Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Is Richard Dawkins a science denier?

I have covered this topic before, and used this link before, but it occurs to me that, given Dawkins' statements about the effects of religion on the one hand, and child sexual abuse on the other, compared to hard scientific data, that is the only conclusion anyone can come to.

39 comments:

Papalinton said...

Richard Dawkins is one of the most influential scientists in contemporary society. Not only is he a robust defender of science and its role as the principal investigative tool yet discovered by humans, but through his work it is now OK to question and challenge religious claims wherever and whenever they are known to be false and based on superstition and mythos. It is now right and proper and appropriate for people to seriously challenge the hegemony of religious institutions, their philosophies, and their teachings as has never before been allowed.

As the eminent internationally-renowned anthropologist, Prof Jack Eller notes:
Science by its very nature "trespasses on the boundary of the sacred not because it is opposed to the sacred but because it has no concept of sacred at all. *Sacred* is a religious concept, not a scientific one and not a natural one. To science, nothing is sacred, because *sacred* is not part of its vocabulary. So when science ignores religious boundaries. it handles religion roughly - like any pithed frog or pinned butterfly. And when science finds facts that refute religious claims - about man, about society, about the universe, or about god[s] - it comes as a tear of the skin that no religion welcomes or can withstand."

Dawkins, not only through his finest scientific works and investigating the truth about the nature of our world, our environment, about the universe, about us and indeed even about gods, he is a leading figure of our time through his dedication and commitment to popularizing and demystifying science for the average Jill and Joe in the street.

He was named Prospect Magazine's World Thinker 2013 as the most influential intellectual of today. See HERE.

Love him or hate him no amount of religious mewling can put a dent in his already formidable and growing contribution to humanity's advance.

Samwell Barnes said...

Dawkins thinks the existence of God is a scientific question. That alone is proof that, at a conceptual level, he doesn't know what science even is. It's not that he's denying something that he knows (i.e. "science"). Rather, he's simply never possessed a fleshed-out understanding of the metaphysical, epistemological structure of the enterprise in the first place, and so he winds up embarking on misguided adventures in its name.

WMF said...

As Papalinton has clearly shown, only religious people can be science deniers.

Crude said...

"Would you like to talk about Dawkins?" he continues – and when I say yes, he laughs. "I hesitate to do this because he's such a popular guy, but Dawkins is not a scientist. He's a writer on science and he hasn't participated in research directly or published in peer-reviewed journals for a long time. In other words, there is no Wilson-versus-Dawkins controversy: it's Wilson versus … well, I could give you a goodly list of other scientists doing peer-reviewed research."

--- EO Wilson

mattghg said...

Linton,

For the first time in a while, I bothered to read your comment. Tell me: what does it have to do with Victor's post? You know, the stuff about

Dawkins' statements about the effects of religion on the one hand, and child sexual abuse on the other, compared to hard scientific data

??

Dawkins is in record talking about 'effects of religion on the one hand, and child sexual abuse on the other', and what he says contradicts 'hard scientific data'. So which is right? Dawkins or the science? And if Dawkins denies the science, isn't he a science denier?

Papalinton said...

And the reason for E O Wilson's chagrin?

"It is interesting to note that Wilson’s recent article in Nature and his book claiming to show support for so-called group selection have been sharply criticized, by Richard Dawkins and many others. Some of the critics pointed out that one source of error was in Wilson’s math. Since I’m not an expert in evolutionary theory, I can’t offer an opinion, but I find this controversy interesting given Wilson’s thesis that “great scientists don’t need math.”" Professor Edward Frenkel, UC-Berkley. Read HERE.

Crude said...

To anyone who wishes to insist that Dawkins is still a scientist, the way to prove as much is simple.

EO Wilson claims Dawkins is an ex-scientist who hasn't been doing any peer reviewed research for a long time. All you have to do is provide the last bit of peer reviewed scientific research Dawkins performed.

That should settle the matter nicely, eh?

Papalinton said...

And in classical fashion as most woo-meisters are want to do as a matter of course and typical of one with a maligned motive, a carefully cherry- picked instance is cited, providing an egregiously misconstrued and biased slant. Further on in the article cited on E O Wilson, the reporter noted:

"That Dawkins is not engaged in research does not, of course, make him wrong about evolution. But I decide to call Andrew Bourke, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of East Anglia, to get another view. Bourke offers a robust defence of kin selection, or inclusive fitness, and questions whether humans are a "eusocial" species (the technical term for displaying altruistic behaviour) like ants and termites at all.
I end the conversation firmly convinced that, as far as his peers are concerned, Wilson is a very long way from winning the day."


