Dawkins Gets Mail

A few years ago, Newsweek religion columnist Rabbi Marc Gellman admitted to occasionally viewing atheists “with the kind of patient sympathy often shown to me by Christians who can’t quite understand why the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection has not reached me or my people” and then went on to confess that there was one thing in particular that befuddled him about non-believers. “What I simply do not understand is why they are often so angry,” Gellman lamented. “I just don’t get it.”

With that in mind, this short clip of Richard Dawkins reading some of the mail he’s received from loving Christians is quite wickedly funny.

I really wish that went on much longer, with many more examples from the deluge of hate mail he must surely receive on a continuous basis, as it would be terrifically entertaining. But more seriously, let’s turn Rabbi Gelman’s question around and ask about all the “angry believers” out there: why do they seem to be threatened by the idea of there being no God?

112 Replies to “Dawkins Gets Mail”

  1. Repent, repent, you sinner (Dawkins)!

    May you burn in blasphemous Hell!

    I wonder…has whackjob McVety made any public comments about Dawkins? (I’m sure it’d be along the same lines.)

    Call me uncompassionate, but my tolerance for nutbar “Sky God” worshippers is not as “commendable” as the reverse “sympathy” professed by this Rabbi Marc Gellman.

  2. Well, perhaps we’d come off a lot less angry if we weren’t harangued by various types of believers trying to convert us all the time.

    Even my rather devout sister-in-law admits the worst part of Christianity are the Christians….

  3. wow. how many times have I had some righteous righter wonder why I’m so angry.

    To my knowledge, I have never wished anyone to be harmed much less hit by a church bus.

  4. That video is not funny, it is very sad and disgusting. How can you be amused by people blasting one another? True Christians imitate the object of their faith. The authors of these letters may claim to be Christian, but their method contradicts their message. I am a Christian and I am not threatened by the idea of “there being no god”, anymore than I am threatened by the idea that I am nothing but a wave as Hawking has proposed.

    To put it in perpective, are you threatened by the idea that the earth is flat? Of course not, because you know the truth. When you know the truth, it is inconceivable to feel threatened by a lie.

    I suspect that Christians are as horrified by the behavior of hate-mongering people who claim to share their beliefs as Atheist are. Atheist have posted comments on my blog saying similar hateful things to me. Anger is a choice not an effect. I can choose to respond with grace, or I can choose to react in anger. The choice is quite easy for me because I try to live my life to a higher standard. I am not always successful, as I can see that many of my Atheist friends who claim to live to a high standard fail as well.

    Many Atheist do not receive hate mail like Dawkins and I suspect he was a bitter man long before he ever received his first letter, so why do so many Atheists choose to verbally attack Christians. Why not Muslims, or Buddists, or Wiccans? What is the obsession with Christians?

  5. But more seriously, let’s turn Rabbi Gelman’s question around and ask about all the “angry believers” out there: why do they seem to be threatened by the idea of there being no God?

    Don’t ask the blissfully pious this question; I think one of their issues is that they don’t seem to have a very good grasp of anger; they either sublimate their own very effectively, or simply have been fortunate enough not to have had any real reason to experience it for themselves.

    As you know, I’m fascinated with anger, particularly the inchoate variety you find in modern, affluent society and the confusion between that emotion and righteous anger, which our ruling elites (religious, political, economic or the elite associated with the media) have taken great pains to suppress or to characterise as unseemly or déclassé.

    They seem rather accommodating when it comes to inchoate anger; thus you have the situation in which right wing loonies can rant and rage on television, talk radio, in print and on blogs, but anyone else who dares to tinge their more thoughtful opinions with even a touch of righteous anger is quickly shut down.

  6. Many Atheist do not receive hate mail like Dawkins and I suspect he was a bitter man long before he ever received his first letter, so why do so many Atheists choose to verbally attack Christians. Why not Muslims, or Buddists, or Wiccans? What is the obsession with Christians?

    That sounds a little angry, Nance. Anyway, atheists (and I’m not one) do attack all kinds of irrationality; from bizarre religious beliefs to transparently ridiculous pseudo-science, to New Age and self-help nonsense to astrology, homoeopathy and UFO’s.

  7. “When you know the truth, it is inconceivable to feel threatened by a lie. ”

    And the TRUTH is that a “Sky God” is a LIE.

    Just as the twaddle about the Earth being 6,000 years old is a LIE.

    But I digress…

  8. And the TRUTH is that a “Sky God” is a LIE.

    Since I throw around the accusation of “liar” at the drop of hat, I’m one to talk, but to be technical about it, it not a lie. It is simply unknown. I do suspect that some very highly-placed religious authorities do in fact believe there is no God and simply lie for whatever noble or ignoble reasons they have. This is why my sympathies tend to be with atheists and agnostics who make more compelling arguments because of their support for reason and evidence as opposed to the crazed believers who have become quite insane in their desperate need to argue for the existence of God.

  9. “To put it in perpective, are you threatened by the idea that the earth is flat?”

    When large groups of people wish to teach flat-earth ideas in our public schools and call it science, then we’ll find it threatening.

  10. “…but to be technical about it, it’s not a lie.”

    Perhaps so.

    But if people went around exclaiming that they believed in or lived with an invisible, space-time phasing, pink, pygmy elephant, clearly one would have to conclude that they were insane, even though one may not be able to disprove its existence.

    As you say, reason and evidence – and common sense – should/must prevail.

    But then, who am I, eh?

  11. But if people went around exclaiming that they believed in or lived with an invisible, space-time phasing, pink, pygmy elephant, clearly one would have to conclude that they were insane, even though one may not be able to disprove its existence.

    Sure, but religious beliefs serve particular functions in all human societies, one that won’t be rendered obsolete anytime soon (much to our chagrin).

    What is of particular significance is how entrenched the rejection of evolution is in the world most richest, most beautifulest, most smartest, most advancedest society on Earth. That one has got me completely stymied.

  12. Ugh. Because Dawkins gets threatening extremist hate-mail still doesn’t make it right that he is spitefully angry against one big homogeneous distinctionless blob he calls “religion.”

