Friday, May 03, 2013

Richard Dawkins Is a Scholar and a Gentleman

Most of you think of Richard Dawkins as a "strident atheist" who doesn't suffer fools gladly.1 The first part of that reputation ("strident atheist") is unjust as Dawkins pointed out on several occasions when he was in Toronto earlier this week.

The second part ("doesn't suffer fools gladly") is quite true. Dawkins thinks that foolish things, like religion and other superstitions, deserve to be ridiculed.

Richard Dawkins and I agree on atheism but disagree on some aspects of evolution. I'm pleased to report that he didn't hold that against me when we met for brunch a few days ago. I guess that means I'm not a fool in his mind!

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of meeting him, I want to assure you that in person he is a very pleasant fellow and lives up to the very British expression, "a scholar and a gentleman."

Some of the people I met were wondering about the reasons why I disagree with some aspects of Richard's views on evolution. They haven't heard of Stephen Jay Gould and I find that very sad. I still believe that everyone interested in evolution has to read and understand the "Spandrels" paper.

Here's a short reading list ....

Michael Lynch on Adaptationism
What Does San Marco Basilica Have to do with Evolution?
Michael Ruse Defends Adaptationism
Richard Dawkins' View of Random Genetic Drift


1. The phrase comes from the New Testament [Suffer fools gladly].

12 comments :

  1. Completely agreed regarding the inaccuracy of "strident." I get the impression people characterizing TGD in that way may not have read beyond the title.

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  2. Dawkins is a gentleman until challenged. He can be very assertive and he is most of the time. He is a moron, I have no respect for because he thinks his religion is superior to other. He has no proof for his s..t but blubber... Who likes blubber?

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    1. Nikelhead said:

      He is a moron, I have no respect for because he thinks his religion is superior to other.

      Do you think your religion is superior to other?

      Should we have respect for you?

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    2. I don't, but the moron does. So, what are going to do now? Apologize?

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    3. "I have no respect for because he thinks his religion is superior to other."
      Wait, Dawkins has a religion? Seems like a "have you stopped beating your wife" kind of proposition.

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    4. dominic said:

      "I don't,..."

      Then why do you denigrate people who don't accept your religion?

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  3. i am a YEC creationist and seen many of the top evolutionist, audience getters I mean as opposed to quiet researchers, and i found Dawkins decent enough and rare on that for evolutionists.
    I guess he's british but i read he grew up in Nigeria. The old empire heritage still kicking around 60 years ago.
    He's said a few over the threshold sharp things but I can't quote but remember the sting.
    if he allows ridicule of christian religion or foundations regarding creationism then its breaking the hundreds of years old agreement not to ridicule others religions. A thing from the the old protestant conflicts and conflicts with the Catholics.
    Make your case and don't ridicule. it doesn't persuade any target audience.
    If we ridiculed any non Christian religion in Canada we would be arrested or almost.
    I am interested in origin subjects and note largely its the Atheists who actually confront creationism and so sometimes their other motive gets in the way of pure origin discussion.
    However evolutionists otherwise are gun shy.

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  4. if he allows ridicule of christian religion or foundations regarding creationism then its breaking the hundreds of years old agreement not to ridicule others religions.

    Yes! That's exactly right. He's breaking a tradition that religion should be protected from criticism.

    The world is changing. Better get used to it.

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    1. its not criticism but the concept called ridicule. Religions, the other guys, was greatly ridiculed in the great religious strive after the reformation.
      It took a long time to get everyone to disagree but not ridicule or be contemptuous tp others dignity/feelings etc etc.
      Today one religion CAN'T ridicule another, especially not Christian sects and , I say, especially protestants toward others.
      In some circles I note these atheists/evolutionists etc feel they are above the old agreement to dissent but not disrespect.
      i see it as a establishment and upper middle class presumption to do or say whatever they want.
      it won't last as its counter productive in a arena that needs to produce persuasion.

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    2. "its not criticism but the concept called ridicule."
      How is ridicule not a form of criticism? Furthermore, how is it an inappropriate response? To quote Thomas Jefferson: "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them"

      "In some circles I note these atheists/evolutionists etc feel they are above the old agreement to dissent but not disrespect."
      Is there a polite way of saying you believe in nonsense? If so, how?

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    3. Jefferson isn't right about everything.
      Come on. Ridicule in these matters is aimed at human beings dignity and not ideas.
      I f it was just ideas then fine.
      Fine . We all can ridicule evolution or creationism hopefully done well.
      I don't care much as i say its predictable and even welcome however creationists see a great deal of MALICE directed at them and truly don't return it by and large.
      Its the old story of a fight. Origin contentions are a contact sport but still its desirable to have referees.

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