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 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"

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PostSubject: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:44 pm

And a third of the population believes that the earth was created in the last 10,000 years.

It's not often that my jaw hits the floor. But it happened this morning as I browsed the news whilst enjoying my muesli. My partner thought that I was having a stroke, seeing the milky goo trail back down into my bowl. I clued her in as I wiped my mouth and chin. Two minutes later, there were two sitting at the table, staring into space, drooling.

I mean... Look, I know the yanks go in for this stuff... But the Brits too? Jesus...

Now I'm afraid of what the result will be, should such a survey be taken in Ireland. The planet is coming apart and folks are beginning to de-evolve. I'm not having a go at religion here, though I do suppose that it cannot escape from some of the flack. Critical thought itself has just become critical.

LINK
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:48 pm

Without having the stomach to read the link, I think you're right that critical thought - and I would add science, analysis, dialectics, materialist philosophy are needed more than ever.

Its very rude and silly of Dawkins if he called more than half the people in Britain that name. It says more about the education system there than anything else.
The UK is a largely secular society, so the church can't be blamed.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:00 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Without having the stomach to read the link, I think you're right that critical thought - and I would add science, analysis, dialectics, materialist philosophy are needed more than ever.

Its very rude and silly of Dawkins if he called more than half the people in Britain that name. It says more about the education system there than anything else.
The UK is a largely secular society, so the church can't be blamed.

I think Dawkins is right on the button. It's treating this particular subject with kid gloves and a modicum of respect, that has allowed it to flourish to begin with.

Well that's pure opinion on my part I suppose, so it hardly counts as a point being made in debate.

But I tell you, I'm incensed. This is disgraceful and is, in and of itself, proof that the educational system is an abject failure. I tell you, I'm truly frightened as to what the story might be over here. I think the English educational system is better than ours (this is very far from being praise for the English system).
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:22 pm

Even though he's an arrogant pric*, he's right of course.

Dawkins is always right - he's a scientist you see and science has all the answers.

Oh yeah.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:35 pm

I did read the link, and it said one in three teachers think that creationism should be taught as a theory of equal value with evolution.

England was always a country that put a low value on scientific theory, as they got by pretty well without it in the past. They don't event think it matters too much whether Darwin was correct, or if they use a valid and scientific approach to deciding that.

"The entire philosophy of British utilitarianism is derived in the last analysis from a cookery book. In order to make people happy it is necessary to introduce such and such reforms, such and such improvements. In order to prepare a pudding for twelve it is necessary to introduce such and such reforms, such and such improvements. In order to prepare a pudding for twelve it is necessary to take two pounds of flour, so many eggs, so much sugar, plums and so on. In its specifications the cookery book always presupposes that flour, plums, etc are always available in necessary amounts and ready to hand. Similarly, the empiricists-utilitarians from Jeremy Bentham down to the latter-day pragmatists consider it sufficient to issue "practical" prescriptions in order to assure the salvation of society. So far as the organic laws of society itself are concerned, they prefer not to bother their heads about them. These gentlemen have not become accustomed to thinking about the organic laws which govern the development of society, for the simple reason that their forefathers had achieved uninterrupted progress without understanding either its sources or its laws. It is noteworthy that British methods have found their greatest flowering on American soil" - Leon Trotsky, 1942.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:01 pm

These pig-ignorant are what are holding us back. Unfortunately they cannot be eradicated in one fell swoop so it must be educated out of them gradually. Unfortunately educating it out of them will not work as it's ingrained nonsense at a genetic level.

With the powerful advance is science now, it won't be long, thank God, that we will have a gene therapy that can deal with these ...... people. Belief in this sort of futile nonsense is what is genuinely holding us back from making real progress in socio-politics and making true technological and scientific leaps forward that would benefit us even further.

As long as Dawkins isn't wrong himself.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:44 pm

I like and admire Dawkins and generally support him in his quest to advance science but really the truth of existance and science is cold comfort for many, especially those who pass through a bereavement.
We are truley living in a golden and pampered age, when we can afford to dispense with religion, but soon enough death will come knocking and thats when those of faith will be able to deal with the passing of loved ones much better than those who believe in nothing but outer darkness.

