Dawkins’ final demise

Oh boy he had this coming! And how sadly true it all is. Richard Dawkins is now an ageing posterboy for arrogance. A sad thing to happen to a previously enticing intellect.

Also, do note the wondrous and important point in this article too: science may be one of the pinnacle achievements of the Enlightenment, but you cannot hope to comprehend all knowledge and human achievement through its lens without losing everything you tried to grasp. That would be the supreme arrogance of (natural) science.

Richard Dawkins, what on earth happened to you?

“Remember when Dawkins was widely respected? When his biggest detractor was late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould? I don’t. Having grown up after Dawkins made the transition from lauded science communicator to old man who shouts at clouds, it’s hard for me to understand why anyone continues to listen to him about anything.

Sure, he wrote some pop science books back in the day, but why do we keep having him on TV and in the newspapers? If it’s a biologist you’re after, or a science communicator, why not pick from the hundreds out there who don’t tweet five or six Islamophobic sentiments before getting off the toilet in the morning? If you need an atheist, there are many philosophers, scholars of religion, and public intellectuals available who don’t refuse to acknowledge the existence of theology.

Dawkins has been arrogant for years, a man so convinced of his intellectual superiority that he believes the one domain in which he happens to be an expert, science, is the only legitimate way of acquiring or assessing knowledge. All of his outbursts in recent years follow from this belief: he understands the scientific method, a process intended to mitigate the interference of human subjectivity in data collection, as a universally applicable way of understanding not just the physical world but literally everything else as well. Hence his constant complaint that those appalled by his bigoted vituperations are simply offended by clarity; feeble-minded obscurantists who cling to emotion, tradition or the supernatural to shield themselves from the power of his truth bombs.

You don’t have to be religious to find this level of hubris baffling. In his review of The God Delusion, Terry Eagleton remarks:

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.

Dawkins’ narrowmindedness, his unshakeable belief that the entire history of human intellectual achievement was just a prelude to the codification of scientific inquiry, leads him to dismiss the insights offered not only by theology, but philosophy, history and art as well.”

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10 commandments/virtues for secular folk

10 commandments/virtues for secular folk

Really like Alain de Botton’s 10 commandments for atheists/secular humanists below! These are not so much dictates but virtues that are worth cultivating in order to live a good life. I have articulated a similar list on numerous occasions, of qualities that I look for in friends and partners. If you live a good life in which you respect yourself, practice awareness and strive for growth then you’ll be a richer person. If you combine this with patience, respect and empathy as well then you’ll have a higher capacity for contributing to the lives of others. The two together is a good recipe for a happy, content, well lived life in which you have meaningful connections with others.

The below text is from a social media post by the Sydney Writers Festival.

“Alain de Botton, the philosopher and writer, has published a new version of the 10 commandments – for atheists. He calls it his “list for life” – have a read through it (below) and let us know what you think…

1.Resilience: Keeping going even when things are looking dark.
2.Empathy: The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person.
3.Patience: We should grow calmer and more forgiving by being more realistic about how things actually happen.
4.Sacrifice: We won’t ever manage to raise a family, love someone else or save the planet if we don’t keep up with the art of sacrifice.
5.Politeness: Politeness is closely linked to tolerance, the capacity to live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same time, cannot avoid.
6.Humour: Like anger, humour springs from disappointment, but it is disappointment optimally channelled.
7.Self-awareness: To know oneself is to try not to blame others for one’s troubles and moods; to have a sense of what’s going on inside oneself, and what actually belongs to the world.
8.Forgiveness: It’s recognising that living with others is not possible without excusing errors.
9.Hope: Pessimism is not necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.
10.Confidence: Confidence is not arrogance – rather, it is based on a constant awareness of how short life is and how little we will ultimately lose from risking everything.

(Here’s a link to the full story)

Photo of Alain de Botton (on a visit to Melbourne) by Craig Abraham/The Age”

Islam and the West

Islam and the West

Islam and the West. If you care about this formative 21c topic please listen to this 15min interview with Em. Prof Clive Kessler. It is THE most informative analysis you are likely to hear or read that affords the topic the complexity and subtlety it requires but rarely receives.

Islamophobia: Reality or Myth?

“As the United Nations general assembly gets underway in New York, a push is on by the 57–member-country Organisation of Islamic Co-operation to make blasphemy an international criminal offence.

This has long been a goal for many Muslim countries but it has new impetus after an amateur film mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad was posted on the internet. Since then, a French satirical newspaper has published some cartoons that depict Muhammad naked, and, in Australia, some serving and former soldiers have posted anti-Muslim comments on a website.

The response from the worldwide Islamic community to all these events has ranged from violent, even deadly protests, to a Pakistani government minister offering a bounty for the death of the film-maker, to the more general charge of Islamophobia.

But is Islamophia a reality or a myth? One expert says the term has been used to silence debate about Islam. Writing in The Australian newspaper recently, Clive Kessler called it a ‘moral bludgeon’.

Clive Kessler is emeritus professor at the University of NSW and an expert in the sociology of religion. He’s spent 40 years studying Islam, especially in Asia, specifically in Malaysia and he challenges the idea that Islamophobia is rife.”

“As the United Nations general assembly gets underway in New York, a push is on by the 57–member-country Organisation of Islamic Co-operation to make blasphemy an international criminal offence.

This has long been a goal for many Muslim countries but it has new impetus after an amateur film mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad was posted on the internet. Since then, a French satirical newspaper has published some cartoons that depict Muhammad naked, and, in Australia, some serving and former soldiers have posted anti-Muslim comments on a website.

The response from the worldwide Islamic community to all these events has ranged from violent, even deadly protests, to a Pakistani government minister offering a bounty for the death of the film-maker, to the more general charge of Islamophobia.

But is Islamophia a reality or a myth? One expert says the term has been used to silence debate about Islam. Writing in The Australian newspaper recently, Clive Kessler called it a ‘moral bludgeon’.

Clive Kessler is emeritus professor at the University of NSW and an expert in the sociology of religion. He’s spent 40 years studying Islam, especially in Asia, specifically in Malaysia and he challenges the idea that Islamophobia is rife.”