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Author Topic:   Why does Richard Dawkins sing Christmas carols?
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 226 of 301 (442951)
12-23-2007 7:46 AM
Reply to: Message 221 by Hyroglyphx
12-22-2007 2:01 PM


Re: My two cents
It seems as if you both are in general agreement with only some minor disparities. What on earth are you two arguing about then?
Essentially two arguments. One is that Brenna doesn't sing songs of worship when others are singing them in worship around her since she considers it disrespectful. That's fine and all, but it's just a question of etiquette.
The second is that Dawkins socio-political comments are erroneous. I've tried to avoid discussing that in this thread since it isn't important to the topic.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 221 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-22-2007 2:01 PM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 235 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-23-2007 8:00 PM Modulous has not replied

Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 227 of 301 (442958)
12-23-2007 8:13 AM
Reply to: Message 223 by Silent H
12-22-2007 10:08 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
My first point would be to say we can always find brotherhood and connectedness outside of any patently religious source. I'm not sure why a person who finds religion so awful would want to use those rituals as the glue.
Singing communal songs is not a religious ritual. Sometimes those songs have a religious background, some of them don't. It's just singing songs. I sing songs about the English civil war or World War I championing both sides, though I generally despise war. I sing songs about cheating on one's wife, though I have never cheated on any partner.
I sing songs in a communal setting in a number of contexts. Sometimes they are simply folk songs that I sing with other folk singers to celebrate our British culture. Sometimes it is at the Proms. Unless you think me and the other lot of Britain that get together and sing:
quote:
I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant Land.
are hypocritical if we actually don't want Jerusalem to come to Britain?
Heck, just about every Englishman I know has stood up and communally sang "God save the Queen", yet I don't think he can.
For someone to think that communal singing can only mean the passive endorsement of the source of the song, they must have had an empty life.
There are plenty of rituals that Dawkins thinks are better when the religious element is excised - such as weddings and funerals. But our cultural heritage does owe itself to Christianity, paganism, war, slavery and naval superiority and I really can't see the problem in singing songs composed to celebrate those elements.
It is rather odd to believe maintaining arcane rituals and music based around faith in gods, is somehow going to diminish the presence of this meme.
Taking a dump or drinking Coke don't diminish the God meme either, but I bet he does them from time to time. Dawkins is a human first and foremost, and does human things like engaging in ritual.
Indeed, for some strange reason he believes to understand the words and meanings of the words in religious music actually helps a person enjoy it. Other than historically, how would it help?
Dawkins doesn't think that religion has inspired no beauty. If you are going to understand a poignant metaphor or clever turn of phrase, one needs to understand the source material. There are lots phrases in the Bible that have made it into our collective lingo and into literature and art and music. To be ignorant of the Bible is to be ignorant of these allusions which in my opinion detracts somewhat from the art in question.
Thirdly, he argues that moderates empower fundamentalists. His use of religious material and practices most certainly empowers moderates. That would seem to be inconsistent.
There is a reason that moderates empower fundamentalists: they justify stupid reasoning processes -faith-based reasoning. Singing songs doesn't justify a reasoning style, and if you sing some songs and then publicly state that they are all songs about fictions I don't see that as empowering the moderates.
The funny thing is that people criticize him for not having a firm grasp of theology, but by this reasoning surely if he spent a lot of time studying theology that would empower the moderates? Well no, not if he constantly said it was all an entertaining fiction.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 223 by Silent H, posted 12-22-2007 10:08 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 230 by Silent H, posted 12-23-2007 3:27 PM Modulous has replied

Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 119 days)
Posts: 2462
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 228 of 301 (443032)
12-23-2007 1:50 PM
Reply to: Message 200 by riVeRraT
12-21-2007 10:12 AM


Re: Crash, in my heart ...
Sorry for the delay in relpy, but;
riVerRaT writes:
Granny writes:
If this level of doubt makes Dawkins an agnostic, rather than an atheist, then you must be an agnostic as well, no?
Technically, yes. There is always doubt, even among the staunchest of believers. I think it is a more realistic view, and if everyone were more like that, then we might get along better.
Amen to that sentiment. I agree that this attitude is more sensible and I wish that more people were willing to embrace it. Kudos to you. My only beef is that whilst you describe yourself as "technically" agnostic, you seem to be a theist in practical terms.
Your definition of agnosticism may be logical, but it simply encompasses too many people, with wildly differing views, for it to be a useful term when employed this way. You, me, Richard Dawkins, the Archbishop of Canterbury, we are all agnostics, if we use your definition. In actual fact, we have very different ideas.
To lump millions of theists, deists and atheists in with the agnostics implies that only a fundamentalist, who will brook no doubt about his beliefs whatever, could be described as a theist. It implies that only an arrogant arse, who thought that he could completely prove the non-existence of god, could be described as an atheist. Your logic leaves us with no practical way to describe those of us who dwell in the more rational middle ground, and empowers uncompromising fundamentalist loons on both sides of the argument.
"Atheist" is simply the best way of describing Dawkins' (and my own) beliefs, in a single word. It instantly gives people the right general idea about where we stand on the issue. If pressed, I will gladly admit that I cannot absolutely know if I am right or not, but this is a nicety that can't be expressed in a single word. For reasons of linguistic economy and clarity, I think that Dawkins' use of the term is entirely reasonable.
riVerRaT writes:
Believing in God, is not just being committed to thinking He exists, it is about following what He says.
If by this you mean that living a moral life is more important than your reasons for doing so, then you will get no argument from me.