There is undoubedly a barbaric and decidely wicked side to religion that we need to tame and there is nothing more dangerous than the fundamentalist side which dismisses self-evident truths such as evolution. Then there are the crusades, the stoning of raped women in Africa today, but in relation to the later Jesus Christ has a lot to say. On balance I'd also say that christianity has caused more people to do good things than bad.

The ideal is a belief in a loving, omnipotent God and to follow the ideals of Jesus(or Buddha or whatever) in being loving, merciful and to understand that to attain "godliness" we should try above all to help others is something that we should treasure in our society. At the same time religious people need to understand meekness. I'll admit theres nothing I cant stand more than an arrogant self-righteous (and ignorant) preacher

By the way I'm not religious - more an agnostic cultural catholic who admires St.Francis for his love of animals and Martin Luther for speaking out and defying corruption but I do hope to have belief someday.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:57 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
...As long as Dawkins isn't wrong himself.
Indeed. But he's unlikely to be wrong on the question of Creationism. I saw this posted somewhere before. It doesn't seem we compare particularly well with the neighbours on the question of evolution, which I imagine relates closely to our acceptance of creationism.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:49 pm

coc wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
...As long as Dawkins isn't wrong himself.
Indeed. But he's unlikely to be wrong on the question of Creationism. I saw this posted somewhere before. It doesn't seem we compare particularly well with the neighbours on the question of evolution, which I imagine relates closely to our acceptance of creationism.

I'd say in general it correlates with average income per capita. The US position at the bottom of the scale is a bit frightening though.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:03 pm

If that's the case can we expect Iceland to catch Jesus in a big way? Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:12 pm

Terry Eagleton makes a twit out of Dawkins:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:25 pm

I think the title of this thread is somewhat disengenuous to the actual results of that poll and indeed the position of the vast majority of people who have faith. Indeed it over simplifies the situation, which is congenial to most comment on the matter of Christianity by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins scientific research is wonderful, but his study of Christianity is sadly quite contrasted to his scientific research and is based more on striking ovesimplications and the occasional misrepresentation in order to make superficial points.

I don't doubt Richard Dawkin's science, but I doubt the link that he seems to think it neccesitates towards atheism. For instances, Dawkins theory of the 'illusion of design' which he highlighted in Climbing Mount Improbable, is not one which is entirely based on fact. It too holds an element of faith to it. His argument elevates that which is a biological theory, and a very good and most likely correct one at that, to a world view leaving no space for God, an unnecessary leap. Dawkins research is perhaps an argument for agnoticism, but he doesn't stop there and maintains that it is a succint argument for atheism - this is a leap of faith rather than the grounded evidential fact that he posits.

Dawkins illustrates that it is possible to posit a purely natural explanation for the current state of living organisms but he fails to adequately justify how this leads to a scientific conclusion that there is no God. His argued result is based on a number of assumptions, rather than facts. His research merely demonstrates that the scientific method is incapable of, or has thus far been incapable of, adjudicating on the existence of God either positively or negatively. Surely agnosticism, rather than Dawkin's dogmatic atheism, is a far more scientific outcome of the truly substantiated evidence currently before us. Agnosticism puts aside both theology, but also anti-theology.

The evidence of evolution adduced by Darwin, does not prove atheism or disprove the existence or nature of God, it in fact has no bearing on either. It is an observable fact that evolutionary biologists are both atheist and theist. Either such scientists are stupid, or they have made a conscious, and far more education decision than I or I would hazard anyone else here can make, that Darwinism can be compatible with theistic belief. One who recognises the findings of Darwin, but chooses to dogmatise either positively or negatively on matters of religion, strays from the narrow remit of scientific method and into the bandlands of philosophy.

