Richard Dawkins Exposed: Part III – Indoctrination Camp for Children

The Professor really is making it easy for me in my new project to expose him. This time he is going overboard to show to the world what an immense hypocrite he is.

This camp in Somerset that Dawkins is financing is not ‘secular’ as claimed but will condition youngsters to ‘think’ just like Dawkins. That is not secular, but dogmatic and delivered with religious fervour!

There will be an “Invisible Unicorn Challenge” where a tenner featuring Charles Darwin will be awarded to any youngster who can disprove the existence of unicorns in the camp.

The article states that Crispian Jago, an IT consultant, is hoping the experience of this atheist camp will enrich his two children.

“I’m very keen on not indoctrinating them with religion or creeds,” he said this weekend. “I would rather equip them with the tools to learn how to think, not what to think.” (my emphasis)

Samantha Stein, who is leading next month’s camp, said, “we are not trying to bash religion, but it encourages people to believe in a lot of things for which there is no evidence.”

She doesn’t understand, or is not admitting to understand, the Professor’s rude, crude and not wholly logical unicorn, teapot and Flying Spaghetti Monster analogies.

“Instead of singing Kumbaya and other campfire favourites, they will sit around the embers belting out “Imagine there’s no heaven . . . and no religion too”.”

So in an age where youngsters are already having their childhoods taken from them by a corrupted education system and media, along comes Dawkins to tell them there’s no Heaven.

Of course, Dawkins lumps all religions together and so his followers think that anyone who follows a religion is a nutcase; out of touch with reality-according-to-Dawkins.

Here are some comments to the camp story on the Professor’s ‘clear-thinking oasis’:

“I only wish my 10 year old niece was going to this camp instead of church camp.”

“These camps are a great idea. My daughter is only a year old but, we’ll have her go when she’s old enough. Let’s hope they catch on.”

The likes of Dawkins have so managed to spread their fear and lies that a fair slice of the general public appears to believe that learning about Christian beliefs and behaving according to its values is a bad thing.

And you wonder why 12 year olds are up for murder or hanging themselves?

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44 Responses to Richard Dawkins Exposed: Part III – Indoctrination Camp for Children

  1. Invisible Pink Unicorn says:

    I totally exist.

    BTW, that was a great jump linking Dawkins to suicidal 12 year olds. I’d love to see your statistics on that.

  2. Stewart Cowan says:

    There is good evidence that belief in evolutionary theory has led to suicide and murder.

    Suicide rates have greatly increased as church attendances have rapidly declined. Suicide depends on loss of hope. Getting kids around a camp fire and depriving them of the hope of a possible reward at the end of their lives cannot be good for them – or society.

  3. Miriam Taylor says:

    Firstly, teaching children how to evaluate evidence and think for themselves is not ‘dogmatic’ and this cannot be compared to teaching children religious dogma because the notions that they are being encouraged to ‘believe’ are arrived at as a result of examining the evidence, not blindly accepting notions for which there is not one iota of evidence.

    Secondly, If the findings about the universe, for which the evidence is so overwhelming that it could be considered reasonable to refer to them as facts, have led individual to feel suicidal (would be interested to see statistics on this) it is unfortunate but not an argument for failing to teach children these facts and instead filling their heads with false hope. Lack of belief in a religious doctrine does not automatically equate to lack of morals. The christian faith, or indeed any other religious faith is not the only source of moral guidance in the world.

    Dawkins et al are not spreading ‘lies’. Teaching children how to evaluate evidence and think critically has nothing to do with lies and if you really think evolutionary theory is lies then you are being willfully ignorant of the overwhelming evidence that there is for this.

    The point about the unicorn is that it will be virtually impossible to prove its non-existence only the extreme unlikelihood of its existence, as with the existence or otherwise of a god.

  4. AdrianT says:

    I second Miriam’s observation.

    Loss of god, which I could never believe in in the first place, does not mean loss of hope. There’s still love, humor, irony, the wonder of science, literature, art, solidarity – all the things that make life worth living for. If this is all there is, then it means even more need to make the most of it while we can. If you believe you will live forever, you can never properly appreciate the amazing fortune you have to be here, now, in this out of all the possible hundreds of millions of centuries that have been or will be.

    Are you telling me, Stewart, you can only be happy with life, and only do good if there is a promise of a reward at the end? Or, you won’t commit an offence such as murder, because God told you not to? I’m sorry, that does not sound very moral at all.

  5. Al says:

    *Shakes head and sighs* What are you on about this time, Stewart? As mentioned by the posters above, you cannot see the woods from the trees. The only thing you are exposing is your own stupidity.

  6. Steve M says:

    Stewart.

    The Professor really is making it easy for me in my new project to expose him.

    And yet you still manage to come up with something as logically unsound as this.

    This camp in Somerset that Dawkins is financing is not ’secular’ as claimed but will condition youngsters to ‘think’ just like Dawkins. That is not secular, but dogmatic and delivered with religious fervour!