Mutate and Survive

This message is a reply to:
 Message 200 by riVeRraT, posted 12-21-2007 10:12 AM riVeRraT has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 243 by riVeRraT, posted 12-24-2007 2:26 AM Granny Magda has replied

Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 119 days)
Posts: 2462
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 229 of 301 (443045)
12-23-2007 2:57 PM
Reply to: Message 223 by Silent H
12-22-2007 10:08 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
If I may,
Silent H writes:
My first point would be to say we can always find brotherhood and connectedness outside of any patently religious source. I'm not sure why a person who finds religion so awful would want to use those rituals as the glue.
In Dawkins' case, I suppose it is because he enjoys the tradition of singing special songs at a specific time of year. The tradition of reserving carols for Christmas is an enjoyable one. It makes the songs special, even when stripped of their religious meaning, simply by virtue of their only being sung during Christmas festivities. This has no wholly secular equivalent that I can think of. It is harmless fun, unless your meme argument holds...
Silent H writes:
Second, Dawkins has championed the concept of memes. He states that the god meme is viral. It is rather odd to believe maintaining arcane rituals and music based around faith in gods, is somehow going to diminish the presence of this meme. Indeed, for some strange reason he believes to understand the words and meanings of the words in religious music actually helps a person enjoy it. Other than historically, how would it help?
Poetically, if historically is not enough.
I think that your point about memes is well made, and the strongest argument that you present here. I cannot deny that, if there is any validity to the idea of memes at all, then carols possess an unpalatable dollop of the "Christianity" meme.
The trouble is that, by this logic, a great swathe of Western art and culture must also be seen as infected. If your argument is that any atheist worried about spreading the Christian meme should avoid anything tainted by it, then we would loose so much. The poetry of William Blake would be off limits, as would the plays of Shakespeare. The music of artists as diverse as Handel and Stevie Wonder would be regarded as carrying a dangerous contaminant; best to bin them. The work of Michaelangelo is right out of the question.
This is obviously too high a price to pay.
I also think that it is possible to neuter the religion meme encountered in the carols, by appreciating the songs for their aesthetic beauty alone, thus robbing the religious element of some of its former relevance. If I sing "for Jesus Christ, our saviour, was born on Christmas day" without meaning a word of it, am I promoting the meme? Or am I trivialising it to the point where it no longer has any power. You could compare the process to an inoculation, with a small dose of the religion meme providing an opportunity for us to understand it for what it really is and develop an immunity.
If there really is such a thing as a religion meme, then we cannot hope to avoid them, nor should we. We can only seek to diminish their power. Anyway, I think that the power of memes in this case can be overstated. No-one with as much as half a brain would be converted simply by hearing a rousing chorus of "The Wassail Song".
Silent H writes:
Thirdly, he argues that moderates empower fundamentalists. His use of religious material and practices most certainly empowers moderates. That would seem to be inconsistent.
He is only empowering religion if he is singing the carols in church, or another explicitly religious setting. If, by contrast, he is seeking to break the monopoly on religion's "best bits", then he is weakening religion, by undermining its unique selling points. He is proving that an atheist need not be culturally impoverished.
Merry Christmas!

Mutate and Survive

This message is a reply to:
 Message 223 by Silent H, posted 12-22-2007 10:08 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 231 by Silent H, posted 12-23-2007 4:19 PM Granny Magda has replied