Dawkins presents Darwinism as an intellectual highway to atheism. Though atheism may be one's own worldview following one's own interpretation of the evidence presented by Darwin so too is Christianity. The trajectory of Dawkin's arguments do not scientifically lead to atheism, as he posits, but rather to agnosticism. Having stalled there, with a substantial evidential gap to atheism, Dawkins bridges that gap with philosophy and rhetoric. Nothing wrong with that of course but those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, as they say.

Ideas of proof, evidence and faith are fascinating concepts in science as well as religion but they are not as simple as Dawkins suggests, in his books anyway. Dawkins has written that the definition of faith is "blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence". But where is his evidence that this is how religious people define their faith? Again, a superficial assumption based on philosophy rather than facts. Dawkins has never cited a major religious writer or thinker who agrees with his definition so I don't see how he can claim it as a definition of faith. It is an intentional move on his part to try and link religious faith with intellectual buffoonary. I don't know any intelligent Christians who have this kind of faith nor can it be defended by reference to most of the world's major religions. The definition is constructed according to Dawkin's own philosophical agenda, however legitimate that philosophical point of view may be. Again, I have never met a religious person who feels that Dawkin's prescriptive definition of faith reflects their own understanding of faith or indeed there own faith. A useful definition of faith from a Christian point of view can be seen in that provided by Griffith-Thomas, an Anglican professor who wrote:
Quote :
Faith affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.

In positing his contrasting point of view, Dawkins has a responsibility to demonstrate that his nonsensical definition of faith is reflective of Christian thinking using evidence based argument, something he has failed thus far to do. Dawkins sets up a straw man, as cactus would say, and then he knocks it down again. He compares faith in God with faith in something like Santa Claus, something you grow out of. This is a schoolboy error when it comes to philosophical argument. There is no evidence that people consider God and Santa Claus to be in the same category. I know plenty of people who evaluating the world have come to a belief in God in adult life - I do not know anyone who has found a similar belief in Santa Claus during their adult life. Dawkins argument here requires a real analogy between God and Santa Claus, it is clear that no such analogy exists.

Dawkins simplistic argument recognises only two evidential outcomes, that is zero probability, or 'blind faith' and 100 per cent probability, or belief caused by overwhelming evidence. This is a funny argument given that a whole host of scientific research is based on probability or assumptions on current available evidence. It is strange when you set this against what is most striking about Richard Dawkins - the inevitability of his atheism. This is surely incompatible with his requirement for evidence in his field of science. I once read a book part of whose content concerned Richard Feynman, the Nobel Physics Laureate. He once said, regarding science:
Quote :
scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degree of certainty - some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain

This view heavily contrasts Dawkins who seems to think that atheism is the only logical outcome of a supporting analysis of Darwin. Atheism, it seems, is the only logical conclusion from a series of axioms. He speaks of atheism with the vigour of a theistis believer with a sure conviction of a godless world. How can he deduce such certainty when science is not deductive in its method? Other scientists have examined precisely the same scientific knowledge and come to quite different conclusions. It is therefore clear that Dawkins insistence that atheism is the only legitimate point of view for a natural scientist is an unsafe judgement to make scientifically.

Anyway

Back to the poll in question, sorry for my rant, I think you'll probably find the people who answered that the world was created in the last 10,000 years probably barely read the question or didn't give it alot of thought, many people don't you know. The figure of more than half did not say that they rejected evolution, I am sure many of them would have shared the point of view of Lord Carey quoted at the bottom of the article "I'm an evangelical Christian, but I have no difficulties in believing that evolution is the best scientific account we have for the diversity of life on our planet". What that just over 50 per cent merely said is that they don't believe Darwinism can explain the complete complexities of life on Earth. Anyone want to use the Origin of the Species to explain the banking crisis?
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:31 pm

Aragon wrote:
Terry Eagleton makes a twit out of Dawkins:

[url=http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html[/quote[/url]]

Not difficult to do, for a believer or non-believer. I am an atheist and find Dawkins an embarrassment. For starters, in spite of laying claim to atheism he is an agnostic at bottom and his arguments leave room for the existence of God. Any serious theologian can knock him about with ease - I heard it done in an RTE radio interview years ago - in part because, as Terry Eagleton says, he has no idea what religion is, or how or why it came about. He seems to think it is an individual error in thinking. The correlation between income and belief shown in the graph linked in the last post would strongly suggest that is is social and historical.