    I’m sure Jerry Fallwell got plenty of hate mail that he used to justify the otherness of his opponents as well. It’s two sides of the same coin, whether Dawkins is “right” or not.

    And this:
    “When large groups of people wish to teach flat-earth ideas in our public schools and call it science, then we’ll find it threatening.”

    Yes, people teaching things that have no scientific basis in schools is threatening. It still doesn’t mean the belief is inherently threatening in itself. I for one, would feel uncomfortable with Dawkin’s brand of scientific rationalism being taught as “fact” in an ethics class, for example. But that doesn’t mean its existence is threatening. The mere existence of religion for Dawkins is threatening, and he’d much rather it go away.

  13. But if people went around exclaiming that they believed in or lived with an invisible, space-time phasing, pink, pygmy elephant,…

    Run into a lot of those, Robert?

  14. “…(much to our chagrin).”

    It certainly bothers me, but as you say, there’s sweet fa that can be done about it.

    And, hey, I’d watch those “most richest, most beautifulest” expressions.

    Sounds downright wacky to me. (No offence intended.)

  15. I have spoken with and read angry atheists (insert random Christopher Hitchens’ quote here), but Richard Dawkins is not angry at all. I’ve read quite a lot of his work and find it quite fun. Now, if I was a theist I would find some of his statements challenging and perhaps disconcerting, but that’s different than him being angry.

    Simply saying “I think you are wrong” sets up a contradictory argument, but it does not necessarily have to be an angry one. I’m sure that any anger generated by his writing comes from the reader, the reader that has just enough of a kernel of doubt that he/she feels threatened.

    In addition, sticking “angry” in front of “atheist” is a derogation intended to belittle the seriousness of the argument. “Don’t listen to that atheist, he’s angry, emotional, he just doesn’t make sense.”

  16. “The mere existence of religion for Dawkins is threatening, and he’d much rather it go away.”

    I feel the same way.

    It would certainly be a societal improvement.

  17. Gonna outlaw religion? Gonna teach atheism in school?

    I wish we could find some way of taking the money out of the religious institutions with which they manage to command power and influence, which ultimately leads to corruption and abuse. But since the West’s leading Christian nation worships that more than God, I doubt we’ll see any change soon until that place is faced with the bankruptcy it’s been putting off for decades now.

  18. “I wish we could find some way of taking the money out of the religious institutions…”

    I think a good start would be to revoke their non-taxable status.

    Of course, and unfortunately, though, that would likely never happen.

  19. Kevvyd — In addition, sticking “angry” in front of “atheist” is a derogation intended to belittle the seriousness of the argument. “Don’t listen to that atheist, he’s angry, emotional, he just doesn’t make sense.”

    Or “bitter” as a previous commenter did. Dawkins doesn’t strike me as particularly angry or bitter. Puzzled and bewildered quite often, at least when he’s talking to believers at the nonsense they might happen to be spouting. He does get quite passionate about the indoctrination of children, which he thinks is a vile practice. Some people might well interpret his feelings on that subject as “anger” I suppose.

  20. “He does get quite passionate about the indoctrination of children, which he thinks is a vile practice.”

    I find myself becoming more and more endeared to Mr. Dawkins.

  21. Ideal for you perhaps, but unrealistic and probably unethical. Not to mention disturbingly homogeneous (in my opinion).

    There will always be religion. There will always be religious people. Simply wishing it to go away is a utopian dream in the same vein as all people converting to Christianity. Not to mention that, but this hostility gives a lot of fundies ammunition in their assertion that mainstream society wishes to wipe them out.

    Facts are that these people are going to exist (because they continue to exist in the face of “insurmountable” evidence contrary to their beliefs). So is the solution to stamp it out through peaceful or otherwise methods? Or is there a different way that recognizes the fact that people will continue to think that way without othering them?

  22. “I think a good start would be to revoke their non-taxable status.”

    I agree–with Christian industries ie Robertson. But to charge a church with no business inclinations on top of their revenue from (already taxed) donations from members would be ridiculous and I know my own would go bankrupt as a result.

  23. So is the solution to stamp it out through peaceful or otherwise methods?

    I think re-education camps are worth a shot. Who’s with me? Hands?

  24. A question about Dawkins and the brainwashing of children: What does he suggest we do about that? People are always going to teach their children fucked up things, regardless. Consumerism/Consumptionism, for example, has proven itself just as damaging to the world as a whole as fundamentalism. What is the alternative? Telling parents what they should teach their children?

  25. “I think re-education camps are worth a shot. ”

    Not bad, but I’d call them de-programming clinics.

    One can dream, can’t they?

  26. Nance,

    You make the assertion that “True Christians imitate the object of their faith,” and “I suspect that Christians are as horrified by…[etc.]”. It’s something that we atheists hear every time some theist feels threatened and lashes out.
    “That person said something heinous, therefore they’re not a real Xian.” That’s a pretty weak argument. Ask them and they’ll certainly tell you that they’re the real thing. So exactly who gets to decide that the death-threat-emailer or the Jew-burning-Inquisitor or the Westboro-Baptist-Churcher isn’t a member of the club?

  27. Not bad, but I’d call them de-programming clinics.

    We should call them Bible camps. Seriously, those people are so easily gulled I think the ruse could be pulled off rather effortlessly.

    We’re in a very bad period right now and it’s going to take a loooong time for the situation to change (think of how much money is in the system that supports Evangelical Christianity). My real worry concerns this irrationality creeping into our civil society. We have to be very vigilant, and use every swear word at our disposal to keep the zealots in their place and out of our politics.

  28. “…and out of our politics.”

    Sadly, it seems the same sort of US-style religiosity has already infiltrated the Canadian political realm, as in the despicable virus known as Harperites, with Stevie’s “spiritual advisor” McVety leading the charge.

