Pharyngula

Going straight to the source

You can now read Richard Dawkins official statement on the controversial petition over at the Panda’s Thumb.

Comments

  1. #1 Desert Donkey
    December 31, 2006

    Having read the PT post, I will repost my comment just entered on the prior thread on this subject.(see below) I agree that the cultural/political/language differences between the UK and US have contributed to some dissonance on this subject, but I also think that Dawkins’ goal of simply making religious labeling of children uncomfortable is far too weak a pot of tea for the culture we live in. To borrow a word from Hank, ‘Godders’ actively work to stamp out atheism and the religions of others. We will not turn that tide if we accept a purely defensive position on ‘civil rights’ grounds. I think that the right of those children to become informed citizens is being seriously erroded in the current climate, and that it is not a civil right to do whatever you wish with your children.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    As a very few others have pointed out, there is an underlying reason to be concerned about what children are taught. Given that one of the points of religious indoctrination is, as it says “indoctrination”, we all have reason to be wary of giving free reign to parents in this arena. Consider that in some states home schooling is allowed and is embraced by some parents because it prevents public education from diluting their religious indoctrination. Facts and peers are a dangerous thing for cults/religions and children are pliable, dependent parties who can be controlled. If we are to avoid a world of ignorant adults, we need to take assertive steps to discourage the religious indoctrination of children.

    So, the petition is poorly worded, and ‘child abuse’ is an inaccurate and inflammatory descriptor; but we cannot have a free and informed society if most of us enter adulthood having been indoctrinated in ignorance for 18 years first. It is difficult to be an informed citizen if a major portion of the culture encourages ignorance.

  2. #2 Mike Haubrich
    December 31, 2006

    This “Kerfuffle” illustrates the wondrous powers of the internets to allow a forum in which people can write first and think later. The harm done with some careless posting causes far more damage than the corrections are able to fix, because the people that read the original posts, and wish to use this against Dawkins will never go back to check out the facts.

    Hell, people are still spamming me with petitions to prevent Madalyn Murray O’Hair from taking this or that religious show off the air, never bothering to check whether or not she is taking action (let alone from beyond the grave.)

    I am sure that I will now receive some spams urging me to boycott Dawkins’ work and all of his sponsors, etc etc etc because of this.

  3. #3 rhubarb
    December 31, 2006

    One cannot help but wonder why, at the time of this posting, one does not find “Richard Dawkins [sic] official statement” on Richard Dawkins’s official website.

  4. #4 J. J. Ramsey
    December 31, 2006

    rhubarb: “One cannot help but wonder why, at the time of this posting, one does not find ‘Richard Dawkins [sic] official statement’ on Richard Dawkins’s official website.”

    It’s because the webmaster is on holiday. There’s this little thing called “New Year’s Day” coming up.

  5. #5 George
    December 31, 2006

    The fundies are doing a lot of things right to promote the cause – board and video games, fancy web sites, online certificate programs, “inspirational” books in Park bookstores, entire museums – and unless there is some serious pushback, they will continue to gain adherents.

    We have a small squad of prominent atheist/agnostics: Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, PZ, etc. When an intelligent person calls Dawkins a totalitarian and PZ an asshole, it doesn’t do much good for the cause.

    Dennett wrote recently:

    “There are many deeply religious people who believe that they may democratically impose more and more of their creed on the nation, by simply exercising their First Amendment rights to free expression and creating thereby a climate of opinion that renders opposition by secularists politically ineffective. This is a grave danger to democracy, more subversive, in fact, than anything Al Qaeda threatens.”

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/daniel_c_dennett/2006/12/a_pledge_of_allegiance.html

    Ed Brayton falls on the side of protecting people’s liberties:

    “I am very passionate about civil liberties, as anyone who has read my writings over the years can tell you. I am a Jeffersonian to the core, meaning that I reject wholesale the notion that any government has the authority to police our thoughts or interfere in our lives without an absolutely clear warrant to protect another person against direct, tangible injury or deprivation of their equal rights.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/12/my_letter_to_richard_dawkins.php#more

    I agree with Brayton, but I wish he would stop helping the other side by attacking people who are doing their best to make people aware of the “grave danger” we face as a country.