Calling people pig-ignorant really shows him up as a bit of an idiot himself.

He may be foolish, or even idiotic, but he is still better informed than people who have literal belief in the book of Genesis.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:30 pm

I want to address some points that Johnfás has made. I think it might be an idea to split this thread. This is going to wander very far from the OP.

I'm not going to try to defend Dawkins as such, as he's more than capable of looking after himself. I will try to clarify the position he takes and then using my own arguments, proceed (Should it be warranted).

Firstly, Dawkins has never tried to disprove God. He quite rightly demands that those who insist on God's existence, bring forward their definitions, their evidence and their proofs. You claim something exists, you claim some process works a certain way, the burden of proof is upon you.

Dawkins also recognises that there are many positions one can take, and that they all excepting one, are a form of agnosticism. He even breaks atheists into two distinct groups. With hard atheists being the true atheist. Dawkins himself is not a true 'hard' atheist and is willing to accept that a God might exist, though he does say that the concept of God is something that has yet to be defined properly. That's essentially Dawkins' challenge and thus far, it has proven to be the nemesis of any theists who've come up against him. When you define something in concrete terms, it can be knocked down. He argues that theists flounder on this point and that it is for this reason that a belief in God does not even amount to a theory. You see, when you introduce concrete terms and conditions, you allow for falsifiability. Falsifiability is the foundation of theory and is at the heart of the rigor of scientific and mathematical testing. If a theory does not allow for falsifiability it does not lend itself to proof. God is not a theory, God is barely a hypothesis. Dawkins is pissed off that theists demand entrance to the scientific and mathematical arena and want equal respect for their entity and yet refuse to be held by the same laws that everyone else must adhere to.

The same can be said of faith. And whilst we know that there are no absolutes (in itself a rejection of a supernatural being with omniscient and omnipotent powers) it does not suffice to discount Dawkins' arguments. The closest we can come to pointing to something as being absolute in its nature is mathematics. And even Kurt Godel, who came up with the only existing mathematical proof of God, later used it as a foundation of his famous incompleteness theorem. Thus, even mathematics frown on the notion of a supernatural being and this lends much credence to Dawkins' arguments about faith.

Unlike Dawkins, I'm a hard atheist and not only do I believe that there isn't a God, I believe that there cannot be a God.

I don't know if it is feasible to start a debate that explores the existence of God and seeks to challenge the foundations of faith. I recognise the right to have faith and respect this right. Such debates tend to be divisive and I'm not into driving wedges into a good community such as this.

So I'll shut up for now.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:44 am

The Brits are secular, most (Muslims and other immigrant groups aside) attend church for "hatch, match, dispatch" events (christenings, weddings, funerals). 3% attend church weekly, although this % increases in the so called Celtic fringe (the other 3 nations of the Union).

I therefore conclude this is an education thing. People here would also debate religion more; it's a very peripheral topic of conversation there. Furthermore, most believers in the UK would be members of either the C of E or Catholics, the leaders of both these churches are happy to accept evidence for evolution


The British state education system is NOT better than ours. The public schools probably are, but you pays for what you get (22K a year for the top schools). Some of the grammar schools are good, but they select so it is an unfair comparison. I knew lecturers in a Russell group university and the basic grammatical and spelling errors in some of the undergrad and even postgrad work was often surprising. In a bad way. And were getting worse even among the high demand courses such as medicine, pharmacy, optometry, etc. according to those who taught them. People even reported better spelling and grammar in foreign, non native speaker students than in the local students. Go figure. This has not been the general experience of staff in the better Irish universities. It probably isn't the case at Oxbridge either, but 57% of their students are from the expensive public schools. Moreover, the UK government decided to rate their schools and publish the results. With the effect that one pays 90+ grand more for housing in a good catchment area.... might as well pay for the public schools, the costs are equivalent in many cases. I realise that this may not have been the intent of the UK government, but the result is social apartheid.