  29. Trust me on this one folks, as a card-carrying agnostic who’s neutral in beliefs as he has no proof and doubts everything (an honest sceptic… as sceptics doubt but do not out of hand deny and at last check, science allows for hypothesis…) “Humanists” can be as ignorant and angry and hateful as those they accuse on the theist side as being ignorant and angry and hateful. It’s sad but VERY true.

    Granted, the amount of shrieky “so called” religious folks outnumber the truly ignorant and self-rightious members of The Non-Spiritualist Church of Non-Belief.

    …but I hold dear an old newsletter from a so-called sceptical (read: non-believers/non-scientific/knee-jerk deniers) group where a humanist did call for the destruction of all religious artifacts as they were to blame for sucking in the masses…

    Burn a cathedral and many of Bach’s pieces for the advancement of humanity was the basic refrain of the piece… which, of course, made the brethren of the Church of Knee-Jerk Denial applaud and nod their heads like those noddy-dogs in the back of an old Buick on a dirt road.

    As a member of The Church of Neutrality, I am sick and tired of hearing things like you can’t prove a negative (thus making 50% of mathematical science and the study of vacuums disappear in a puff of bad logic,) and how ALL religions are destructive… when the majority of data seems to suggest otherwise.

    The idiots who attack EITHER side without firm data just come off as the mouthbreathing hypocrites that they truly are… be that fake Christians espousing hate or those who say they worship science but are unwilling to entertain a hypothesis because they’ve already jumped to “conclusion” without all the data.

    Besides, MOST “atheists” I know aren’t really “against God”… but against dogma… and there’s a huge difference in my eyes.

    My $0.02 worth that no one asked for.

    One last thing, since it was mentioned… UFOs are real… “Alien Spacecraft Visiting Earth” or like-wise hypothesis are not empirically proven. Ask any pilot worth his salt. Seeing an “unknown” in the air is not outside the realm of possibilities… and that’s what a UFO is by definition. Please don’t spout science gleaned from “The X-Files” if possible.

  30. Well, I guess some people have now been put in their place.

    I shall not count myself among them.

    I’m just too damn logical, err, I mean dogmatic.

  31. I’m just too damn logical, err, I mean dogmatic.

    Well, first of all, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive in my eyes… and, since you have omnipotent knowledge and can answer all possible questions and provide absolute and empirical proof of your stance, I won’t fault you.

    You can, right?

  32. Sorry, noticed a need to re-phrase… provide empirical evidence that your stance of absolute no deity is correct. (…and remember, I’ve shown that indeed, you can prove a negative.)

    As a neutral, I see religion more like a combination of faith and culture… and provided it’s not hurting anyone (which I know, sadly it has… but NOT ALL religions have and not all religious people do,) and isn’t being forced down my throat (although, from a cultural standpoint, you will forgive my wishing people a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, Blessed Samhain, and other assorted “sky god” nonsensical rubbish as it’s been termed,) and I’m allowed the freedom to participate or not without the stigma of the aforementioned greets being seen as “offensive”, then it’s all good… because no, I will see a medical doctor ahead of a faith healer and I do believe in the evidence supporting evolution…

    However, these things do not support me pooping on the concept of any deity without evidence to do so… simply question (not argue, but question and ask for facts, evidence, and data to support certain) dogmatic beliefs if they don’t jive with what seems to have been proven.

    Quick note though… I like Dawkins and have read two of his books (The God Delusion and Climbing Mount Improbable) and watched an excellent series he did on the toob about his work… and I do believe that the morons who “wrote” to him are worse than most of the crud I’ve seen from the aforementioned The Dogmatically Ruled Church of Denial Without Full Evidence… so be kind.

  33. “and remember, I’ve shown that indeed, you can prove a negative”

    Really? Where?

    And while you’re at it, prove that an invisible leprechaun isn’t sitting on my shoulder and talking to me right now.

    Cheers.

  34. Matthew:

    As you well know, no one can provide absolute, unequivocal, empirical evidence of the “non-existence” of the “Sky Captain.”

    But, when simply asking oneself about the sensibility, practicality, probability and just downright common sense of the matter, the only logical conclusion must be a resounding NO, my dear Watson.

    When one has discounted the infinitely improbable and the absurd, one is left with the infinitely probable and the real.

    And please don’t get excited about the use of the words improbable and probable.

  35. “And while you’re at it, prove that an invisible leprechaun isn’t sitting on my shoulder and talking to me right now.”

    Applause. Applause.

    And how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin?

  36. First…

    10 – 27 = Cannot exist as negatives cannot be proven.

    Vacuums? Vapour!

    Anyway, so if something cannot be proven to exist as we cannot prove its origins, it therefore cannot exist.

    So, hypothesis = Pointless if based on a thought or untested theorem and therefore not worth pursuing. Gotcha.

    Also, since we know the effects of planetary gravitational pull, but do not know it’s sources or how it’s come into being, it too cannot exist…

    Hold your furniture down with weights, close the universities, stop funding science… everything is known and proven… and gravity, therefore, cannot exist!

    Fellas, the best astrophysicist in Canada in my eyes is a Catholic… the most well known and published “so-called-sceptic” in this country is a Jewish… but they should be ignored and cast out, I suppose…

    When one has discounted the infinitely improbable and the absurd, one is left with the infinitely probable and the real.

    So, what was here before the “Big Bang”? Can you explain seemingly all medical miracles?

    And please don’t get excited about the use of the words improbable and probable.

    Why not? “Improbable” shows “possible” if slight chance… which is the basis for creative hypothesis… and if it’s wrong, that’s fine… but let’s not toss out the baby with the bathwater because our “faith of non-faith” proclaims we musn’t.

    I’m an agnostic… and I won’t change… and things like “Sky Captain” and tossing in “Invisible Leprechauns” just makes you look no better than those who take regular beatings for being mouth-breathing morons (and rightfully so!)

    All I’m saying is that atheism isn’t science… it’s a faith… and it’s as unsubstantiated as anything else because, in essence, evidence is evidence… and science DOES allow for hypothesis… and hypothesis are not tossed out until PROVEN incorrect.