Silent H
Member (Idle past 5901 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 230 of 301 (443049)
12-23-2007 3:27 PM
Reply to: Message 227 by Modulous
12-23-2007 8:13 AM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
I think Jerusalem in the song you mentioned was meant as an analogy and not as a real thing. But I get your point. God save the Queen was better, and certainly the songs from different wars worked.
But I think we are sort of talking past each other.
For someone to think that communal singing can only mean the passive endorsement of the source of the song, they must have had an empty life.
For someone to think moderate communal religious belief can only mean the passive endorsement of the fundamentalist sources of that religion, must ALSO have had an empty life.
I do not see how a person can logically maintain that sharing some practices is not endorsement, and others are. It is arbitrary, and it is hypocritical. The hypocrisy... as brenna pointed out... is not in the fact of an atheist singing or praying, it is in one who does such things, attacking moderates as strongly as he does. If he can divorce himself from the rank of moderates based on his difference with them, then they can divorce themselves from extremists based on their differences with the extremists.
Does that make my position clearer?
But our cultural heritage does owe itself to Christianity, paganism, war, slavery and naval superiority and I really can't see the problem in singing songs composed to celebrate those elements.
I would say it doesn't owe anything to Xianity, or anything else. It is the product of many of those things, but what it is and where we choose to go with it is up to us. It is not "Xian", as I can live a totally nonXian lifestyle with no real problem. I think that he identified himself as a "cultural Xian" is especially pointed. Why didn't he say a product of Western culture, which includes some Xian elements?
Dawkins is a human first and foremost, and does human things like engaging in ritual.
Yeah, but there are plenty to choose from, or one can invent one's own rituals. If he feels it is as dangerous as he states, even in moderation, why identify and practice those rituals?
And I should have been more clear, when I stated practicing them isn't going to diminish the meme, I meant that it acts to preserve it. Taking a dump or drinking a Coke may not diminish the meme, but they don't hold the potential for carrying it on.... unless they are somehow revelatory!
Dawkins doesn't think that religion has inspired no beauty... To be ignorant of the Bible is to be ignorant of these allusions which in my opinion detracts somewhat from the art in question.
First, I know that Dawkins doesn't think that religion has inspired no beauty. I get that he believes that quite well, though he might argue that it isn't necessary. In the longer tapes, you can see him and Hitchens argue whether religious conviction was necessary to get certain religious artworks.
Second, I will agree that ignorance of the Bible will reduce the understanding of certain allusions within Western literature. That is what I believe he and Jonathon Miller hold quite solidly. While I can agree with that I have to dispute that such ignorance detracts from the art. That is what I meant by historical perspective. That's all it gives, unless one maintains a belief in entities being discussed.
I can appreciate African art, Egyptian art, Greek Art, Chinese Art, etc with absolutely no knowledge of the sources which influenced anything within them. I may miss some historically interesting details, but that is all. What's more, much of Xianity has been pulled from pagan sources... yet we do not extend the argument to say that no one is fully appreciating Xian ritual and belief without understanding and partaking in pagan studies.
There is a reason that moderates empower fundamentalists: they justify stupid reasoning processes -faith-based reasoning. Singing songs doesn't justify a reasoning style, and if you sing some songs and then publicly state that they are all songs about fictions I don't see that as empowering the moderates.
How can that NOT justify a reasoning style? It allows the moderates to feel comfortable that others are sharing in their traditions, and shows that the products of their reasoning are quite beautiful and moving.
If the "reasoning" of nonbelievers was so great, how come they cannot come up with such moving cultural pieces, and have to rely on Xian products.
I think to view the artwork of Xianity as NOT a product of their reasoning, is a bit shortsighted, especially given Dawkins's claims for how they use their faith (form of reasoning)... for comfort and other emotional needs. And Xians do claim that science and atheism leads to a reasoning which is less fulfilling. Their point, if this is what Dawkins maintains.
Moderate Xians: You don't believe us, and yet here you are Mr. Dawkins a "cultural Xian".
The funny thing is that people criticize him for not having a firm grasp of theology, but by this reasoning surely if he spent a lot of time studying theology that would empower the moderates? Well no, not if he constantly said it was all an entertaining fiction.
I don't criticize him for not understanding theology. I think he is mired up in it too much. Like I said in an earlier thread, I think he is simply jealous of the priests, and wants to knock them out to take his own turn at the pulpit. He in a way seems like Martin Luther. He wants to challenge current dogma of the church, but retain the semblance of the church. In the latest of continuing schisms, now the absolute faith in God is out, just the moralizing and ritual remain.
As a person without faith, I see no more beauty in Xianity and its rituals than any other culture. I am a product of many different cultures, and I don't have anything bad to say about the moderates of any of those cultures. To them I have faulty reasoning. As long as we aren't harming each other, who cares what they do in their spare time. To blame the moderates for the excesses of extremists, is like blaming atheists for the actions of some murderous nihilist.
And I want to end on a point I raised earlier. In a tape where he and three other atheists discuss how to promote atheism, he chose to name the tape "The Four Horsemen." On top if being wickedly stupid, if they are trying to approach theists, it begs the question. If they are not believers, and they feel such beliefs are sloppy thinking, why drape yourself with the iconography of religion?
I mean why not "The New Academy" (suggesting greeks), or "The London Roundtable" (suggesting witty liberal intelligentsia)?
Edited by Silent H, : - might

h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard

This message is a reply to:
 Message 227 by Modulous, posted 12-23-2007 8:13 AM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 233 by Modulous, posted 12-23-2007 7:09 PM Silent H has replied