    Being secular and training people to think like Richard Dawkins are not mutually exclusive. Not least because Richard Dawkins is pro secular and because the camp is giving the kids critical thinking skills. The fact that your particular brand of magical thinking gets filtered out by the same tools, doesn’t mean that children should not be equipped with those tools to defend themselves against conmen and scams, how else do you propose children learn how to detect nonsense?

    Also do you know what dogmatic means? Why is this dogmatic and not the things that go at school?

    “Religious fervour?” How does this particular kind of fervour differ from regular fervour? like perhaps the fervour of a passionate teacher in school. Do you think that religious fervour is bad? If so, why?

    She doesn’t understand, or is not admitting to understand, the Professor’s rude, crude and not wholly logical unicorn, teapot and Flying Spaghetti Monster analogies.

    How do you know? What makes you think that? Why do you think it is not wholly logical?

    So in an age where youngsters are already having their childhoods taken from them by a corrupted education system and media, along comes Dawkins to tell them there’s no Heaven.

    Eh? Are you referring to sex education in schools?

    This argument is rubbish. You could just say:

    “So in an age where youngsters are already having their childhoods taken from them by a corrupted education system and media, along comes Stewart Cowen to tell them there is no Santa, or monster under the bed.”

    or

    “So in an age where youngsters are already having their childhoods taken from them by a corrupted education system and media, along comes Stewart Cowen to tell them there is a Satan who will send them and their friends to hell if they are bad, or gay.”

    But anyway, the camp is training them to think critically, not tell them what to think. So really it is down to the religious to make the case for their religion if they think it’s so reasonable to believe in it. Just provide the evidence.

    Of course, Dawkins lumps all religions together and so his followers think that anyone who follows a religion is a nutcase; out of touch with reality-according-to-Dawkins.

    What’s the matter, does your case not stand up without exaggerating, and slightly changing things to make it sound worse than it is.

    Dawkins lumps all religions together on some counts and differentiates on others. He lumps them all together on the lack of evidence front, and differentiates on the craziness factor, and also on their physical danger in the current era, ie islam. He also doesn’t encourage anyone to think that everyone is a nutcase, just that they are lacking critical thinking skills and it is (and has) demonstrably causing lots of harm and death in the world.

    “Out of touch with reality” you say, well maybe, but then your point doesn’t really do what you want it to without those other bits does it?

    Also, what is the difference between followers and admirers and those who agree with someone? Once you’ve worked out the difference, please ask yourself why you keep using particular words for which there are much more accurate alternatives, is it that you don’t have a large enough vocabulary or is it because your criticism wouldn’t hold any water without changing these words around?

    The likes of Dawkins have so managed to spread their fear and lies that a fair slice of the general public appears to believe that learning about Christian beliefs and behaving according to its values is a bad thing.

    Dawkins hasn’t spread any fear or lies, what are you talking about? Most people could already see the damage the Christian faith has done to many people’s lives, Dawkins has just encouraged people to come out and say so without worrying about offending theists. Oh and i suppose you’re now going to say that you know exactly how to interpret the bible in a way that lets you know the mind of your god character. Why don’t you save it for all those people who will die of AIDS cause of the Catholic Church’s position of power in Africa? Why don’t you save it for all those gay people who have been and still are subjected to divinely inspired bigotry by Christians like you?

    How can you say that with a straight face?

    And you wonder why 12 year olds are up for murder or hanging themselves?

    Oh come on, you can’t really think anyone’s going to believe that do you. Actually scrub that, I bet you actually do, this is the kind of sloppy thinking that a camp like this is supposed to be tackling. Firstly, has there been an increase in said activity, secondly correlation doesn’t equal causation. If you want to make this connection it is up to you to provide evidence. If you don’t then I’ll see your correlation and raise you this:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article571206.ece

    Be careful which tactics you use, they might just backfire on you.

  7. Al says:

    Steve M…don’t hold you breath on Stewart providing evidence to support his position. Its not something he like’s doing.

  8. Stewart Cowan says:

    Miriam Taylor – welcome.

    “Firstly, teaching children how to evaluate evidence and think for themselves is not ‘dogmatic’ and this cannot be compared to teaching children religious dogma because the notions that they are being encouraged to ‘believe’ are arrived at as a result of examining the evidence, not blindly accepting notions for which there is not one iota of evidence.”

    It’s dogmatic because it is promoting a particular belief system. To ignore the spiritual – for which there is overwhelming evidence – isn’t encouraging anyone to think for themselves, rather it is suppressing teenagers’ free thinking.

    “…filling their heads with false hope.”

    What these atheists are doing is replacing a hope with hopelessness which is based on a certain dogma. Dawkins doesn’t have the answers!!

