arguments, erudition and understanding of what his opponents were thinking. Even though I grew to really despise him, he was an amazing debater. Can't say I can remember him losing a debate and I've watched many of his religious debates.

    Sam Harris is a sort of latté-sipping Hitchens, but quite good as well from what I've seen, having a very good understanding of the three big monotheism's that he normally debates about: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

    But Dawkins is miles behind these two. This video, an interview on a show called Head to Head, was really extraordinary in the way in which it exposed Dawkins:



    I won't go through it all, but there were a few that had me really surprised. Dawkins' self-destruction was remarkable as well as his crazy views on child sex abuse and Catholicism.

    On the subject of Islamic fundamentalism, Dawkins tried to attribute all of it to religion, brushing aside the interviewer who tried to say that politics, etc plays a part in suicide bombers engaging in such actions. Dawkins said, rather bizarrely, that all failed suicide bombers have the 72 virgins on their mind and hes seen evidence of this, which he did not cite. The interviewer then challenged Dawkins citing a study by Robert Pape, who carried out over 300 investigations into suicide bombing and found no evidence for anyone dreaming of virgins as the reason they were trying to blow themselves up. Dawkins just carried on without reply.

    I found that remarkable, but then Dawkins dug an even bigger hole. The interviewer asked him about the 7/7 bombings and if Dawkins believed it was all to do with Islamic doctrine and nothing more. Dawkins said yes, he believed it to be the case, to which the interviewer asked if Dawkins had seen what the reasons given by those behind it, to which Dawkins replied he hadn't. Astonishing from Dawkins. He purports to know what has happened and is asked a simple question as to the motivations by the attackers, in their own words, and he then admits he hasn't looked at any of it at all.

    A startling exchange between them. This is the most famous Atheist in the world, and he is being asked infant questions and cannot answer them. His whole life is now more or less about religion and Atheism and he cannot answer these questions. Whether or not 7/7 was about hating Eastenders or 9/11 about hating Disneyland or American foreign policy is actually irrelevant, it's the fact that Dawkins had no understanding at all of what he was talking about. He was in Oxford Union, guessing basically. Amazing.

    Dawkins then threw out his famous question about what happens if you leave Islam. He asked the interviewer if it's in Islam that death must be given to those who leave the faith. The interviewer said no, and Dawkins just carried on. He did not cite anything from the Quran or Hadith. It's as if he just heard of Islam yesterday and was told these things or he was trying to repeat what he had heard Harris and Hitchens say in their discussions years ago.

    Finally, Dawkins came out with something mad, relating to our own country. He wrote in one of his books that it is better to be raped by a priest than brought up a Catholic and when questioned about this, he defended it, but did it tenuously, giving an ineffably bad reason why this was the case about having a Catholic write to him about a priest who told the girl that her friend was going to hell for being a Protestant.

    I'm sure some have seen the video but if others haven't and after you have watched, what do you make of Dawkins? I'm not just judging him by this appearance alone. The interviewer is good, I'll admit that. He is slightly biased but you wouldn't get someone like him on Fox, CNN, Russia Today, etc and the show Head to Head is one of the best political shows I've seen in a while. Martin McGuiness has also appeared on it. But overall, I think this interview just adds to Dawkins' reputation as a poor debater. He is not that well versed in Theology - self-admittedly regarding Islam - and seems to have all of these superficial thoughts you think of when you're a kid 'if god is good, why do bad things happen to good people?', 'do you believe in leprechauns or the spaghetti monster?' and promulgates them as if they have any profound impact or meaning.

    So, if I can answer my own question. Yes, I believe Dawkins undermines atheism and secularism in general. As one guy said of him 'he knows as much about science as he knows as little about Islam' and that really summed him up in this debate. He is also a fanatical atheist and is on the 'I can't say I can attribute anything good to religion' brigade.

    A fascinating debate all the same, with great questions from the audience as well. Well worth the watch.
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  2. #2
    Rausmaus Von Schnellkat Rausmaus Von Schnellkat is offline

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    It isn't actually possible to 'undermine' atheism as atheism isn't a movement. It is the absence of a belief in gods.