Silent H
Member (Idle past 5901 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 231 of 301 (443052)
12-23-2007 4:19 PM
Reply to: Message 229 by Granny Magda
12-23-2007 2:57 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
Hello GM...
While I can agree with pretty much everything you said, here are some counter points...
If I sing "for Jesus Christ, our saviour, was born on Christmas day" without meaning a word of it, am I promoting the meme? Or am I trivialising it to the point where it no longer has any power. You could compare the process to an inoculation, with a small dose of the religion meme providing an opportunity for us to understand it for what it really is and develop an immunity.
While educated people might be able to get that distinction, kids might not. And for believers, there is no distinction. They can't know what is going on in your head.
But the more important point, which would go against Dawkins, is that if this kind of reduction is possible, why can't moderates do this with regard to extremism and extremist elements of their own religion?
If, by contrast, he is seeking to break the monopoly on religion's "best bits", then he is weakening religion, by undermining its unique selling points. He is proving that an atheist need not be culturally impoverished.
And aren't moderates proving they aren't spiritually impoverished by eliminating some of the more extremist portions/meanings of their holy texts?

h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard

This message is a reply to:
 Message 229 by Granny Magda, posted 12-23-2007 2:57 PM Granny Magda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 256 by Granny Magda, posted 12-25-2007 6:48 AM Silent H has replied

Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6351
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 232 of 301 (443085)
12-23-2007 6:11 PM
Reply to: Message 223 by Silent H
12-22-2007 10:08 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
Silent H responds to me:
quote:
I'm not sure why a person who finds religion so awful would want to use those rituals as the glue.
Because it's already pervasive. We here in the West live in a predominantly Christian culture. The imagery and culture are overwhelmingly tilted in its favor. Pretty much everyone will have Tuesday off.
So why fight it? It is extremely difficult to change cultural attitudes wholesale. You have to work with what you have. That's how Christianity did it: Christmas was once a pagan festival. So was Easter. And now, most current Christians have no understanding of the original intent behind the traditions they still carry out. They give their kids chocolate rabbits and eggs and don't give it a second thought.
I can't tell you how many times I've received gelt at the homes of Christians. They don't know why they're giving out chocolate coins...all they know is that it's the kind of chocolate that shows up in December. They have no concept of the Jewish tradition behind it.
quote:
Second, Dawkins has championed the concept of memes. He states that the god meme is viral. It is rather odd to believe maintaining arcane rituals and music based around faith in gods, is somehow going to diminish the presence of this meme.
But again, not if you are working to change it. It is harder to displace a meme than to evolve it. One of the most popular Christmas carols of all time was written by a Russian Jew regarding his experience in Los Angeles:
The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palms trees sway
There's never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, LA
But it's December the 24th
And I'm longing to be up north
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Other than the superficial use of the word "Christmas," there's no mention of god or Jesus. There's only the barest hint of a reference to Santa. The main thrust of the piece is the sentimentality of winter. It lets you provide the meaning of what "Christmas" is.
How much easier to have religion slip away than to provide popular substitutes? They let you keep the need for ritual while changing the message. Instead of "Silent Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," you start singing "Jingle Bells" and "Sleighride."
quote:
Other than historically, how would it help?
Why are you denigrating the historical?
quote:
Thirdly, he argues that moderates empower fundamentalists. His use of religious material and practices most certainly empowers moderates. That would seem to be inconsistent.
Not if you're moving the moderates toward your position. Again, if you are leaching the religious understory out of the ritual, then it would be a bad idea to stake such a contrasting position that you can't find common ground. Like it or not, people need ritual. We have an amazingly entrenched ritual in our culture. It has already been changed from one form into another and it was done not by doing away with it but by co-opting it.
So why not do it again?

Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 223 by Silent H, posted 12-22-2007 10:08 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 238 by Silent H, posted 12-24-2007 12:10 AM Rrhain has replied

Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 233 of 301 (443104)
12-23-2007 7:09 PM
Reply to: Message 230 by Silent H
12-23-2007 3:27 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
I do not see how a person can logically maintain that sharing some practices is not endorsement, and others are. It is arbitrary, and it is hypocritical. The hypocrisy... as brenna pointed out... is not in the fact of an atheist singing or praying, it is in one who does such things, attacking moderates as strongly as he does. If he can divorce himself from the rank of moderates based on his difference with them, then they can divorce themselves from extremists based on their differences with the extremists.
Does that make my position clearer?
No - I understand what you are saying, but my point is that Dawkins isn't criticizing moderates for endorsing religious practices or rituals. Dawkins has frequently said that rituals are probably a vital part of human life. It isn't the endorsement of religious-based practices he criticizes but the endorsement of faith-based reasoning. If all the world's religions were about singing songs about fictional heroes and role-models Dawkins wouldn't have really have much of a problem with it beyond an aesthetic one.
I would say it doesn't owe anything to Xianity, or anything else. It is the product of many of those things, but what it is and where we choose to go with it is up to us.
I don't disagree, but that wasn't the spirit I was talking of. I was simply saying that celebrating our cultural heritage whether it is the culture that has Christian roots or war-related roots isn't an endorsement.
I think that he identified himself as a "cultural Xian" is especially pointed. Why didn't he say a product of Western culture, which includes some Xian elements?
Of course, I don't think he'd disagree that he is indeed a product of Western culture which includes some Christian elements. That is essentially what he meant when he said he was a cultural Christian - it was a reference to those he knows that call themselves Jews in the cultural sense but not in the religious one.
I'm sure those Jews would also say they are a product of Western culture which includes some Christian elements but also includes the Jewish cultural elements.
Yeah, but there are plenty to choose from, or one can invent one's own rituals. If he feels it is as dangerous as he states, even in moderation, why identify and practice those rituals?
There are non-religious rituals he engages in. As I previously he doesn't consider singing Christmas carols any more dangerous than singing pagan Arias in moderation. It is the faith-based reasoning acceptance which he considers the danger.
I may miss some historically interesting details, but that is all. What's more, much of Xianity has been pulled from pagan sources... yet we do not extend the argument to say that no one is fully appreciating Xian ritual and belief without understanding and partaking in pagan studies.
The more knowledge that I can get about the origins of Christian ritual the more I can appreciate Christian rituals. Maybe I'm alone in thinking that. Seeing a carving of a Green Man on a Christian church would normally go unnoticed by many people, but I can stop and appreciate something of the story behind why it is there.
Also - imagine singing Jingle Bells without knowing the Santa story? You'd never really appreciate why a song about a man riding a sleigh through the snow elicited the emotions it did in generations past. You'd only get the part about the fun expressed in riding a sleigh, not the anticipation of the arrival of a magical gift bearer.
How can that NOT justify a reasoning style? It allows the moderates to feel comfortable that others are sharing in their traditions, and shows that the products of their reasoning are quite beautiful and moving.
Openly stating that you find it a beautiful and moving fiction is a far cry from endorsing a reasoning style - otherwise he'd have to reject all art (and science!) that came from someone who engaged in faith-based reasoning.
But Dawkins openly states that the products of faith-based reasoning can be beautiful, and I can't see him denying that. I'm sure that some moderates will take that as confirmation that their reasoning processes are valid. People are like that though.
If the "reasoning" of nonbelievers was so great, how come they cannot come up with such moving cultural pieces, and have to rely on Xian products.
Nonbelievers can come up with moving cultural pieces, and have done. There is no 'reliance' on Christian products. Many elements of the Christian celebration of Christmas come from pagan sources. I don't see why elements of the secular celebration of Christmas cannot come from Christian sources (including the name).
I don't criticize him for not understanding theology. I think he is mired up in it too much. Like I said in an earlier thread, I think he is simply jealous of the priests, and wants to knock them out to take his own turn at the pulpit. He in a way seems like Martin Luther. He wants to challenge current dogma of the church, but retain the semblance of the church. In the latest of continuing schisms, now the absolute faith in God is out, just the moralizing and ritual remain.
Hehehe. Hehehe. Heh. Really? Seriously? Hehe.
As a person without faith, I see no more beauty in Xianity and its rituals than any other culture.
I think Dawkins would agree. He does the Christmas carols because they are a big part of the culture he belongs to that he enjoys in a nonreligious fashion. No doubt he sings Auld Lang Syne too.
And I want to end on a point I raised earlier. In a tape where he and three other atheists discuss how to promote atheism, he chose to name the tape "The Four Horsemen." On top if being wickedly stupid, if they are trying to approach theists, it begs the question. If they are not believers, and they feel such beliefs are sloppy thinking, why drape yourself with the iconography of religion?
It is an amusing allusion to the reception they have received. The idea that a bunch of folks sat around discussing a social issue could be thought of as the harbingers of doom as some writers and preachers have warned is quite a wonderful juxtaposition. Remember that Dawkins doesn't reject allusions and metaphors taken from religious sources.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 230 by Silent H, posted 12-23-2007 3:27 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 239 by Silent H, posted 12-24-2007 12:43 AM Modulous has replied

Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 234 of 301 (443125)
12-23-2007 7:56 PM
Reply to: Message 223 by Silent H
12-22-2007 10:08 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
My first point would be to say we can always find brotherhood and connectedness outside of any patently religious source. I'm not sure why a person who finds religion so awful would want to use those rituals as the glue.
True, but there is no discounting just how strong "tradition" can be. I mean, Jesus basically stated in the gospels that going by tradition in sort of an mechanical fashion will inevitably lead one to forget why such a tradition exists in the first place. Which, if you think about it, is ironic.
I know a lot of Catholics that are catholics because of their tradition and their upbringing. They don't have a spiritual bone in their body. Yet they bash pagans over the head, as if being a Catholic was being part of some crime syndicate that is only open to the select few.
Second, Dawkins has championed the concept of memes. He states that the god meme is viral. It is rather odd to believe maintaining arcane rituals and music based around faith in gods, is somehow going to diminish the presence of this meme.
Funny thing about his meme concept as it relates to God -- he completely overlooks the fact that irreligion very well could be a meme and a sociological virus it itself. He doesn't even entertain those thoughts. Interesting.
He also can't overlook the fact that the majority of the world espouse a belief in some kind of supernature that supersedes nature. Even supposing that God were not real, he evidently needs to embrace the fact that it is very relevant to human beings.
Instead of wondering why nature would select these traits, he's on a mission to eradicate it. I mean, is he angry at what nature ( a completely inanimate, unthinking phenomena) has doled out?
Indeed, for some strange reason he believes to understand the words and meanings of the words in religious music actually helps a person enjoy it. Other than historically, how would it help?
It wouldn't. Its probably a PR stunt. At this point, I think he is painfully aware that people are tiring of his baneful remarks, as it is not conducive to a healthy debate on the subject of religion. I believe that he is trying a softer approach, because his hardline militant stance is only driving people towards God, not pulling them away in droves.
Thirdly, he argues that moderates empower fundamentalists. His use of religious material and practices most certainly empowers moderates. That would seem to be inconsistent.
That's funny because most fundamentalists would say that the lackadaisacal, lukewarm Christians are the reason why more atheism is becoming more popular.
Guess those moderates can't catch a break from either side! They've become the scapegoat by both sides.

