Why Richard Dawkins is still an atheist

In October 2008 I attended a lecture by the Christian apologist John Lennox. He could hardly contain his excitement because … Continued

In October 2008 I attended a lecture by the Christian apologist John Lennox. He could hardly contain his excitement because the previous week he had publicly debated Richard Dawkins, and Dawkins had allegedly made two remarks that had ‘stunned’ him because they seemed, Lennox said, to suggest the world’s ‘atheist-in-chief’ was experiencing a major change of heart.

According to Lennox, Dawkins had conceded a) that he had no difficulty with Einstein’s God, in the sense of God being the laws of physics and b) that “a strong case could be made for a deistic God.” And what this meant, declared Lennox, almost bursting a blood vessel in his missionary zeal, was that Dawkins had a sense that there must have been an intelligence to account for the beginning of things; and Lennox went on to insinuate that Dawkins was in the process of abandoning atheism and was well on his way to becoming a deist – at least: “There’s a lot going on with Richard Dawkins at the moment!”, he announced ecstatically, leaving his overwhelmingly Christian audience with high hopes of a full conversion to Jesus at any moment.

To anyone who had actually read “The God Delusion“, this was rather amusing, since there was nothing here that wasn’t in the book, so talk of changes of heart was wishful thinking at best; but to anyone who, like me, had heard the earlier debate, it was also an example of egregious quote-mining. What Richard had actually said was:

He went on to contrast this idea with Christianity, for which, by implication, not even a “reasonably respectable case” could be made. (At the time of writing you can hear the full debate for yourself by clicking here.)

There is absolutely nothing in this or elsewhere in Richard’s debate comments that suggests a conversion to deism – much less Christianity. Indeed, describing arguments for deism as ‘not a case that I would accept’ is pretty categorical. Yet there was John Lennox, practically killing the fatted calf.

ANDREW WINNING

REUTERS

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (R) and atheist scholar Richard Dawkins pose for a photograph outside Clarendon House at Oxford University, before their debate in the Sheldonian theatre in Oxford, central England, February 23, 2012.

The parallels with this week’s press hysteria over Richard’s description of himself as agnostic in his discussion with the Archbishop of Canterbury are, I hope, obvious. Religious commentators have become so excited at the thought of his conversion that I almost don’t have the heart to break it to them that he said nothing in Thursday’s discussion that he hadn’t already said six years ago in “The God Delusion”. You’ll find the relevant section in Chapter 2, including the seven-point scale where one represents total certainty that there is a God and seven represents total certainty that there is not. Right there Richard writes,

“I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7 – I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden.”

And how did he describe himself to the archbishop on Thursday, in his supposedly stunning retreat from atheism? “I’d put myself at 6.9.”

Concession? Conversion? The answer to Christian prayers? Hardly! It was as clear a restatement of the position he took in “The God Delusion” as you could wish for.

So how can this be? How can an atheist also be an agnostic? The answer is simple. It is the simple acknowledgment that it is possible to be mistaken. An agnostic atheist recognizes that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of deities (agnostic), while also finding arguments for their existence utterly unconvincing (atheist). Likewise, if you are a Christian who finds arguments for God convincing but recognizes that his existence is impossible to prove and that it is at least possible you could be mistaken, then you are an agnostic theist. I strongly suspect that the Archbishop of Canterbury himself would be the first to acknowledge there can be no absolute certainty either way and, if I am right, this would make him an agnostic to precisely the same degree as Richard – yet I doubt anyone would claim this means he is no longer a Christian!

The irony is that all these comments that have been seized on with such glee are actually simple repeats of what was in “The God Delusion” all along. And so we have the delicious comedy of views which until recently were condemned by the religious as arrogant, aggressive and fundamentalist suddenly now being proclaimed by those same religious as signs that Dawkins is unsure of his position and halfway to accepting Jesus as his Lord and Saviour!

It all reveals three things. First, how desperate many people are to impose their own meanings on Dawkins’s words, rather than those that are actually there. Second, how unjustified the hysterical and exaggerated reactions to “The God Delusion” have been. And third, how few people actually read the book before condemning it.

