Is Richard Dawkins (and are all the New Atheists) Arrogant?
#13
(12-Apr-2010, 01:05 AM)dsriharsha Wrote: @Ajita I can understand it when you say you don't debate with Theists anymore. It is not worth it. They have a big insurance argument of "well its all about faith" or "It is true for me" or stuff like that when all else fails.

My father is quite reasonable on all(most?) matters bar religion. He once said, "you know, they found the ruins of Dwaraka.. and Dwaraka is described in the Mahabharata.. hence everything in the Mahabharata and by extension other Hindu scriptures is true".. I was half inclined to tell him that London and the Kings Cross station is mentioned several times in the Harry Potter books.. so if someone were to excavate the ruins of Kings Cross 500 years from now would that make everything in Harry Potter true? Fairy tales and fantasies..

The Harry Potter analogy is brilliant Big Grin
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#14
(12-Apr-2010, 08:17 PM)Sajit Wrote: Harsha, If you notice, Tyson does not call Dawkins arrogant.

I assumed that was implicit when he says "your commentary has a sharpness of teeth that I didn't expect of you". Does it mean something else?
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

http://dsriharsha.blogspot.com
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#15
(12-Apr-2010, 08:20 PM)Sajit Wrote:
(12-Apr-2010, 01:05 AM)dsriharsha Wrote: @Ajita I can understand it when you say you don't debate with Theists anymore. It is not worth it. They have a big insurance argument of "well its all about faith" or "It is true for me" or stuff like that when all else fails.

My father is quite reasonable on all(most?) matters bar religion. He once said, "you know, they found the ruins of Dwaraka.. and Dwaraka is described in the Mahabharata.. hence everything in the Mahabharata and by extension other Hindu scriptures is true".. I was half inclined to tell him that London and the Kings Cross station is mentioned several times in the Harry Potter books.. so if someone were to excavate the ruins of Kings Cross 500 years from now would that make everything in Harry Potter true? Fairy tales and fantasies..

The Harry Potter analogy is brilliant Big Grin

Second that! Brilliant analogy, Sri Harsha!
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#16
(13-Apr-2010, 12:20 AM)dsriharsha Wrote:
(12-Apr-2010, 08:17 PM)Sajit Wrote: Harsha, If you notice, Tyson does not call Dawkins arrogant.

I assumed that was implicit when he says "your commentary has a sharpness of teeth that I didn't expect of you". Does it mean something else?

That is probably because the video is titled Dawkins vs Tyson as if it was a boxing match, when it was not. Tyson meant that Dawkins talk was hard hitting and he could use some sensitivity to get more people to listen to him. It was not an ad hominem as in calling Dawkins arrogant.

I personally think that Dawkins is too polite at times.
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#17
Lightbulb 
Hey Goldenmane, I need to address a couple of these gems you spilled here..

(11-Apr-2010, 04:51 PM)Goldenmane Wrote: I've been pondering this stuff more and more over the last months, not limited to my own immediate environment but thinking about it in context of other environments and cultures as well. I think what we're dealing with here can largely be looked at as an issue of civil liberties, which rest upon freedom of speech. That, I suspect, is why I take the approach I do. The exercise of free speech is central to the continued existence of it, and one of the things that lies at the very base of this is that [ideas are not sacrosanct[/i]. There is no idea that inherently cannot or should not be held up to scrutiny (including, recursively, the idea that ideas are not sacrosanct).

Its refreshingly to see someone take the subject of diplomacy when promoting reason and direct it towards the concepts of rights and freedoms. This is a subject that has kept my wheels spinning a lot lately, especially given some recent events in the Indian context...you know, random reminders that India is a democracy in name only. And no matter how hard I try to remind people that restrictions on speech and expression should be reserved for acts intended to cause physical harm and should in no way be used to protect people's "sentiments", very few seem get to it. Again, this is the Indian context. I live in the US, for now, and I'm aware of the difference in public opinion on this issue. Even the most fascistic of Americans would agree with me on this issue, while most Indians, even some of the libertarian ones, can't seem to get their heads around the idea that ideas are not protected from free speech!

Quote:Rule #3 (Goldenmane's Third Rule of Public Discourse, to give it its full self-aggrandising name) serves as an example of this, since it highlights the absurdity of the notion that words can, simply by fiat or magical thinking, be considered inherently bad (it does other things as well, but that's one of the main ones). And yet, such an idea is so widely accepted without thought that it is ridiculously pervasive throughout human societies.