“First dentistry was painless, then bicycles were chainless, and carriages were horseless, and many laws enforceless. Next cookery was fireless, telegraphy was wireless, cigars were nicotineless, and coffee caffeineless. Soon oranges were seedless, the putting green was weedless, the college boy was hatless, the proper diet -- fatless. New motor roads are dustless, the latest steel is rustless, our tennis courts are sodless, our new religion -- Godless” -Arthur Guiterman

This message is a reply to:
 Message 223 by Silent H, posted 12-22-2007 10:08 PM Silent H has not replied

Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 235 of 301 (443127)
12-23-2007 8:00 PM
Reply to: Message 226 by Modulous
12-23-2007 7:46 AM


Re: My two cents
Essentially two arguments. One is that Brenna doesn't sing songs of worship when others are singing them in worship around her since she considers it disrespectful. That's fine and all, but it's just a question of etiquette.
Well, I suppose that makes sense. But, he is entitled to sing his heart away if he wants to.
The second is that Dawkins socio-political comments are erroneous. I've tried to avoid discussing that in this thread since it isn't important to the topic.
I think that while he is an intelligent man, his coveting of rationality clouds what is rational. It isn't rational to be as invested in debunking that which he believes doesn't exist in the first place.

“First dentistry was painless, then bicycles were chainless, and carriages were horseless, and many laws enforceless. Next cookery was fireless, telegraphy was wireless, cigars were nicotineless, and coffee caffeineless. Soon oranges were seedless, the putting green was weedless, the college boy was hatless, the proper diet -- fatless. New motor roads are dustless, the latest steel is rustless, our tennis courts are sodless, our new religion -- Godless” -Arthur Guiterman

This message is a reply to:
 Message 226 by Modulous, posted 12-23-2007 7:46 AM Modulous has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 236 by Taz, posted 12-23-2007 9:20 PM Hyroglyphx has replied

Taz
Member (Idle past 3373 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 236 of 301 (443162)
12-23-2007 9:20 PM
Reply to: Message 235 by Hyroglyphx
12-23-2007 8:00 PM


Re: My two cents
Nem writes:
It isn't rational to be as invested in debunking that which he believes doesn't exist in the first place.
Says you.
Some might say it isn't rational for me to fight for gay rights even though I myself am not gay.
But you see, a crusader like yourself against gay people needs a crusader like myself against you to counter balance.
Same thing with religion. Atheists like Dawkins and myself are growing quite impatient with the human rights violations disguised in religious beliefs and whatnot. I'll die a happy man when christianity, like so many other religions in the past, goes belly up.

Owing to the deficiency of the English language, I have occasionally used the academic jargon generator to produce phrases that even I don't fully understand. The jargons are not meant to offend anyone or to insult anyone's intelligence!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 235 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-23-2007 8:00 PM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 237 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-23-2007 10:31 PM Taz has replied

Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 237 of 301 (443172)
12-23-2007 10:31 PM
Reply to: Message 236 by Taz
12-23-2007 9:20 PM


Re: My two cents
quote:
It isn't rational to be as invested in debunking that which he believes doesn't exist in the first place.
Says you.
Some might say it isn't rational for me to fight for gay rights even though I myself am not gay.
You believe that gays exist, so I don't see how its relevant to what I posited.
But you see, a crusader like yourself against gay people needs a crusader like myself against you to counter balance.
If merely giving someone else your opinion makes you a crusader, then I guess every one of us is a crusader.
Sheesh man, you act like I firebomb gay pride parades or something. I just don't think it is natural. That's it! Sue me!
Same thing with religion. Atheists like Dawkins and myself are growing quite impatient with the human rights violations disguised in religious beliefs and whatnot. I'll die a happy man when christianity, like so many other religions in the past, goes belly up.
Well, that won't happen, so I guess you'll just die.
Is there really anything that you or Dawkins fundamentally disagrees with Jesus about? Usually when somebody wants to blast Christianity, they often bring up Old Testament works, which makes me wonder if their bigger problem is actually with Judaism as opposed to Christianity.
Just for shits and giggles, lets suppose there was no God, as you allege. Are living those tenets so completely reprehensible? It makes me wonder what exactly Dawkins is actually railing against.