Finally, as has been made abundantly clear to me by many Brits of my acquaintance, there is a VAST anti-intellectualism that is far worse than anything you'd get here..... I once heard one guy, with respect to a close relative who had actually bucked the family trend and gotten a postgrad qualification "I 'ave no respect for some %&*%&$ who spends his life with 'is nose in a book".

The social apartheid is also re-inforced by those on the wrong side of the tracks. Reverse snobbery is possibly even worse than the original; it is a serious inhibitor of any attempts by younger family members to improve their lot.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:11 am

expat girl wrote:

Finally, as has been made abundantly clear to me by many Brits of my acquaintance, there is a VAST anti-intellectualism that is far worse than anything you'd get here..... I once heard one guy, with respect to a close relative who had actually bucked the family trend and gotten a postgrad qualification "I 'ave no respect for some %&*%&$ who spends his life with 'is nose in a book".

I don't live in the UK, so I couldn't really comment on that but I do watch Eggheads on reasonably regular basis and it upsets me that virtually every time either Politics, History or Science come up, there is an audible groan and disdain for the subjects. It seems that the contestants, on the whole, prefer questions on Sport or Music. In the land of James Watt, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Trevithick, Tull and most of the world's inventions during the 19th century - what has gone wrong? That said, they still produce damn good University Challenge teams. Lincoln College Oxford are a fair contender for the win this year, though I'm hoping St. Johns College, Cambridge get it since 75% of the team is Irish and their college is twinned with Trinity.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:03 am

The question used to back up the claim that 51% believe in creationism was this I think:

"Evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages."

Believing that is hardly the same as thinking the world was created on a wednesday 6000 years ago. Admittedly a third believed the world was less that 10k years old which is surprising, but as someone else said here (I think), this could be put down to poor educational standards and a profound lack of intellectualism or lack of interest in the world I see a lot of English people seem to have. They are pushing their conclusions to make a more intersting article. I'm fairly sure the percentage of people in Ireland who would answer yes to that would be higher but as we know, religious fundamentalism doesn't exist in significant levels in Ireland. I wonder if the questions were slightly different - (do you believe in dinosaurs? for example) whould this percentage be still seen.

I went to a religious school where it was thought that evolution was a fact. My biology text book mentioned religious concerns in passing saying that evolution doesn't preclude belief in god. My religion teacher didn't teach genesis as fact and refered to it as a creation fable. I presume that this is the position of the catholic church - would this be intelligent design/creationism?

I'm an agnostic but I think this is a reasonable belief for someone to hold, certainly not ignorant and the subtlty of it as an argument leads me to think that people who believe it are quite smart/imaginative. Dawkins is coming across as being horribly arrogant, an unfortunate trait I've noticed in many agnostics/athiests (have a look on the athiest forum in Boards.ie for an example of what I mean).
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:19 am

Hmmm. 51% might not be able to differentiate a quadratic equation or tell you what year the ground-breaking case of Donoghue v Stevenson was decided either but I wouldn't call them pig ignorant. Creationism is a question of fact, not ideology or morality, so it seems unreasonable to react with disgust or vitriol.

Dawkins is a man who has made a living off the elusive and ultimately irrelevant question fo whether or not there is a God. Of course he's going to bemore educated on the matter than your average Joe Soap, of course he's going to have stronger evidence to back up his assertions. But chances are I know more than him about law, and others here will know more than him about business, the economy, computer programming etc. In fact, I'd say most of those 51% of "pig-ignorant" Brits would be within their rights to consider Dawkins pig-ignorant on any number of issues outside his narrow field of expertise. But they don't going around broadcasting the fact, do they.