    “Lack of belief in a religious doctrine does not automatically equate to lack of morals. The christian faith, or indeed any other religious faith is not the only source of moral guidance in the world.”

    The Bible says that the Almighty has written his law in our hearts. How do morals come from ‘survival of the fittest?’ Why should a fit young person risk their life to rescue a frail old person from a fire?

    “Dawkins et al are not spreading ‘lies’.”

    Atheism is a lie.

    “Teaching children how to evaluate evidence and think critically has nothing to do with lies and if you really think evolutionary theory is lies then you are being willfully ignorant of the overwhelming evidence that there is for this.”

    Why not give them the chance to study creation science then?

    “The point about the unicorn is that it will be virtually impossible to prove its non-existence only the extreme unlikelihood of its existence, as with the existence or otherwise of a god.”

    The unicorn, teapot et al are totally unrealistic comparisons. It’s a bad argument which the Dawkins’s and Bertrand Russells of the world manage to get away with because it’s the sort of nonsense people think justifies their unbelief.

    These are bad analogies because it doesn’t matter about these things – the eternal destiny of your soul does not depend on their existence.

    Do you deny the existence of your own soul?

  9. Stewart Cowan says:

    Adrian –

    “If this is all there is, then it means even more need to make the most of it while we can.”

    Then why, as atheism grows, depression does too, as do bad manners and attitudes and of course suicide?

    Why do people seek an impossible solace in drink and drugs?

    “If you believe you will live forever, you can never properly appreciate the amazing fortune you have to be here, now, in this out of all the possible hundreds of millions of centuries that have been or will be.”

    So why have the things I have already mentioned mushroomed?

    “Are you telling me, Stewart, you can only be happy with life, and only do good if there is a promise of a reward at the end? Or, you won’t commit an offence such as murder, because God told you not to? I’m sorry, that does not sound very moral at all.”

    No. As I replied to Miriam, the law is written in our hearts. Salvation doesn’t depend on being good anyway, it depends on following Christ and repenting of your sins. I try to be good, but I’m a sinner in need of a Saviour to wash away my sins.

  10. Stewart Cowan says:

    Steve – thanks for your comments.

    “Being secular and training people to think like Richard Dawkins are not mutually exclusive. Not least because Richard Dawkins is pro secular and because the camp is giving the kids critical thinking skills.”

    As I said to Miriam, it’s dogmatic because it is promoting a particular belief system. To ignore the spiritual – for which there is overwhelming evidence – isn’t encouraging anyone to think for themselves, rather it is suppressing teenagers’ free thinking.

    “Why do you think it is not wholly logical?” (re. unicorns, etc.)

    As I said to Miriam (this could be my new catchphrase) – These are bad analogies because it doesn’t matter about these things – the eternal destiny of your soul does not depend on their existence.

    Do you deny the existence of your own soul?

    “What’s the matter, does your case not stand up without exaggerating, and slightly changing things to make it sound worse than it is.”

    I didn’t exaggerate there, he does.

    Dawkins …doesn’t encourage anyone to think that everyone [religious] is a nutcase”

    No? I watched a video on YouTube the other day. A lady in the audience asked the Professor, ‘what if you are wrong’, to which he really set about to embarrass the woman with his usual dogmatic approach via orbiting teapots, etc.

    It’s pathetic.

    “Dawkins hasn’t spread any fear or lies, what are you talking about?”

    Of course he has. It helps sell books. In Part II I reported him saying:

    “Death means the end. It’s like going into a general anaesthetic and never waking up.”

    You trust him on that ‘fact’ that he cannot possibly know?

    Here’s another – “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”

    Again he is simplistically lumping all ‘religions’ together. It’s one of his con tricks.

    “Most people could already see the damage the Christian faith has done to many people’s lives.”

    No, I think most people who can think ‘clearly’ see that the more we drift away from it the worse society is becoming. I mean, that’s a clear observation based on evidence.

    “Why don’t you save it for all those people who will die of AIDS cause of the Catholic Church’s position of power in Africa? Why don’t you save it for all those gay people who have been and still are subjected to divinely inspired bigotry by Christians like you?”

    I might have known – you’re someone who doesn’t like being reminded about sexual sin. Well, I’m not a Catholic, but it’s clear from our ‘culture’ that the more contraceptives you introduce, the more sex takes place and the more disease there is.

    The Lord gave us specific instructions how to live. If we’d done this, there wouldn’t have been the spread of HIV in the first place.

    There is a punishment for sin. It’s OUR fault, but as we live in a blame culture we’ll just blame God or Christians, eh?