    GRANTED, if you read, you’ll see I say, quite clearly, that I don’t live my life nor would I hope anyone would (which is sadly not the case, but…) based on a shakey concept… but again, until it’s empirically dismissed properly with controls, if you DO dismiss it, you’re not talking science.

  37. “Anyway, so if something cannot be proven to exist as we cannot prove its origins, it therefore cannot exist.”

    I think you therefore just concluded that “God” cannot exist.

    Thank you. You’ve seen the light.

  38. “And while you’re at it, prove that an invisible leprechaun isn’t sitting on my shoulder and talking to me right now.”

    …well, if that leprechaun starts conversing with a talking snake…you may be in trouble.

  39. “…well, if that leprechaun starts conversing with a talking snake…you may be in trouble.”

    So true.

    Flaherty does speak with Harper.

  40. “Anyway, so if something cannot be proven to exist as we cannot prove its origins, it therefore cannot exist.”

    I think you therefore just concluded that “God” cannot exist.

    …and removed the laws of gravity as, again, we have not found the causation of gravitational pull.

    Best hold that furniture down, boys!

    Geez, ignoring hypothesis while jumping to conclusions thus thwarting the scientific method, bringing no proof or solid empirical evidence to back up a claim, mocking and belittling those who request said because without, they won’t leap into your philosophies… wanting to stamp out things that don’t jive with your cherished beliefs…

    Hmmm…

    Why does this sound so awfully familiar???

    Oh, and the mocking? Thank you… my point…

    Are “Atheists” angry? No… but they sure do come across as intolerant.

    Remember fellas… I’m an agnostic… and because science is SUPPOSED to be neutral without data, I guess that makes real science just as stupid as me!

    Pass the Crayolas, I think we’re done here!

    …unless, like Bruno, you need to cleanse this heretic in the fire?

    (Oh, bonus snark… Occam was a monk who also used his razor, when push came to shove and he couldn’t answer a question, to say Well, obviously God made it that way! Wheee~!)

  41. “Richard Dawkins is not angry at all.”

    oh, they know good and well that dawkins isn’t “angry”. that’s just the passive aggression invariably coming into play. frighties use words like “hate” and “angry” and “extreme” not for their meaning but for their implication.

    KEvron

  42. “…and removed the laws of gravity as, again, we have not found the causation of gravitational pull.”

    As Einstein pointed out, it’s the warping of space-time.

    Try some less circular comments next time.

  43. “frighties use words like “hate” and “angry” and “extreme” not for their meaning but for their implication.”

    Add to that their attempted connection between Darwinism and Nazism.

    They have no shame.

  44. “All I’m saying is that atheism isn’t science”

    science, however, is atheism.

    “it’s a faith”

    “neener-neener”?

    KEvron

  45. “True piety for the Universe but no time for religions made for man’s convenience.”
    Spinoza…….I ‘believe’.

  46. As Einstein pointed out, it’s the warping of space-time.

    Try some less circular comments next time.

    Really? Can you show me the evidence? (Oh, and ignore those x-rays coming out of that “never expels anything” black hole.)

    Einstein… funny fell0w that… he once said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

    Hmmm…

    Anyway…

    science, however, is atheism.

    Nope. Atheism is a conclussion without proper data or experimentation. It is the knee-jerk dismissal of a hypothesis based on possible unrelated claims having seemingly no validity. Atheism is not neutral. Atheism is not “agnostic”. Atheism is simply denial.

    Ergo: Atheism can not be science.

    To balance, however, “Theism” is not science either. (Same reasons.)

    Both “Theism” and “Atheism” are based on faith without absolute fact… and possibly will always remain that way. (Safe bet.)

    Both factions fight for superiority, both have written dogmas, both have leaders and groups that promote their agendas, both claim that NOT following their lead will take the world into horrors and general stupidity, both claim anyone who doesn’t follow their philosophies is an idiot and an outcast, and both do not stand up to absolute legitimate pure scientific scrutiny.

    Again, simple question…

    Can you absolutely and empirically prove that there is no possibility of any sort of universal intelligence that might have created things or possibly be watching over things?

    Yes or no…

    Not “maybe”… not “we can’t so that’s not a fair question.”… not “I don’t have to answer that”… and not “sure, but I can’t supply the evidence”…

    Yes or no.

    Being ANY more specific about what I’m asking for proof of specified dogma, not into the concept of any sort of deity… so please, don’t quote scriptures or the like.

    Truth is, agnosticism is science. Neutrality… not picking a side until the evidence is in.

    Hypothesis -> Experimentation -> Observation -> Conclusion

    … not Conclusion only.

    Oh, and since I’m not claiming that there IS a deity (I’m agnostic,) but other’s are claiming there can not be, I am using the logic that the late Carl Sagan stole (without credit) from the late Marcello Truzzi…

    Claims Require Evidence.

    Sorry dude, Atheism might have a lot of scientific clout… moreso than any “magic pixie” hypothesis… but the concept of NO DEITIES ain’t truly a scientific “fact” until proven.

    …and mocking those who do have faith only proves that, indeed, Atheists tend to be rather an intolerant lot.

    I’m just sayin’!

  47. Sorry, typo…

    Being ANY more specific about what I’m asking for proof of specified dogma, not into the concept of any sort of deity… so please, don’t quote scriptures or the like.

    Being ANY more specific about what I’m asking for proof of *is becoming* specified dogma, not into the concept of any sort of deity… so please, don’t quote scriptures or the like.

    I’m typing on an MSI Wind… and although the keyboard is okay, my fingers do slip. 🙂

  48. “Ergo: Atheism can not be science.”

    but science is atheism.

    “Yes or no.”

    *yawn*

    “…and mocking those who do have faith only proves that, indeed, Atheists tend to be rather an intolerant lot.”

    “proves”, eh? skip over the first two steps, and even then, step three was selective.

    KEvron

  49. “an intolerant lot.”

    heh. i had just mentioned the abuse of words for their implication.

    suppose i tolerate the player, but not the game….

    KEvron

  50. MJD – “Sorry dude, Atheism might have a lot of scientific clout… moreso than any “magic pixie” hypothesis… but the concept of NO DEITIES ain’t truly a scientific “fact” until proven.”

