Dawkins Faith Head thread Page 1 | Richard Dawkins | Relationship Between Religion And Science

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Go to RichardDawkins.net | Social | Store | OUT Campaign | Disclaimer | Search the Forum

Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins
Forum rules Post a reply 85 posts • Page 1 of 4 • 1, 2, 3, 4 Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1953972) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1953972)

Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1953972)
by Layla Nasreddin » Fri May 01, 2009 2:35 pm

1 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

This is another eye-rolling post from Andrew Brown at Comment is Free at the Guardian online about one of his favourite topics, Richard Dawkins and why he's a (insert negative description here). It's eye-opening in one way though. You might think, when posting here, that you're talking to like-minded friends and acquaintances, but as this makes clear, there are a LOT of other people reading your posts, especially on the front page, and you have no idea what their views are, or if they're sympathetic or out to quote-mine in order to make Dawkins and/or the people here and/or atheists in general look as badly as possible. (So I try to keep that in mind when posting!) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/apr/30/religion-atheismdawkins-contempt Dawkins raises the tone Richard Dawkins, "speaking among friends", shows just why he has so many enemies There has been a long-running battle among the American scientific community about the degree to which atheism should be identified with science teaching. On the one side are those bodies, like the National Centre for Science Education, whose chief concern is to get evolution taught in schools, and who will happily enlist mainstream Christians in their cause. On the other side are the hard-line new atheists, who think that science must sweep away religion and the sooner the better: if believers object, so much the worse for them. No prizes for guessing which side Richard Dawkins is on. In a recent post on his own blog's comment section, he mused on this problem: I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven't really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt. You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can't lose! If you can bear to listen to him, take, as an example of a typical faith-head trying to be contemptuous, David Bentley Hart, whose radio interview happened to be posted here at the same time as Jerry's article. Listen to the stumbling, droning inarticulacy, the abysmal lack of anything approaching wit or intelligence. Imagine this yammering fumblewit coming up against Christopher Hitchens, or Dan Dennett, or PZ Myers – doesn't it make your mouth water? ...
2 of 16 5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1954454) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1954454)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1954454)
by Janus » Fri May 01, 2009 6:23 pm

Well, for one thing, Dawkins obviously wasn't talking about agnostics, but about Christians who haven't given that much thought to their beliefs. As for showing our contempt for self-deception, I'm all for it. It's the only coherent attitude to have. I'd like to ask Andrew Brown, how do *you* react when someone you're talking to mentions that he believes that Elvis Presley is still alive, or that Japanese people are actually aliens disguised with their superior technology, or that diseases are caused by demons? If you have any respect for truth, you'll snicker, or laugh, or exclaim, "You believe WHAT?!" That's all that Dawkins is saying: Show the same contempt for the delusion of theism that we show for all other delusions. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1954540) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1954540)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1954540)
by Tucking_Fypo! » Fri May 01, 2009 7:16 pm

The hypocrisy of some people is unbelievable! Christians have been hard headed and trying to fight against Atheism for many years but no one calls them militant and out of line but the minute us Atheists say enough is enough and decide to fight back it is us who're put in the firing line of criticism over being too heavy handed. The gloves truely are off and i'm glad people are starting to take notice. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1956422) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1956422)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1956422)
by Layla Nasreddin » Sat May 02, 2009 1:54 pm

3 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Here's another perspective on the same comment by Dawkins, by Massimo Piglucci, a biologist, philosopher, and fellow atheist. I admit I found it more difficult to dismiss -- he definitely has a point about the distinction between methodological and philosophical naturalism, and I like the idea of studying psychology and sociology to look at why people believe what they do and why they change their minds, and I also think more study of philosophy in this area could also be rewarding. Still...when he says "Dawkins & co. should simply get out of the way and let them do their work", what, exactly, does that mean? "Shut up?" I think all voices are necessary and different methods will work better with different people. Is Richard Dawkins really that naive? (http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2009/04 /is-richard-dawkins-really-that-naive.html) (from Massimo Piglucci's blog, Rationally Speaking, many links in original) Richard Dawkins doesn’t usually strike me as being naive, but one has to wonder when Dawkins abandons himself to the following sort of writing about his favorite topic these days, the incompatibility between science and religion, on his web site: “If they’ve [the creationists] been told that there’s an incompatibility between religion and evolution, well, let’s convince them of evolution, and we’re there! Because after all, we’ve got the evidence. ... I suspect that most of our regular readers here would agree that ridicule, of a humorous nature, is likely to be more effective than the sort of snuggling-up and head-patting that Jerry [Coyne] is attacking. I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt. ...You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!”