  11. Miriam Taylor says:

    “It’s dogmatic because it is promoting a particular belief system”

    Actually no it isn’t because Dawkins doesn’t require people to ‘believe’ anything. Belief and faith are the reserve of religions where there is a lack of supporting evidence. Sorry for ‘lumping all religions together’ but to be clear I am referring to religions that subscribe to the idea of a deity, particularly a deity that is supposed to have created the world and created us. There is no need for faith or belief when being taught about how we, as a species, came into being because of the evidence.
    In case you were not aware of what that evidence is, an example is fossils found in africa that display the intermediary stages between the common ancestor that we share with chimpanzees and us. Another example comes from the study of gene sequences which shows that species sharing a common ancestor have inherited that ancestor’s DNA sequence. I could go on…

    “To ignore the spiritual – for which there is overwhelming evidence – isn’t encouraging anyone to think for themselves, rather it is suppressing teenagers’ free thinking”

    If by ‘the spiritual’ you mean the existence of a supernatural being who created us, this is not being ignored, it is being put forward, along with evolution, as a theory but as a weak theory because, contrary to your claim of there being overwhelming evidence for it, there is not a shred of evidence to support this. Plus there is no guarantee that some of the kids on these camps will examine the evidence and draw the conclusion that despite the existence of a deity being incredibly unlikely, it wouldn’t deter the from subscribing to a religion. The point is that nobody is being told what to believe, they are merely being given the tools to evaluate theories for themselves. If ‘creation science’, an oxymoron if ever I heard one, is a robust enough theory to enter the scientific arena then it has to be subjected to the same process of evaluation as other theories, such as evolution, and any child or adult equipped with basic skills of reasoning will soon draw the conclusion that creationism is not a robust theory and not helpful in advancing our knowledge of how the world works.
    This is probably quite disappointing and, from what you say, may lead to suicidal feelings. Of course there is no real evidence for this but, as you are so adamant about it, the prospect of the foundation of your religious faith being spurious perhaps causes you to feel suicidal and hopeless. I’m sorry you feel that way and it must be comforting to cling on to sources of comfort but where these sources are based on believing things that are so incredibly unlikely that they may be reasonably regarded as untrue, is it really a good idea? The facts may be uncomfortable and those that attempt to raise our awareness about them, eg. Dawkins, don’t offer any solace but every living being on the planet is in the same boat. We are all going to cease to exist at some point and there is nothing we can do about it apart from comfort each other and have a sense of solidarity, rather than the senseless ending of each others lives that goes on every day. All we can do is appreciate how lucky we our to have our ‘brief time in the sunlight’ and try and make the most out of it. My way of doing this is to learn as much as I can about this wondrous universe we inhabit which is truly awe inspiring and to appreciate the phenomenal works of art and music that members of our species have produced. The power we have to love and have meaningful relationships is also something worth appreciating and a source of comfort. Being a good citizen and a loving person is as logical a product of atheism and people who think for themselves as it is for the pious.

  12. Jim Baxter says:

    Without presuming to address every point raised so far, I’d say (again – this is two you owe me Stewart) that Stewart is not as crazy as he seems. I’d suggest that rationalism is iteslf a dogma, and a recent one. It may itself be replaced in time. Simplifying a bit for the sake of argument, and also because I’m simple, it teaches that only that which is open to independent testing and replication constitutes knowledge. We were not always Humean beings though (copyright that one is). Mst rationalists would argue that they were dark times indeed when we believed that the sun went arounfd the earth bcasue the Church said so. I have no doubt that Stewart would agree. From previous exchanges with him I know that he is no happier with the annexation of the spiritual to further temporal control than any of us.

    I don’t happen to agree with his views; I am not a Christian. But the major prophets have all spoken in ways which resonate with people. There is a kind of (Stewart will love this one) ‘natural selection’ of religions. For, say, every 10,000 madmen/chosen-ones who go into the wilderness for however many days and nights only one makes it to the equivalent of ‘Cathedral’ level (must stop playing Age pof Empires), a point noted by T.E. Lawrence. But why? Because only one in however many has a message which is both simple and profound enough to resonate? Why does it resonate? For tribla reasons? You’ve had yours now we’re having ours. Becuase people are weak, because they are still children who need to feel that there is an adult in charge somewhere. Maybe. Or because they intuitively understand that rationalism just isn’t good enough (isn’t God enough), that there is almost certainly some kind of timeless, planet-independent intelligence?

    Religious people are sometimes accused of being narcissistic for believing in a supernatural entity which takes an interest in little us. Rationalist are narcissistic too though if they assume that all that we can test is all that there is.

  13. Al says:

    Mr. Baxter.

    Please read this and think again…

    “It’s nearly impossible for Theists to describe Atheists–Theists are certain that everyone must have a belief system, including Atheists. I have no belief system and, unlike theists, am not dogmatic nor am I intolerant of those who subscribe to their pet superstition.

    ”One who looks to science and natural selection does not “believe” in either one–science is not immutable truth–it’s constantly changing as new evidence appears. Theism, on the other hand, is unchanging “truth” which requires a huge leap of faith and belief in a magical sky god whose origin theists do not find necessary to explain”

    Doesn’t seem dogmatic to me.

