Snigger with Dawkins

Richard Dawkins: By the Book

The author… doesn’t care for “Pride and Prejudice”: “I can’t get excited about who is going to marry whom, and how rich they are.”

Genes that predispose you to such a mind state should have been wiped from the pool 500 million years ago…

53 comments on “Snigger with Dawkins

  1. Somewhat odd as according to the book reviews Dawkin’s autobiography is packed with pages and pages about his rich ancestors, their marriages and their houses, well-paid jobs, public schools & Balliol educations and colonial postings.

  2. I suspect he may have been more interested in his own potential partners wealth (financial and otherwise) than those of imaginary or unconnected people – that’s the relevant mind-state as far as gene survival is concerned.

    What I guess he’s not interested in is the latest TOWIE or z-listers’ bonkings. (Unless there’s some decent NSFW video illustrations knocking about perhaps…)

  3. It is such a pity that the most famous current Darwinist and critic of religion is such a weapons-grade jerk. Maybe he is far nicer in person.

    I miss Christopher Hitchens. At least the Hitch was funny.

  4. The rumour I heard is that he’s so pathologically anti religion because his ex took their kids and bought them up catholics.

    A rumour.

  5. Well, we’re talking fictional characters here. One can be interested in that sort of thing when it concerns real people, especially when they are one’s contemporaries, one’s ancestors, or one’s potential mates, without being interested in reading light comic novels about such matters.

  6. Doug, yes I think there must be something up here.

    I enjoyed reading Richard Dawkins’ books explaining modern evolutionary theory, albeit with the perspective of a geneticist who was not sure of the value of the views of naturalists. The books seemed to me to reveal a broad, subtle and civilised mind and, with reference to a comment on the previous post, there was at least one Shakespearean allusion.

    I got interested in other things, then years later heard of Professor Dawkins again, but in this unexpected context. Perhaps you explain it: can anyone confirm?

  7. Tim, I am very glad of the new preview function. it revealed that this morning I seem to have forgotten how to use “there” and “their”, before making a fool of myself.

    Humility requires that my rant against the use of “that” for “who” and “which” will have to wait; but it is coming…

  8. He has a PhD in chicken behaviour. Why anyone has any interest in his views on religion, literature of anything other than biology is a mystery (anymore than,say,the views of Perer Stringfellow Colonel Tim Collins or Eddie Large)

  9. If the selfish gene is the winner, then an even more selfish gene should win more. So your ultra selfish gene would get rid of sex, which is a compromise between genes which your ultra selfish gene would not accept. Indeed, your ultra selfish gene would get rid of arms, legs, heads and all and turn itself into a simple copying machine. So we would evolve to becoming bacteria, and in due course viruses, I’d suppose.

  10. Dawkins has got a point. Austen writes beautifully, but it is off-putting the way the worth of her male characters can be gauged by how much money they’ve inherited.

  11. Being rich makes you more desirable to the ladies though. Dawkins would probably have a genetic explanation for that.

  12. What a bizarre reaction from Tim and commenters.

    Dawkins is clearly expressing the well known sociobiology of gender. Women are hypergamous, men are not. Hence, women are interested in stories about heroines netting rich alpha men (Austen), and men are interested in stories about heroes who are rewarded with shagging hot chicks (James Bond).

    What’s the problem here? It is just “we don’t like him because he points out that believing in a Sky Fairy in this day and age is kind of retarded”? Or what?

  13. Richard Dawkins became inflamed with anti-Catholic animus after suffering through a long flight on which the only film showing was Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit.

    He likes the BBC comedy Rev, so spares the Anglicans the worst of his criticism. However, I understand he recently watched Deuce Bigalow: European Gigaglo on Netflix so the Jews had better watch out.

  14. Ian – Lib Dem supporters shouldn’t accuse other people of being retarded, lest they trip over the beams in their own eyes.

  15. Dawkins is one of the few public intellectuals who is as prepared to criticise Islam as he is Christianity, and for that brave and socially transgressive consistency he deserves credit.

    He’s wrong about Austen, though.

  16. Interested – he definitely won’t get invited back to the Lib Dhimmi conference after expressing his less than complimentary views on Islam.

  17. If you read the last chapter of the Selfish Gene, Dawkins is at pains to point out that humans are the only organisms on the planet that can volitionally override their genetic programming. I strongly doubt, too, that disdaining Jane Austen has, or has ever had, any bearing on one’s reproductive fitness.

  18. Doug Young –

    I’ve heard a similar rumour regarding A. N. Wilson’s atheism.

    According to a contemporaneous fellow student at Staggers (St. Stephen’s College, Oxford), Wilson was caught shtupping the Head of College’s daughter by the Head of College. Hence his being sent down after his first year under a dark cloud.

  19. so where does Dawkins now stand on the “scientific ladder”? The time he has recently spent on self-publicity suggests he is slipping quite fast.

  20. What a ridiculous comment, Dr Cromerty. The value of anyone’s opinion on any subject is solely in the argument they make in its favour. Having a doctorate from a prestigious university (notwithstanding General Melchett’s observation that “Oxford is a complete dump”) and under the supervision of a future Nobel Prize winner is suggestive of an intelligent, inquiring mind that may be of interest when it turns itself to any number of subjects.

  21. Philip Scott Thomas – “According to a contemporaneous fellow student at Staggers (St. Stephen’s College, Oxford), Wilson was caught shtupping the Head of College’s daughter by the Head of College. Hence his being sent down after his first year under a dark cloud.”

    A. N. Wilson got caught sleeping with a girl? Surely not back in the days he was a student.

    TW makes a mistake – disdaining marriage does not mean disdaining reproduction. Elizabeth Bennett came a little close to having the wrong man’s children. And of course Dawkins doesn’t care. As Ian points out, he is a man.

    Dawkin’s atheism is probably simpler to explain. He says he was sexually abused by a school teacher but that it was harmless. Which, I am sure, it was. He has just spent the rest of his life resenting Male Authority Figures that other people look up to.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2013/09/wait-the-anti-rev-richard-dawkins-said-what/

    But, hey, as long as he has found a way to deal with it, that’s all for the good.

  22. Not really, Doc Bud. Joseph Ratzinger held chairs in Bonn, Münster, Tubingen and Regensberg. I suspect you don’t seek out his views on molecular biology or particle physics. Or those of Iris Murdoch or Isaiah Berlin for that matter.

    For the same reason I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what Dawkins thinks about Jane Austen.

  23. I think his atheism is “explained” simply by the fact that he doesn’t believe a bunch of superstitions and mythology. What is bizarre is that anyone thinks that a more profound explanation is needed.

    I’m an atheist myself. I have no particular desire to upset or offend Christians, Jews or Muslims. But that does not alter the fact that “God” is simply the tribal totem of a particular group of primitive inhabitants of the Levant, and no more significant than that. We even have enough historical information to understand the development of the religion; the Canaanites believed generally in a high god called El, and various local tribal gods including YHWH (Yahweh, Yehoowah, Yahoo, Yeehaw, or some similar actual pronunciation). In the Persian period, under the influence of their Zoroastrianism, it developed into a grander religion with an eternal Good vs. Evil struggle with El and Yahwoo merged into a single great god modelled on Ahura-Mazda who we now just call “God”, which is kind of like a cat called “Cat”, except the Jews who would write that “C_t” because G_d doesn’t like His name being written down but hey, whatever.

    So when we talk about “atheism” we’re actually just talking about people who don’t believe in Yuhu, which is the rational position because He doesn’t actually exist, so why we would need amateur psychological “explanations” for atheism, I cannot fathom. Atheist Personality Disorder, anyone? Sermon Deficit Disorder? He doesn’t believe in God because God doesn’t exist. That’s it.

  24. Ian B – “I think his atheism is “explained” simply by the fact that he doesn’t believe a bunch of superstitions and mythology. What is bizarre is that anyone thinks that a more profound explanation is needed.”

    I don’t believe in Santa. I do not feel the need to go around telling everyone about it. Nor do I think that parents who tell their children about Santa should have a SWAT team burst in and take their children. If I did, people might think I had a problem. c.f. Dawkins.

    “But that does not alter the fact that “God” is simply the tribal totem of a particular group of primitive inhabitants of the Levant”

    You may be right God does not exist, but that is still not a fact. It is an opinion. An assumption. Maybe even a very good assumption. But it is not a fact.

    “We even have enough historical information to understand the development of the religion”

    No we do not. We have literary criticism and some archaeology. But does it matter? Not to me. Why does it to Dawkins?

  25. It matters because religion has power in the world. The truth or otherwise of Marxism matters because people believe in and act upon it. Likewise, religion.

    You may be right God does not exist, but that is still not a fact. It is an opinion. An assumption. Maybe even a very good assumption. But it is not a fact.

    No. There is a real world, there are objective facts about that world, and one of those facts is that God does not exist.

    No we do not. We have literary criticism and some archaeology. But does it matter? Not to me. Why does it to Dawkins?

    To be honest, I doubt that you believe in God either, SMFS. From all you write you come across as Straussian, believing that religion has utility in shaping the masses and that the truth of it is irrelevant to that purpose. Do you really believe that the supreme being of the universe revealed himself to a bedouin 4000 years ago? I don’t think you do, not in your heart of hearts.

    “does it matter? Not to me.”

    Dawkins thinks truth does matter. So do I.

  26. Ian B – “It matters because religion has power in the world. The truth or otherwise of Marxism matters because people believe in and act upon it. Likewise, religion.”

    Marxism matters because it makes the world a worse place. The planet is covered in mass graves that prove that. Dawkin’s main obsession is Christianity which by and large makes the world a better place. It is not that it has power in the world. Dawkins has built his entire identity around fighting an enemy that does not exist – and if it did, it makes the world a better place.

    “No. There is a real world, there are objective facts about that world, and one of those facts is that God does not exist.”

    You can assert that to your heart’s content. It is not a fact.

    “Dawkins thinks truth does matter. So do I.”

    Some truths matter to Dawkins. Not all of them. He is not attacking Marxism for instance. He is not attacking people who believe in the healing power of crystals. But nice back handed compliment to yourself there. This is what I mean by an identity. You, and I assume Dawkins, need to see themselves this way. But it ain’t so. Dawkins says things that he thinks are true as if they are facts. He is also grossly unfair in doing so. His attacks are not exactly dishonest but it is not exactly honest either. He argues from Bad Faith.

  27. Your highly questionable opinion that Christianity makes the world a better place is not relevant to the point I made; which was that the truth of Christianity matters because it is influential. Influential things can be good influences or bad influences, but the mere fact of that influence makes them important; and hence it then matters whether they are true or not.

    Also, repeatedly stating that something is not a fact does not make it false.

    Some truths matter to Dawkins. Not all of them. He is not attacking Marxism for instance. He is not attacking people who believe in the healing power of crystals

    Everyone specialises. Lots of us other people are attacking marxism, or crystal healing. There is a whole skeptic movement attacking other superstitions with which Dawkins is loosely affiliated. There are some people just debunking UFOs. And so on. Religion is his thing.

    Dawkin’s main obsession is Christianity which by and large makes the world a better place.

    And I shouldn’t take this bait but; you seem to think it has improved the world. Many people including myself think it has had a very negative influence. Dumping Europe into more than a thousand years of superstitious nonsense for a start. Being a soceity that was overwhelmed by it- 1500 to 1000 years ago the arrival of Christianity was akin to the current arrival of its close kin, Islam- many people believe it was the making of Europe. I think the correct interpretation is that it was the near breaking of Europe, and the great story of our history is that, against all odds, Europe survived Christianisation.

    Which was one theme of our previous thread; European vs Semitic value systems. You have to ask this; if the introduction of Semitic religion was a boon to Europe, why is the Semitic heartland such a dismal failure? They had better, earlier access to Graeco-Roman learning and philosophy than us in the western hinterland. Why then did they fail?

    My answer is simple; they didn’t have a cultural heritage from the Europe beyond the Roman Empire. Western Europe built itself up from now to conquer the world, by using philosophies not derived from, and indeed directly oppositional to, the paradigms inherited from Oriental Christianity- and all while the Oriental cradle of civilisation- now become the heartland of that style of religion- decayed.

    All of which makes the contention that Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religion is a boon highly contentious, and well worth questioning to its very core.

  28. Ian B – “Your highly questionable opinion that Christianity makes the world a better place is not relevant to the point I made; which was that the truth of Christianity matters because it is influential. Influential things can be good influences or bad influences, but the mere fact of that influence makes them important; and hence it then matters whether they are true or not.”

    I don’t think it matters if they are true as long as they have a good influence. I mean in a theoretical sense. In a practical sense if people do not believe in Christianity, and they don’t, then there is no point pretending. But it does not matter if a placebo is a placebo or not. As long as it works.

    Which means my point is relevant. Because Dawkins is not attempting a dispassionate discussion of the truth of religion. He is acting out in an attempt to destroy one religion that really offends him – and he had to be shamed into attacking Islam. He has too much skin in the game, so to speak.

    “Also, repeatedly stating that something is not a fact does not make it false.”

    No. But then if you have a proof for the non-existence of God I am sure we all would love to see it.

    “Everyone specialises. Lots of us other people are attacking marxism, or crystal healing. There is a whole skeptic movement attacking other superstitions with which Dawkins is loosely affiliated. There are some people just debunking UFOs. And so on. Religion is his thing.”

    One particular religion. He has publicly passed on the chance to comment on Islam before. He chickened out. Christians do not, after all, behead. Also the important superstitions to fight are those that murder the most. Which is not Christianity and never has been. But a lot of his colleagues are or were Marxists. So it may get him cut in the tea room if he did that. It is not specialisation, it is obsession. Hence the issue of his past abuse.

    “And I shouldn’t take this bait but; you seem to think it has improved the world. Many people including myself think it has had a very negative influence.”

    Then there is a discussion we should be having. But we don’t because people like Dawkins are not interested.

    “Dumping Europe into more than a thousand years of superstitious nonsense for a start.”

    This sort of cartoon (ironically based on those Victorian Puritans you dislike so much) view of Christianity is a waste of both our times.

    “You have to ask this; if the introduction of Semitic religion was a boon to Europe, why is the Semitic heartland such a dismal failure? They had better, earlier access to Graeco-Roman learning and philosophy than us in the western hinterland. Why then did they fail?”

    Because you cannot really classify Christianity as a Semitic religion. It took a Semitic religion and filled it with so much Graeco-Roman philosophy that it is not really one any more. Which was, of course Maimonides’ view when he said that a Jew, if forced to convert or die, could become a Muslim but not a Christian because Christianity is polytheism. The Islamic world, like the Jewish world before it, rejected that classical past. The Christians did not.

    “Western Europe built itself up from now to conquer the world, by using philosophies not derived from, and indeed directly oppositional to, the paradigms inherited from Oriental Christianity- and all while the Oriental cradle of civilisation- now become the heartland of that style of religion- decayed.”

    Which is just ahistoric. It ignores the role of the Church and religious people in the development of that knowledge – and above all it ignores the underlying basis of that system of knowledge which was Christianity. Christianity insisted that God’s creation was knowable and operated according to Natural Law. Unlike in India or China, which both had a massive head start on the West, Churchmen started out trying to understand those laws. Thus bringing us to where we are today.

    Even the Church’s history of intolerance is important for modern science. Why does Dawkins care? Why did Einstein spend half his life trying to disprove quantum theory? Why did he care? The Churches gave the West a tradition of caring about the truth and the means to discover it. There is more than a little whiff of the witch burner about Dawkins. If he was a Buddhist, he probably wouldn’t care. He would go about his business – and science would never advance.

    “All of which makes the contention that Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religion is a boon highly contentious, and well worth questioning to its very core.”

    Indeed. But Dawkins does not do that. That is not what he is about. He has a issue, a cause, not a discussion. Nor do I accept that you should place Christianity in with Judaism and Islam.

  29. “Which is just ahistoric. It ignores the role of the Church and religious people in the development of that knowledge – and above all it ignores the underlying basis of that system of knowledge which was Christianity. ”

    Just one sentence of many, but the problems with them all are similar. The knowledge in question came from non-Christian societies initially and was expanded on as and when religion weakened in Europe, often associated with Bacon and permission to look directly at the world.

    Knowledge includes Hindu maths, Arabic algebra and so on. All knowledge developed in societies in which religions were relatively weak. Religions have always, everywhere, been the enemy of honest exploration of the universe.

    Religions *are* demonstrably false, all of them, unless meanings of ‘true’ and ‘false’ are so relativistic as to be useless for application to any statement at all. That is, if anything can be said to be false, then the idea of a God can be said to be false.

    Liking for Austen is a useful political determinant, it’s far more common on the left than the right among men. Ian B is absolutely correct in what he has been arguing about this.

    As for whether or not evolutionary success has anything to do with liking soap opera, well-written or not, modern or a couple of hundred years old, the phrase ‘a little knowledge’ springs to mind.

  30. PS Dawkins is absolutely right to be strident about this. The depredations of religions are the greatest cause of human suffering on earth – the only cause of it if you include political religions like Marxism. Religions have throttled human progress for centuries and the last-gasp resurgence we’re living through should be confronted and defeated.

  31. Not sure if we’re discussing the merits of Jane Austen here, or not, but it’s always been a bit of a mystery why so many of the earlier exponents of the art form that is the novel are held in such high regard. Bit like lauding the Model T Ford for the quality of its engineering.

  32. Regarding the factual existence of god, which Ian B denies and which denial SMFS refutes: I can say that New Zealand exists because although I have never seen it, there is sufficient reliable evidence that it does. I can say that the centre of the earth exists because although no-one has ever seen it there is a logical requirement that it must. There is neither reliable evidence nor a logical requirement for the existence of god. Exactly the same can be said for the existence of invisible flying pink unicorns, granite cactuses that yodel at sunrise, and a 200 foot high pile of barbed-wire tea-cosies in Parliament Square. I suspect that SMFS would cheerfully deny that those exist. Yet, despite several centuries of attempting to find either reliable evidence or a logical requirement for the existence of god, neither has been forthcoming. The non-existence of god is as close to a fact as it needs to be.

  33. Peter Risdon – “The knowledge in question came from non-Christian societies initially and was expanded on as and when religion weakened in Europe, often associated with Bacon and permission to look directly at the world.”

    Well the vast expansion of knowledge that came after the Enlightenment came with the weakening of religious authority, but it is simply not true that science only expanded as and when religion weakened. And it is absurd to take the thoroughly Catholic figure of Roger Bacon and argue that he spent his life on something completely contrary to what he did spend his life on. He was a perfectly pious Christian monk. And he invented the scientific method. Seeing it as part of his religious work. As was William of Occam – two Catholic, Franciscan scientists whose work underpins modern science.

    “Knowledge includes Hindu maths, Arabic algebra and so on.”

    So it does.

    “All knowledge developed in societies in which religions were relatively weak. Religions have always, everywhere, been the enemy of honest exploration of the universe.”

    Then China should have been a scientific powerhouse. When Europeans turned up they flatly denied the world was round. It is simply not true. At least in Europe – the science we have grows out of a pious society.

    “Religions *are* demonstrably false, all of them, unless meanings of ‘true’ and ‘false’ are so relativistic as to be useless for application to any statement at all. That is, if anything can be said to be false, then the idea of a God can be said to be false.”

    Demonstrate it if it is demonstrable.

    “Liking for Austen is a useful political determinant, it’s far more common on the left than the right among men.”

    Really? That is not remotely my experience. The Left does not like her world and so tries to tear it down through their usual litany of sneers and condescension. Churchill on the other hand loved Austen.

    Peter Risdon – “PS Dawkins is absolutely right to be strident about this. The depredations of religions are the greatest cause of human suffering on earth – the only cause of it if you include political religions like Marxism.”

    Sure, if you define everything you don’t like as religion, then religion will be something you do not like. It is worth pointing out that the Spanish inquisition killed about 4,000 people in the hundreds of years it was operating. The Nazis, based on the same Darwinian thought and the same atheism as Dawkins supports, gassed six million. The Communists, with less interest in Darwin but more interest in atheism, may have killed 120 million. By all means, let’s consider the terrible crimes of the religious. During the Cultural Revolution the Chinese Communist Party managed to kill about 40,000 people. Per day. For each and every day of the three years of disaster.

    Yet you think Pope Francis is the problem?

  34. ‘Sure, if you define everything you don’t like as religion, then religion will be something you do not like. It is worth pointing out that the Spanish inquisition killed about 4,000 people in the hundreds of years it was operating. The Nazis, based on the same Darwinian thought and the same atheism as Dawkins supports, gassed six million. The Communists, with less interest in Darwin but more interest in atheism, may have killed 120 million. By all means, let’s consider the terrible crimes of the religious. During the Cultural Revolution the Chinese Communist Party managed to kill about 40,000 people. Per day. For each and every day of the three years of disaster.

    Yet you think Pope Francis is the problem?’

    Cannot be said enough.

  35. “He has a PhD in chicken behaviour. Why anyone has any interest in his views on religion, literature of anything other than biology is a mystery”

    So it is only worth listening to someone on subject X if they have a PhD in X? Well then, I shall tell the locals in the pub tonight to hush their mouths.

  36. bloke in spain – “Not sure if we’re discussing the merits of Jane Austen here, or not, but it’s always been a bit of a mystery why so many of the earlier exponents of the art form that is the novel are held in such high regard. Bit like lauding the Model T Ford for the quality of its engineering.”

    But art is not like engineering. Pop music has a simple problem – the early pioneers got in first and used all the good tunes. The genre has less and less to use because Elvis, the Beatles and even, God help us, Cliff Richards got there first. In the same way some early novelists got in first and took all the good plots. As the undergrad joke goes, it is hard to explain why everyone likes Shakespeare so much – his plots are such cliches.

    Ian Bennett – “Regarding the factual existence of god, which Ian B denies and which denial SMFS refutes”

    I am not sure I refute anything. I simply say it is not a fact. It may be true. It may not be. I do not know. Nor can anyone else.

    “I can say that New Zealand exists because although I have never seen it, there is sufficient reliable evidence that it does.”

    So you accept an argument from authority?

    “There is neither reliable evidence nor a logical requirement for the existence of god. Exactly the same can be said for the existence of invisible flying pink unicorns, granite cactuses that yodel at sunrise, and a 200 foot high pile of barbed-wire tea-cosies in Parliament Square. I suspect that SMFS would cheerfully deny that those exist.”

    I am not sure I would. I have never seen an invisible pink unicorn. I am pretty sure they do not exist. But I would not like to claim it is a definite fact they do not.

    And there may well be a pile of barbed wire tea cozys in Parliament Square. Stupider art works are. Like the statue of Nelson Mandela.

    “Yet, despite several centuries of attempting to find either reliable evidence or a logical requirement for the existence of god, neither has been forthcoming. The non-existence of god is as close to a fact as it needs to be.”

    As close to is not the same as the same as.

  37. ukliberty – “SMFS says “things that he thinks are true as if they are facts.” Chortle.”

    Butthurt is never pretty. If you think I have said something is a fact that is actually an opinion, by all means, point it out. But do not pretend I said something when I did not. That is lying.

  38. Most of what you write is your opinion, written as if it were fact. Which is why I was taking the piss out of you – once again because you seem to lack self-insight.

  39. Interested – “I said earlier that he’d had a bit of a pop at the muzzies, and he did. But then he removed the tweets from his twitter feed, so I take back my suggestion that he was brave.”

    He took the safest shot he could as Muslims. He criticised their lack of Nobel Prize winners. As if they care. Even then he backed down in the face of Leftist outrage – not Muslim anger by the way. Meanwhile he was given a clear chance to make his views known:

    http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/102653/facing-uncomfortable-truths

    In a recent Al-Jazeerah interview, Richard Dawkins was asked his views on God. He argued that the god of “the Old Testament” is “hideous” and “a monster”, and reiterated his claim from The God Delusion that the God of the Torah is the most unpleasant character “in fiction”. Asked if he thought the same of the God of the Koran, Dawkins ducked the question, saying: “Well, um, the God of the Koran I don’t know so much about.”

    Of course slagging off Allah on al-Jazeera is a different kettle of fish.

  40. SMFS: “I have never seen an invisible pink unicorn. I am pretty sure they do not exist. But I would not like to claim it is a definite fact they do not.”

    This is the reason I said “That is, if anything can be said to be false, then the idea of a God can be said to be false.” You take the line that nothing can be said to be false. I’m afraid I don’t think this is meaningful.

    “The Nazis, based on the same Darwinian thought and the same atheism as Dawkins supports, gassed six million.”

    Nope. The Nazis weren’t atheists. It’s true they didn’t reciprocate the support the Catholic Church gave them, but then, they weren’t fascists – Catholic Nationalists – like Franco and Mussolini (and de Valera). They were more like New Age Greens, looking back to a pagan past. The Nazis’ philosophy was founded not in Darwin’s work but in an earlier Teutonic reaction against the Industrial Revolution. This is where the anti-Semitism came from: Jews were a convenient ‘rootless cosmopolitan’ and urban people who were contrasted with the alleged blood and soil connection to the land of the German people.

    The Nazis used some misunderstood aspects of Darwin’s work as justification for ideas conceived before Darwin was born, but then the Fabians also used Darwin’s work as a justification for eugenics. Even Marx had to accommodate Darwin’s work.

    Calling Marxism ‘religious’ isn’t indiscriminate. There are the same prophet figures, the same heresies, excommunications, sects, cults and scriptures you find in religions. This is not true of every human discipline or tradition and it’s particularly not true of the scientific ones. That doesn’t mean people doing science have always adhered to the scientific method – remember Feynman’s warning against ‘cargo cult science’. When Watson started work in a US biological research institute after WWII the library shelves were still full of copies of the pre-war Journal of Racial Hygeine. Lots of scientists depart from the scientific method – look at the global warming hysteria.

    Of course Bacon was a religious man. So was Newton, for that matter. That’s almost the same as saying they were both educated, in practice. This isn’t binary, it’s continuous: as religion has waned true scholarship has waxed, and vice versa.

    Religion – but not all the religious – has been the enemy of knowledge for millennia.

  41. And the “Nazis woz atheists” argument is both inaccurate and deserving of a Godwin. Though as they were basically neo-pagans that isn’t much of an argument for the other side either.

  42. Though as they were basically neo-pagans that isn’t much of an argument for the other side either.

    It’s the basic problem with fundamentalists and revivalists. In the name of “rediscovering” the past, they really invent a new one.

    Which is one of the problems of the narratives by Anti-Islamists like Robert Spencer. They agree with the Islamists that Islamism is a genuine revival of “true” Islam, when it’s actually a new form. Just as, in previous centuries, Protestants attempting to rediscover oldy-timey Christianity instead just invented brand new forms like Calvinism.

    As with those modern pagans and witches who stand around in fields and forest glades practising the religion of the Ancients… which dates all the way back to a bunch of bored civil servants in the 1930s.

  43. ukliberty – ““ducked the question”, or ‘declined to voice his opinion of something he felt incompetent to talk about’.”

    You think he doesn’t think the Quran is a work of fiction?

    “Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today
    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/307369895031603200

    Sure. He is brave on Twitter where all he has to deal with is SWPL. Less so when a Muslim might actually hear him.

  44. Peter Risdon – “This is the reason I said “That is, if anything can be said to be false, then the idea of a God can be said to be false.” You take the line that nothing can be said to be false. I’m afraid I don’t think this is meaningful.”

    That is not true. We know that certain mathematical theorems are false. We know that certain claims about the universe are false. We know a lot of things are false. But the religious keep refusing to make testable claims about God.

    “Nope. The Nazis weren’t atheists. It’s true they didn’t reciprocate the support the Catholic Church gave them, but then, they weren’t fascists – Catholic Nationalists – like Franco and Mussolini (and de Valera).”

    There are so many problems with this it is hard to know where to start. The Church did not support the Nazis and in fact made membership an excommunicatable offense. It is hard to talk about Nazis as a whole but Hitler was certainly an atheist.

    “They were more like New Age Greens, looking back to a pagan past.”

    The Greens, like the Nazis, may romanticise the pagan past but they are not pagans. They are atheists.

    “The Nazis’ philosophy was founded not in Darwin’s work but in an earlier Teutonic reaction against the Industrial Revolution.”

    Oh bollocks. Yes, they had a reaction against the industrial revolution. For entirely Darwinian reasons – it weakened the race. And Darwin is central to their ideas and ideology. That is why they murdered on racial grounds.

    “The Nazis used some misunderstood aspects of Darwin’s work as justification for ideas conceived before Darwin was born, but then the Fabians also used Darwin’s work as a justification for eugenics. Even Marx had to accommodate Darwin’s work.”

    There is no evidence they misunderstood a word of Darwin’s work. They did not understand genetics, but their understanding, like that of the Fabians, was the Darwinian understanding of the best scientists of their time.

    “Calling Marxism ‘religious’ isn’t indiscriminate. There are the same prophet figures, the same heresies, excommunications, sects, cults and scriptures you find in religions.”

    Which is nice. But there is also the fact that they flatly did not believe in God and said so all the time.

    When Watson started work in a US biological research institute after WWII the library shelves were still full of copies of the pre-war Journal of Racial Hygeine.

    Politics had not trumped science yet I guess. The journal is nonsense, but was the science? Now of course they have all gone down the Memoryhole.

    Of course Bacon was a religious man. So was Newton, for that matter. That’s almost the same as saying they were both educated, in practice.

    There were sceptics who were educated at the time.

    <i.This isn’t binary, it’s continuous: as religion has waned true scholarship has waxed, and vice versa.

    It is true since 1800 or so. But it is not true for the earlier period.

    Religion – but not all the religious – has been the enemy of knowledge for millennia.

    Nonsense.

    JamesV – “And the “Nazis woz atheists” argument is both inaccurate and deserving of a Godwin. Though as they were basically neo-pagans that isn’t much of an argument for the other side either.”

    It is simply true and there is no evidence Hitler was a pagan at all. Plenty that he was an atheist. In fact he more or less sounds like Dawkins most of the time.

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