Dawkins’ Nemesis

I heard a story yesterday which made my blood boil. To repeat the details would be to risk identifying an innocent child, so I will give no more than a bare outline.

It happened at an apparently happy and tolerably well run primary school. Two boys, both six years old, were playing merrily together during morning break. They are the best of pals. One is white, the other is black. In the course of the game the white boy, giggling all the while, said his friend was a “little monkey”. The black boy giggled just as heartily. All would have been well, but a teacher overhead the awful words. The white boy was in big trouble.

Dawkins has described a touching picture of a long transtemporal line of women, each holding hands with their daughters, stretching all the way back from modern women to genuine apes or quasi-chimpanzees of some sort or another, I can’t recall. But I noticed that he never quite got around to describing what color the hands were as they were getting increasingly more furry.

I understand that evolutionary biologists believe human variance to be very slight and that there is only the one species. But obviously someone, somewhere, has to be in possession of genes that are more evolutionarily advanced than the next individual. Who might that be? Dawkins is very passionate about the need for humanity to take control over our Darwinian destiny, and yet, he never seems to have much to say about exactly what that control might be, how we are to go about taking it or what we should do with it.

I wonder why that might be?

Mailvox: okay, he got me

BigTexasRob proves his point:

1) Harris states one could be almost certain that the religion of an unknown suicide bomber was Islam.”

In fact, it IS easy to guess this hypothetical bomber’s religion, but we couldn’t tell that given the part of the original text that you conveniently left out. You neglected to mention the part where Harris writes

“Although saddened to have lost a son, [the bomber’s parents] feel tremendous pride at his accomplishment. They know that he has gone to heaven and prepared the way for them to follow. He has also sent his victims to hell for eternity. It is a double victory. The neighbors find the event a great cause for celebration and honor the young man’s parents by giving them gifts of food and money.”

Why would anyone assume that the “adamantly secular” Tamil Tigers (likely to have grown up in a Buddhist or Hindu community) would have such parents?

I’ll want to do a bit of checking on how the Tamil Tigers celebrate their suicide bombers, of course, but since I never considered that paragraph for a second I was clearly wrong to hammer Harris on that particular point. Nicely caught.

Now, I still think this is a somewhat deceptive way for him to begin a book in which he’s attacking all religious faith as dangerous, and yet all he’s saying here is that it’s obvious that Christians, Hindus, Buddhists etc. don’t commit suicide bombings. And based on the population percentages alone, you’ve got a one in six chance of being right even if you leave out the suicide bombing and just say a young man is on a bus, guess his religion.

As for the second point, which we agree I did not misrepresent, let me lay out the logic for you:

If A=safe, B=deadly and A+B=deadly, which is the dangerous element that should be eliminated, A or B? The answer is obviously B.

Now, Religion does not threaten the planet nor has it ever been capable of doing so. We agree that Harris states that the planet is now threatened by Religion + Technology. Technology alone is clearly capable of threatening the planet. So then, if we are in dire peril demanding action, which is the dangerous element that should be eliminated, Religion or Technology?

Ergo, Harris is INADVERTANTLY making a logical case against technology/science. Of course he’s not intending to do so, he’s trying to attack religion. But the logic is clear that based on his claim that the imminent peril to the planet demands something be eliminated from the equation, it is technology/science that must be eliminated.

And that’s just one of the many examples of Harris’s woeful incompetence.

Too dangerous

Scott Adams’ post on The Great Debate to which my lengthy post below was a response simply up and disappeared yesterday, hence the bad link. I don’t know why it vanished, perhaps he was threatened by angry hordes of atheists or Christians threatening a West Coast Crusade, but in any event, I’ll relink to it if it reappears.

Dance, little atheists, dance

From the Digg comments:

Stupid.
Makes up numbers out of thin air. No sources for his claims of who caused what wars.
Total crap.
This proves nothing, and is merely opinion.
Buried as inaccurate due to NO supporting evidence.

The source is here. I also informed everyone how they could use Wikipedia to independently verify the statistics if they doubted them.

There are also major logical weak spots in terms of confusing correlation with causation. Take “percent of wars” (how on earth is that calculated?). If it’s by population, then explicit atheism and population correlate by time, making a spurious correlation of atheism and war deaths.

The percent of wars is calculated by the number of wars waged divided by the total 1,763 wars recorded.”

Which is a wholly useless measurement. Who defines a war versus a skirmish? If war broke out in Korea, would it be the Korean war continued after a very very long ceasefire, or a second war? When did WWI stop being a bunch of a little wars and become a big one? Etc. It’s just statistically useless.

I see. So Dawkins and Harris can run around spouting off with their ontological argument about how religion implicitly causes war on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, and they are to be taken seriously, but the citation of a 1,502-page reference work completely devoted to the subject is “just statistically useless”. In answer to the question, it would surely be considered two wars, just as we refer to World War I as being distinct from WWII. For example, there are three different Covenanter’s Rebellion’s listed, in 1666, 1679 and 1685, all of which are classified as religious wars.

The definitions of the wars were decided by nine professional historians who compiled the encylopedia, including the director of the Centre for Military History and the head of the Centre for Defence Studies.

I find it all too typical of many supposedly rational atheists that their commitment to science, reason and empirical evidence only lasts as long as it supports their preconcieved prejudices. When presented with the evidence they claim to require, they are as quick to cry “I don’t like your facts” and desperately rationalize them away faster than the most benighted backwoods Bible thumper.

And that’s one of the several reasons the book is entitled “The Irrational Atheist”.