    No science can’t prove that there are no deities as you can’t prove a negative. However, your position that agnosticism is the proper position is complete toss. If you want to be an agnostic yourself then fine. However, science can’t prove that Bigfoot does not exist, however science has looked for evidence of the existence of such and found none. The proper position of a scientific person is not to say that they are agnostics when it comes to bigfoot, the lochness monster or Santa Claus. In the same way a scientist can’t prove that there is not an all powerful being who can change the laws of physics at any moment, but the proper scientific position is not to say that we don’t know what the laws of physics are right now because they might have changed 1 second ago. Completely ridiculous.

  51. i just can’t let it go:

    “an intolerant lot.”

    a video of dawkins reading his hate mail from (alleged) xtians, but because a few (alleged) atheists cracked wise, “an intolerant lot.” you’re “agnostic” like i’m “sorta fond” of tits.

    KEvron

  52. Shouldn’t half of you be in Church and the other half out looking for neighbourhood strays with which to perform your blood rituals?

    Ewps. Sorry. Far be from me interrupt the discussion to prove/disprove the existence of God, especially as it appears so close to resolution.

    I’ve alerted the Vatican…

  53. Why are atheists so pre-occupied with religion and god? And why are Libertarians so pre-occupied with politics and government?

    If you don’t put any stock in these things, let it alone and get the bloody hell on with your life.

  54. Oh, red is this your signal that you’re ending the angry atheist schtick? It would be refreshing.

  55. Richard Dawkins may not be an angry atheist but he’s one irritating “hater”.

    Dawkins has never shown one bit of interest in the worth task of scientifically investigating whether religion makes for happier individuals when there are strong indications it may. This makes him quite LAZY intellectually.

    “Truth matters” he says when people ask him why it matters so much to him. Truth may not be on our side, Dick.

  56. OR – “Why are atheists so pre-occupied with religion and god?”

    I will be honest, myself and probably Richard Dawkins would not give a shit about religion if religion stopped trying to push their pseudo-science into the classroom. As proof, Richard Dawkins pays all of his attention to the 3 anti-science religions of Abraham, while basically ignoring all the other religions that are not trying to push lies into science classrooms.

    “If you don’t put any stock in these things, let it alone and get the bloody hell on with your life.”

    We would like to. Unfortunately, every second of every day religious fanatics are trying to ban the teaching of real science, like evolution, or trying to add the teaching of non-science like creation “science” or intelligent design into the classroom. We didn’t bring the fight to you. You brought the fight to us.

    “Dawkins has never shown one bit of interest in the worth task of scientifically investigating whether religion makes for happier individuals when there are strong indications it may. This makes him quite LAZY intellectually.”

    Why the hell should he? Dawkins is an evolutionist and zoologist. How dare he not be interested in mindless nonsense.

  57. “Why are atheists so pre-occupied with religion and god?”

    and why are theists so pre-occupied with atheists?

    “This makes him quite LAZY intellectually.”

    words, words, words.

    KEvron

  58. Kev – “and why are theists so pre-occupied with atheists?”

    Yes 70 posts already. Theists who I don’t think have ever posted here before are showing up in droves.

  59. “How dare he not be interested in mindless nonsense.”

    oh, there may be some validity to the notion. like most things, it’s probably a matter of the proper dosage. but, like you said, not his field, so why should he bother?

    KEvron

  60. “Yes 70 posts already. Theists who I don’t think have ever posted here before are showing up in droves.”

    lol! dead on! happens everytime rt posts on the subject. and there’s always some “agnostic”, scolding only the one side.

    KEvron

  61. “lol! dead on! happens everytime rt posts on the subject. and there’s always some “agnostic”, scolding only the one side.”

    Exactly, with the exception of concerning religion and science class, I don’t ever show up at religious blogs or discussions about religion. That how preoccupied I am with religion.

  62. Mr. Dawkins has two points. 1. That belief in a deity is delusional 2. That this belief is harmful.

    Mindless nonsense? If he finds religion relates enough to his field to denounce it he should be honest enough to find out if it has the negative effects on people that he says it does.

    It’s not unreasonable to ask him to back up the second claim as well as he has the first.

    However as he says: “It’s a question that interests me less than the purely scientific question of the existence of God.”


    At the 4:23 mark.

    In my view, the real harm is when individuals become literally combative with others around them over an issue (any ideological or religious issue) in which they have very LITTLE personal context.

    Forgive me, but please tell me what personal experience you have of fanatics bringing the fight to you? Maybe I’m wrong and you deal with it all the time. I never have. Most religious people I’ve met are benign.

    “and why are theists so pre-occupied with atheists?”

    Well, you’re completely wrong there. Amongst themselves religious people TEND to talk about their own tenents. Gawd, I pine for the days when most atheists believed in something collectively.

  63. Ok, I’m just a bit nostalgic for the days when most atheists believed in something collectively.

    But not even Hitchens goes for socialism anymore.

  64. “Your intellect is the fart of god.”

    I’m confused. It’s delivered as part of an insult, but wouldn’t it in fact be a compliment?

    Godly gas from the holy hole.

  65. Nice post. I enjoyed that part of the programme immensely. Apparently, the National Secular Society regularly receive angry letters written in BLOCK CAPITALS using red ink. Nice.

    I think the complaint about ‘angry atheists’ is a smokescreen – if you accuse your opponent of doing something or behaving in a certain manner in a debate, regardless of whether they actually are, it will have less impact when they [truthfully] point out that you are using that tactic. It’s quite clever – and very dishonest.

    Cheers,
    jdc.

  66. “Ok, I’m just a bit nostalgic for the days when most atheists believed in something collectively.

    But not even Hitchens goes for socialism anymore.”

    Ayn Rand? Charles Darwin? A whole lot of atheists have always been libertarians, capitalists etc.

  67. You can’t prove a negative.

    5 – 14 = Cannot exist. Vacuums do not exist… Temperature below freezing? Not possible… After all, negatives cannot be proven.

