Monday, 20 February 2012

Skewered by a Wet Flannel


Reports in the papers last week suggest Richard Dawkins was 'skewered' in a debate with Rev. Dr Giles Fraser on the Today Programme.

From what I heard, Dawkins had a lapse of memory over the subtitle of Darwin's 'On The Origin of Species'. Wow, what a 'victory'! Not exactly what I'd call an incisive intellectual skewering - we all suffer lapses of memory occasionally and of that's skewering, then I'm skewered about 3 or 4 times a day.

There again, any minor laurels - however tangential and obscure - will be pounced upon and hailed as a major victory by those who are losing a war and have urgent need of some diversionary propaganda with which to bolster the true believers. It's like the British understandably calling the Dunkirk evacuation a major victory.

One thing that can be said in Fraser's favour is that he campaigns for lesbian and gay inclusion within the church, and for that I heartily applaud him. Wonder where he stands on women bishops, or God for that matter.

Another line of attack was that of showing Dawkins' ancestors were engaged in the slave trade in the 18th century. Go back far enough and I'd probably be able to prove your ancestors engaged in a little recreational rape and pillage in Northumbria in the 8th and 9th centuries (especially if you're from Huddersfield) - but that doesn't necessarily make you a rapist. Hang on - it does in the eyes of Christians, because the sins of the father are visited on the sons, or some such dogmatic rot that's totally devoid of any objective evidence. 

To hear of even one miniscule intellectual 'victory' on the part of the militant superstitionist brigade would be news indeed. As it is, they resort to northing more substantial than ad hominem attacks or moving the goalpost (or cross), which invariably signifies utter desperation and imminent collapse of the argument. It simply makes the attackers look stupidly smug, but not in the eyes of the true believer who displays the beatific smile of a drunk, or indeed an Ahmadinejad.


12 comments:

  1. "It does in the eyes of Christians, because the sins of the father are visited on the sons, or some such dogmatic rot that's totally devoid of any objective evidence."

    About as evidence-free as that utterly baseless statement about what Christians believe.

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    1. Ermintrude - a classic case of moving the goalposts. I shall respond in full in tomorrow's post about what Christians believe, which is a whole array of beliefs, ranging from biblical inerrancy to disputing the resurrection.

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    2. Wooooo! Should be fun. There is no doubt about it, we Christian types believe some deeply odd things, and those are fair game I reckon so glad to have provoked some thoughts on that score - one just gets a little tired of being slammed for stuff we don't believe!

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  2. No point in thinking that logic will carry the day with someone who believes in religion.

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  3. Apparently the Telegraph reporter responsible for the drivel about slave owners asked Dawkins if he thought he might have inherited the "gene for supporting slavery" - the Telegraph are clearly conducting their own genetic experiments these days, crossing morons with idiots to breed reporters.

    As for "Christians" defining what they actually believe - that should be interesting; never mind what it says in Numbers regarding inherited sin (nice example of Biblical morality BTW), how about transubstantiation? that one always boggles my mind.

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  4. "As for "Christians" defining what they actually believe - that should be interesting"

    Well it might be more interesting than sneering, and simply writing off the belief of 2.3 billion people (including some pretty bright folk). Cosmo has given up on logic and your mind can't cope with transubstantiation - here's hoping Bill comes up with some *arguments*.

    I entirely agree about Dawkins by the way - the man made a slip, 'tis easily done.

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    1. 2.3 billion notional Christians, of which a small percentage will be practising, and even fewer will actually understand their professed religion. As I said today - one merely adopts the religion of one's tribe, uncritically.

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  5. "2.3 billion notional Christians, of which a small percentage will be practising, and even fewer will actually understand their professed religion."

    Interesting! How do you know the percentage? What's the evidence? And how do you know how much they understand? Or is this just more sneer and smear?

    I would agree that children start where their parents or their tribe are - but certainly many don't end there. Did you?

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    1. Personal experience - I've only ever met a handful of Christians who understand their own religion or who have ever read the bible. They are mainly the evangelicals (I have some in my circle of friends, including a few JWs).

      When faced with surveys, people put down the religion of their tribe, even if they have no particular bent toward religion. It's cultural. Survey after survey has shown this to be true where Christianity is concerned.

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    2. By the way - it's not just in religion that this happens - politics is the same. The chances are that most people vote how their parents vote, although the link here is less tenuous. People tend to be more politically aware (as it hits them in their pockets) than religiously aware.

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  6. Well that's fair enough in one way but it's still a big leap from your circle of friends to the 2.3 billion, and the UK is not typical. Christianity is growing fastest in Asia, Africa and Latin America (and in many cases that is a distinctly *counter*-cultural movement producing first generation Christians) The first generation tend to be more aware of what it's all about.

    Of course religion is a cultural phenomenon - everything is at one level. Is atheism not culturally relative? Would you have been a Muslim if you had been born in Kabul?

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  7. Undoubtedly - and fundamental too!

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