  6. #6 rhubarb
    December 31, 2006

    Thank you for your explanation, J. J. Ramsey; Happy New Year to you. May one assume, then, that today’s post of an article written by Dr. Dennett (reposted from the Newsweek site) on the official Richard Dawkins website was accomplished without the webmaster’s intervention?

  7. #7 decrepitoldfool
    December 31, 2006

    …the wondrous powers of the internets to allow a forum in which people can write first and think later…

    Hell, people are still spamming me with petitions to prevent Madalyn Murray O’Hair from taking this or that religious show off the air, never bothering to check whether or not she is taking action (let alone from beyond the grave.)

    I am sure that I will now receive some spams urging me to boycott Dawkins’ work and all of his sponsors, etc etc etc because of this.

    I heard an interview once with an astronaut who was asked the inane question; “if you were on a spacewalk and something happened so you had only 10 minutes of air left, what would you do?” He said that he’d spend 7 minutes thinking and the last 3 minutes acting. To avoid doing something stupid.

    But Dawkins isn’t the only (to some extent, self-inflicted) victim from saying something stupid. Ed and especially PZ – and the chorus’ of both – entertain themselves by tossing their swords up in the air. The resulting carnage is of great aid and comfort to the godders. I’ve been meaning to say that for a long time, OK, I’ve said it.

  8. #8 J. J. Ramsey
    December 31, 2006

    rhubarb: “May one assume, then, that today’s post of an article written by Dr. Dennett (reposted from the Newsweek site) on the official Richard Dawkins website was accomplished without the webmaster’s intervention?”

    I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me. There’s also the matter that posting articles may be easy to push up to the web site with a few clicks, while corrections of old material may require more manual tinkering. I’m no expert on web sites, but I would imagine that it is easier to do some kinds of modifications than others.

  9. #9 Caledonian
    December 31, 2006

    But Dawkins isn’t the only (to some extent, self-inflicted) victim from saying something stupid. Ed and especially PZ – and the chorus’ of both – entertain themselves by tossing their swords up in the air. The resulting carnage is of great aid and comfort to the godders. I’ve been meaning to say that for a long time, OK, I’ve said it.

    So obviously we need to set aside our differences and join forces to become a single, monolithic group working in concert for the greater averaged-together goal, because if we hold onto anything that keeps us separate, we’ll lose.

    Yeah… we’ll get right on that.

  10. #10 PZ Myers
    December 31, 2006

    especially PZ

    Oh, yeah, I sure regret calling Brayton a liar and an asshole now, and all those accusations of perfidy against Dawkins that were subsequently shown to be false…boy is my face red.

    Oh, and no, we’re not on the same side. Don’t you remember? Brayton himself declared us to be on different teams.

  11. #11 Kevin
    December 31, 2006

    Not only did he say you were on different teams, he has now linked to an IDiot and agreed with his “evolution supporter” hierarchy that further splinters the pro-science crowd. But no…you and Dawkins are the one making people choose sides.

    I always gathered that you were all on the same side, only you and a few others like to call a spade a spade and will tell anyone, regardless of “teams” when they’re ideas are idiotic. And I respect that far more then the “other teams” method of not challenging anything as long as the person is considered a “friend of the cause”.

  12. #12 poke
    December 31, 2006

    Brayton apologises to Dawkins like a cocky 12-year-old,

    If I was uncharitable in my interpretations of your position, I do apologize for that. I am extremely relieved to find out that my conclusions, though logical and reasonable given the situation, were wrong and I am happy to welcome you back to what I consider the pro-Enlightenment side (a side you never really left except in my own mind, if only briefly).

    It’s incredible how juvenile this man is.

  13. #13 doctorgoo
    December 31, 2006

    PZ, I hope you can now see that Brayton wasn’t criticizing Dawkins because Dawkins is an atheist. He was criticizing Dawkins because of such an anti-civil liberties position that Dawkins appeared to support.

    If Dawkins’ atheism were unknown (or weren’t made such an issue by you), then Ed’s post would have been nearly identical in content and in snarkiness to his many other posts that promote civil liberties.