“First dentistry was painless, then bicycles were chainless, and carriages were horseless, and many laws enforceless. Next cookery was fireless, telegraphy was wireless, cigars were nicotineless, and coffee caffeineless. Soon oranges were seedless, the putting green was weedless, the college boy was hatless, the proper diet -- fatless. New motor roads are dustless, the latest steel is rustless, our tennis courts are sodless, our new religion -- Godless” -Arthur Guiterman

This message is a reply to:
 Message 236 by Taz, posted 12-23-2007 9:20 PM Taz has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 240 by Taz, posted 12-24-2007 12:53 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Silent H
Member (Idle past 5901 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 238 of 301 (443196)
12-24-2007 12:10 AM
Reply to: Message 232 by Rrhain
12-23-2007 6:11 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
Well I'm in agreement with your first section, but if your argument is valid... that one should not "fight it" and work with what you have... then he ought to work with moderates, they are the majority after all, rather than skewering them publicly.
My only counter to what you said is that there are plenty of secular holiday festivities, including songs, and plenty of great secular works of art he could enjoy. As it is your provide that very example of what he could be doing, but I don't see him doing it. Where is he arguing or actually changing the meme within the art? I realize he is shaped by his Xian past which is why he is wrapped up in Xian art (rather than the secular)... but then I think he should start having sympathy with moderates if he's going to continue enjoying their works.
Why are you denigrating the historical?
Denigration is not the right word. "Historical" is a form of appreciation, but no better or worse than other forms of appreciation. It is his argument that without that, one's appreciation is lesser. I don't buy that. It is simply different.
So why not do it again?
That description you gave, was almost exactly what I feel Dawkins is doing. He's pulling down the priests (and their teachings), so he can take his place at the pulpit.
While he can pull a Martin Luther if he wants, it is a bit hypocritical. It shows too much interest, or reliance, on the very structure he lambastes.
As a nonbeliever my own answer to that question is WHY do it again? Who cares? I don't have the evangelical zeal that is part of monotheism. I am only concerned with making sure my own life is as I want it, and my knowledge based on sound reason and evidence.
If others enjoy faith as a means to knowledge, it does not make me happy but it is not my duty to convert them. I see no pressing need for it either. The only needs I have are combating direct problems I see coming from others which may (or may not) have that system of thought. That is where they are causing problems in my life, I will address it. That means extremism.
Otherwise I will go on and make my own culture, while enjoying bits and pieces from those of others whose aesthetics strike me as fun.
Edited by Silent H, : clarity

h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard

This message is a reply to:
 Message 232 by Rrhain, posted 12-23-2007 6:11 PM Rrhain has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 255 by Rrhain, posted 12-25-2007 5:15 AM Silent H has not replied

Silent H
Member (Idle past 5901 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 239 of 301 (443205)
12-24-2007 12:43 AM
Reply to: Message 233 by Modulous
12-23-2007 7:09 PM