  14. Jim Baxter says:

    Al,

    It is the belief that all knowledge must be based on the evidence presented that is the dogma. It’s a pretty good basis on which to make things for sitting on that don’t break when you sit on them – aircraft, for example. Our brains and senses are too limited to be trusted to recognise what is and isn’t evidence for the metaphysical.

    Chap called Kant had a lot to say on this.

  15. Jim Baxter says:

    The point is that you can’t have a neutral position: saying that I accept as knowledge only what I can sense and test with my five physical senses is itself a standpoint. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, of course. It certainly has its place as a practical point of view.

  16. Stewart Cowan says:

    Miriam – “…Dawkins doesn’t require people to ‘believe’ anything.”

    Of course he does. He expects you to believe he’s right!

    Right about death being ‘like going into a general anaesthetic and never waking up’.

    Right about Darwin’s 150 year old theory.

    Right about there being no Creator.

    As for your middle point, as Jim Baxter writes: “Religious people are sometimes accused of being narcissistic for believing in a supernatural entity which takes an interest in little us. Rationalists are narcissistic too though if they assume that all that we can test is all that there is.”

    This sums up one of Dawkins’ greatest failings and why he is such an intellectual weakling.

    I cling onto truth, not comfort.

    “Being a good citizen and a loving person is as logical a product of atheism and people who think for themselves as it is for the pious.”

    I disagree. If ‘survival of the fittest’ were true for human beings then nobody would risk being altruistic. The difference between us and animals is that we have a soul.

  17. Stewart Cowan says:

    Jim Baxter – “Stewart is not as crazy as he seems.”

    I think that’s meant as a compliment. You know my thoughts from my comments here and there over the past year. If I was crazy, I’d still be voting Labour.

    Sometimes I wonder if you think just a little too much, Jim. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world today. Nobody bothers to listen for the ‘still small voice’ because we all think we know better. Pride, that is – comes before destruction.

  18. Jim Baxter says:

    Stewart,

    I can stop thinking anytime I want to. I just like it, all right? OK, I think in the mornings sometimes, I admit it. Sometimes I need a think just to get out of the house…

    Seen this?

    http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=6608

  19. Stewart Cowan says:

    Good one Jim. I was just thinking! – maybe trying to find the Almighty with a hyperactive brain is like trying to find the Milky Way in the middle of a city.

    Paul’s second letter to Timothy says that in the last days people will be “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3:7)

  20. Jim Baxter says:

    Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth

    Sounds like a fair decription of most of your academics to me. I like the joke about the man who loses his keys in the street at night. He walks around under a lampost until someone asks if they can help. ‘I lost my keys’ ‘Well, I can’t see them here’. ‘No, I lost them over there but the light’s better here’.

  21. Al says:

    JB..

    “It is the belief that all knowledge must be based on the evidence presented that is the dogma. It’s a pretty good basis on which to make things for sitting on that don’t break when you sit on them – aircraft, for example. Our brains and senses are too limited to be trusted to recognise what is and isn’t evidence for the metaphysical.
    Chap called Kant had a lot to say on this.”

    Firstly, knowledge is based on what we know to be true, beyond reasonable doubt. In that sense, Religion tells us nothing about our planet, how we got here and who we are, and gives more doubt than answers (not that it gives any answers actually…).

    Secondly, I don’t see Scientific Method as dogmatic, and can’t help but disagree with you on your assertion that it is; were the Police to come round to your house and charge you with a crime, you’d be holding on to that “dogma” quite fervently to prove your innocence.

    Thirdly, the writings of Nietzsche and Russell are important in understanding Kant. This idea that explaining and justifying superstitious beliefs (by labelling them as “metaphysical”, stemming from the belief in the lunacy that is transubstantiation – not surprising Kant tried to justify this, he was R/C after all, and my B-I-L tried this one on me last week himself a R/C. It didn’t wash with me then, it ain’t happening this time either.) is a form of intellectual laziness, imo. If you’re attempting to justify Stewart’s stupid position regarding the existence of supernatural beings, why aren’t you talking about The Boogie Man and the like? They fall into the same category after all…

  22. Jim Baxter says:

    Al,

    ‘The writings of Nietzsche and Russell are important in understanding Kant’. I doubt if Kant would have agreed but leave that aside. And what does his religion have to do with it? Ever heard of the ad hominem argument?

    I’m not attempting to ‘justify’ anything. I say again: empiricism is a point of view. Like any other point of view, it has its limitations.

  23. Al says:

    Jim

    How can Kant have been in anyway objective towards his beliefs, when he spends his whole time trying to justify them? Ad hominem or not, it cannot be ignored.

    Anyway, apologies if I came across as aggressive. And I see your point regarding empiricism, but don’t believe (what a horrible word…) that it is a point of view, more of a conclusion taken from the sheer weight of numbers in favour of reason.

    Best,

    Al.