Oh, really? There is so much wrong with these few sentences that a whole book could be written about them, but since I am no Stephen Gould (who was famous for being able to magically turn a short essay into a book length manuscript, provided the right economic incentives), a blog post will have to do. First, though, some background. Dawkins is commenting on a recent essay by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, who in turn was criticizing Eugenie Scott and her National Center for Science Education. While both Dawkins and Coyne profess admiration and respect for Scott and her organization (and so do I, for the record), they are upset by what they see as an “accommodationist” stance on the question of science and religion. Scott — who is an atheist — has repeatedly said that one cannot claim that science requires atheism because atheism is a philosophical position, not a scientific one. She leverages the standard distinction between philosophical and methodological naturalism: if you are a scientist you have to be a methodological naturalist (i.e., assume for operative purposes that nature and natural laws are all that there is); but this doesn’t commit you to the stronger position of philosophical naturalism (i.e., to the claim that there really isn’t anything outside of nature and its laws). Years ago, when I first met Genie Scott, I had a
4 of 16 5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1956785) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1956785)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1956785)
by Szymanowski » Sat May 02, 2009 4:42 pm

Piglucci wrote:And really, look at Dawkins’ prescription here. According to him we should be even more “contemptuous” than the religious fanatics are; we should “really hurt” with our “sharp barbs”; we “can’t lose” because truth is clearly on our side. One almost gets the feeling that if Dawkins had the resources of the Inquisition at his disposal he might just use them in the name of scientific Truth

Piglucci fails - surprisingly for a "philosopher" - to distinguish between between verbal and physical "hurt", or contempt and totalitarianism. But the main problems are (1) the oft-repeated straw-man argument against philosophical naturalism, purporting to be a criticism of 'new atheism', (2) conflating naturalism/supernaturalism with atheism/theism, and (3) claiming that "the supernatural might exist" justifies "religion is compatible with science"... Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1956991) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1956991)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1956991)
by Layla Nasreddin » Sat May 02, 2009 6:26 pm

5 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Szymanowski wrote: Piglucci wrote:And really, look at Dawkins’ prescription here. According to him we should be even more “contemptuous” than the religious fanatics are; we should “really hurt” with our “sharp barbs”; we “can’t lose” because truth is clearly on our side. One almost gets the feeling that if Dawkins had the resources of the Inquisition at his disposal he might just use them in the name of scientific Truth

Piglucci fails - surprisingly for a "philosopher" - to distinguish between between verbal and physical "hurt", or contempt and totalitarianism.

I'm continuously impressed with how many critiques of Dawkins and the other quoteunquote 'New Atheists' are quick to attribute suggestions of a tendency to totalitarianism or authoritarianism -- 'Dawkins wants to take children away from religious parents', 'Dawkins would, if given the chance, use coercive powers to destroy religion', 'atheists secretly want to persecute Christians/Muslims/whatever and will if given a chance', etc. Dawkins has mentioned on several occasions that he wouldn't want to do that at all, he just wants to 'raise consciousness' and persuade people rather than compelling them by force. I wonder why this is? I also wonder if, in the larger context of the NCSE, several of the 'accommodationists' are worried about the political/legal consequences in America of claiming that science and religion are not compatible. Per the Supreme Court and the First Amendment, public school teachers cannot pronounce on religious matters, whether positive or negative (of course this is not infrequently breached in practice). I noticed a story on the front page
(http://richarddawkins.net/article,3808,Judge-SoCal-teacher-violated-First-Amendment,APin-SFGate) about a judge ruling that a public school science teacher had violated the First

