Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Belief Media

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  • Roger,

    Isn't it great that we can have an intelligent discussion of these issues, in this country?

    I look at the USA and the rapidly deteriorating train wreck that is their Republican Primary (and Party) and I am very thankful for being able to live here in mild-mannered NZ. This makes me very resentful of folk like Family First and all the religious fundamentalists hangers on who seem to want to bring that disfunctional culture here, and to try and force everyone to live by their warped concept of values.

    I did my school years in a series of religious education facilities that turned out to be very effective at turning me off religion and for many year I choose to just not think about this part of my life. However, a recent discovery of people like Richard Dawkins really rang true to me and I have an increasing sympathy for his form of militant atheism!

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    @Roger.

    Yeeee Haaaa!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Roger,

    It's always perplexed me that Dawkins gets called militant or strident or aggressive . He's always seemed incredibly patient and calm to me, in the face of often bitter and hateful attacks by religious bigots.

    And those bigots often are described as devout or committed .

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    He’s always seemed incredibly patient and calm to me, in the face of often bitter and hateful attacks by religious bigots.

    I agree. And reasoned, with interesting examples backing his contentions where appropriate. And happily acknowledging the beauty & power of the faith he was born into...whilst not following it.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Roger, in reply to Lilith __,

    It's always perplexed me that Dawkins gets called militant or strident or aggressive .

    Actually Lilith it is a description that he uses himself a number of times. See for example the TED lecture.

    "Richard Dawkins urges all atheists to openly state their position -- and to fight the incursion of the church into politics and science. A fiery, funny, powerful talk."

    See the video Richard Dawkins on militant atheism here.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm quite intrigued by some of the Christian Broadcasting Association productions -- there's remarkably little god-bothering in Real Life with John Cowan, which airs on Newstalk ZB on Sunday nights:

    Real Life with John Cowan is a weekly nationwide chat show, featuring a different high-profile guest every week. John talks with them about their life, their upbringing, their passions and their view of the world. And when appropriate, we chat about faith, spirituality and "God-stuff".

    Real Life with John Cowan is all about the big questions of life.

    Most remarkably, the intro music for the show is Iggy Pop's 'The passenger'. Crikey!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Roger,

    I did my school years in a series of religious education facilities that turned out to be very effective at turning me off religion and for many year I choose to just not think about this part of my life.

    I wonder how much of my own tolerance of religious belief comes from the negligible part it has played in my life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    against overly zealous applications of Occam’s razor, rather than the principle itself

    Yeah I'm probably guilty of some hyperbole.

    That said I was once told by one of the best plant molecular biologists in the world that he was shocked by how much NZ scientists followed the principle that the simplest solution must be right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    What’s the desired output of biology?

    To make more of me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    a career in sales beckons :) #talkingitup

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    I’m fascinated by the implications for understandings of disability.

    You might be interested in this from the 1000 genomes project.

    The bit that is mind blowing is this

    "on average, each person carries approximately 250 to 300 loss of function variants in annotated genes and 50 to 100 variants previously implicated in inherited disorders."

    So much for the perfect being made in god's image.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    Or you could go even simpler and not think at all, and just look.

    But thinking is so much fun and I'm sorry nobody who posts here can argue with that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    The reasonable conclusion is is biology is not efficient and Occam was wrong.

    I didn't realise Occam was a biologist :) Occam's razor is about explanations.

    The principle is often summarized as "other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one." In practice, the application of the principle often shifts the burden of proof in a discussion. The razor asserts that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. The simplest available theory need not be most accurate.

    Not biological systems...

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Thanks. We need to find better ways to remind everyone that disability has always been part of normal life - especially when genetics is so often presented in terms of mythical perfection.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But thinking is so much fun

    and learning not to think seems hard.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to BenWilson,

    I wonder how much of my own tolerance of religious belief comes from the negligible part it has played in my life.

    Ditto.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I'm with Hebe and others - I think one's beliefs around the big existential questions are peoples' own business. Personally, I was an atheist at around 14, I think. At a church school, and starting to question everything. I read the bible just so I could argue intelligently with what we used to call "fishes" (Does anyone else remember the ISCF?). Nowadays, I'm less atheist, I find. Not that I believe in a god, mind. I just believe in something (details on application), as opposed to nothing.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    +1

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Nowadays, I’m less atheist, I find. Not that I believe in a god, mind. I just believe in something (details on application), as opposed to nothing .

    Isn't that a problem with the label atheist , though? Although I don't believe in a deity, I am passionate about all sorts of other things (protecting the environment, pacifism, vegetarianism, equality, social justice...I could go on...)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    But we mustn’t mention the practices of some.

    Hitchens – Circumcision

    About 3 minutes in.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lilith __,

    It’s always perplexed me that Dawkins gets called militant or strident or aggressive .

    Oh, you mean when he equates religious faith to a form of high-functioning (and invariably malignant) mental illness? Gee, I don’t know why anyone would consider that “strident” and “aggressive” – though I’d plump for “110 proof trolling” myself.

    And for the record, I’m perfectly happy to call Rick Santorum militant, strident, aggressive and a bigoted panderer who wallows in his ignorance and malice like a pig in mud.

    And while Russell is invariably a gracious host, I’ve got to admit one Christmas I came extremely close to losing my shit in the middle of a lengthy harangue from a fellow guest that moved from my personal responsibility for the Crusades (don’t ask, I can’t explain it) to the subject of clerical sexual abuse. Given my experience of (non-clerical) sexual assault while at boarding school I was not in a good head space there for a while.

    I’d like to suggest a New Decalogue for too many Atheists and Theists alike in public.

    I. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    II. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    III. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    IV. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    V. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    VI. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    VII Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    VIII Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    IX. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.
    X. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Craig, doesn't that behaviour demonstrate Santorum is not all in this world?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    To make more of me.

    That particular goal would appear to have been solved by single celled organisms billions of years ago. Still the biggest biomass, even today.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • NBH, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I have to agree with Craig here - Dawkins has always struck me as a condescending and unpleasant arsehole. You don't call people who disagree with you delusional if you're interested in genuine dialogue, and you don't come up with a ridiculously pretentious term like 'brights' for people who agree with you if you aren't an arrogant tosspot.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 94 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I love you. That is all.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

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