    Any chance of getting you guys to work for my credit card companies… or is math and physics no longer considered science? (Gosh fellas! Read a book… or, better yet, ask a physics professor!)

    …and KEvron, first of all, I did say that the nits that “sent the mail” were worse than any other zealots being mentioned, but I simply said as an agnostic who’s sat in on “humanist” meetings, I can tell you there are rabid “so-called” Atheists… and they all do have doctrines… and they do lie… and they do have their “church” which if you do not subscribe to, you will be cast out and have dumb-ass things like the word *yawn* typed at you when you ask a question.

    Like I said, Atheists are no better than most religious zealots because they think they’re right with no supporting data and cast out the non-believers in their faith… worse yet, the constant drumming and misuse of the word “science” (which should be “neutral until all the facts are in”,) by the Established Diocese of Non-Faith is what makes me question things…

    Science is neutral until all the facts are in and allows for hypothesis before conclusion as a rule… and oddly enough, one can listen to and look at a hypothesis without making the new idea (or old one,) their primary philosophy…

    …granted, that last part… when you DON’T except some folks faith as absolute philosophy, boy they get angry! (…and yeah, it includes Atheists.)

    So, here we go again… for this agnostic fellow here… get your macro with the *yawn* ready because it hasn’t changed…

    Can you absolutely and empirically prove that there is no possibility of any sort of universal intelligence that might have created things or possibly be watching over things?

    Yes or no.

    (If you’re worried this will become a mantra, don’t… I won’t bore you all… promise.)

    All I can ask the rest of you folks is decide honestly… Are you an atheist, or are you anti-dogma?

  68. The fact that posts like these generate so many comments suggests to me that Dawkins fans and religious fundamentalists have a co-dependency relationship that would impress AA. It’s fun, because each side gets to define exactly what it is the other believes in.

  69. You know the REALLY funny part of all this… you DO realise, and I’m not kidding, I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate… just trying to show that all zealotry (including the anti-zealot zealotry) stinks and has flaws…

    “Devil’s Advocate”… hmmm… Poor choice of expression, but accurate.

  70. It is very interesting to read these postings on “God-hypothesis” and on Richard Dawkins. I do not like when somebody insults the atheist and wants to prove that there is God. We need to listen to the atheists, try to understand them and then reply to them by sharing our experience of faith in God. I suppose that Prof.Richard Dawkins is quite polite and pleasant. He may not reach the “God-hypothesis” through scientific theories. We need a dialogue with him. It is pity that his books are being quoted and are influencing a lot of people
    Let us have a dialogue with him…
    Prof.Dr.Ivo da Conceiçao Souza (Goa, India)

  71. MJD – “Can you absolutely and empirically prove that there is no possibility of any sort of universal intelligence that might have created things or possibly be watching over things?

    Yes or no.”

    No, no one has said that you can. If you ever read Dawkins instead of just spouting off you would know that he discusses this at length.

    You can not prove there is no bigfoot, you can not prove there are no fairies, you can not prove that there is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. You can not prove that there is no god or intelligent being.

    However, in the absence of evidence for the existence of such things, and while we can not say the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, we can say that the proper position is not “maybe yes, maybe no” or we don’t know, but a position of strong skepticism, a position that we will not believe in the existence of such until there is evidence of such. Your position is noncommital, when being noncommital is not warrented. If you want to hold such a position, good for you, but I personally dread the day when it would be considered the proper scientific thinking to say, we don’t know if there is a Santa Claus and we don’t know if the laws of physics will change one second from now. It would be the end of scientific progress. Despite scientists having no proof that the laws of physics will stay the same tomorrow as they do today (because such proof could never exist), the proper position to hold is that they will be the same. That is not bad science as you say, but the only responsible science.

  72. Wayward:

    Demanding “evidence” (i.e. observable and testable material evidence) of the deity makes as much sense as refusing to take antibiotics until an angel tells you it is safe. If you want to take on those folks who run creationist theme parks, good luck, but you aren’t even beginning to address what most believers believe.

    It goes like this. Either the material world is all there is or there is more. If you believe that is all there is, bless you. But you aren’t scoring any points by announcing triumphantly that there is no material evidence of a non-material reality.

  73. Personally I find Dawkin’s as pathetic as many of those who send him hate mail.Zizek would call him a vulgar materialist.
    An argument about religion ,now what could be more ridiculous & a total waste of time than that.
    I do not under stand why the Dawkin’s of the world feel a need to ridicule the religious inclinations of others.The same is true of those “Christians” that feel a need to demonize non-believer atheists.
    Jesus was about turning the other cheek,judge not least ye be judged.
    In fact if christian(the majority) actually lived like Jesus and did as he did,this world would in all likelihood be a better place.
    What’s the point of Dawkin’s et al.Indeed why would anyone want to ridicule the beliefs of others,again this cuts both ways.
    I say it again Dawkins is wrong to ridicule belief and the hypocrites that call themselves Christians would do better to live their speak,rather than preach.
    As in most thing ,nothing is as simplistic as some would have others believe.
    Religion can be a positive,one need only recall liberation theology.Its what people do in the name of religion that should be called into question rather than belief it self.
    Indeed how can any one argue with what Jesus stood for.

  74. No, no one has said that you can. If you ever read Dawkins instead of just spouting off you would know that he discusses this at length.

    Um… you didn’t read either… Go back and re-read my posts. I have read “The God Delusion” and “Climbing Mount Improbable” and watched the excellent Discovery series… and liked them and absorbed them.

    Not once did I question those books or Prof. Dawkins here, simply asked a question… but feel free to assume without evidence and not see the question both the prof and I put forward… the only difference is, I won’t dispel something without evidence. I’m a Truzzian of the first order… an agnostic… someone who doubts, questions, but doesn’t deny… I suppose we part company there.

    Claims, of all sorts, require evidence.

  75. Temperature below freezing? Not possible… After all, negatives cannot be proven.
    How about we start @ zero Kelvin…..