Amendment by stating that creationism was 'superstitious nonsense.' I believe that this is because the judge sees creationism as a religious belief, and so public school teachers are not allowed to pronounce on such matters inside the classroom. Now let's take Coyne's position that science is not compatible with religion -- this would, in fact bring up a whole host of First Amendment issues in public schools if a teacher were to talk about this. I suspect that even if the teacher did something as simple as point the students to, say, Coyne's blog where he explicates his reasons, that would also be held unconstitutional, because public schools are simply not allowed to discuss the truth or falsity of religious beliefs -- that's what separation of church and state means in this context. They cannot be seen as endorsing either the notions that 'religion is true' or 'religion is false'; they must be studiously neutral. If it becomes generally accepted that science 'disproves' religion, this could set up a minefield. Better to ignore the question entirely or go for the 'lots of scientists are or have been religious, so there are no real issues between science and religion'. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1957161) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1957161)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1957161)
by Szymanowski » Sat May 02, 2009 7:35 pm

6 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Layla Nasreddin wrote:I'm continuously impressed with how many critiques of Dawkins and the other quote-unquote 'New Atheists' are quick to attribute suggestions of a tendency to totalitarianism or authoritarianism -- 'Dawkins wants to take children away from religious parents', 'Dawkins would, if given the chance, use coercive powers to destroy religion', 'atheists secretly want to persecute Christians/Muslims/whatever and will if given a chance', etc. Dawkins has mentioned on several occasions that he wouldn't want to do that at all, he just wants to 'raise consciousness' and persuade people rather than compelling them by force. I wonder why this is?

IMO it's not very special - it's a common knee-jerk response: "Smoking leads to an increased risk of lung cancer" "Fascist! You can't take away my right to smoke!" Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958303) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958303)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958303)
by Richard Dawkins » Sun May 03, 2009 6:37 am

Continuing the 'gloves off' theme, does anybody agree with me that the word 'religionist' -which is presumably intended to have negative connotations as it is only ever used by atheists -- is weak and ineffective? I never use it, but we clearly need a noun that covers followers of religion generally. We can't use 'Christian' because that excludes Jews, Muslims etc. I have from time to time used 'faith-head', and I think that if lots of people adopted it it would turn out to be a good consciousness-raiser. Isn't it rather an accurate word, penetrating straight to the heart of the addiction? And, by the way, the faith-heads really hate it, so it seems to be hitting home. It's a pity about the hyphen, but the hh in 'faithhead' looks awkward, and 'faithead' doesn't work either (except that it looks a bit like 'fathead'). What do you think? Is 'faith-head' a good meme, worthy of spreading? Or can you think of a better noun to replace 'religionist'? Richard Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958319) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958319)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958319)
by Spinozasgalt » Sun May 03, 2009 6:48 am

"Godlambs" perhaps ? Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958338) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958338)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958338)
7 of 16 5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

by -TheCodeCrack- » Sun May 03, 2009 7:04 am

I like faith-head. It's accurate, and no one should like to be called a faith-head. I say we spread it. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958522) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958522)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958522)
by Ian Edmond » Sun May 03, 2009 9:06 am

Richard Dawkins wrote:And, by the way, the faith-heads really hate it, so it seems to be hitting home. That's precisely why I'm not keen on it. If the faithful decided on a common term for us, and settled on "fools" (after "The fool hath said..."), we'd be rightfully indignant. I think it's a mistake to go into battle with a term designed to denigrate your opponents. That's the first step on the path to dehumanising the opposition, and only serves to obscure the issues. Concentrate on the issues, not the personalities. And the moral high ground is a good place to occupy. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958570) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958570)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958570)
by besleybean » Sun May 03, 2009 9:28 am