  24. Jim Baxter says:

    AL,

    That’s quite OK.

    Here’s a quote for you:

    ‘A great deal that no one sincerely doubts to be knowledge, is impossible if we only know what can be experienced and verified. I felt that much too much emphasis had been laid upon experience, and that, therefore, empiricism as a philosophy must be subjected to important limitations’.

    That’s from, er, Bertrand Russell.

    What is consciousness? I can infer consciousness in others but I can only observe it in myself. Is it a physical property of the brain? We assume that the brain gives rise to it and it seems impaired or altered when the brain is impaired or altered by drugs or injury but we can’t really measure it too well. You could even argue of course that the quality of a picture on a television may be impaired if the set is damaged or the voltage low but this does not mean that the signal it receives is impaired. Are our brains generators or receivers of consciousness?

    What does ‘red’ look like?

  25. Damian says:

    Jim Baxter:

    The reason that empiricism is not a dogma is several fold.

    1) It is not an a priori conclusion. It is a conclusion that was arrived at due solely to its success at inching us closer and closer to mapping reality. To any fair observer, it has simply blown away all opposition. And if you disagree, let’s compare results, shall we?

    2) Science, and more specifically, empiricism as an epistemological position, is tentative, self-limiting, self correcting, and it is being improved upon on an almost daily basis. If you have any understanding of science, Jim, you will know that an enormous amount of thought and effort is put in to creating and maintaining checks and balances that, as far as is possible, limit any bias. Again, nothing else compares.

    3) This is an ongoing process, as I’ve already said. And the advantage that empiricism has is that it has been, and continues to be, tested over and over and over again — literally millions of times over the last century or so. Once again, no other theory of knowledge has this advantage. Every single experiment that one of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of scientists perform on a daily basis, is a test of the theory.

    You can point to as many things that empiricism can’t speak to as you like. But to compete requires three things — (1) how can it differentiate between truth (small t) and falsehood?, (2) how would you know?, and (3) does it have a record that even comes close to that of empiricism, science, rationality, etc, etc?

    You can pick holes in all epistemological positions. That is largely what philosophers do! But as I’ve tried to explain, that doesn’t mean that they are all equally correct or useful, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are all “ways of knowing”. Unless you can tell me how you would know that you are wrong, empiricism will always be favoured, even by people who profess to either not believe in it, or who attempt to attack it, so that they can sneak in utterly infer theories of knowledge that allow then to believe in six impossible things before breakfast.

    How do I know this? Simple. Each and every one of those people, not only turn to empiricism when they are sick, or when they are in need technological solution, etc, etc, but they also utilize an extremely weak form of empiricism in practically everything that they do. Our entire lives are based around trial and error, the testing of assumptions, building on prior knowledge, and forming conclusions based on logical inferences. Of course, many people do behave irrationally at times, too, but surprisingly not for long. The reason for this is what is known as evolutionary epistemology, which essentially says (I’m simplifying, obviously) that we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t evolved the cognitive function to map many of our beliefs to reality. We’d have died out long, long ago!

  26. Jim Baxter says:

    Damian,

    Quite so. I’d rather get on an aircraft that had been designed and built by engineers than one designed by a man who said that God told him it would work.

    We could argue about labels – I take ‘dogma’ to mean a principle or tenet, a settled opinion, a view handed down from an authority. Science is such an authority. Yes, each of us can test all of its principles for ourselves, given access to the necessary instruments, and either or acheive the same results or note the precise conditions under which we obtain results at variance with those of previous investigators. This cretainly seems to mark empricism out as a different kind of dogma from one based, say, on ancient scriptures. Yet there are plenty of religious people who will tell you that acceptance of religious tenets has brought them the same result as that found by other religious people – inner-peace, hope, serenity. Yet that will not be likely to be counted as scientific evidence because of the lack of control of variables, control groups, and the inherent subjectivity of the ‘evidence’. Ask religious people if their feelings are ‘real’ though. Well, they’re real enough to them. Phenomenology, is the word, I believe. What I’m saying is that empricism must be recognised as a limited, however practica, way of understanding much of the world around us. It’s good enough to understand what our senses present to us for the purposes of getting around, obtaining the basic needs of survival, and controlling aspects of the 3D environment. And that’s about it. There is more though that it cannot apperceive, comprehend, apprehend, or get its bonce around.

  27. Jim Baxter says:

    Part 1.5

    In other words, science as we understand it has its uses. It’ll be pleased to have that vote of confidence. Does that mean then that faith has no uses or purposes except perhaps insofar as its alleged deceptions divert and give false hope? Maybe. It might mean that. I’m not going to be dogmatic about it one way or the other. But, as I’ve tried to say earlier in this thread, if anyone takes the view that all that cannot be tested or diporoved can safely be disregarded then that is dogma indeed of a kind every bit as stubborn and closed as any scripture.