I have to say I think Dawkins and a lot of the other militant atheists are frightfuly arrogant, and just as annoying. I bet he was the kind of kid who loved to go around telling all the younger kids that Santa doesn't exist.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:28 am

shutuplaura wrote:
The question used to back up the claim that 51% believe in creationism was this I think:

"Evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages."

Believing that is hardly the same as thinking the world was created on a wednesday 6000 years ago. Admittedly a third believed the world was less that 10k years old which is surprising, but as someone else said here (I think), this could be put down to poor educational standards and a profound lack of intellectualism or lack of interest in the world I see a lot of English people seem to have. They are pushing their conclusions to make a more intersting article. I'm fairly sure the percentage of people in Ireland who would answer yes to that would be higher but as we know, religious fundamentalism doesn't exist in significant levels in Ireland. I wonder if the questions were slightly different - (do you believe in dinosaurs? for example) whould this percentage be still seen.

I went to a religious school where it was thought that evolution was a fact. My biology text book mentioned religious concerns in passing saying that evolution doesn't preclude belief in god. My religion teacher didn't teach genesis as fact and refered to it as a creation fable. I presume that this is the position of the catholic church - would this be intelligent design/creationism?

I'm an agnostic but I think this is a reasonable belief for someone to hold, certainly not ignorant and the subtlty of it as an argument leads me to think that people who believe it are quite smart/imaginative. Dawkins is coming across as being horribly arrogant, an unfortunate trait I've noticed in many agnostics/athiests (have a look on the athiest forum in Boards.ie for an example of what I mean).

The Catholic viewpoint is that evolution is fact, but that it is guided by God - something which would fit perfectly well with the question as phrased. People seem to ignore the fact that the majority of scientists belong to a faith, and the majority of them would answer yes to the question as phrased.

Dawkins does indeed tend to step from the correctness of a purely naturalistic theory to the exclusiveness of naturalistic explanations - and do it badly. Still, it's not really possible to do it well, because there's a leap of faith involved.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:49 am

evercloserunion wrote:

I have to say I think Dawkins and a lot of the other militant atheists are frightfuly arrogant, and just as annoying. I bet he was the kind of kid who loved to go around telling all the younger kids that Santa doesn't exist.

Very Happy Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:47 am

Hermes wrote:
I want to address some points that Johnfás has made. I think it might be an idea to split this thread. This is going to wander very far from the OP.

I'm not going to try to defend Dawkins as such, as he's more than capable of looking after himself. I will try to clarify the position he takes and then using my own arguments, proceed (Should it be warranted).

Firstly, Dawkins has never tried to disprove God. He quite rightly demands that those who insist on God's existence, bring forward their definitions, their evidence and their proofs. You claim something exists, you claim some process works a certain way, the burden of proof is upon you.

Dawkins also recognises that there are many positions one can take, and that they all excepting one, are a form of agnosticism. He even breaks atheists into two distinct groups. With hard atheists being the true atheist. Dawkins himself is not a true 'hard' atheist and is willing to accept that a God might exist, though he does say that the concept of God is something that has yet to be defined properly. That's essentially Dawkins' challenge and thus far, it has proven to be the nemesis of any theists who've come up against him. When you define something in concrete terms, it can be knocked down. He argues that theists flounder on this point and that it is for this reason that a belief in God does not even amount to a theory. You see, when you introduce concrete terms and conditions, you allow for falsifiability. Falsifiability is the foundation of theory and is at the heart of the rigor of scientific and mathematical testing. If a theory does not allow for falsifiability it does not lend itself to proof. God is not a theory, God is barely a hypothesis. Dawkins is pissed off that theists demand entrance to the scientific and mathematical arena and want equal respect for their entity and yet refuse to be held by the same laws that everyone else must adhere to.

The same can be said of faith. And whilst we know that there are no absolutes (in itself a rejection of a supernatural being with omniscient and omnipotent powers) it does not suffice to discount Dawkins' arguments. The closest we can come to pointing to something as being absolute in its nature is mathematics. And even Kurt Godel, who came up with the only existing mathematical proof of God, later used it as a foundation of his famous incompleteness theorem. Thus, even mathematics frown on the notion of a supernatural being and this lends much credence to Dawkins' arguments about faith.