  76. Just re-read this bit…

    However, in the absence of evidence for the existence of such things, and while we can not say the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, we can say that the proper position is not “maybe yes, maybe no” or we don’t know, but a position of strong skepticism, a position that we will not believe in the existence of such until there is evidence of such. Your position is noncommital, when being noncommital is not warrented.

    What was it Carl Sagan used to say… Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence I believe… that said, I also said that I cannot discount that which I cannot prove… but I also do not need or feel it necessary to change my entire lifestyle on what appears on the prima facia to be a shakey claim.

    Also… Strong Skepticism… when scepticism means to doubt, to demand better evidence, to not fall into a belief without warrant, how can people that knee-jerk absolute non-belief say they are “sceptical”? There’s no doubt in the statement that “X” Does Not Exist. That’s a claim… not a belief… and again, claims require evidence.

    …and…

    Your position is noncommital, when being noncommital is not warrented.

    Ooo! I love being told what my thoughts and philosophies MUST be because someone else has decided what constitutes an answer to an improperly answered question.

    Like I said, zealotry begets zealotry! Same coin…

    I think you summed up nicely though… real science does account for “improbability”… but does not leap without warrant to “impossibility”.

    That’s the complaint here… ‘cuz knee-jerk denial of anything without empirical data is not science, it’s faith.

  77. Well. I am a christian, though its quite sad that people of the same name would treat Mr. Dawkins so horribly. They don’t deserve to call themselves christians. They behaved worse than many unsaved people. Though I really couldn’t help but crack up at the “church van” thing. If Mr. Dawkins ever reads this, I apologize for all the hate mail you get. I don’t agree with atheism at all, but that is definitely NOT showing the love of Christ.

  78. Peter – “If you want to take on those folks who run creationist theme parks, good luck, but you aren’t even beginning to address what most believers believe.”

    I am not interested in taking on those who set up creationist theme parks unless, and only when, they attempt to destroy our science classes. That is when they move beyond private and personal beliefs. I would encourage everyone to read about the Dover trial, in which one of the interesting things was that it was not a between christians and atheists. It was mainly a fight between christians – those in the community who believed in the separation of church and state and those who believed that their beliefs must trump everything else including science.

  79. bookflutterby – “They behaved worse than many unsaved people.”

    Just thought I would repeat this comment.

  80. The fact that posts like these generate so many comments suggests to me that Dawkins fans and religious fundamentalists have a co-dependency relationship that would impress AA.

    Funny you should post that in a thread that seems to have been hijacked by a member of The Church of Neutrality issuing a beige alert.

    “Live Free or Don’t.”

  81. “‘Yes or no.’

    No, no one has said that you can.”

    not even i have. mjd, you’re attempting an argument of semantics for which i have little interest, hence “yawn”. it’s an exercise in futility. here’s a stupid question for you: can you disprove that i am god? feel free to yawn.

    theism stops at questions unanswered and concludes “god factor”. modern science – the efforts of IDiots notwithstanding – makes no such conclusions. in fact, science has a history of disproving such conclusions (not only does the sun not evolve around the earth, but it’s not even drawn by chariot). essentially, modern science has been indifferent to the notion of god; he hasn’t been quantifiably observed thus far, and, if he is as theists claims he is, such observations are impossible. just so much alchemy.

    another lesson from history is the mercurial nature of spirituallity; various gods have been replaced by brave new dieties, religions have had a tendancy to adhere to border lines and language gaps, kings and priests have garnered power by occassionally blotting out the sun. it’s that history that makes the most compelling argument that spirituality is nothing more than a cultural phenomenon, and that god is simply man-made.

    i stopped worshipping apollo millenia ago, and i’m no worse for it. there’s got to be something to that.

    “I did say that the nits that ‘sent the mail’ were worse than any other zealots being mentioned”

    thank you for the perfunctory gesture (you’ve mentioned your own agnosticism on this thread more often than you’ve dealt with religious zeal).

    “Are you an atheist, or are you anti-dogma?”

    are the two mutually exclusive? ‘cuz….

    “just trying to show that all zealotry”

    words….

    “I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate”

    *yawn*

    not to be rude, buti have to tell you that i don’t believe for a second that you’re agnostic; just been my experience that thumpers will stoop to deception as they lay their foundations.

    KEvron

  82. I don’t how theists can argue against religion being little more than a cultural phenomenon considering all of the different types of faith in the world, each with their own imaginative interpretation of the godhead and elaborate mythology surrounding their particular creed.

    It seems fairly presumptuous to say that your brand of religion is the “one true faith” and all the rest are rubbish; good for them that they believe in a higher power, but they’ve got it all wrong. Oh, and by the way, they’re going to burn in Hell for all eternity as a result.

    That’s part of the reason I can’t quite understand why Christians (and Muslims and Jews as well, I guess) are so dismissive of the argument that their faiths are really no better than a belief in Zeus or Thor. This usually gets brushed off as being “silly” and “contemptible” without any explanation of why.

  83. not to be rude, buti have to tell you that i don’t believe for a second that you’re agnostic; just been my experience that thumpers will stoop to deception as they lay their foundations.

    Wrong. Truth is that I’ve sat in on meetings of The Humanist Assoc. and Skeptics(sic) Canada… and learned from the experience.

    Look, please read the following carefully and argue this true point…

    Atheists, in most cases, are as bad as Theists in their absolute faith in their non-belief. They preach from the pulpit using “science” instead any “philosophical” or “spiritual” texts… but like most nasty fundamentalists, don’t realise that the words they are supposed to be preaching don’t support their actions. (As stated, science does allow for the proving of negatives… and hypothesis… and doesn’t crap on things until it’s an absolute – empirical.) Many Atheists, like Theists, want to change society to fit what THEY KNOW(?) to be the best for everyone without taking into consideration other possibilities or cultural references/traditions.

    Worst of all, when someone like me challenges them, they resort to things like saying words. *yawn* without actually trying to debate the points.

    Realistically, I’ve had better arguments from Rabbis, Catholic Priests, and even a Southern Baptist Minister… oh, and I find that Wiccans, oddly enough, are the least preachy and conversion minded. What does that say?

