Re: Dawkins on Channel 4 tonight

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Mon 16 Jan 2006 - 17:57:25 GMT

  • Next message: Richard Brodie: "RE: Dawkins on Channel 4 tonight"

    Chris Taylor wrote:
    > And sure there are many non-religious nutters out there, but are their
    > reasons any less valid? What is the proof that supports faith when faith
    > necessarily eschews proof? An 'experience'? I dunno. There's that guy
    > that can tweak a 'god spot' with EM, epilepsy etc.

    No, no, no! That was my whole point (last refuge of a less-than-clear writer: blame the reader). Faith does *not* eschew proof, necessarily or otherwise. I wouldn't place my faith in anything that I didn't regard as being proven, whether deductively or (as is more usually the case) on the basis of evidence, experience, reason, etc. You can argue about whether the evidence/proof is valid, of course . . . (see your next para).

    > An overanalysis of an interesting set of coincidences (remember the coin
    > toss experiment with enough people for one to get ten heads in a row)
    > could also lead one astray, or believe that _this_ guy really is a
    > prophet not like all the other 100s of 'nutters'. Jericho is in an
    > earthquake zone; it wasn't the trumpetting...
    > This actually tallies nicely with the reason I was so 'up for' Ted's
    > unceasing battery of all that we hold dear scientifically speaking; as
    > Kate says (paraphrasing) orthodoxy is like a constitutional law (i.e.
    > one that takes a bigger-than-50% vote to overturn as a rule) his major
    > challenge was that we did have core beliefs that we were loath to really
    > examine (whether that was accurate or not is not the point). And I do
    > avoid abandoning a previously valued tenet until the evidence mounts. In
    > behavioural theory this equates with the advantage of being a resident
    > over an invader for a niche -- adapted over time to all the intricacies
    > of filling it, increasing fitness.

    Right - and it seems like there's a mememetic equivalent, too.

    > But I just can't help myself with the religious variant of this.
    > Earthquakes? Comet strikes? Still births? Pedophile rings?
    > Hyperparasitoid wasps ffs. It is a merry dance to try to keep God as
    > 'good' in this world to be sure (and what _is_ _purely_ good eh --
    > sounds like a make-work scheme for some of the biggest landholders ever
    > and their philosopher mates). My Dad died of cancer when I was eight and
    > my brother was five; he was a little bit racist living in the 70s as he
    > did but he also did lots of nice things for people at the drop of a hat.
    > Death sentence? C'mon... Did god get more tolerant by allowing the
    > advent of better oncotherapy?
    > Spare me.

    I'm sorry to hear about your Dad, Chris.

    I think the problem of evil is a bit big even for the ambitions of this list, though.

    > For once I'd like to hear Keith's main suit played. I think that we have
    > a real love as a species of group cohesion, and in the world best
    > described by Marx (in full below for the hell of it) religious groups
    > provide the closest modern approximation of the tribe we pine for, both
    > in church and as part of God's family.

    Maybe. But this doesn't tell us anything about whether the claims of any given belief system are valid or not.


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