Unlike Dawkins, I'm a hard atheist and not only do I believe that there isn't a God, I believe that there cannot be a God.

I don't know if it is feasible to start a debate that explores the existence of God and seeks to challenge the foundations of faith. I recognise the right to have faith and respect this right. Such debates tend to be divisive and I'm not into driving wedges into a good community such as this.

So I'll shut up for now.

Don't go away Hermes - yer great fun! As Eagleton acknowledges, there is a perfectly credible case for the position you take viz the existence or otherwise of a God - most people of faith have no quarrel with other people believing that 'he' ain't there and are happy to respect it. But it's a bit much when we are assailed by folk more or less insisting we MUST be wrong. Even from a purely scientific pov, it's an outlandish claim. Dawkins and his disciples have apparently placed ads on the side of London buses which say something like 'God probably doesnt exist. So enjoy your day.' There are about 500 misplaced assumptions in the instruction and while he's entitled to waste his money any way he wants, someone ought to point out to him that people of faith derive enormous enjoyment and fulfilment from it. That's a very large part of it.

Anyway, so far as I can make out the difference between our position and yours is that you are searching exclusively within the boundaries of your own conviction -and within that restricted frame of reference of course you can only come up with the result that you are right Smile . Faith/religion is actually about much more than mere scientific empiricism - although it encompasses that too. Eagleton is right imho that Dawkins has no real idea what it is he claims to be 'disproving' - he doesn't even get to first base with it. In all of the copious rows and after-dinner arguments I've had with Dawkins supporters, they all have this same thing in common. Eagleton has best summed up the difference, imo, when he gives the example of someone saying 'I have faith in you'. It's not a scientific statement of fact and neither is it reducible to it, though the statement might encompass a verifiable justification for expressing such trust. It's an entirely legitimate statement, though.

Having said all of that, there is of course a shed load of crap that goes with religion at times - just as there is with ANY thing that humans are associated with. Science has been bent in the service of some appalling shite too and regularly disgraces itself - all sorts of rubbish has been empirically 'proved' and subsequently discredited as garbage. (I'm personally looking forward to the day when the medical quackery known as vaccination is finally disgraced for the colossal scam - at worst - and dangerous scientific tinkering - at best - that I believe it is - junked in the same tip as other comparable medical 'advances' such as lobotomy. But I digress, forgive me.) Empricism, though important and apparently the closest we can come to reliably establishing 'fact' - is nevertheless nothing like as reliable as is made out - potentially fatally flawed from the outset by the inescapable fact that the questions it seeks to answer are always defined by mere mortals who very often may have no idea where they should be looking for those answers or even that the question itself is clumsily posed. In the grand scheme of things it's little more than relying on a walking stick to steady oneself while groping about in the dark. But we wouldnt want to throw the stick away, for sure. Science needs to develop a sense of modesty if you ask me. It's far too full of itself. Dowright irreligious, in fact Wink .
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:54 pm

I've tried to read what Eagleton has had to say on the subject of Dawkins, but I cannot do it. I've tried many times and have never gotten more than half way. I find Eagleton's piece to be a self indulgent piece of pap that not only doesn't deal with a single thing that Dawkins has said, it deals exclusively with promoting an ad hominem without even trying to understand the argument. It comes from seeing himself as an authority, when no such authority exists other than in the imagination. He starts out from the position (the deeply flawed position) that everything he believes is true and that anything that might contradict it, is irrelevant. He is as guilty as he presumes Dawkins to be. But at least Dawkins was humble enough to start out from a position where he might have been proven wrong. Not so with Eagleton.

What little argument Eagleton does presume to comment on could just as well be applied to the God Zeus or the God Baal. In a not so subtle way, Eagleton morphs the creature that he is talking about from being a non denominational entity into the Christian God. Very sloppy, very obvious and not in the least, very arrogant.