    Ultimately, I find it unfortunate that you equated Brayton’s criticism with an attack on atheism in general.

    Happy new year to all.

  14. #14 MTran
    December 31, 2006

    What Ken Cope said. The inoffensive, quiet, logical commentary that has characterized most atheist statements for the last 100+ years has gotten us nowhere. The mere existence of atheists is still considered offensive by the god-soaked rabble.

    So it appears that atheism does need loud, articulate supporters who are not afraid to “offend” the delicate sensibilities of the loud mouthed religionists.

    A lot of atheists are not comfortable with aggressive, politicized atheism. Fine. It’s not for everyone. But there certainly is a place for it, and a need for it.

    Now, do I take on an aggressive, politicized atheistic stance at my place(s) of work? No. Not even in my own office. I don’t want to create a politicized work place or cause any staff member to feel unfairly scrutinized on account of their religion. But everyone eventually knows my position, sooner rather than later.

    People like Dawkins and PZ catch the attention of the media and the masses. In turn, that gives me a chance to be able to naturally comment on these issues as they arise in natural conversation. And it makes it quite clear that I am not a lone voice crying out in a godless wilderness.

  15. #15 Scott Hatfield
    December 31, 2006

    I am appreciative of Nick Matzke for working to put this dog to bed. By soliciting Dr. Dawkins and giving him a chance to explain, in his unmistakeable prose, exactly what mistakes were made, he performed an inestimable service for all of us.

    Another inestimable service could be performed if others in this tempest could follow Dr. Dawkins’ example. My opinion of the man (which was already high) went up a notch because he was accountable for his actions, while at the same time muted in any criticism of others involved.
    Very refreshing.

    Now, what would it take for someone to say, “I’m sorry. I overreacted. I’ll try to do a better job next time of asking questions before I shoot”? Just my two cents, Mr. Brayton, in case you’re reading…SH

  16. #16 PZ Myers
    December 31, 2006

    When someone insults you, try ignoring the insult and addressing only the content. Keep it up long enough for the other guy to cool down, too. Amazing what you can work out that way, common ground you can find, and common purpose achieved.

    Please go away. The hypocrisy reeks.

    I just took a look at Brayton’s sanctimonious letter to Dawkins, where among his usual self-serving tripe, he says “I can only say now that I wish I had been as gracious myself, as I hope Prof. Myers does as well.” A fine sentiment, that; but then you’ll notice that 20 minutes after posting that, he makes this whiny little rant.

    It puts the lie to his whole pious stance in the letter, doesn’t it? Seriously, he must have started writing that comment right after posting his reply—he didn’t mean a word of what he wrote to Dawkins, I suspect.

  17. #17 doctorgoo
    December 31, 2006

    PZ, I refuse to believe that you are as unintelligent as your last comment implies. I’m not inside Ed’s head, but from reading all the relevant posts, I find everything that he wrote to Dawkins in his letter to be very sincere.

    But this has nothing to do with his personal stance on you. But just because he apparently still has a beef with you, it does NOT imply that he was insincere about Dawkins.

    Why do you have such a huge chip on your shoulder when it comes to atheism? You seem to have a pattern of defending atheism against attacks you perceive, but aren’t actually there. I think you should read more of Brayton’s posts on civil liberties, and then you might see that his post was about that, and not about attacking atheism.

  18. #18 J. J. Ramsey
    December 31, 2006

    Brayton: “I can only say now that I wish I had been as gracious myself, as I hope Prof. Myers does as well.”

    PZ Myers: “It puts the lie to his whole pious stance in the letter, doesn’t it?”

    How does Brayton hoping that you wish that you had been as gracious as Dawkins conflict with his complaints that you hadn’t been gracious?

  19. #19 MpM
    December 31, 2006

    Just a lurking opinion here….
    I lean more towards the calm conversation mode. I do not push too hard in favor of the “superstitious nonsense” type of language to persuade or debate.
    However…
    If we do not have PZ and Dawkins and others who use direct language, to the point of being abrasive, my fear is that the kinder, gentler Braytons of the world will not HAVE a debate.
    It is critical that strong, pointed, and intelligent opposition speak out. They need to speak out in a way that makes the opposition UNCOMFORTABLE. Will every debate take place at that volume? No, but if the bell does not sound, we’ll never get into the ring.

