Introduction to the Richard Dawkins Foundation

"The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science, especially in more... the schools of America. I am one of those scientists who feels that it is no longer enough just to get on and do science. We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organized ignorance. We even have to go out on the attack ourselves, for the sake of reason and sanity. But it must be a positive attack, for science and reason have so much to give. They are not just useful, they enrich our lives in the same kind of way as the arts do. Promoting science as poetry was one of the things that Carl Sagan did so well, and I aspire to continue his tradition." — Richard Dawkins

Clinton Richard Dawkins (born March 26, 1941) is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

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Why I Don't Believe said...

Look, I know Dawkins is one of the more recent poster-boys for our ex-Xian cause, but he's such a pompous, arrogant man. Every time he opens his mouth I cringe. And there are quite a few non-Xian philosophers who take him to task over the philosophical conclusions he draws from his neo-Darwinian thought.

I know he has some great things to say, but I really am worried about the rise and growth of the Atheist cult of Dawkins.


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I don't see that. I see a guy who always keeps his cool and who always has a smart, rational, and direct point to make against some of the silliest one liner claims that believers make. It always seems to me that he cuts right to the heart of a matter with an obvious statement.

What you may be seeing as arrogance I am seeing as simply a refusal to be silenced. It would be nice to say to each their own, but frankly people of religion don't play by the same rules. They develop a sense of superiority about their beliefs and if anyone should be called arrogant it would have to be people of religion. Their own book orders them to go out and convert!

They make claims that they cannot backup. They demand changes (of everyone) to satisfy their beliefs. Religion allows people a clear conscience to perform some of the most heinous and immoral acts simply because they claim to have their god's blessing on it. And I'm not simply talking about bombing buildings and physical harm to others. I'm talking about the spread of bigotry. The tearing up of families because someone doesn't believe correctly. The child abuse of religious indoctrination. The taking of money from the ignorant and the usage of that to sustain and spread itself. The hypocrisy of the "christian" when they gloat over the thought of people burning in hell for not agreeing.

Enough is enough. It is time that people start accepting what is being discovered. People will argue that religion has some good benefits and I would put forth that anything that is good that can be provided by religion can be provided without it.

I don't think it arrogance. I think its irritation that we have to fight to convince people that Jesus's face is NOT on a water stain on a bridge or that Mary is on a cheese sandwich. We have to fight to stop people from committing violence in the name of their religion. We have to fight to stem the flow of ignorance in the most basic sciences. We have to fight with religion on things such as stem cell research, birth control, or any other myriad of cases involving health vs religion.

It's not arrogance. It's simply being tired of having to deal with the same ignorance day after day. If you respect their delusions then you accept their delusions.

Frankly we need more people like Dawkins who will speak out and not be hesitant to challenge religious beliefs.

mothpete said...

Heck you must really not enjoy Hitchen's stuff.

Ha Troy, I was just a sentence or two into a reply here before I read your name. I thought you were a Christian troll and didn't notice the 'our ex-Xian' part... and no I'm not cyber stalking ya ol' pal, lol.

I gotta say though, that I find Dawkins easy to listen to and maybe it's just his Englishness that sounds pompous. Maybe it's the general smugness a lot of people exude when they 'know' they're right about something. I certainly cringe at the Ken Ham types whenver they talk... yeesh, have you seen him being interviewed lately?

Joe B said...

Well said, Rick. What Dawkins is suggesting is a broader movement of populists in bringing science to the people.

The challenge is much like that faced by the Enlightenment itself. There are historical examples to learn from. The Russian Khozhdenie v narod (Going to the People) movement of the late 19th century sought to incite rebellion against a political system that relied on tradition and the church as part of its method of control. The people didn't get it and chased the intellectuals out.

Times are different in many ways and the American culture is vastly different from Russian serfdom, but the model of social and political control reinforced by religious traditions bears some similarity.

The challenge of putting the hay down where the goats can get it is enormous. Dawkins clearly can't do that alone. As Troy demonstrates, even among ex-xians the intellectual arguments are easily conflated with arrogance, or with some sort of rebellion against honored tradition.

An enormous cultural shift is needed, something on the order of that which reshaped German political culture after WWII. It would be nice to see that happen without the country going into ruin. My optimism is low this morning.

ComputerGuyCJ said...

I happen to like Dawkins' approach. He's kind of an anti-pastor. I've met many a pastor who is just as pompous and arrogant, if not more, but still have a big following. I think it's a matter of preference, and Dawkins' style is preferred by many. A cult following? Maybe, but his own encouragement of science and rational thought should keep it to a minimum.

Why I Don't Believe said...

See? That is my point. I made some comments that detracted from Dawkins and some thought I was a Xian! That's what I mean by the cult of Dawkins. The enemy of my enemy may be my friend, but that doesn't make him perfect or unable to be wrong.

OK people, there is NO DOUBT that Dawkins has some VERY important things to say and is worth listening to, but I don't think he is infallible or without flaws.

And his notion that religious indoctrination is child abuse is philosophically flawed and detracts, I think, from the seriousness of legitimate child abuse.

I saw him clash with Ted Haggard (the recently outed homosexual pastor) in the Channel 4 documentary, The Root of All Evil? and I had to agree with Haggard in that Dawkins was being an arrogant prat!

It seems I am not alone in my impression of Dawkins. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (also an Atheist) gave Dawkins a bit of a public rebuke at Beyond Belief '06 for his manner and attitude towards the masses (which Dawkins took in stride to his credit).

You can see that on YouTube here:

Anonymous said...

Troy I was well aware that you were making a comment against Dawkins himself and not his atheistic stance. I think it ridiculous to claim that people who agree with Dawkins are his cultish followers. What he says makes sense and most non believers simply agree with him. Your being xian or antixian has nothing to do with it. Your claim is, at best, weak.