    Oh, ‘Each and every one of those people, not only turn to empiricism when they are sick’. Each and every one? I think not. I think not to a quite marked degree. What about faith healers, what about those who refuse all medical attention, to give but two examples? You might want to test your statements against the evidence a bit more rigorously before commiting keyboard to screen with that kind of stuff. Otherwise you’ll look dogmatic.

  28. Fearless Frank says:

    I read somewhere that Dawkins’ choice of campfire singalong was Lennon’s dire dirge Imagine.

    However sound his views on evolution, God etc, obviously Dawkins can still be taken in by a charlatan pop philosopher.

    Imagine there’s no Dawkins – it isn’t hard to do!

  29. Jonathan says:

    Fearless Frank-

    Why would it be Dawkins’ choice? He only made a donation to the camp, he’s not involved in running it.

  30. Miriam Taylor says:

    There is more though that it cannot apperceive, comprehend, apprehend, or get its bonce around.

    There may be areas that science has YET to be able to explain but that does not mean that we get to insert our favourite myths and superstitions into the gaps.

  31. Jim Baxter says:

    Miriam,

    Indeed. You are a moron, for example. That’s no myth or superstition.. I can tell that without ever having met you. Clever, that’s what I am am. How do I know? Because I says so.

    Deal wi it.

  32. Jim Baxter says:

    Sigh. Ok, I apologise; that was a little hasty of me. I didn’t mean to call anyone a moron. I meant to call them utter morons.

    There. Glad to have said that.

    Now, take our Stewart. I’ll say a few things on blogs but I won’t lie. And I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. So, when I say that our Stewart is a clever bloke you’d better believe me. Oh, I don’t come to the conclusions that he has come to – disagree with him about most things – but –

    I can count on the fingers of one finger people whose internet postings really have made me laugh out loud. It was Stewart, and I was laughing with him, not at him.

  33. Jim Baxter says:

    I don’t know why I bother. Compassion I suppose. If you think that science will ultimately explain everything then you are wrong. That’s why you are a moron. It wasn’t just a casual insult. I’ve argued with religious people and I’ve argued with atheists. The athesist are the less tolerant of disagreement. Why? I know why. I’m asking you.

    Science won’t. It can’t. Philosophy is a higher subject. As I tried to say earlier – my fault – don’t always express myself with sufficient clarity – explain to me you experience of the colour red. I don’t mean – stab your hand with a fork – buy a tin of paint marked ‘red’, it’s reflected light in this part of the electromagentic spectrum. None of that, Explain to me what it looks like to you so that I can be certain that it looks the same to me.

    You can’t. You never will. That is where science fails. Falls at the simplest of questions. It’s a big, big, failure.

  34. Miriam Taylor says:

    Mr Baxter:

    Ask religious people if their feelings are ‘real’ though. Well, they’re real enough to them.

    Ask a schizophrenic if the voices he hears in his head are ‘real’. Well, they’re real enough to him.

    I take ‘dogma’ to mean a principle or tenet, a settled opinion, a view handed down from an authority.

    The point about dogmata is that they are irrefutable and their adherents are to accept it unquestionably. The point about the scientific method is that it is set up to be able to contradict pre-existing tenets, however widely held.

    You are a moron, for example. That’s no myth or superstition.. I can tell that without ever having met you. Clever, that’s what I am am. How do I know? Because I says so.
    Deal wi it.

    Charming!

    If you think that science will ultimately explain everything then you are wrong. That’s why you are a moron. It wasn’t just a casual insult. I’ve argued with religious people and I’ve argued with atheists. The athesist are the less tolerant of disagreement. Why? I know why. I’m asking you.

    You are missing the point. If there is an explanation for a phenomenon that actually works, be it voodo, the work of the ancient greek gods of Olympus or Jehovah, it will become part of the body of information that we call science, as with the incorporation of acupuncture for pain relief into western medicine.

    Whether or species will remain long enough for us to be able to explain all currently existing phenomena I have no idea but, based on history, the likelihood is that in a hundred years from now, many of the so-called phenomena of today will have been explained / demystified.

  35. Miriam Taylor says:

    Stewart:
    If ’survival of the fittest’ were true for human beings then nobody would risk being altruistic. The difference between us and animals is that we have a soul.

    Do you actually know what ‘the fittest’ actually refers to? It refers to genes, not individuals, groups or species. Of course Darwin didn’t know about genes at the time of conception of his theory, which makes him all the more brilliant. Has it not occurred to you that altruism might be a useful way of propagating one’s genes. It might make you less likely to get killed before you get to reproduce, for example.

    Am sorry to tell you that there is no difference between us and animals. We are apes and are no more or less likely to have a soul than a rat or a polar bear, or our closest relative, the chimpanzee.

  36. Stewart Cowan says:

    Miriam:

    You are missing the point. If there is an explanation for a phenomenon that actually works, be it voodo, the work of the ancient greek gods of Olympus or Jehovah, it will become part of the body of information that we call science, as with the incorporation of acupuncture for pain relief into western medicine.

