this blog has moved to a new address:

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to

Thursday, September 21, 2006

richard dawkins controversial?

Only somewhat...

I missed it, but apparently Richard Dawkins was a guest on Avi Lewis' new CBC show The Big Picture. Other guests included Ronald de Sousa (Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto, Philosophy Department, Atheist extraordinaire), Cheri DiNovo (NDP MPP & Reverend, Emmanuel-Howard Park United Church), Charles McVety (President, Canada Christian College
Imam Aly Hindy, Salaheddin Islamic Centre), Alia Hogben (Executive Director, Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Led the fight against bringing Sharia Law to Ontario), Joseph Ben-Ami (Executive Director, Institute for Canadian Values (faith based public policy think tank)), and Anver Emon (Islamic law historian, University of Toronto's Faculty of Law, Specializes in Religious Fundamentalism). Check out the video on the Big Picture website.

(Props to c-lo for the linkage...)


kenchapman said...

Are we setting ourselves up for this if we do not get engaged in out democracy and exercise and articulate our citizenship in a democracy? We have two and possibly three theo-conservatives in the PC leadership process...who get to lead the province for the next 2 default.

Freedom of speech allows us to disagree with this perspective but to value the opportunty for individuals to express it. I reserve the right to respond in what ever legal form and forum I choose...our politicians define the legal form and forum limits by their decisions on our behalf.

BE CONSCIOUS AND CAREFUL AS TO WHO YOU ELECT. Be sure you know what you are doing when you consent to be governed through the act of casting a ballot. Indifference is not an option

Walrus magazine this month has an article on theo-conservativism. Have not yet read it but will do so on the week end and perhaps comment further.

Thx Dave for putting this on your site. I missed the program as well and now wish I hadn't.

Roger said...

So Christians scare you huh? They scare you because they teach things like love your neighbour, don't cheat on your wife, etc. The evolution and creation debate is just a small part that everybody focuses on. I think you are missing the big picture here. Christians believe that love and grace, and nothing else, will save you.

There was a massive group that used to subscribe to love shall save us all and they were called hippies.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, Dawkins. Every time a sceptic gets snippy with a fundamentalist, science loses and reason loses. The pastor was absolutely correct about Dawkins being condescending.

The problem is, it's fairly easy to reduce religion to feel-good statements and soundbites. It's a lot harder to (quickly) make the argument that the eye didn't just "appear," but came about as a result of billions of years of mutation and differences in reproductive success. So instead of patiently trying to present his own arguments, Dawkins just got outraged. This made him look like a snooty Brit who rode in on his high horse to make fun of sincerely held beliefs.

Yes, the pastor was unconvincing, too. "Your grandchildren might not think the world is billions of years old" isn't such a convincing line when he doesn't explain how his religious beliefs will disprove the current scientific beliefs. Presumably, if we stopped believing the world was billions of years old, we would reach that conclusion by the scientific method - hardly a repudiation of science in favour of an inerrant Bible. To say that science's current beliefs might change is entirely irrelevant to whether the pastor's beliefs are in fact correct.

But the TV debate format isn't set up for nuance and reason. Like many Christian apologists, it is enough for the pastor to have at the ready a set of clever quips that, on their face, highlight problems with secular reasoning. By the time a sceptic has offered a rebuttal to the quip, the point has been made with the audience and people have stopped listening. This is why evangelicals *love* to hold "debates" for the public - if an inarticulate PhD in Evolutionary Biology goes up against a preacher who has read a few anti-evolution books, I can tell you right now who will win in the court of public opinion.

Really, it isn't asking that much of someone to put their faith in a book or a church compared to putting their faith in the scientific method. Most people are never going to study enough biology to intuitively understand how the eye could evolve -- so when someone like Dawkins sticks his nose in the air and proclaims that scientists believe in evolution for good reason, it isn't going to resonate the way the pastor's reassuring certainties do.

Most people don't like feeling uncertain, like they don't understand their world. So people adopt beliefs that help them feel like the world has order and purpose. In the absence of compelling, accessible scientific answers to hard questions, a lot of people will end up turning to religion. Dawkins should be trying to make the science more accessible, instead of manufacturing unnecessary confrontations with fundamentalists.