What ever problem you have with Dawkins appears to simply be one of personal tastes. It certainly isn't something that can be accepted except in the lightest of senses. A case of arrogance can be made against any person who stands against another in an attempt prove that they are wrong.

So yes, I am superior to believers because I base my beliefs on what I learn and observe. I do notbase what I learn and observe on what I already believe. I mean, if you want to call that arrogance ...

Bill B said...

Hey Troy,

I respect your opinion on Mr. Dawkins but I do believe he is the "A NUMBER ONE" spokesperson for our team. I think most of us tend to ignore his flaws and respect the fact that the man has huge nuts and sometimes I think he risks his life for the cause of reason. There are thousands of outspoken assholes for religion, yet we have so very few. How else are we ever going to be heard Troy?

Now I could understand if he took a Michael Moore approach. I love Michael Moore but I do think he alienates a lot of people with his over the top tactics, where as I really do think Richard Dawkins is always respectful, and I do think the indoctrination of Children in fundementalist cults is child abuse. Some religious sects advocate knocking the shit out of children. Ironically the peaceful Amish folk are big fans of hitting children. I think it's child abuse to raise a child in that backward ass cult. Imagine growing up in modern America and having to shit outside in the winter. Need I say more? Sam Harris touches on the subject of the Amish in his book and how he does consider raising a child without choice in that enviorment to be abuse.


imaginary sky daddy said...

Science is a great tool for researching the way things work. But to say that it's the "answer" to the origin of the world and that evolution is how living things came into existence is just as dogmatic misguided thinking as christian dogma. Science and evolution are better possiblities, but definitely not the answers to these mysteries. People who believe such dogma need to use the common sense that they have and realize that we'll never find the answers. Because in order to do that we would need to go to the beginning to witness these so called transitions that are evolution, and we would need to live a very long time to witness them with our eyes instead of going on faith which is exactly what evolutionists go on at the totally opposite end of the spectrum from christian's faith in there so called "god".

Nvrgoingbkeither said...

i agree with you it seems poeple kling too one thing after another one. what ever happened too being happy for just being alive? poeple these days have too have all the answers. the answers are all inside and richard dawkins got all his info from inside his mind and heart just like all the other big guru type public figures.all we all need is inside of us as humans ya i know its hard too believe some of the poeple we come into contact with have ANY ANSWERS at all but we all do. we are free thinkers and too follow anyone or anything is not natural in my mind and i do think poeple make the religions of this world at a whim and they put anyone or anything on a pedistal as long as it agrees with there opion of how things are we have too keep are own mind and by no means do i down dawkins or anyone else i just feel its time too figure things out on our own and not take someomes word for it we did that in xianity did'nt we?

webmdave said...

"We'll never find the answers."

That's a fairly dogmatic statement. I'd say "We might never find the answers" or "It's doubtful any of us will live to see answers" or something.

Who knows what will be discovered in the future.

TheJaytheist said...

imaginary sky daddy said...
"Science and evolution are better possiblities, but definitely not the answers to these mysteries."

Hoe do you know that they are definitely not the answers?

imaginary sky daddy said...

webmaster said...

"We'll never find the answers."

That's a fairly dogmatic statement. I'd say "We might never find the answers" or "It's doubtful any of us will live to see answers" or something.

Who knows what will be discovered in the future.

It was a dogmatic statement. But common sense shows me that in order to get the answers, we need to be at the beginning. But that's me. I'm not trying to push that on anyone to agree with me.

stronger now said...

"Science and evolution are better possiblities, but definitely not the answers to these mysteries."

Hoe do you know that they are definitely not the answers?

Again, common sense shows me that they aren't.

imaginary sky daddy said...

Nvrgoingbkeither said...
"I just feel its time too figure things out on our own and not take someomes word for it we did that in xianity did'nt we?"

We can figure some things out on our own, and no, we don't want to take someones word for it.

webmdave said...

Q: "How do you know that they are definitely not the answers?"

A: "Again, common sense shows me that they aren't."

Comment: Common sense? Is there such a thing? If I disagree with you, does that mean I don't have "common sense?"

All I'm trying to say here is that ultimately your "common sense" is really your personal opinions based on your personal expriences, education, imagination and mental capacity. It's not a cut to you. Each of us has unique strengths and limitations in these areas. When someone makes dogmatic, no-compromise statements such as you've recently made, my "fundie sense" starts tingling. Not to say that you're a fundie, but having been a fundie, I know what it's like to wrestle with being uncompromisingly dogmatic. Sometimes the best answer on certain subject is "I don't know, but I'm learning more every day."

Just a thought. No offense intended.

imaginary sky daddy said...

WM, I'm an existentialist. Here's the definition of it from

ex·is·ten·tial·ism (ĕg'zĭ-stĕn'shə-lĭz'əm, ĕk'sĭ-) pronunciation

A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.
existentialist ex'is·ten'tial·ist adj. & n.

webmdave said...

Thanks, ISD.

I was already familiar with the ideology, but thanks.

Dogmatism is dogmatism no matter the color of the umbrella. That's all I'm trying to say.

Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

"It then follows that existentialism tends to view human beings as subjects in an indifferent, objective, often ambiguous, and "absurd" universe, in which meaning is not provided by the natural order, but rather can be created, however provisionally and unstably, by human beings' actions and interpretations."

If meaning is not provided by the natural order, in "any" form, then where do humans obtain information to create "meaning"?

It follows existentially; either humans rationalize meaning from an absurd universe, or accept that human meaning, personally defined is as absurd as the universe in which it draws information.

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