    Do you appreciate that there is much more to this world than our current knowledge of science can explain?

    What is happening, and some secular scientists have admitted this, is that any theory is better than ‘allowing a divine foot in the door’.

    That’s your ‘free thinking’ secularism for you.

    Am sorry to tell you that there is no difference between us and animals. We are apes and are no more or less likely to have a soul than a rat or a polar bear, or our closest relative, the chimpanzee.

    It’s an unbelievable statement and shows how much faith you put in scientists even to the point of forbidding within yourself any of your own intuition to shine through.

  37. Jim Baxter says:

    You are missing the point.

    No. You are. Some people are every bit as uncritical and unthinking in their adherence to science as religious people are alleged to be in their adherence to their faith.

    Our brains are 3D, equipped to deal with a 3D world. But we live in a multiverse that is far larger than our science can possibly comprehend. The best we can do is at least to recognise our limitations.

    ‘many of the so-called phenomena’?

    Learn what that ‘p’ word means then try again.

  38. Jim Baxter says:

    I apologise fot the intemperate nature of my earlier comments. We can keep the debate civilised and not resort to insults. I’ve been annoyed recently and I shouldn’t take it out on strangers, or on anybody else.

    I have lost my faith. It was science in which I based my faith and I no longer trust its ability to explain. It’s not an age thing. I have no fear of death. I don’t find myself wishing to beleive in an afterlife because I am nearer to the end of the end of my own temporal existence than I am to its beginning. Quite the reverse. I hope that my death will be the end of me. It’s not personal.

    The greatest thing a scientist can say is ‘I don’t know’. That takes knowledge, depth, and courage. You know who my hero is? Richard Feynman.

  39. Stewart Cowan says:

    I thought you seemed a bit strained lately, Jim. Upsetting my visitors (both of them).

    I haven’t had a breakdown since 2007. That was a tough one, I can tell you. Tiny things upset me. Drop a slice of bread on the floor and it’s the end of the world, sort of thing.

    The good news is that there is always light at the end of the tunnel no matter what the current situation looks like.

    I hope that my death will be the end of me.

    It won’t be. We have to ‘endure to the end’ buddy. It’s not too late to sign up to eternal life. Today’s sufferings will seem like nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed.

  40. Jim Baxter says:

    Thank you Stewart. I don’t come to the same conclusions as you but I trust amd respect your motives.

    Yes indeed. The despair squid. I have been defeated by a tin of beans in my time. It was on the top shelf. I’m not very big and I couldn’t face pulling a chair across to reach it.

  41. kendo says:

    “The Bible says that the Almighty has written his law in our hearts. How do morals come from ’survival of the fittest?’ Why should a fit young person risk their life to rescue a frail old person from a fire?”

    Try reciprocal altruism.

    I have absolutely no feeling whatsoever that homosexuality or premarital sex between consenting adults is in any way, shape or form even slightly wrong. So much for it being written in my heart.

    Incidentally, Dawkins was not funding the camp – you cant even get your basic facts right.

  42. kendo says:

    “Do you actually know what ‘the fittest’ actually refers to?”

    He’s a creationist. What do you think?

  43. Richard Borrett says:

    So trying to blame a belief structure for child suicides isn’t another form of attempted fear-mongering and Indoctrination? This is based on so many fallacies – firstly, that there is any properly established link. Whilst it may be true that the rate of suicides has increased in line with an increase in Atheism, this could be said also to be correlated with almost any other contemporary idea or phenomenon and there is (as far as i am aware) no evidence of any link.

    Even if there were, as has been said endless times previously, the fact that religious belief may be beneficial does not make it true. Is it not more noble to have come to a reasoned conclusion which is, in essence, rather disheartening (this life is the only life we have), as atheists have, and as these young people may find themselves doing. The other option, to rather simply accept an idea that after this life we will all (subject to behaviour) live forever in heaven? I would dearly like to believe in this idea – who wouldnt? However, i cannot.

    Also – whilst you may well argue that this is ‘indoctrination’, it is at least indoctrination of a noble ideal and philosophy – that of questioning, and rational consideration. There is little room for this in doctrinal forms of religion. As in your quote, when we read the un-emphasised part – ‘i would rather equip them (my children) with the tools for how to think. I think that the real concern people have with this type of event is that the questioning it encourages will lead many children to question religion – something it does not stand up to too well.

  44. Michael Van says:

    Stewart, you are a disillusioned idiot. Please CITE any of your so-called “evidence”.

    Altruism does happen in nature if it is economical for the GENE to do so. Best example of this is a bee who risks his life by stinging an enemy. Also look into cleaning fish.

    Stewart, it’s not that you don’t believe in evolution, it’s that you don’t understand it. Please don’t reproduce

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