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

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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:15 pm

smiffy wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:
Faith is taking a factual assertion to be true without any evidence - which, incidentally, is exactly why atheism is a faith.

I would suggest, with all due respect, that your understanding of atheism is somewhat confused. I take it you've heard the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument?
Against teaching creationism in schools? *scratches head*
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:28 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
smiffy wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:
Faith is taking a factual assertion to be true without any evidence - which, incidentally, is exactly why atheism is a faith.

I would suggest, with all due respect, that your understanding of atheism is somewhat confused. I take it you've heard the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument?
Against teaching creationism in schools? *scratches head*

That's the great thing about the FSM - he's so multi-purpose.

No, I meant in the context of your claim that atheism is a faith. Would you state, for example that you claim that the FSM doesn't exist is an example of 'taking a factual assertion to be true without any evidence'?
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:36 pm

The FSM may be multi-purpose, but he was conceived for one particular purpose and that was to protest creationism being taught as a science. It may have been jumped on by militant atheists in order to make atheism look hip and cool but you should not mistake the FSM argument for the argument that atheism is the only factually correct belief.

Regarding the FSM, it depends really on what the FSM actually is. Is it just normal run-of-the-mill spaghetti? If so then there is ample evidence that flying spaghetti cannot fly much less have a consciousness. The same goes, I suppose, for Jesus and the other magical men. Those claims can be refuted by evidence. But atheism is the belief that there is no God, not that spaghetti does not fly or that men do not walk on water.


Last edited by evercloserunion on Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:42 pm

smiffy wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
coc wrote:
Yeah well, where is Pascal now?

Either in Heaven or in somebody's dahlias. Either way, he doesn't lose. With atheism, there is downside risk.

What if he's in Hell for picking the wrong God to worship (you know ... Homer's wager)?


Well he's been a bit silly, then, hasn't he?
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:43 pm

evercloserunion wrote:

Oh really? "Believing" in God because you actually don't know (NB: you actually don't know) whether or not he exists but you think believing will get you more benefits on balance of probabilities, isn't exactly what I call "faith".

You may not call it faith but I call it good sense.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:53 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:

Oh really? "Believing" in God because you actually don't know (NB: you actually don't know) whether or not he exists but you think believing will get you more benefits on balance of probabilities, isn't exactly what I call "faith".

You may not call it faith but I call it good sense.
But if it's not faith it doesn't really help you when you're trying to explain yourself to St Peter, so he'll promptly call the guards on you so anyway. So it hasn't helped you at all despite probably requiring considerable sacrifice so it's not good sense at all.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:57 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:

Oh really? "Believing" in God because you actually don't know (NB: you actually don't know) whether or not he exists but you think believing will get you more benefits on balance of probabilities, isn't exactly what I call "faith".

You may not call it faith but I call it good sense.
But if it's not faith it doesn't really help you when you're trying to explain yourself to St Peter, so he'll promptly call the guards on you so anyway. So it hasn't helped you at all despite probably requiring considerable sacrifice so it's not good sense at all.

Which is why true faith is preferable ecu! It's far better.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:39 am

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
smiffy wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
coc wrote:
Yeah well, where is Pascal now?

Either in Heaven or in somebody's dahlias. Either way, he doesn't lose. With atheism, there is downside risk.

What if he's in Hell for picking the wrong God to worship (you know ... Homer's wager)?


Well he's been a bit silly, then, hasn't he?

He certainly has.

(A little) more seriously, though, it does, I think, point to one of the many flaws in the Pascal's Wager argument: it presupposes that you already know the nature of the 'God' you're choosing to believe in as a way of hedging your bets when it comes to an afterlife (i.e. you know that this is an entity who prefers those that worship it to those that don't). Given that this is impossible to know anyway, and it's just as likely that a God would send those people who worshipped it to Hell, and give atheists the old 72 virgins, then there's no reason to think that there's any particular benefit to choosing the 'believe in God' option in the wager.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:43 am

smiffy wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:
smiffy wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:
Faith is taking a factual assertion to be true without any evidence - which, incidentally, is exactly why atheism is a faith.