If you have never read “The God Delusion,” I really do recommend it. As you might be beginning to realize, much of its contents are not what you have been told. What’s more, it’s absolutely chock-full of things Richard Dawkins really does believe. Which is handy, because it saves everyone the trouble of making them up.


Paula Kirby

is an On Faith panelist and a consultant to secular organizations.

More On Faith and atheism:

Kirby: ‘How do atheists find meaning in life?’

Susan Jacoby: American atheists must define themselves, not be defined by the religious

Daniel Dennett: How to honor Hitch

Christopher Hitchens, in his own words

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  • daniel12

    Olaf Stapledon in his book “Last and first men” is a much better exponent of atheism than Dawkins. Dawkins actually does atheism a disservice with his comments. Take the statement that he is 6.9 out of 7 certain there is no God. What are we to make of such a mathematical statement of certainty? Does he mean he is in possession of 6.9 out 7 evidence in direction of no God? If he means this, please give us this 6.9 out of 7 evidence. Good luck because this is equivalent to stating one is not only a particular distance from a city after being placed blindfolded in the country, but at a particular distance from a city one does not even know exists.

    Or does Dawkins mean he is 6.9 out 7 certain there is no God out of no particular proof but just as a statement of his subjective feelings on the matter? If so, he has done nothing but declare his virtual certainty there is no God–a statement of no help at all to anyone, not even himself because he has essentially determined he is virtually certain about something he cannot demonstrate scientifically at all, which is to say he is making an opinion.

    or take Dawkins saying something to the effect how he cannot understand why anyone would want to clutter the beauty and spontaneity of evolution, of everything coming from nothing with something as messy as a God. What exactly does this essentially aesthetic opinion have to do with the truth of the matter? Worse, this aesthetic and metaphysical appeal? (That everything just spontaneously arose? How is that not a “magical” statement to rival religious notions?).

    Dawkins is no scientist to speak of, is no great writer along the lines of Stapledon–what exactly is Dawkins known for other than atheism? No surprise his defense of atheism is a jumbled mess of contradictory thinking when not plain problematic according to reason.

  • daniel12

    Dawkins a foremost evolutionary biologist? Name a single scientific discovery the man has made. Name a single idea he has laid out that I could not have learned myself from reading books. In other words, just name a single original idea by the man without needing to mention one derived by scientific work in the field. Name something he says that others have not said previously. He is a scientist like Dennett is a philosopher–in name only, with no actual work. Placeholder people…Name anything Dawkins or Dennett or Harris would be known by if not for atheism.

    6.9 out of 7 a rhetorical device? Interesting a scientist using the exactitude of mathematics to make exactly a statement in which he knows exactly no such exactitude applies…but this makes sense because, after all, he is not really a scientist, never made a connection between language, math and a novel insight…Amazing this “distinguished scientist” using such a rhetorical device and making aesthetic appeals to biology over religion by saying things to the effect that he cannot understand why anyone would want to upset the beauty of biological thinking with something as messy as a God–as if aesthetics equals truth, not to mention as if biology is free of ugliness, which of course it is not as any cursory examination of nature reveals to anyone.

    I just expect someone more authoritative, intelligent, original–is there not anyone else in a world of billions of people? Dawkins, Dennett, Harris–they are the best exponents of atheism? Three jacks is all atheists have to show in hand?

  • dr_psvvardhan

    @ Daniel 12
    Exactly what is ur problem with Dawkins ?
    Is ur problem with his scale for atheism or with his outspoken atheism ?
    Dawkins posits that “the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other.” He goes on to propose a continuous “spectrum of probabilities” between two extremes of opposite certainty, which can be represented by seven “milestones”. Dawkins suggests definitive statements to summarize one’s place along the spectrum of theistic probability. These “milestones” are:

    1.Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.”
    2.De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. “I don’t know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.”
    3.Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. “I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.”
    4.Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. “God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.”
    5.Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. “I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.”