This is for the benefit of anyone reading who might not get the reference. Here is Rule #3.

Quote:The problem that arises is that it links into and actively encourages such things as censorship, and censorship is something to which I am deeply opposed as a general rule, not least of all because it is a tool of authoritarianism. As A.C. Grayling so eloquently put it, whilst free speech necessarily allows for bad speech (or, in my phrasing, the airing of bad ideas), censorship is not the answer. The answer is to counter bad speech (ideas) with better speech (ideas).

It is amusing how religionists try so hard to censor free speech. What exactly are they afraid of? They are so sure they are right, and yet they cannot take criticism. This irony always escapes them.

Quote:authoritarian fuck-knuckles

Big Grin

Quote:Which is rather why I'm on this board, actually. I'm not terribly familiar with Indian culture and society (although I'd be rather surprised if one could really define India as having one distinct culture - I expect it's pretty bloody diverse, from the little I do know). However, I am aware that there is still much of inequity, corruption, and all sorts of other nefarious bullshit going on - this much I have gleaned from friends and acquaintances within Indian culture. I'm aware that you lot have a lot of work ahead of you, and I'd like to assist in whatever way I can, even if it's just in encouraging you, and providing 'a perspective previously unavailable'. If I can do even that much, then I'm pleased.

You got one thing right for sure- India is terribly diverse. Actually, you pretty much nailed every point. Inequity, corruption ... and let me add, human rights abuses everyday, sectarian violence, domestic abuse under the cover of tradition, witch killings, "honor" killings, dangerous mainstream quackery, female infanticide (In a country where there are 11 men for every 10 women, for fuck's sake, not that an even ratio makes it alright; the only religious group that's not involved in this practice, at least not as much as the others, is the Christian minority, which is also the only group with a higher female to male ratio), rampant belief in astrology, numerology and a thousand other nonsensical systems, the largest homeopathic training and practice network in the world (REALLY),
and on and on... Fuck this is depressing.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#18
(14-Apr-2010, 01:49 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: You got one thing right for sure- India is terribly diverse. Actually, you pretty much nailed every point. Inequity, corruption ... and let me add, human rights abuses everyday, sectarian violence, domestic abuse under the cover of tradition, witch killings, "honor" killings, dangerous mainstream quackery, female infanticide (In a country where there are 11 men for every 10 women, for fuck's sake, not that an even ratio makes it alright; the only religious group that's not involved in this practice, at least not as much as the others, is the Christian minority, which is also the only group with a higher female to male ratio), rampant belief in astrology, numerology and a thousand other nonsensical systems, the largest homeopathic training and practice network in the world (REALLY),
and on and on... Fuck this is depressing.

I can understand your reaction. It gets a little overwhelming, when you think about it, doesn't it? I've found myself on occasion just wanting to throw my hands up and quit. There's just so much bullshit out there...

But there is an upside, and it is reflected by the fact that we're having this conversation. We are, for want of a better description, a part of a community, one that transcends the boundaries that have been in place for generations upon generations - and it is a community (a loose one, I grant you, but a community nonetheless) that spans the globe. I'm just a bloke in Perth, Western Australia, and yet I'm involved in (in a tiny way) the promotion of reason in a society thousands of kilometres away. Hell, you're not even in India right now, and you're working toward that goal too.

There are two aspects of this which are fucking awesome, and that I think may be worth bearing in mind:
1) One way or the other, you've got a feed into the mass-consciousness of humanity all over the world. If something important comes up, it will fly around the globe as fast as people can hit "forward" or post it on facebook or blogs or whatever.
2) You have access to such an astonishing amount of knowledge that it's almost mind-blowing. If something comes up that you or those here can't directly address through your own knowledge, then you have the capacity to call on the vast reserves of those who will be happy to assist in providing the knowledge.

Make no mistake, my friend: this is world-spanning. The openness and transparency, for example, that things like the Internet provide mean that we have the tools to significantly change all this shit for the better. It's not going to happen overnight, and it's going to take a lot of work. You're going to get bloody tired at times. At such times, take a break. You're not the only bugger working for this, so there's no harm in resting up, which was something a friend of mine pointed out to me last time I seriously looked at throwing in the towel. We'll hold the fort until you get back, he said (although he swore more), and he was right.