Re: On the Hypocrisy of Dawkins and his supporters...
Let's make sure we are on the same page. We both agree that Dawkins's problem with the moderates is their lack of reason. That they practice and emulate faith (beliefs based on a lack of evidence). And we both agree that he does not feel that their rituals are harmful (though I will point out when it serves his interests he explains how certain stories are wicked and unethical).
Our disagreement seems to be on whether celebrating such rituals leads to an endorsement or empowering of moderates. I know what he claims, but I dispute his claims. It is an argument of convenience as far as I can tell. Pretty much cognitive dissonance.
If he can pick out what isn't harmful from what is harmful, why can't they claim the same thing? If he is not empowering them by sharing certain practices, how can they be empowering fanatics by sharing certain practices.
Now I realize that Dawkins would argue its not the practices but the beliefs, yet the moderates clearly point out that they do NOT share the same beliefs as the extremists. That they both share a common interest in faith, is no more a connection than a homicidal nihilist sharing a belief in scientific reasoning with moderate atheists.
That is essentially what he meant when he said he was a cultural Christian - it was a reference to those he knows that call themselves Jews in the cultural sense but not in the religious one.
And I would find both rather silly. Western cultural is such an amalgam, an Atheist ought not be identifying himself as a Xian just because of his upbringing within that society. Heck isn't that the exact thing he is arguing about children? If they should not be called Xians, certainly he should not call himself one, in relation to his culture.
The more knowledge that I can get about the origins of Christian ritual the more I can appreciate Christian rituals. Maybe I'm alone in thinking that. Seeing a carving of a Green Man on a Christian church would normally go unnoticed by many people, but I can stop and appreciate something of the story behind why it is there.
The more you can appreciate them, or simply that you can appreciate them in different ways? I don't think those are one and the same. Sometimes knowing too much about a piece of art can ruin my appreciation.
On Santa Claus, in the Netherlands he comes from Spain and his little black helpers (in black face) pop bad kids in his sack to drag them back to... Spain, bwahahahahahaha. Its fun hearing the stories, and it might be nice to know some history, but it doesn't mean those who don't know the history are enjoying it any less.
And if I am to agree with that, can't a theist argue that understanding them in a spiritual sense makes it even better? That believing the words are true?
I'm sure that some moderates will take that as confirmation that their reasoning processes are valid. People are like that though.
That's what I'm saying.
On the nonbelievers creating Xmas music, I agree with what you said. I might not have been clear enough. I was pretending to be saying what a theist might argue. If there was so much coming from atheism, why do they need to spend time with the theists. That might not be a valid argument, but it is likely something they would think and say.
Hehehe. Hehehe. Heh. Really? Seriously? Hehe.
Yes, seriously, though I do find him funny that way. Watching him wax on about some parts of Xianity while raving about others. And so concerned about theists, so so concerned. He's an evangelist through and through, in a love/hate relationship with his brethren.
I am not a Xian, and I have no evangelical inclinations. When he argues that changing the congregation's thoughts is important for atheists, I yawn. I've been to church, I've heard the sermon, I left the church. Now I leave him.
He does the Christmas carols because they are a big part of the culture he belongs to that he enjoys in a nonreligious fashion.
He doesn't just do carols, that's why I posted the video link (and by the way I hope you watch the whole 2 hour video, its in two links from molbio and in my reply to her). Yes Xian stuff is all over the place. Its amazing how much of what he appreciates I don't have time for because I am doing so many other things with no relation to Xianity.
I can enjoy Xian stuff now and then (I remember always liking the candle service at our church), but I can't imagine enjoying it while believing I really need to change the culture as dramatically has he suggests. For example, I find no thought crime in raising one's children Xian. That is their thing. Then again, I suppose if I felt I was Xian, maybe I would care.
It is an amusing allusion to the reception they have received. The idea that a bunch of folks sat around discussing a social issue could be thought of as the harbingers of doom as some writers and preachers have warned is quite a wonderful juxtaposition.
I got the joke. The problem is that doesn't play in the stix. Wouldn't you agree that might be lost on the very people they are trying to convert away from sloppy thinking?
Or if not lost, just be sort of offensive? It would of course be a joke at their own expense. Sort of like when they joke in their discussion about being the devil's advocate, and Hitchens says something like he'd speak as the devil himself or something like that.
They need to get a grip on what their goals are and what makes sense in light of those goals. Playing into the imagery placed upon you by an adversary isn't going to help. Sam Harris in some later speeches (elsewhere) starts to recognize and rip into that kind of behavior.

h
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." - Robert E. Howard

This message is a reply to:
 Message 233 by Modulous, posted 12-23-2007 7:09 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 244 by Modulous, posted 12-24-2007 4:16 AM Silent H has replied
 Message 281 by Modulous, posted 01-03-2008 5:04 PM Silent H has not replied

Taz
Member (Idle past 3373 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 240 of 301 (443208)
12-24-2007 12:53 AM
Reply to: Message 237 by Hyroglyphx
12-23-2007 10:31 PM


Re: My two cents
Nemesis writes:
I just don't think it is natural.
Funny enough, we find homosexual individuals throughout the animal kingdom. The species of birds that form life-long monogomous relationships, we also find homosexual members pairing with each other for life. I think you might have better luck arguing that extra-solar planets don't exist than trying to convince us that gay people don't exist.
That's it! Sue me!
Funny enough, this came across my mind some weeks ago. Not you, personally, but people like you. I had a thought that I could file a class action lawsuit against people like you for thwarting social progress for the better in every generation.
Is there really anything that you or Dawkins fundamentally disagrees with Jesus about?
To Thomas: "Blessed are those who have not seen but believe."
Seriously, what kind of bullshit is that? Hey, I know there's no evidence for Hank's existence, but you're just going to have to take my word for it that he'll kick your ass if you don't kiss his.
Just for shits and giggles, lets suppose there was no God, as you allege. Are living those tenets so completely reprehensible? It makes me wonder what exactly Dawkins is actually railing against.
First of all, us atheists don't claim that there is no god. All we are saying is that there ain't no evidence for god's existence. Would you believe in the tooth fairy? How about immaterial pink unicorns? What about Zeus and Apollo? Would you even be agnostic about those things?
We are railing against religion because in every generation religion always comes up with new ways to make people's lives miserable. But more importantly, religion continue to impede social and technological progress by hammering faith (unsupported beliefs) into the minds of children.
By the way, have I mentioned that I've always considered teaching your children religion a form of child abuse? Here is a more obvious example of this form of child abuse.

Owing to the deficiency of the English language, I have occasionally used the academic jargon generator to produce phrases that even I don't fully understand. The jargons are not meant to offend anyone or to insult anyone's intelligence!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 237 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-23-2007 10:31 PM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 241 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-24-2007 1:33 AM Taz has replied

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