  • dr_psvvardhan

    6.De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”
    7.Strong atheist. “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one.”[From wiki]

    Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that would place themselves as “1″ due to the strictness of religious doctrine against doubt, most atheists do not consider themselves “7″ because atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person’s mind. In print, Dawkins self-identified as a ’6′, though when interviewed by Bill Maher and later by Anthony Kenny,he suggested ’6.9′ to be more accurate.[From wiki]
    His scale is just for spectrum of belief in people not a scale for evidence of god. Ur just making a strawman fallcy here.
    I donno daniel why faithful never ask for proof to the people who are so certain of their beliefs. There is something called Burden of proof for the faithful to prove my dear daniel. Why ru behind atheists to prove ur god. Go find it urself.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    From my prev post it should be clear dawkins scale is for the spectrum of possiblities of belief of people. It is not for the evidence of god.

    As usual He always gets mispresented by faithful to knock him down as a strawman.

    Why dont faithful look into themselves and ask is there any evidence for my beliefs. The day u ask this question u will stop being a theist of scale 1. That is the reason why relgion has so many injunctions against doubt. He nce blasphemy is punished with death. This is all for survival of religion. Religion is for its own survival, it is a virus on minds of faithful. It just uses their minds to survive without providing any tangible benifits to these people. But many a different strains of this virus fight with each other and in the prcess kills the people. In this survival of fittest many religion virus strains have died and many have barely survived and some are thriving.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    Dawkins suggests definitive statements to summarize one’s place along the spectrum of theistic probability. These “milestones” are:

    1.Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.”
    2.De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. “I don’t know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.”
    3.Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. “I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.”
    4.Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. “God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.”
    5.Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. “I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.”
    6.De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”
    7.Strong atheist. “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one.”[From wiki]

  • dr_psvvardhan

    [Contd] Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that would place themselves as “1″ due to the strictness of religious doctrine against doubt, most atheists do not consider themselves “7″ because atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person’s mind. In print, Dawkins self-identified as a ’6′, though when interviewed by Bill Maher and later by Anthony Kenny,he suggested ’6.9′ to be more accurate
    His scale is just for spectrum of belief in people not a scale for evidence of god
    Hence faithful are just knocking strawmen by asking where is the evidence of 6.9/7 for non existence of god.
    THe burden of proof is on the faithful of scale 1 who are so sure of god. Atheists are always open to new evidence.
    Hence faithful are advised to find their own evidence for their numerous gods instead of falling behind atheists to prove their gods.

  • Secular1

    very well put and informative Doctor

  • Sadetec

    @daniel12:

    Whether you like Dawkins’ approach or not, the fact that you seem ignorant of his contributions to science does not help your credibility. Dawkins was the first to really wake science up to the fact that the key driver of Evolution is competition between genes, not competition between species — this simple shift in focus enabled science to gain a concrete understanding of many aspects of natural selection previously highly theoretical. Dawkins was also the first to advance the concept of extended phenotypes, which led directly to modern theories of memetics.

  • daniel12

    The good doctorpsvard: “Religion is for its own survival, it is a virus on minds of faithful. It just uses their minds to survive without providing any tangible benifits to these people.”

    What shred of evidence do you have for religion being a virus, something which attaches to minds of people and offers no benefits? Is it not rather the opposite case, that religion would not have existed, arisen in the mind of man if not having conferred an evolutionary advantage? What a religious, non-materialistic statement you make saying religion is some sort of virus on the mind of man which gives no benefits; you have no proof of such a thing at all. Pure hypothetical gibberish.

  • Sadetec

    @daniel12:
    “Is it not rather the opposite case, that religion would not have existed, arisen in the mind of man if not having conferred an evolutionary advantage?”

    Y’know the ultimate irony? The position you just outlined is the premise of Dan Dennett’s most famous work, ‘Breaking the Spell’ — a man you just denounced a few messages back (“[Dawkins] is a scientist like Dennett is a philosopher–in name only, with no actual work.”)

    Given you slated the man, then a few messages later seem to advocate one of his most famous ideas, I’m tempted to ponder whether you’ve actually read *any* of the books from the people you denigrate(..?)

  • daniel12

    Irony concerning Dennett’s idea Sadatec? What irony? Dennett’s idea? I have had that idea for years–and anyone with any biological understanding has the conception in mind that ANY enduring trait confers biological advantage. That is not an original idea with Dennett at all. The question is not whether I have read Dennett but whether you have any grasp of intellectual history and can tell an original line of reasoning or not. What a joke. “Famous idea of Dennett”. Let Dennett stand forth and claim that a famous idea of his–and get laughed out of town. No originality to it at all. Just an obvious deduction from the basic biological observation that this or that trait in a creature probably had to have had and probably still confers a biological advantage. Darwin, not Dennett.

  • daniel12

    Good doctor, burden of proof? Proof please of your statement that religion is virus which confers no biological advantage to man; specimen of this virus on slide please…Metaphor on your part this statement? What basis for such metaphor? Metaphor with no basis in evidence? Then why metaphor from scientific minded atheist?

  • dr_psvvardhan

    There are various mechanisms to explain the evolution of religion, memes is one of the mechanism. Evolutionary psychology together with cognitive neurosciecne explains more than one mech is responsible for development and spread of relgion. Memes is one of those mech. Others are adaptation, cognitive by product, Minimally Counterintuitive Concepts,Hyperactive Agency Detection Device and dual inhertence from by product and coadaptation.

    Richard Dawkins suggests in The Selfish Gene that cultural memes function like genes in that they are subject to natural selection. In The God Delusion Dawkins further argues that because religious truths cannot be questioned, their very nature encourages religions to spread like “mind viruses”.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    There are various mechanisms to explain the evolution of religion, memes is one of the mechanism. Evolutionary psychology together with cognitive neurosciecne explains more than one mech is responsible for development and spread of relgion. Memes is one of those mech. Others are adaptation, cognitive by product, Minimally Counterintuitive Concepts,Hyperactive Agency Detection Device and dual inhertence from by product and coadaptation.

    Richard Dawkins suggests in The Selfish Gene that cultural memes function like genes in that they are subject to natural selection. In The God Delusion Dawkins further argues that because religious truths cannot be questioned, their very nature encourages religions to spread like “mind viruses”.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    There are various mechanisms to explain the evolution of religion, memes is one of the mechanism. Evolutionary psychology together with cognitive neurosciecne explains more than one mech is responsible for development and spread of relgion. Memes is one of those mech. Others are adaptation, cognitive by product, Minimally Counterintuitive Concepts,Hyperactive Agency Detection Device and dual inhertence from by product and coadaptation.

    Richard Dawkins suggests in The Selfish Gene that cultural memes function like genes in that they are subject to natural selection. In The God Delusion Dawkins further argues that because religious truths cannot be questioned, their very nature encourages religions to spread like “mind viruses”.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    This model holds that religion is the byproduct of the cognitive modules in the human brain that arose in our evolutionary past to deal with problems of survival and reproduction. Initial concepts of supernatural agents may arise in the tendency of humans to “overdetect” the presence of other humans or predators (momentarily mistaking a vine for a snake). For instance, a man might report that he felt something sneaking up on him, but it vanished when he looked around.
    Stories of these experiences are especially likely to be retold, passed on and embellished due to their descriptions of standard ontological categories (human, artifact, animal, plant, natural object) with counterintuitive properties (humans that are invisible, houses that remember what happened in them, etc.). These stories become even more salient when they are accompanied by activation of non-violated expectations for the ontological category (houses that “remember” activates our intuitive psychology of mind; i.e. we automatically attribute thought processes to them).

  • dr_psvvardhan

    One of the attributes of our intuitive psychology of mind is that humans are interested in the affairs of other humans. This may result in the tendency for concepts of supernatural agents to inevitably cross connect with human intuitive moral feelings (evolutionary behavioral guidelines). In addition, the presence of dead bodies creates an uncomfortable cognitive state in which dreams and other mental modules (person identification and behavior prediction) continue to run decoupled from reality producing incompatible intuitions that the dead are somehow still around
    When this is coupled with the human predisposition to see misfortune as a social event (as someone’s responsibility rather than the outcome of mechanical processes) it may activate the intuitive “willingness to make exchanges” module of the human theory of minds resulting in the tendency of humans to try to interact and bargain with their supernatural agents (ritual).In a large enough group, some individuals will seem better skilled at these rituals than others and will become specialists.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    As the societies grow and encounter others, competition will ensue and a “survival of the fittest” effect may cause the practitioners to modify their concepts to provide a more abstract, more widely acceptable version. Eventually the specialist practitioners form a cohesive group or guild with its attendant political goals (religion). [From wiki]
    Richard Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[21]

    1.variation, or the introduction of new change to existing elements;
    2.heredity or replication, or the capacity to create copies of elements;
    3.differential “fitness”, or the opportunity for one element to be more or less suited to the environment than another.
    Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”
    Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained. Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.

    Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “A meme is an idea that behaves like a virus–that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects.” Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time. Memes spread by the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Imitation counts as an important characteristic in the propagation of memes. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behaviour of another individual, but memes may transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes, (i-memes or e-memes).Researchers have observed memetic copying in just a few species on Earth, including hominids, dolphins and birds (that learn how to sing by imitating their parents or neighbors).[From wiki]

  • Rongoklunk

    I heard the debate, and was astonished that Lennox kept rambling on just quoting the Bible as if it was self- evident truth, and Dawkins could hardly get a word in edgeways. It was as if Lennox was hypnotized by his silly beliefs and unable to doubt them even for a moment. Real dialogue with people this religious doesn’t work. And Dawkins was so polite. It needed a Hitchen’s type to debate this loony.
    I attribute Lennox’s braindead rambling to his childhood indoctrination which has hypnotized him into full acceptance of the Bible, which he now has no choice but defend against all criticism. That’s what childhood religious indoctrination does to the brain; it keeps real truth away.

  • daniel12

    The meme concept is sheer rubbish which does a grave disservice to the intellectual life of man. First it is with no evident basis in reality, separates the thoughts people have from people and places them not only in some hypothetical space apart from people, but calls thoughts “viruses” and so on which results in a difference of opinion between two or more people turning into not a difference in thoughts between them but an absurd and totally hypothetically struggle that they all might be possessed by memes in some sort of paranoic science-fiction scenario which of course leads to all sorts of plots to kill memes and so on, cleanse people of memes. I can understand science holding this as a hypothesis, but for an atheist to blither about the religious being possessed of memes which offer no benefit to their hosts, “virus” memes and so on as if literally the religious are possessed of some sort of organism the atheists are not possessed of…

    Why bother writing more on this subject? Obviously all the meme theory proponants will say to themselves that I am now possessed by some evil memes, virus-like, conferring no benefit on me and that perhaps in the future some method can be found of removing these memes from my brain so I can be suddenly as healthy as the atheists who are in no way meme possessed…

    What a joke so many atheists are–religion considered sheer nonsense but then we fall face forward into a purely hypothetical, strange, science-fiction scenario of memes reproducing in humans, using humans and offering no benefit. It seems the religious and atheists are actually one in the tendency of humans to just rush into this belief or that with no shred of evidence; so few people can just sit down and admit they have no idea really what is going on…

  • dr_psvvardhan

    @Daniel12
    For all ur rant who r spewing on atheists, Memes are one of the many explanations that are proposed to explain religion. Most of us agree that for religion which is so complex and vast cant be explained by only memes. Hence the other explanations to account for. [Please refer my prev posts]
    As for ur strawman arguements that we can remove memes from ur brain they need not be answered as they r silly rants and rheoteric.
    I can understand u will never read any scienctfic explanation which takes out the aura from ur gods and religons objectively. U jsut eveb dont want to think on those lines as it will erode ur blind faith. Yeah fundies r lke that and we cant help it.
    When u ask for so much evidence for scienctific facts why r u so satisfied with bronze age myths and beleive them witohut an iota of evidence. On top of that abuse others who ask evidecne for ur gods and religions.
    I want u to use the same skepticism eith religon and see waht happens