I would suggest, with all due respect, that your understanding of atheism is somewhat confused. I take it you've heard the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument?
Against teaching creationism in schools? *scratches head*

That's the great thing about the FSM - he's so multi-purpose.

No, I meant in the context of your claim that atheism is a faith. Would you state, for example that you claim that the FSM doesn't exist is an example of 'taking a factual assertion to be true without any evidence'?

Would you deny that atheism requires a good deal of faith to hold to the rational argument for unbelief in the face of the belief of the majority of humankind both present and historical?
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:54 am

evercloserunion wrote:
The FSM may be multi-purpose, but he was conceived for one particular purpose and that was to protest creationism being taught as a science. It may have been jumped on by militant atheists in order to make atheism look hip and cool but you should not mistake the FSM argument for the argument that atheism is the only factually correct belief.

Regarding the FSM, it depends really on what the FSM actually is. Is it just normal run-of-the-mill spaghetti? If so then there is ample evidence that flying spaghetti cannot fly much less have a consciousness. The same goes, I suppose, for Jesus and the other magical men. Those claims can be refuted by evidence. But atheism is the belief that there is no God, not that spaghetti does not fly or that men do not walk on water.

I think you're missing the point, somewhat. If you suggest that atheism constitutes a 'faith', would you also claim that stating that the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or Russell's teapot, or Santa Claus or Russell's teapot or the pink unicorn, or my invisible hat, or any of a host of other examples one could come up with) also constitutes 'taking a factual assertion to be true without any evidence'?

The important point is this: atheism does not necessarily mean someone who holds fast to a definite, 100% conviction that 'God' (however one might wish to define it) does not exist. It's simply someone who does not have a belief that any God exists (if you understand the distinction). I know of very few atheists who would hold to the former view, including the hardcore, so-called 'New Atheists' including the likes of Hitchens and Dawkins who realise that such a position cannot be rationally justified, will concede the theoretically possibility that a God exists, but who would state that there is no reason to believe in such an existence.

That's why it's not simply a mirror image of religious faith. A useful rule of thumb is one which I believe Scott Adams came up with "Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby".

ibis wrote:
Would you deny that atheism requires a good deal of faith to hold to the rational argument for unbelief in the face of the belief of the majority of humankind both present and historical?

Well, yes, I would deny it, if I understand you correctly, and assuming that when you refer to the 'rational argument for unbelief' you mean that lack of evidence in support of belief. It certainly requires critical thinking and self-reflection on that basis, but I don't think that the truth or otherwise of a position is determined by the number of people who hold it (or who hold a contradictory position).
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:15 am

smiffy wrote:
ibis wrote:
Would you deny that atheism requires a good deal of faith to hold to the rational argument for unbelief in the face of the belief of the majority of humankind both present and historical?

Well, yes, I would deny it, if I understand you correctly, and assuming that when you refer to the 'rational argument for unbelief' you mean that lack of evidence in support of belief. It certainly requires critical thinking and self-reflection on that basis, but I don't think that the truth or otherwise of a position is determined by the number of people who hold it (or who hold a contradictory position).

Hmm. What I'm suggesting here is that the question of God is not one that is considered in a vacuum. Atheism is not the 'default position' of the human race - if it were, we would not have so much religion. So for me the process - for atheists who aren't brought up in a box - starts with the question "is there a God?". To definitively answer that question in the negative - as the atheist does - requires not just the view that there is no evidence and therefore no case to answer, because nearly every village high-street in the world has evidence for there being a God. Of course one can point out that churches et al are not evidence of God, but of belief in God, which leaves the atheist explaining why that exists and is different from evidence for a God. If every village had a statue of some bloke called Bob Mandeville, most of us would be enormously surprised if he truend out to be fictional.