    Only possible way to undermine that is to turn up with a real live god under your arm.
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  3. #3
    toxic avenger toxic avenger is offline
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    He is a very bright and capable fellow, undermined by his own implacable need for attention and his intolerant condescension. He clearly had some effect, if not in converting believers to unbelief, in firming up unbelievers' self-identification as atheist rather than agnostic, and in creating a phalanx of anti-theist missionaries. So I wouldn't write off his contribution altogether. Having said that, as a Catholic, I'm quite happy to watch his regular attention-seeking pronouncements (e.g. on insisting on Downs babies being aborted) backfire - they rather show up his mindset very well.

    Sam Harris is an offensive neo-con loon. He's worse than Dawkins by far.
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  4. #4
    Mr Aphorisms Mr Aphorisms is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by toxic avenger View Post
    He is a very bright and capable fellow, undermined by his own implacable need for attention and his intolerant condescension. He clearly had some effect, if not in converting believers to unbelief, in firming up unbelievers' self-identification as atheist rather than agnostic, and in creating a phalanx of anti-theist missionaries. So I wouldn't write off his contribution altogether. Having said that, as a Catholic, I'm quite happy to watch his regular attention-seeking pronouncements (e.g. on insisting on Downs babies being aborted) backfire - they rather show up his mindset very well.

    Sam Harris is an offensive neo-con loon. He's worse than Dawkins by far.
    I don't think Harris was for the Iraq War in fairness to him.
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  5. #5
    southwestkerry southwestkerry is offline
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    You might like too see what Deepak Chopra has to say about him.
    If I find the link I will post it.
    swk
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  6. #6
    Ramps Ramps is offline

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    Dawkins, by his own admission, isn't a very good debater. He's not quick on his feet, and he tends to become flustered if someone makes a point that requires any kind of decent refutation. Also, I think some people have a reflexive dislike of his plummy accent and precise use of language, which sometimes comes across as cold and intolerant.

    However, on the main point; namely, explaining why 'faith' isn't a good thing, he is on the money, imo.
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  7. #7
    toxic avenger toxic avenger is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Aphorisms View Post
    I don't think Harris was for the Iraq War in fairness to him.
    But he is all for nuking Iran if they acquire a nuclear capability. And think it might be ethical to kill people for their beliefs if those beliefs are deemed dangerous enough. And supports torture. And supports racial profiling of Muslims and anyone who even looks like he might be a Muslim. While making a point of never saying a word against Israel (actually admits it), an out of control theist entity if ever there was one. There are no shortage of atheists who point Harris out for what he is - Chomsky being one...
    Noam Chomsky on the "New Atheism" « Attack the System
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  8. #8
    ne0ica ne0ica is offline
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    I seen on the Atheist.ie FB page in the past members ignore or even deny some of Dawkins statements. The thing is I think Dawkins reflects alot of the bigotry, intolerance and snobery of modern atheism.
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  9. #9
    Rausmaus Von Schnellkat Rausmaus Von Schnellkat is offline

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    Must be one powerfully influential human if one of the only ways to shore up the god-stuff is to attack that human.

    Probably just about the only way that Dawkins is connected to the Divine Brilliant how this is yet another thread though which amply demonstrates that believers don't actually comprehend what atheism or agnosticism is.

    They think that by outlining their unhappiness with Dawkins that their god becomes that little bit clearer a figure in modern culture.

    In a little while we will see one poster arrive to say Dawkins has been 'debunked' (which could only happen if a real live god announces its presence) another will be along to say that Dawkins isn't a really real academic despite the opinion of the University of Oxford and a number of other top-flight Universities and journals on that question and perhaps three or four who will be along to claim that Dawkins is a bit rude despite them never having been in the same room as him or attended any lecture with him at all.

    It is easy to undermine atheism. Show me a god. If you can't do that then atheism is not diminished but strengthened as a concept in human affairs.
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  10. #10
    Half Nelson Half Nelson is offline
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    When atheism is debunked or challenged we watch as its adherents retreat to a very shallow simplification and try to tell us that its extent is their belief that God doesn't exist.

    Of course they conveniently ignore all that flows from that and Dawkins is no exception. When faced with the logic of his own position he evades and ignores.

    The Emperor has no clothes.
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