  • daniel12

    Doc Ps, first try to write a clear sentence and spell correctly instead of using grade school spelling. The fact of the matter is you and other atheists claim religion is nonsense with no basis in reality but have no problem speaking of hypotheticals called memes which you at least compare to a virus infecting the brain and offering no benefit to host…sheer conjecture with no basis in fact. Please give us evidence of memes not to mention that some of them act as viruses offering no benefit to host. At least good doctor please tell me how you happen to be one of the uninfected people by memes, how you happen to be one of those with no “meme virus infecting the brain and conferring no benefit to host”. What medicine have you been taking to prevent all those bad memes from infecting your brain? What is the cure for meme infection? if the religious are possessed of some bad memes then what to do about it? Just talk to the religious, try to make sense with them, and that will chase the bad memes away? What a joke. You talk of hypothetical memes infecting the brain and propose no cure except apparently your jibber jabber which is supposed to bring me (one of the meme infected according to you no doubt) to my senses. This conversation is as bizarre as any I have had with a religious person. Nice to know atheists can be as ridiculous as the religious. When you come up with a cure for my poor meme infected brain let me know…

  • kavenga

    Great article. Even without Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris are far, far from alone. Several excellent authors have come forward with outstanding books on atheism, agnosticism and humanism (BTW these are not mutually exclusive), and several of them are formerly devout Christians, Jews and Muslims. I highly recommend “Jesus Interrupted” by Bart Ehrman and “Godless” by Dan Barker.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    @daniel

    WHat is ur qualification ? WTF have u achieved in ur life. Iam not a silly troll on the net that u can get away by talking any nonsense.

    How dare u use adhominems on me.

    Just because i am answering doesnt mean u can keep on writing nonsense and go on repeating same questions ad nauseaum.

    Ur not my grammer teacher and iam not in ur KG class.

    This is my style and if u understand it read it or leave it.. Iam not answerable to a stranger on net.

    Before asking for proof to others, honestly ask urself whether there is any evidence or proof of ur god and his religion.
    Iam sure it is a big ZERO.

    When u believe all that nonsense without proof then u dont have any right to ask evidence for others.

    All ur meme mimickry is pure red herring and strawmen. U know it but still continue to play same tricks to make u feel good about urself. Be happy in ur own imaginary world.

    I need not waste my precious time on a troll in the net. I dont want to see any personal jabs on me. Hope u learn how to communicate with strangers on the net.

  • dr_psvvardhan

    @daniel 12

    WHat is ur qualification ? WTF have u achieved in ur life. Iam not a silly troll on the net that u can get away by talking any nonsense.

    How dare u use adhominems on me.

    Just because i am answering doesnt mean u can keep on writing nonsense and go on repeating same questions ad nauseaum.

    Ur not my grammer teacher and iam not in ur KG class.

    This is my style and if u understand it read it or leave it.. Iam not answerable to a stranger on net.

    Before asking for proof to others, honestly ask urself whether there is any evidence or proof of ur god and his religion.
    Iam sure it is a big ZERO.

    When u believe all that nonsense without proof then u dont have any right to ask evidence for others.

    All ur meme mimickry is pure red herring and strawmen. U know it but still continue to play same tricks to make u feel good about urself. Be happy in ur own imaginary world.

    I need not waste my precious time on a troll in the net. I dont want to see any personal jabs on me. Hope u learn how to communicate with strangers on the net.

  • webadage

    I enjoyed the debate but came away with the impression that the whole of the discussion was two against one. Mr. Dawkins seems to be intentionally represented as the minority here by virtue of ambush rather than by fair play in debate.

    I love Richard Dawkins and his wisdom and his skill of eloquence both in the written and spoken word, and he is the primary motivation causing me to move away from religion and towards reason but I have trouble with his position on freewill in that, a technological indication that the brain decides to take an action before the person consciously moves on that decision seems nonsensical in the arena of freewill.

    To make a human/computer comparison on this particular subject as was assumed several times during the debate, I submit that if I program a computer to do a thing; before the computer can actually do the thing that I have programmed it to do, there are several things in advance that must precede the programmed action, namely; convert my language into machine language, verify syntax (not necessarily in that order), verify resources and commit the required resources, all of which take a finite amount of time and all of which must occur prior to ultimately performing the action that has been programmed. This could, by virtue of the correlations made concerning brain activity, intent and action in relation to freewill, explain the pre-signals detected in the brain prior to an action being performed and, in my humble opinion, not necessarily represent a valid argument against freewill.

    No disrespect intended.

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