All through, the atheist has to have faith in the power of his or her reasoning as opposed to the reasoning and 'experiences' of the mass of humanity throughout human history (and pre-history). That is the faith required for atheism - not in atheism itself, but in the process of reason used to reach the conclusion.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:45 am

ibis wrote:
Hmm. What I'm suggesting here is that the question of God is not one that is considered in a vacuum. Atheism is not the 'default position' of the human race - if it were, we would not have so much religion. So for me the process - for atheists who aren't brought up in a box - starts with the question "is there a God?". To definitively answer that question in the negative - as the atheist does - requires not just the view that there is no evidence and therefore no case to answer, because nearly every village high-street in the world has evidence for there being a God. Of course one can point out that churches et al are not evidence of God, but of belief in God, which leaves the atheist explaining why that exists and is different from evidence for a God. If every village had a statue of some bloke called Bob Mandeville, most of us would be enormously surprised if he truend out to be fictional.

All through, the atheist has to have faith in the power of his or her reasoning as opposed to the reasoning and 'experiences' of the mass of humanity throughout human history (and pre-history). That is the faith required for atheism - not in atheism itself, but in the process of reason used to reach the conclusion.

I see the point you're making (and, I think, acknowledged it to an extent in conceding that someone holding an atheist position - indeed, any minority position - needs to remain self-critical and self-reflective), but I still think it's far too much of a stretch to state that 'faith' is required in the process of reason itself, certainly not any kind of faith which is the equivalent of religious faith, any more than it takes 'faith' of that nature to believe that the sun is going to come up tomorrow morning. Or, alternatively, if most people in an election vote for a candidate or party I oppose, it doesn't take 'faith', in that sense, for me to retain the belief that they were wrong.faith'

I'd disagree that consideration of the question 'Is there a God' requires one to take into account the numbers who would answer in the affirmative. Certainly one might consider the fact that religious belief is so widespread is relevant to the question (i.e. not to dismiss it out of hand) but that doesn't mean that it has any actual bearing on the answer. It does, of course, raise the question which you cite - why do people believe in God - which is a completely separate one. The most interesting answer I've seen to that one is contained in Lewis Wolpert's 'Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast' which suggests that something intrinsic in the nature of the human brain which compels us to seek to understand why things happen (and, therefore, sets us apart from lower orders of animals) is at the heart of this apparent religious compulsion.

I'd also note that the very fact that people don't live in a box, as you say, is actually one factor which allows us to disregard the fact that religious belief is so widespread in trying to determine the truth of that belief. We are, all of us, products of our environment and the societies in which we were brought up. If, theoretically, large numbers of people in a society which had previously had no religious traditions spontaneously started talking about God then that might be something we should look at when wondering if God exists. However, given that people's belief in God at the moment arises within environments in which religious belief is already prevalent then there's no reason to see that belief as anything other than a function of broad cultural transmission more generally.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:58 am

smiffy wrote:
ibis wrote:
Hmm. What I'm suggesting here is that the question of God is not one that is considered in a vacuum. Atheism is not the 'default position' of the human race - if it were, we would not have so much religion. So for me the process - for atheists who aren't brought up in a box - starts with the question "is there a God?". To definitively answer that question in the negative - as the atheist does - requires not just the view that there is no evidence and therefore no case to answer, because nearly every village high-street in the world has evidence for there being a God. Of course one can point out that churches et al are not evidence of God, but of belief in God, which leaves the atheist explaining why that exists and is different from evidence for a God. If every village had a statue of some bloke called Bob Mandeville, most of us would be enormously surprised if he truend out to be fictional.

All through, the atheist has to have faith in the power of his or her reasoning as opposed to the reasoning and 'experiences' of the mass of humanity throughout human history (and pre-history). That is the faith required for atheism - not in atheism itself, but in the process of reason used to reach the conclusion.

I see the point you're making (and, I think, acknowledged it to an extent in conceding that someone holding an atheist position - indeed, any minority position - needs to remain self-critical and self-reflective), but I still think it's far too much of a stretch to state that 'faith' is required in the process of reason itself, certainly not any kind of faith which is the equivalent of religious faith, any more than it takes 'faith' of that nature to believe that the sun is going to come up tomorrow morning. Or, alternatively, if most people in an election vote for a candidate or party I oppose, it doesn't take 'faith', in that sense, for me to retain the belief that they were wrong.