I see what you mean and agree with you. The difference being ' faith' wouldn't have a negative connotation for the religious, whereas ' fool' would be negative to most people. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958616) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958616)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958616)
by Ian Edmond » Sun May 03, 2009 9:53 am

besleybean wrote:The difference being ' faith' wouldn't have a negative connotation for the religious "Faith" itself doesn't have those connotations, but as Richard correctly identifies, "Faith-head" is pretty disparaging and tends to piss the religious off. I've engaged in discussions on other forums where I've defended Richard against the usual accusations of arrogance and aggressiveness, almost completely successfully (considering that actual evidence to support those accusations is largely non-existent), but I've had to concede a fraction of a point when this specific term has been mentioned. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958629) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958629)

8 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958629)
by besleybean » Sun May 03, 2009 9:59 am

Ok. Well maybe it's back to the, we can't help their being offended type of thing. It would be up to those to argue why they object to the term. I wouldn't mind being called an evidence or reason head, but maybe I'm being facetious. I do think in general, it is up to individuals to title themselves and to explain why. People are, of course, free to reject all labels. It is sometimes clearer to explain what you belive and why, labels can be misconstrued. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958644) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958644)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958644)
by seals » Sun May 03, 2009 10:07 am

Theist, but I don't know if that covers all religions. Nonatheist? I agree the word shouldn't be derogatory, which I think faithhead does have a tendency to sound, with its association to other words such as pothead, airhead, deadhead, dickhead, bonehead etc. Not all words ending in -head are derogatory but this word will be used in situations where any excuse to take offence is likely to be sought. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958686) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958686)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958686)
by Ian Edmond » Sun May 03, 2009 10:26 am

9 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

besleybean wrote:I wouldn't mind being called an evidence or reason head, but maybe I'm being facetious. The general form "x-head" can have different connotations, though, depending on "x". "Reason-head" is either perfectly OK, or simply ridiculous if intended as a put-down. On the one hand, I know heavy metal fans who see "metal-head" as a positive identifier. On the other, "dope-head" or "crack-head" have negative connotations, and as Richard has said here (http://richarddawkins.net/articleComments,3574,Jerry-Coynes-Seeing-and-Believingwith-responses,Jerry-Coyne-Lawrence-Krauss-Daniel-Dennett-Sam-Harris-StevenPinker,page2#333753) , these are the inspiration for "faith-head". This is why it makes me

uncomfortable. If I want to engage in a debate about a serious issue, I don't want to do it by starting off by insulting my opponents personally - that just turns it into a childish squabble, and may also have the effect of dissuading people who would be otherwise sympathetic from supporting me (no-one likes a bully). Disparage people's views, by all means, if the views are worth disparaging. Disparage their institutions, disparage the effects of their beliefs on society. But start off by insulting them, and you undermine your own position. I frequently get into discussions with people who claim that Richard says, for example, that all religious people are stupid. When I ask for any actual evidence for this, none is forthcoming - it's just an impression they have. I'm then able to show them how this is a false impression, and that that is not what Richard has said. Calling faith delusional is not calling all religious people idiots. But start inserting the term "faith-head" into every interview and discussion, and this is rapidly going to become a harder position to defend. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958693) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958693)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958693)
by Richard Dawkins » Sun May 03, 2009 10:29 am

10 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Well, I entirely see the point about derogatory words turning people off. That was exactly why I was so hesitant about proposing a 'gloves-off' policy. I realised that the gloves-off policy carried that calculated risk. But it was a calculated risk. If you go along with the gloves-off policy, then you implicitly go along with a certain amount of insult to the faithheads. I even used the phrase 'naked contempt' in my 'gloves-off' post. Maybe that was going too far, which again was why my proposal was made in a tentative manner. I actually don't think 'faith-head' is so very insulting: not a real Styrer-style profanity, and nothing like the sort of vitriol that the faith-heads regularly dish out to us. I would call 'faith-head' needling rather than vicious, and miles from vitriolic. It needles, because it carries the implication that religion is a drug. If any of you have read my 'Gerin Oil' article, surely you wouldn't call that vicious or vitriolic. It is sardonic, rather, and I think the same is true of 'faith-head'. I am still very much open to argument here, but I think some people are exaggerating the level of insult that 'faith-head' conveys. I think it has a subtlety that disarms the insult. Richard Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958753) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958753)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958753)
by seals » Sun May 03, 2009 11:07 am