At some point in his soliloquy, Eagleton 'argues' that Jesus was murdered and not sacrificed by God. He makes this argument to dispossess Dawkins of his point about the Christian God being bloodthirsty. Not only does Christian dogma and doctrine see the death of Christ as a sacrifice, it was an act of suicide (see, I'm quite willing to go much further than Dawkins Wink ).

The implications of what Dawkins (and many others, lot's of them being more enlightened) has to say are very profound and no amount of singing out loud with one's fingers lodged in one's ears will change that. The argument is not a confined one, not in the least. It goes well beyond scientific rigor and into general and philosophical argument too. The results of which are quite profound, especially for theists. The upshot of which is, that unless a theist accepts that it is blind faith that is the foundation of their belief, then they too are agnostic.

Allow me to demonstrate this with a simple thought experiment:

Imagine a magnificent creature appearing before you. Imagine that this creature said to you that it was the God that you believe in. Only blind faith would allow you to accept this creature as God.

Let's go further. This creature might show you some of its powers. What if it raised the dead? Would you believe then? Could it be Satan? Might it be some super advanced space alien?

What is it that this creature could do, short of zapping your brain into belief mode, that would convince you that it is the entity that you believe in and have worshipped?

Blind faith? Or agnostic?
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:13 pm

Hermes wrote:
What is it that this creature could do, short of zapping your brain into belief mode, that would convince you that it is the entity that you believe in and have worshipped?

Blind faith? Or agnostic?
For me, the one thing this entity could do would be to ensure Dawkins lives out a happy & contented life.
This would show me a merciful & munificent God, a good God!.

At the same time I know such an existence, for the rest of his life, would bug the bejaysus out of Dawkins, that and the confirmation I would have just received of an afterlife would then be the twin pillars from which I could draw immense pleasure as I live out my own existence. A double whammy, so to speak.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:16 pm

tonys wrote:
Hermes wrote:
What is it that this creature could do, short of zapping your brain into belief mode, that would convince you that it is the entity that you believe in and have worshipped?

Blind faith? Or agnostic?
For me, the one thing this entity could do would be to ensure Dawkins lives out a happy & contented life.
This would show me a merciful & munificent God, a good God!.

At the same time I know such an existence, for the rest of his life, would bug the bejaysus out of Dawkins, that and the confirmation I would have just received of an afterlife would then be the twin pillars from which I could draw immense pleasure as I live out my own existence. A double whammy, so to speak.

The thought is almost enough to make me abandon atheism for fantasy, just for a few moments. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:24 pm

What is interesting about Dawkins is his constant avoidance of issues, whilst at the same time maintaining he examines things in a truly scientific nature. I believe that philosophy is as important as science, not in explaining how it is that an organism evolves but why it is. I have no problem with Richard Dawkins putting forward a different view but what annoys me is his attempts to mask his philosophical approaches as purely scientific in nature. You can see this throughout his books. One simple example is the fact that Dawkins regularly makes reference to Einstein's research but seldom notes that Einstein in fact did report that the integrated complexity of the world led him to believe that there must be an intelligent design (I use those two words independently of the American movement of the same description) behind it. Of course many physicists do not come to the same conclusion as Einstein, but it seems awry on Dawkins part to use Einstein's research on the one hand, yet ignore his conclusions on the other.

Dawkins, as it appears from his writings, is not so much concerned with truth as he is with discrediting ideological opponents by any means. It is for this reason that I say yes there are plenty of people who can construct logical arguments about the existence of God, but I don't believe Dawkins comes near to that category. The God Delusion, it was quite apparent on reading, was not a scholarly work attempting to discover the positive or negative existence of God - it was an evangelical work to spread the author's own convictions. Again, no problem with this but he should at least apply his claim to wholly scientific endeavour to his book as well, or be honest about its more philosophical, and indeed improvable scientific, overtones. The man just needs to be more honest with his audience.
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