Well, I suppose we could quibble endlessly about degrees of faith - I could point out, for example, that the results of current scientific research suggest that very little faith is required for most people, since human brains are more or less hardwired for religious belief.

smiffy wrote:
I'd disagree that consideration of the question 'Is there a God' requires one to take into account the numbers who would answer in the affirmative. Certainly one might consider the fact that religious belief is so widespread is relevant to the question (i.e. not to dismiss it out of hand) but that doesn't mean that it has any actual bearing on the answer. It does, of course, raise the question which you cite - why do people believe in God - which is a completely separate one. The most interesting answer I've seen to that one is contained in Lewis Wolpert's 'Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast' which suggests that something intrinsic in the nature of the human brain which compels us to seek to understand why things happen (and, therefore, sets us apart from lower orders of animals) is at the heart of this apparent religious compulsion.

Actually, current research suggests that religiosity itself is hardwired - it's not really part of an intellectual attempt to explain things at least.

smiffy wrote:
I'd also note that the very fact that people don't live in a box, as you say, is actually one factor which allows us to disregard the fact that religious belief is so widespread in trying to determine the truth of that belief. We are, all of us, products of our environment and the societies in which we were brought up. If, theoretically, large numbers of people in a society which had previously had no religious traditions spontaneously started talking about God then that might be something we should look at when wondering if God exists. However, given that people's belief in God at the moment arises within environments in which religious belief is already prevalent then there's no reason to see that belief as anything other than a function of broad cultural transmission more generally.

That rather begs the question of the origins of religion...
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:17 am

ibis wrote:
Well, I suppose we could quibble endlessly about degrees of faith

I think it's more substantial than that. It's more a difference in kind than degree.

Quote :
- I could point out, for example, that the results of current scientific research suggest that very little faith is required for most people, since human brains are more or less hardwired for religious belief.

I'd well believe it (it's precisely what the Wolpert book says). But while the question of why we're hardwired in that way is a fascinating and important one, surely it's pretty much irrelevant to the question of whether the belief is justified or not. Indeed, isn't it similar to my earlier point about why we can dismiss the extent of religious belief when looking at the question of God? We can explain the fact that villages have a statue of Bob Mandeville in them because the human brain is hardwired to build them, as part of some trait within the human brain which conferred an evolutionary advantage at some point in the past.

Quote :
That rather begs the question of the origins of religion...

Of course. But there's no reason to think that the origin lies with 'God'.
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PostSubject: Re: 51% of the British Population Believes in Creationism - Dawkins Says That They're "Pig-Ignorant"   Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:11 pm

The 10,000 years question just shows the general level of ignorance of the UK public. If you told the same people they were wrong and the earth is 300 million years old or whatever then I expect most would agree with your correction. People are just fairly uneducated. It is not a creationism thing.

Also, the article doesn't relate to Adam & Eve style creationism. It doesn't let us in on how the question was slanted but it appears that it simply asked was there a degree of design. It seems to suggest this is the opposite to evolution. If Darwin could come up with Evolution could God not have come up with it too?

Also, it is to be noted that not all evolutionists agree with Dawkins. Check out IIASA's third podcast where evolutionist (and not a creationism cheerleader) Lynn Margulis explains how sybiosis is a massive part of evolution and that relying on mutation alone is a deficient explanation. Lynn Margulis - Slanted Truths and Life's Evolution: The Scientific Search for Truth Even if We Don't Like What We Find.

I think the former Archbishop of Canterbury nailed the issue towards the end of the article:

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, accused Dawkins of evolving into a "very simple kind of thinker".

He said: "His argument for atheism goes like this: either God is the explanation for the wide diversity of biological life, or evolution is. We know that evolution is true. Therefore, God doesn't exist.

"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."
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