Maybe it would be ok if "faithhead" is used within a likeminded group, but when the word is used by someone outside who they know doesn't place any value on faith, then it suddenly becomes needling or derogatory? Even the faithheads like to claim their faith is based on evidence. However whether this level of "insult" is significant, or whether it's possible to avoid it completely, I don't know. Even the word "atheist" apparently has connotations beyond its literal meaning. Sometimes a word can be used with impunity by those it refers to and no-one else. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958772) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958772)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958772)
by Durro » Sun May 03, 2009 11:23 am

11 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

How about "supernaturalists" ? It isn't grossly offensive, but serves to remind that the basis of belief is in things that aren't clearly demonstratable with reality based evidence. I kind of like it's association with other "out there" beliefs such as Astrology, assorted mystical woo and the various whacko cults. By grouping theists in with people who believe in werewolves, vampires and tarot cards, it helps to lessen the legitimacy of religious beliefs which, in all reality, are equally vacuous and intellectually dishonest. We seem to have to culturally respect people who believe in drinking the blood and eating the flesh of a man-god who was born of a perpetual virgin and died for the weekend before he raised himself to be with himself as an indivisible holy trinity, and yet it's socially OK to mock astrologers, palm readers and crystal ball gazers who hold similar irrational beliefs (and are regularly exposed as charlatans).

Durro Last edited by Durro (./memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=18388) on Sun May 03, 2009 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958775) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958775)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958775)
by Paula Kirby » Sun May 03, 2009 11:23 am

12 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Ian Edmond wrote: Richard Dawkins wrote:And, by the way, the faith-heads really hate it, so it seems to be hitting home. That's precisely why I'm not keen on it. If the faithful decided on a common term for us, and settled on "fools" (after "The fool hath said..."), we'd be rightfully indignant. I think it's a mistake to go into battle with a term designed to denigrate your opponents. That's the first step on the path to dehumanising the opposition, and only serves to obscure the issues. Concentrate on the issues, not the personalities. And the moral high ground is a good place to occupy.

I couldn't agree with you more, Ian. We have science on our side, we have logic, we have rationality, we have proper arguments, we have ethics, we have history, we have plain common sense, we have the whole of the universe - we have so many arguments for atheism, we don't need to resort to name-calling. I do approve, absolutely, of a gloves-off policy, but that doesn't have to mean being rude to the other side! Let’s absolutely go for it and be utterly tireless in exposing their beliefs as both false and morally repugnant, let’s not let them get away with any nonsense, let’s expose their tricks and their lies and their distortions. Yes - absolutely - let's point out that they’re being ridiculous, but let’s do it through the force of our arguments, not through the use of childish taunts. There are some people we will never reach with our arguments, it is true. But there are many more who we MIGHT persuade, but not if we've started out by calling them names why should they even listen to us after we've done that? I'm not talking about the people who feel insulted the moment we challenge their beliefs. I'm talking about people who wouldn't feel insulted by that (which is the important bit), but would, quite reasonably, feel insulted by, well, insults! And there's a further point too, which is that, in the UK at least, religion doesn't hold its power in our society because so many people believe it - they don't. It holds its power because so many people believe that it is benign and moral and a force for good and therefore should have a voice in the running of the country. We are never going to reach THOSE people by using terms of abuse about the religious, because we would just be reinforcing their suspicion that if we lose religion we lose a civilising influence. I don't often find myself in disagreement with Richard, but on this point I'm afraid I do. I don't accept the argument that "it's not really offensive", either, or that "needling" the opposition is ok. This is a serious campaign, with really serious implications for the way our societies are run. Let's stick with the arguments and let's concentrate on persuading people we're right and winning them over to our point of view, rather than gratuitously antagonising them. Top

13 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958789) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958789)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958789)
by Topsy » Sun May 03, 2009 11:31 am

I completely agree with Paula (and she expressed it far better than I could have). Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958792) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958792)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958792)
by Durro » Sun May 03, 2009 11:33 am