    Ergo: Atheists are the preachers of non-belief… and yes, can be just as pushy and arrogant as many of the theists… and usually, my experience shows, often less tolerant than most. (See some of the articles written in “The Skeptical Enquirer” by Atheists… it’s quite revealing… burn down a church and shred the hymns for “science”!)

    I’ve watched how those with religious belief are treated… and there’s nothing like having a faith that DOESN’T hurt anyone or bother anyone (other than by apparently simply existing,) that gets mocked as you’re told your an idiot for believing it and finding strength in it…

    …by people that don’t (or can’t) even understand the basis of the scientific method while spouting “science” as their beacon.

    As for me being a bible-thumper or the like getting ready to strike… to be honest, KEvron, to quote the shrieky idiot actors on Jerry Springer, You don’t know me! and yeah, you’re wrong.

    Basically, I don’t like being told WHAT to think without evidence by ANYONE.

    …and the ONLY people I critique are those who suppose they are doing the thinking for me.

    I am not for any dogma… I am TRULY with Einstein personally (not devoutly Jewish, but when he said My sense of God is my sense of wonder about the universe and I am pro science… and will not toss out any hypothesis without evidence nor accept any “philosophy” based with little or no evidence…

    Atheism is a faith… and yes, my point for commenting here is some people in that faith are intolerant non-bible thumpers who like to show how “clever” they are by calling others idiots… and instead just show how limited they are in their actions when they can’t or refuse to answer questions.

    I am an agnostic… and you have not only NOT convinced me to come over to your side… you’ve pushed me away because *GASP!* I asked questions and demanded evidence.

    Shun this non-believer… shu-u-u-n!

  84. Red Tory: This is another PERFECT sentiment that I strongly agree with!!!

    It seems fairly presumptuous to say that your brand of religion is the “one true faith” and all the rest are rubbish; good for them that they believe in a higher power, but they’ve got it all wrong. Oh, and by the way, they’re going to burn in Hell for all eternity as a result.

    Please allow me to add, with evidence above, that to say NO Faith is also the ONE TRUE… I guess “path?”… may also not be the answer…

    It all seems like You dare question “X” God and ye shall burn in eternity, heretic! topped off with You believe in a God and you are an idiot who will remain stupid and inconsequential to anyone with an IQ for eternity, heretic!

    When you’re like me, which is worse?

    One, in my opinion, must think for themselves, find out what works for them, and be tolerant of others…

    I hate being told how to think… and I honestly do not believe in “magic” in a “mystical” sense… or really any other sense come to think about it…

    …and those things that appear to be magic will most likely be properly investigated and proven as to their causation… but until they are, again, should we dismiss COMPLETELY everything?

    Anyway, I agree… and you’ll find Wiccans (Pagans) do still worship the “Gods of old”… so they’re not as dead yet as some might assume.

  85. MJD — Seeing as we’re at 100 comments or something, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take this up to a newer thread. The one called “Waking Up to the Universe”. If anyone is interested in pursuing this discussion further it can be done there where less scrolling through all the previous comments is involved.

  86. Not at all personally, but I’ve stirred the pot all I can I think… and I am sorry for hijacking things a lot.

    Besides, when I get accused of being a bible-thumper, it’s time to pull back and re-examine things!

  87. “Worst of all, when someone like me challenges them, they resort to things like saying words.”

    follow the thread. words, like “hater” and “angry” and “intolerant” and “zealotry”.

    “*yawn* without actually trying to debate the points.”

    uh, no, i yawned at the your question, “can you prove….?” as i said, i don’t find exercises in futility challenging, especially when your oponent pooh poohs “proving the negative”.

    “I’ve had better arguments from Rabbis, Catholic Priests, and even a Southern Baptist Minister”

    i should expect you would, as neither theology nor atheism are my fields of study.

    “What does that say?”

    that you’ve mistaken this for an argument? and that you think i’m preachy? and that you’ve drifted from the point you wanted me to argue?

    argue it?! i had to stop when you pulled “for the most part” out of your arse. i can’t argue your anecdotal evidence, but i’d be happy to make up some of my own for you.

    “Atheists are the preachers of non-belief”

    aside from dawkins, i don’t really know any other atheists who preach non-belief. they simply don’t believe.

    “and yes, can be just as pushy and arrogant as many of the theists”

    you mean, some of them can be flawed, too?! maybe where human afterall.

    “and usually, my experience shows, often less tolerant than most.”

    history has proven this.

    “yeah, you’re wrong.”

    lol!

    “Basically, I don’t like being told WHAT to think without evidence by ANYONE.”

    well, then, you’d better scram outta here, ’cause that’s all we do. ever.

    REvron, ath. d.

  88. “I am an agnostic…”

    so you’ve said. ad naseum.

    “and you have not only NOT convinced me to come over to your side”

    and after all that hard work!

    “you’ve pushed me away”

    there goes that merit badge.

    “because *GASP!* I asked questions and demanded evidence.”

    evidence that i’m an atheist? first, prove to me that you’re an agnostic….

    KEvron

  89. “I’ve stirred the pot all I can I think”

    and here, i thought you had come for the debate.

    say “hi” to god for me.

    KEvron

  90. Hey KEvron… Ozonol or Bactine… that’ll help sooth that apparently rather raw nerve… that, and I’d recommend a nice cup of tea.

    …and since you’re into conspiracies, you should check out that “JFK” thing… and “Area 51″… and “Shag Harbour”… I tells you, between me being a secret operative of the church and the government spraying you with them there chem trails, your life must be rather wretched!

    Hmmm… wonder what you would think if I had said say “hi” to god for me?

    EGADS~!

  91. Oh well…a bit late…but yes…I know a lot of people who aren’t christians who are nicer than well…many christians. Its pretty sad…and ironic actually. I get blasted a lot by christians for that but only because its true. Christians aren’t better than anyone else, but some of them act like it, and then you see the other side. I can’t believe he gets so much hate mail. Thats awful.

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