Friday, August 01, 2008

The Old (former) Atheism versus the New Atheism

Antony Flew calls Dawkins a secular bigot.

Yes yes I know. He's 13 years older than John McCain. He's being manipulated by his Christian handlers. His memory is gone. He doesn't know anything about science. We discussed all the charges and countercharges last year.

But, for my part, his charge of secular bigotry against Dawkins is on target.


Samuel Skinner said...

Actually, I assumed he did this because he is an asshole, not senility or being manipulated.

Why? Well, the correct term would be bigot- secular would be redundant. And having opinions on other people based on their beliefs is one of the two ways to judge people- actions being the other.

And people can hide their actions more easily, but they positively yearn to spill their beliefs out.

Monologing has been the downfall of more than one villian.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes fire needs to be fought with fire .

Continual Pussy footing around with all manner of niceities does nothing other than prolong the problem .Religions have enjoyed respect that in many peoples minds has not been honestly earnt , for thousands of years now .How long would those that suggest humanity needs to be continually nice forever respectful , should wait in complete patience ? .

Straight talking seeks real answers ,and leaves us some hope that these problems will not continue to be batted back and forth with little progress for the next thousand years .Like some pleasant sunday tennis match with all the time in the world available to considder rules .

Cause its no game these things are very real and have large effects on the lives of humans .

What people need to relise is humanity in general is fast becoming sick of the nastiness that revolves around many of these religious beliefs .

Sure some religious folk might feel a bit hard done by , but it could be said their time would be better spent thinking about and trying to fix the reasons why .

There is no doubt many wise thoughts are contained within these religious books .In the bible one such thought of wisdom suggests something like "by the fruit of their works we will know them "

Looking around the world today can it be suggested that overall the fruits of religion can be seen to be so very good ? .

Attack the messenger and miss the message , but that will never put out the raging fire that is fast becoming so obvious for so many to finally see .And while it rages people will never stop thinking of ways to quench it , even if their thoughts and actions might be seen by some on face value to seem to be not quite cricket in a friendly game at the village green.

Steven Carr said...

Here is what Dawkins writes on page 18 of The God Delusion

''A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation... A deist too believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place.

The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs.'

Here is what Flew writes in his review :-

'A less important point which needs to be made in this piece is that although the index of The God Delusion notes six references to Deism it provides no definition of the word 'deism.'

The book that Roy Varghese wrote for Flew contains no definition of the word 'deism' and how it differs from theism.

Flew seems to have forgotten what is in his 'own' book...

He certainly has no idea what is in The God Delusion.

And it is very ironic that Flew attacks Dawkins for faults which are in Flew's book, not Dawkins.

That does not stop Flew rambling on about Gilbert Ryle, in paragraphs which have nothing to do with deism, The God Delusion or anything at all that is relevant to whether or not Flew's God of not-Christianity exists.

We can but hope that Victor never has to have books ghost-written for him.

Incidentally, Flew charges Dawkins with not talking about Einstein's 'integrated complexity', when Einstein himself never talked about 'integrated complexity'.

Doctor Logic said...

Good post, Steven.

I'm still puzzled by the OP.

Got any examples of Dawkins's bigotry?

Are you saying that Dawkins's tolerance for religion is lower than your average theistic commentator's tolerance for atheism?

I'm not seeing it.

Victor Reppert said...

My complaint with Dawkins is that he makes no attempt whatsoever to understand the positions that he is attacking. I don't object to harsh rhetoric so long as some attempt to represent opposing positions accurately is made. I need evidence that the opponent makes some effort to understand the other side. Dawkins makes no attempt to understand the religious views he attacks.

There are plenty of theists who are serious about understanding the non-believer's position.

Victor Reppert said...

That's what I mean by bigotry.

Anonymous said...

I can't help laughing.
A post about Bulverism followed by another accusing one's opponent of being a bigot.

By the way, the philosophy forum at is not a bad place to find a wide spectrum of opposing philosoophical positions.

Victor Reppert said...

I am not attacking Dawkins' motivations. I am claiming that Dawkins doesn't pay very close attention to the positions that he attacks. In fact, he is proud of not making an effort to understand.

Bulverism is the attempt to focus away from someone's claims and arguments to say "you are only saying that because you are ..." I didn't do that.

Just compare Richard Dawkins with J. L. Mackie.

And you will get a better spectrum of philosophical positions here than on And I don't ridicule atheism here, far from it. I will continue to be sharply critical of careless attacks on theism, but that is another matter.

Steven Carr said...

It seems the Old (Former) Atheists don't even read the books of the New Atheists before lambasting them in print for not putting in what is actually clearly printed on the pages.

Or for not discussing Einstein's 'integrated complexity' when Einstein himself never discussed 'integrated complexity'.

Even Victor has never used the term 'integrated complexity'! (to the best of my knowledge)

Perhaps Victor, unlike Flew, just doesn't understand the strongest case for deism.

Or perhaps Flew doesn't.

I know who my money would be on.

Anonymous said...

"Bulverism is the attempt to focus away from someone's claims and arguments to say "you are only saying that because you are ..." I didn't do that. "

Doesn't look like that to me. You appear to be claiming that what he is saying is a result of his bigotry, that he is too proud to even attempt to understand his opponents' positions.

"And you will get a better spectrum of philosophical positions here than on "

Oh all sorts of positions are presented in the philosophy forum over there. I don't think the specturm is wider over here, rather the reverse seems to be the case.