Actually, this post goes out to all members of the Nirmukta community. One thing more that I would add, and it's actually more important than most people will initially realise: Stick to reason. Sometimes you'll have a tendency to jump on a bandwagon, or just go with your gut, or something like that. It can feel good, go with the flow, yay-aren't-we-so-fucking-smart-and-cool... take a few minutes to think about stuff like that before you jump in. Jumping in like that is entirely natural, but it's an abandonment of rationality. That's how mobs form, and as far as I'm concerned, mobs fuck things up every time.

Heh, sorry about that. I'm sure you all already know this stuff. Anyway, thanks once more for inviting me (even if you didn't know you were) to be a part of your public discourse. You people rock.
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#19
(06-Apr-2010, 02:00 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: But this is an issue that is greater than just Dawkins. This concerns the entire freethought movement. What kinds of strategies should we take up when we want to promote science, critical thinking, naturalism and atheism?

I submit that we must adopt a pluralistic strategy.

Any single advocate for atheism cannot influence every type of individual who believes in the supernatural. This is obvious if take into account how vastly different people are in their thinking.

Yes, we need people from the types of Carl Sagan, Tyson to that of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Hitchens. Plus, how much ever 'faith' gets eroded, the 'supernatural' will continue to exist. The South Park episode having Dawkins with Cartman going into the future serves as a good thought-provoking metaphor.

(06-Apr-2010, 02:00 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: That having said, there is absolutely no doubt that few (none, in my opinion) have been as influential as Dawkins has been in promoting reason and atheism in modern times.

Hitchens? smile

(06-Apr-2010, 02:00 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: It is a false assumption that to convince a believer about the validity of atheism (or rather, the absurdity of religion) one needs to be gentle and defensive. That is complete bull. It may work in a few cases, but it is generally a long term strategy applicable only to a tiny segment of people, the ones who are genuinely interested in exploring the truth regardless of their personal emotional intuitions. The vast majority of religious people are absolutely reticent to question their own beliefs and instead will attack atheism blindly. Most people who have become atheists have done so because at some point they began to question their own beliefs. Contrary to the general assumption, this sort of questioning does not come naturally to everyone. It does not come simply because we present logical arguments defending atheism. It comes because at some point, someone else questioned their ridiculous religious beliefs. Because some ridiculed these beliefs. Throughout history, this is how ideas are transmitted through culture. Society does not work on the same principles of science, in that evidence and proof do not determine what the majority will believe. Ideas die in a culture when it becomes embarrassing to hold on to them. Social conformity is achieved not through intellectual discourse as much as through the need to belong. When your ridiculous beliefs are laughed at, you begin to question them. This may not apply to you or me or many in this group, assuming that we are more evidence-based on our thinking, but this certainly applies to the majority of people on earth.

Gentle, but direct. Anger, or rather frustrated responses never help. It can win debates maybe, but never convey opinions. Carl Sagan would've influenced more people than Dawkins would have (Though Dawkins is barely the "angry atheist"), though both are brilliance extraordinaire in their own fields and passionately press for critical inquiry & promote values of secular humanism.

(06-Apr-2010, 02:00 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: In fact, I do not engage in debate with believers any more. At least, I try not to. This is the least effective strategy for someone with my sensitive constitution, since many religious folk seem to be unable to make the distinction between personal attacks and criticism of ideas. I think that what really works is for atheists to be visible to the community at large. If religious people actually see that atheists are a happy, moral and well-organized community, obtaining the same social benefits from cooperation and emotional fulfillment that religious people do, that is more effective in making them question their own beliefs.

I press for "written" or "online" debating rather than face-to-face which rarely works because of the ease with which temperatures can rise on these topics.
'The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.' - Carl Sagan
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#20
I might have just pissed off an acquaintance in a debate over email we had. This reading helped!
Murthy

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
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#21
I think RD obviously used the F word in jest as can be seen later from the audience's and the panels reaction....
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#22

Ajita Kamal on the "arrogance" of Richard Dawkins

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/52803...rd-dawkins

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#23
(02-Oct-2010, 10:25 PM)Sajit Wrote: Ajita Kamal on the "arrogance" of Richard Dawkins

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/52803...rd-dawkins

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Ajita and Nirmukta! Rockon
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#24
I am an atheist. But I do not think New Atheists present any new arguments to refute theism. The God Delusion is an unsophisticated book.
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