I with the earlier sentiments about "faithhead" being somewhat equivocal with "pothead", "crackhead" and "airhead", etc. The suffix "-head" seems to be generally associated with a derogatory term these days. One of the favourable qualities of Richard Dawkins is that he is so darn reasonable and logical, and lets his simple, eloquent, compelling arguments speak for themselves. By resorting to terms that may be perceived as arrogant or insulting, he may diminish his credibility as a voice of reason in my opinion - particularly when he is being cast as an agent of evil or some other such nonsense by the theist community. I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful while still clearly inferring the irrationality of religion and possibly grouping it with other irrational belief systems, hence the suggestion of "supernaturalist".

Durro Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958802) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958802)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958802)
by ficklefiend » Sun May 03, 2009 11:39 am

14 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Richard Dawkins wrote:Continuing the 'gloves off' theme, does anybody agree with me that the word 'religionist' -- which is presumably intended to have negative connotations as it is only ever used by atheists -- is weak and ineffective? I never use it, but we clearly need a noun that covers followers of religion generally. We can't use 'Christian' because that excludes Jews, Muslims etc. I have from time to time used 'faith-head', and I think that if lots of people adopted it it would turn out to be a good consciousness-raiser. Isn't it rather an accurate word, penetrating straight to the heart of the addiction? And, by the way, the faith-heads really hate it, so it seems to be hitting home. It's a pity about the hyphen, but the hh in 'faithhead' looks awkward, and 'faithead' doesn't work either (except that it looks a bit like 'fathead'). What do you think? Is 'faith-head' a good meme, worthy of spreading? Or can you think of a better noun to replace 'religionist'? Richard

It works because they go on (and on and on) about faith and how great it is and you are spinning that around and throwing it back at them. But the wonderful thing about the religious is that you can annoy them just by the simple act of lumping them all in together. Even the simple "theist" has that little grate of rubbing a Christian up against a Muslim. They make it too easy. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958804) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958804)

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958804)
by Janus » Sun May 03, 2009 11:40 am

I don't see "faith-head" as a particularly insulting word. We see faith as a bad thing, but religious people don't. And I do agree with Richard that this sort of thing is necessary if we're going to make any progress. Where would the campaign for gay rights be right now if someone hadn't started using the word 'homophobe'? The 'head' part of faith-head sounds vaguely insulting, but so does the 'phobe' part of homophobe. It' supposed to be vaguely insulting. Believing something on faith is a bad thing, just as opposing gay rights is a bad thing. Both words, faith-head and homophobic, express this moral condemnation while being somewhat descriptive. This kind of tactic might not be appealing to some of the more, uh, high-minded and sophisticated posters here, but sophistication is a very poor way of furthering a cause down here in the real world. Top Report this post (./report.php?f=14&p=1958807) Reply with quote (./posting.php?mode=quote&f=14&p=1958807)

15 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958807)
by besleybean » Sun May 03, 2009 11:43 am

I don't know. Does it come down to how much abuse we personally have had to suffer at the hands of theists? I confess I've so far been quite fortunate, people have at least tended to be polite. Generally, I feel people should be allowed to describe themselves and then to justify that title. Individuals are of course able to reject labels altogether. Sometimes it's clearer just to say what you believe and why, certain keywords can be misconstrued. This is partly why I have no trucks with the endless and convoluted: did Jesus exist? type threads. When debating with a Christian, I may mention that some people don't believe a single definable Jesus exsited. But I am prepared to judge the teachings accredited to the man and also the beliefs and practices of his followers. Basically I am happy to start where others are and take the discussion from there. Top Next Display posts from previous: Post a reply 85 posts • Page 1 of 4 • 1, 2, 3, 4
Return to Richard Dawkins

Sort by

Jump to:

Who is online
Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot], mattwardman and 10 guests

Go to RichardDawkins.net | Social | Store | OUT Campaign | Disclaimer
Powered by phpBB © richarddawkins.net 2006 - 2007 Time : 0.143s | 10 Queries | GZIP : Off

16 of 16

5/5/2009 22:02

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful