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Dawkins' definition of pantheism

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  • #16
    Originally posted by TygerTyger View Post
    Soundbites are just throw-away quips meant to sound profound but are ultimately shallow.
    thank you...that one i know :uhhuhuh:.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
      That comes with knowing what Dawkins is about on a whole - I've never read any of his books (I do not see the point really)... but I've listen and watch a few of his lectures and debates. He tends to talk to the audience as if they were atheists; not the best of tactics, but never-the-less there you have it.
      Tends? I've watched and read transcripts from a lot of Dawkin lectures because I had to write my English term paper on him. I feel he exclusively treats his audience as Atheists. I do agree they are not the best tactics, but I think he's under the assumption that religious people hate him so much they would not show.




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      • #18
        Originally posted by Nicholas View Post
        Tends? I've watched and read transcripts from a lot of Dawkin lectures because I had to write my English term paper on him. I feel he exclusively treats his audience as Atheists. I do agree they are not the best tactics, but I think he's under the assumption that religious people hate him so much they would not show.
        shhhh I was trying to leave some wriggle room!

        Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know. ~ M. King Hubbert

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
          shhhh I was trying to leave some wriggle room!
          :toofless: Whoops.

          Everyone ignore my last comment!




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          • #20
            Originally posted by Nicholas View Post
            :toofless: Whoops.

            Everyone ignore my last comment!
            Oh well! It's out now.

            People! When Dawkins does his thing, he is speaking under the assumption that his listeners are atheists - adjust contextual meaning appropriately.

            Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know. ~ M. King Hubbert

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            • #21
              Yes, most of what I was going to say has been said in my absence of the last couple of days either on here or this thread:

              http://mysticwicks.com/showthread.php?t=216735

              especially by people like Shanti, Infinite Grey, Nicholas and Aranarose on the first page.

              My quip was really about saying that it's a matter of perspective really and you could just as easily reframe Dawkins’ version of atheism as a stunted form of (some versions of) pantheism. I initially thought Dawkins was about the philosophy of religion but I've realised now he's purely about politics.

              My thoughts about why he was twisting pantheism and deism was more that his initial objections only really applied to things like fundamentalist Christianity and he was having problems accommodating other religions etc but I couldn't listen to more than about an hour of ‘the god delusion’ (mp3 book version) so I don't really know what he says on there. With regards to the lectures and addressing people as atheists etc that make sense to me as well (although it seems to me he is assuming all atheists would accept his [metaphysical] picture of the universe and his version of evolutionary theory and human nature etc).

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Louisvillian View Post
                Dawkins isn't an idiot, by any means; the man did a lot for modern evolutionary biology. He's a very intelligent guy.
                He's just a loudmouth jerk sometimes. Comes with the territory.
                just because you are bright in one area doesn't mean you aren't an idiot in others...and loudmouth jerk is also putting it mildly.
                There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction. Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing to deserve them. H.L. Mencken

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                • #23
                  For your consideration, Tyger (and others):

                  ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God. I shall here assume that the God in question is that of a sophisticated monotheism. The tribal gods of the early inhabitants of Palestine are of little or no philosophical interest. They were essentially finite beings, and the god of one tribe or collection of tribes was regarded as good in that it enabled victory in war against tribes with less powerful gods. Similarly the Greek and Roman gods were more like mythical heroes and heroines than like the omnipotent, omniscient and good God postulated in mediaeval and modern philosophy….

                  At its simplest, pantheism can be ontologically indistinguishable from atheism. Such a pantheism would be belief in nothing beyond the physical universe, but associated with emotions of wonder and awe similar to those that we find in religious belief. I shall not consider this as theism…..

                  However there are stronger forms of pantheism which do differentiate the pantheist from the atheist (Levine, 1994). For example the pantheist may think that the universe as a whole has strongly emergent and also mind-like qualities. Not emergent merely in the weak sense that a radio receiver's ability to receive signals from distant stations might be said to be emergent because it is not a mere jumble of components (Smart 1981). The components have to be wired together in a certain way, and indeed the workings of the individual components can be explained by the laws of physics….

                  One strong form of pantheism ascribes mental properties to the cosmos…. Samuel Alexander asserted, rather than argued, that mentality strongly emerged from space-time, and then that at some future time there will emerge a new and at present hardly imaginable level which he called ‘deity’ (Alexander 1927). It is hard to tell whether such an implausible metaphysics should be classified as as pantheism or as theism. Certainly such a deity would not be the infinite creator God of orthodox theism. A. N. Whitehead, too, had a theory of an emergent deity, though with affinities to Platonism, which he saw as the realm of potentiality and therefore he connected the atemporal with the contingent temporal deity (Whitehead 1929). Such views will not deliver, however implausibly, more than a finite deity, not the God of core theism. God would be just one more thing in the universe, however awesome and admirable….

                  At any rate, whether or not we accept pantheism as a sort of theism, what we mean by ‘atheism’ will vary according to what in the dialectical situation we count as theism.
                  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/#1

                  A fully adequate conception of God, Findlay said, would see God as not only unlimited in various admirable properties but also as a necessarily existing being. Thus ‘There is one and only one God’ would have to be a logically necessary truth.
                  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/#2

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
                    THe tends to talk to the audience as if they were atheists; ...
                    Actually, I find him even more annoying than if that were his attitude. He treats his audience as if there were two groupings: atheists, and people who would be atheists if they only thought about things more carefully. Since Dawkins himself has changed his theories since he published "The Selfish Gene", adding in "Memes" and suchlike to cover for where the original work demonstrably doesn't hold water, I don't find this a particularly helpful attitude. (I'd be more forthright, but my wife is a fan of his, from the point of view of cell biology at least. )

                    blessings
                    ffetcher

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by ffetcher View Post
                      Actually, I find him even more annoying than if that were his attitude. He treats his audience as if there were two groupings: atheists, and people who would be atheists if they only thought about things more carefully. Since Dawkins himself has changed his theories since he published "The Selfish Gene", adding in "Memes" and suchlike to cover for where the original work demonstrably doesn't hold water, I don't find this a particularly helpful attitude. (I'd be more forthright, but my wife is a fan of his, from the point of view of cell biology at least. )

                      blessings
                      ffetcher
                      What are you talking about?

                      Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know. ~ M. King Hubbert

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
                        What are you talking about?
                        There were two points: I'll try to clarify both but if I fail, please PM me.

                        I've heard Dawkins talk on a number of occasions, both at lectures aimed at a lay audience and at peer-reviewed conferences. His attitude to atheism/pantheism/religion in general, both in the talks and in Q&As/panel discussions, has always appeared to me to be 'if you disagree with me you haven't thought this stuff through'. Not, IMO, a particularly helpful academic position. Several of his students/co-workers/followers are equally adamant that they're right, but are at least prepared to enter into discussion, so this isn't simply a by-product of his theories.

                        With regard to his own modified position, if you go back and re-read "The Selfish Gene", you'll find that it doesn't quite reflect his current stance - he's had to add new things to cope with concepts such as altruism, which simply don't fit with the original concepts. Susan Blakemore, an academic who fits into the 'prepared to enter into discussion' class, has published some fairly accessible stuff on how they got here from there, particularly as regards the concepts of 'Memes'.

                        Not that he's modified his stance over Catholic education being 'child abuse', which was the reason he wrote "The Selfish Gene" in the first place, but at least he's come clean over the last few years.

                        Other than that, I'm having trouble clarifying my point any further; sorry.

                        blessings
                        ffetcher
                        Last edited by ffetcher; June 29th, 2009, 03:32 PM.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by ffetcher View Post
                          There were two points: I'll try to clarify both but if I fail, please PM me.

                          I've heard Dawkins talk on a number of occasions, both at lectures aimed at a lay audience and at peer-reviewed conferences. His attitude to atheism/pantheism/religion in general, both in the talks and in Q&As/panel discussions, has always appeared to me to be 'if you disagree with me you haven't thought this stuff through'. Not, IMO, a particularly helpful academic position. Several of his students/co-workers/followers are equally adamant that they're right, but are at least prepared to enter into discussion, so this isn't simply a by-product of his theories.

                          With regard to his own modified position, if you go back and re-read "The Selfish Gene", you'll find that it doesn't quite reflect his current stance - he's had to add new things to cope with concepts such as altruism, which simply don't fit with the original concepts. Susan Blakemore, an academic who fits into the 'prepared to enter into discussion' class, has published some fairly accessible stuff on how they got here from there, particularly as regards the concepts of 'Memes'.
                          So? That is science.

                          Not that he's modified his stance over Catholic education being 'child abuse', which was the reason he wrote "The Selfish Gene" in the first place, but at least he's come clean over the last few years.
                          What does that have to do with his scientific work?

                          Other than that, I'm having trouble clarifying my point any further; sorry.

                          blessings
                          ffetcher
                          I think I see where you're going wrong.
                          1> Scientific Theories are subject to Alteration, Correction and Abandonment as new data is discovered and comprehended. Or do you believe an apple falls on a scientist's head and the theory is born? Indeed the selfish-gene theory is really just an adjusted view of selection theory and quintessentially a scientific theory on its one right.
                          2> You seem to wantonly mix Dawkins scientific work with his activist work - that would be a mistake as while Dick will use his scientific work and the scientific work of others as a tool for his activism, they are essentially independent.

                          Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know. ~ M. King Hubbert

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                          • #28
                            Apologies to anyone who feels that this is straying too far off-topic from the OP, but...

                            Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
                            So? That is science.
                            it sure is...

                            Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
                            I think I see where you're going wrong.
                            Aha. The old "when did you stop beating your wife?" approach. The intention is presumably that by making any response at all, I concur with you that I'm wrong. I do indeed hold a viewpoint with which you clearly disagree, but that disagreement doesn't by itself make me wrong.

                            Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
                            1> Scientific Theories are subject to Alteration, Correction and Abandonment as new data is discovered and comprehended. Or do you believe an apple falls on a scientist's head and the theory is born? Indeed the selfish-gene theory is really just an adjusted view of selection theory and quintessentially a scientific theory on its one right.
                            Of course scientific theories get altered in the light of new information and/or research. That's precisely why I find Dawkins's apparent attitude of "I'm right, you haven't thought about it properly" academically unhelpful. Other people have had insights that he's adopted or adapted over the years. It is of course possible that he doesn't intend to imply that everyone with a conflicting viewpoint is academically imbecilic, but that's the impression I've had every time I've heard him speak.

                            Originally posted by Infinite Grey View Post
                            2> You seem to wantonly mix Dawkins scientific work with his activist work - that would be a mistake as while Dick will use his scientific work and the scientific work of others as a tool for his activism, they are essentially independent.
                            Wanton isn't the description I'd have picked. I'm certainly deliberately conflating the two, and I feel justified in doing so. Richard uses his academic record to support his activism, and that's his right. But IMO, by so doing he negates any independence between the two. He tells me that I should give credence to his activism because of his academic track record. That's fine, but since he does so, I feel entitled to allow my disquiet with what I perceive to be his approach to academic debate to inform my attitude to said activism.

                            blessings
                            ffetcher

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                            • #29
                              Some more to consider re: why pantheism was referred to or distorted as ‘sexed-up atheism’ (NB: I haven't read all of this article or pretend to understand it fully):

                              With some exceptions, pantheism is non-theistic, but it is not atheistic. It is a form of non-theistic monotheism, or even non-personal theism. It is the belief in one God, a God identical to the all-inclusive unity, but pantheists (generally) do not believe God is a person or anything like a person. The fact that pantheism clearly is not atheistic, and is an explicit denial of atheism, is disputed by its critics. The primary reason for equating pantheism with atheism is the assumption that belief in any kind of "God" must be belief in a personalistic God, because God must be a person.
                              http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/#Ath

                              The principal reason there has been relatively little advance in examining pantheism philosophically is at least twofold. First, contemporary analytic philosophy of religion remains dominated not merely by theism but by orthodox Christian approaches to theism. ….While there is currently debate about whether creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools, the fact that creationist doctrine is argued for by mainstream Christian analytic philosophers of religion (as above) goes largely unnoticed or remarked upon (cf. Levine: 1998; 1999; 2000). There is little room or interest in theologically progressive notions of deity in this milieu — let alone pantheism.
                              http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/#Whi


                              Also, flicking through the top four articles on here -- it seems to me they are mostly concerned with ‘orthodox Christian approaches to theism’ (apart from the tony blair satire piece).

                              http://richarddawkins.net/allTimeFavoriteArticles


                              ffetcher: I'll come back to Dan Dennett and Susan Blakemore although I don't really have anything particularly earthshattering to say about them lol just a couple of comments, really.

                              Tyger: I'm still thinking about various forms of pantheism and what alterations might be needed (if any) to the standard model to accommodate them. I'll post some more on the other thread tomorrow.

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                              • #30
                                I don't believe in God as a person, that is a concept that I attribute to the Abrahamic religions and I left Christianity behind many years ago now.

                                I am not even sure of the nature of the God I believe in, but that is part of the process of discovery that is an integral part of my Pantheistic belief.

                                Also, I am not interested in adhering to one interpetation of Pantheism. From my point of view strict adherence is one of the problems of organised religion and divergence is often met with intollerance and opposition.

                                My beliefs are my own and not dictated by a head of church, a clergy or derived from a bible. That my Pantheism might stray close to another system of beliefs, such as Atheism, does not concern me overly, I don't claim to know the 'truth', I do know that the way I currently look at Existance allows me to be happy. Whether that is just a delusion or a state of being is another question, however, as my current belief seems to be supported by scientific fact then I feel quite secure.

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