E O Wilson.

Sheesh!

Crude said...

Of course, it's also worth keeping in mind the actual scientific value of evolutionary biology too. Here's one scientist on it:

In science's pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history's inevitable imponderables.

Who said that? Must be an ID proponent. ;)

Papalinton said...

Crude - a rebel without a clue.

Crude said...

I'll just wait here for a cite of the last peer-reviewed research Dawkins was engaged in. I wonder - can the time between then and now be measured in months? Years?

...Decades?

How much effort must one put into near-phrenology to get research done? ;)

Papalinton said...

"And in classical fashion as most woo-meisters are want to do as a matter of course and ..."

Your not included, Bob, although you do harbour some pretty obtuse POVs.

Papalinton said...

You're

Dan Gillson said...

Papalinton responds to Vic's assertion that Dawkins is a science denier by writing a puff piece about Dawkins ... The Don Quixote of Atheism, ladies and gentlemen, here for your amusement.

Ape in a Cape said...

I'm not sure I've seen so disconnected a post as I did with Linton's response to Victor's article. Put simply, it had nothing to do with the original post.

Now, before the cawing woo woo-meisters and the decidedly superstitious unsuperstitious begin to burn their pastries, let me just say that Dawkins is an accomplished writer and popularizer, and very likely still an authority on some zoological topics. But he's an impoverished philosopher and metaphysician, and is evidently in denial about his own delusions concerning the capabilities of science itself.

In any case, chirping perfunctorily like a seasonal lovebird is only going to impress potential mates – mates who likewise chirp Dawkinese.

It just goes to show that religion isn’t the only domain in which one man's pariah can be another man's messiah.

Ape.

Victor Reppert said...

Do you have to be religious in order to be a fundamentalist?

Could someone kindly tell me why, in the face of the evidence have presented, Dawkins can be acquitted of the charge of being a science denier?

Victor Reppert said...

You guys are all about evidence, right? No????

BenYachov said...

I will say this for Dawkins.

If you are a Young Earth "scientific" Creationist, Dawkins most likely knows enough science to put you in your place.

That is his sole narrow skill set.

OTOH his shameless unexamined positivism & general ignorance of philosophy.

Not to mention his Gnu tendency to treat the whole God debate as nothing more than an exercise of mere politics renders him a useless tit.

Karl Grant said...

If you are a Young Earth "scientific" Creationist, Dawkins most likely knows enough science to put you in your place.

That is his sole narrow skill set.


I seen this before on more then one occasion, I call it the Specialized Idiot Principle. A person who is a specialist in one field gets used to being quoted as an authority on said field and being deferred to in an argument; gets his ego inflated by said fact; starts thinking he has the knowledge and authority to speak definitively on other subjects he is not trained in and when inevitably embarrasses himself doubles down rather then admit error because he has invested himself too emotionally in their position.

Crude said...

Karl,

Relevant to your point.

Papalinton said...

Ape
"I'm not sure I've seen so disconnected a post as I did with Linton's response to Victor's article. Put simply, it had nothing to do with the original post."

Because the article in the original post is just another bitch-whine by a god botherer, Tom Gilson, [Not to mention H. Allen Ore cited by Gilson in the article] who take every opportunity to impugn one of the most influential scientists and advocates for reason and rationality simply because he dares ruffle their religious sensibilities. God botherers quoting other god-botherers is about as useful as saying prayers, something one does when they can't do anything useful.

And who is this Tom Gilson? None other than head of Camp Crusade, a religious indoctrination machine targeting children. No wonder he's pissed off with Dawkins.

THIS is the sort of idiocy Gilson comes up with at First Things:

"With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
No comment for now, except to say that God is at work regardless, and this is another good reminder to pray for our neighbors."


The reason why people are turning away from religion? ".. [R]eligious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics".

What is Gilson's analytical, evidence-based response? 'Pray for our neighbours'.
No, nothing about cleaning up the organizations, their concern for money and power [greed, influence and preening], unwarranted focus on rules [social compliance and superintending people's personal lives], or political involvement [social control and religious authority in public policy]. Just pray.

Useless tick.

Crude said...

who take every opportunity to impugn one of the most influential scientists and advocates for reason and rationality

Ex-scientist. Atheist book-writer. Apologist for 'minor' pedophilia.

He's not a scientist, man. Nor is he an 'advocate for reason and rationality'. He's a Pop Sci Writer, an ex-scientist whose last peer reviewed research was...

Well, you tell us, Linton. How many years ago was it?

Bilbo said...

I'm amused at Papa's continuing to ignore the content of Vic's original post.

Papalinton said...

"I'm amused at Papa's continuing to ignore the content of Vic's original post."

Content? Content? The waste bin on the sidewalk waiting for collection is full of content, too.

Crude said...

Bilbo,

You don't understand what you're asking of Linton. If he denies Dawkins, he's out of his Cult. He'll be shunned by Gnu society. Worse, after he dies, he'll be condemned to Outer Darkness.

Anyone who speaks against atheism can be forgiven, but those who speak against the Cult of Gnu leadership shall not be forgiven, neither in this age nor in the age to come.

Karl Grant said...

Crude,

Yeah that about sums it up and to answer the questions from the other post Rex (very original name I know), the five month old Belgian Shepard is doing well. He's house-broken, got him leashed-trained and got him to obey a couple of basic commands like "sit". Now if only I can get him to stop trying to chew everything up, like my tennis shoes....

Cale B.T. said...

Paps, you defend Dawkins like Howard bowled.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o8by05rtMY

Victor Reppert said...

OK, I'm claiming that while Dawkins compared religious upbringing to pedophilia. Gilson presented scientific evidence that a) pedophilia does terrible harm to children growing up and b) religious upbringing has beneficial effects. None of this evidence was generated by Gilson himself, it came from research. Is there something wrong with the research on which this is based? Because if not, you can't use Gilson's religious beliefs against his argument. He claims to have scientific evidence for each of these claims, evidence that Dawkins ought to be aware of before shooting off his mouth.

Unless you actually think there should be (anti) religious tests for scientists. That strikes me as a great way to ruin science, but be my guest.

Bilbo said...

Hi Papa,

Could you offer a little more detail to your attempted refutation of the content of Vic's post?

im-skeptical said...

"Who said that? Must be an ID proponent. ;)"

Someone who knows what he's talking about.

im-skeptical said...

Victor,
"I'm claiming that while Dawkins compared religious upbringing to pedophilia. Gilson presented scientific evidence ..."

I've said many times here that you do not represent what he says fairly. I'm sure Dawkins is well aware of the relevant research, and he's not denying or disputing it.

People here often accuse me of being ignorant or having a shallow understanding of (pick any topic). They may be right sometimes, and they may not understand the topic themselves sometimes. In the case of Dawkins' statements, I'm still waiting for you, Victor, to show a sign that you understand what he is trying to say. But why should you? You've got a whole group of followers here who will back you up.

Crude said...

Someone who knows what he's talking about.

I agree - whoever ranks evolutionary biology as pretty close to phrenology is quite on target. ;)

I've said many times here that you do not represent what he says fairly. I'm sure Dawkins is well aware of the relevant research, and he's not denying or disputing it.

Pity that ain't reflected in his comments. Seriously man, Dawkins is a bit of a goof. Did you see recently where he tweeted an urban legend by accident, and when informed about it, got all defensive and suggested that maybe his anonymous source really DID the urban legend in question and got the idea FROM the urban legend?

Dawkins isn't exactly well known for copping to points that lead in a direction he dislikes. ;)

Bilbo said...

Hi im-skep,

So when Dawkins maintains that teaching children is child abuse, he means...what? And the data that the great scientist Dawkins has amassed to support his conclusion is ... where?

im-skeptical said...

Bilbo,

Dawkins has spoken at length about different kinds of abuse, and he makes it clear that they do different kinds of damage - some more severe than others. He cites some particular cases of religious upbringing that inflict grave psychological damage on the victims. But he doesn't claim that all religious upbringing does that. He says that it is "a form of child abuse" in much the same sense that systematically indoctrinating children with political propaganda might constitute a form of child abuse. And this is not presented as a scientific finding. It's his opinion.

Bilbo said...

Hi im-skep,

So Dawkins offers an opinion without any data to support it? Should we call this a religious opinion?

Victor Reppert said...

Pardon me if I think that attempts to sugar-coat and downplay the offensiveness of Dawkins' message as so much lipstick on a pig (to quote Obama).

Bilbo said...

An offensive message without any evidence to back it up. Yet this is the same Dawkins who said:

And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.””

Bilbo said...

Mike Gene Meets Jerry Coyne's Challenge:


David B Marshall said...

Tom Gilson is the "head of Campus Crusade," like Richard Dawkins is a practicing scientist, and Jack Eller (Community College of Denver) is an "eminent internationally-renowned anthropologist."

Wouldn't we all like to have Linton as a teacher. Grade inflation all around.