  20. #20 PZ Myers
    December 31, 2006

    the kinder, gentler Braytons of the world

    Oh, please. Where does anyone who has followed this get the idea Brayton is kindler and gentler? Look at the language he has applied to Dawkins and me! He’s an unprincipled libertarian thug; you can all stop trying to persuade me otherwise now. I’m done with him.

  21. #21 J. J. Ramsey
    January 1, 2007

    Update for rhubarb and anyone else interested: The link to the nasty petition is gone from Dawkins’ web site.

  22. #22 Anton Mates
    January 1, 2007

    PZ, I hope you can now see that Brayton wasn’t criticizing Dawkins because Dawkins is an atheist. He was criticizing Dawkins because of such an anti-civil liberties position that Dawkins appeared to support.

    Brayton has made a habit of attributing anti-civil liberties positions to outspoken atheists, and of linking their atheism to those positions. Case in point: his reaction to Larry Moran’s “Flunk IDers” post. Note that Moran’s post had all of nothing to do with theism or atheism.

    If Dawkins’ atheism were unknown (or weren’t made such an issue by you), then Ed’s post would have been nearly identical in content and in snarkiness to his many other posts that promote civil liberties.

    Um, except for the bit about Dawkins favoring an “atheist dystopia” and “coercion to try and stamp out religion.”

    Ultimately, I find it unfortunate that you equated Brayton’s criticism with an attack on atheism in general.

    PZ didn’t do that. He said that Brayton tends to attack outspoken atheists, which is perfectly true. If he attacked atheism itself as a position, it would be a refreshing change.

  23. #23 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 2, 2007

    Well, this was an interesting chain of events to get to after the New Year festivities calms down. Dawkins position on indoctrination becomes much more clear, though I have to find out more around Orac’s observation on another thread that the “child abuse” position may be inconsistent. (Since Dawkins doesn’t propose harder consequences.)

    Anyway, Dawkins came up on top and Brayton on the bottom – as usual he can’t in the end resist attacking people (Moran, Myers, Dawkins) from a negative read even if he sometimes manage to get the prior analysis correct. And he ends consistently with an overlong apology letter where he likewise can’t refrain from suggesting that Dawkins should be chamberlaining.

    There is also humor to be found. Brayton has himself slipped in his chamberlaining. His confessed strategy was:

    It annoys me to no end when ID advocates portray us pro-science types as enforcers of a “Darwinian orthodoxy” with a zeal to purge all dissent from the ideas we advocate from academia; it is far more disturbing when a few folks on our side of this debate go out of their way to actually match that crude caricature being foisted on us. Nothing good can possibly come from this.

    While he now says:

    I don’t care about getting along; I care about what’s right.

  24. #24 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 2, 2007

    Well, this was an interesting chain of events to get to after the New Year festivities calms down. Dawkins position on indoctrination becomes much more clear, though I have to find out more around Orac’s observation on another thread that the “child abuse” position may be inconsistent. (Since Dawkins doesn’t propose harder consequences.)

    Anyway, Dawkins came up on top and Brayton on the bottom – as usual he can’t in the end resist attacking people (Moran, Myers, Dawkins) from a negative read even if he sometimes manage to get the prior analysis correct. And he ends consistently with an overlong apology letter where he likewise can’t refrain from suggesting that Dawkins should be chamberlaining.

    There is also humor to be found. Brayton has himself slipped in his chamberlaining. His confessed strategy was:

    It annoys me to no end when ID advocates portray us pro-science types as enforcers of a “Darwinian orthodoxy” with a zeal to purge all dissent from the ideas we advocate from academia; it is far more disturbing when a few folks on our side of this debate go out of their way to actually match that crude caricature being foisted on us. Nothing good can possibly come from this.

    While he now says:

    I don’t care about getting along; I care about what’s right.

  25. #25 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 2, 2007

    If anyone wanted the links to Brayton’s parade of odd comments, you are out of luck. Evidently PZ’s spam script is hypersensitive about Ed.

  26. #26 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 2, 2007

    Oh, and I have resolved Orac’s point to my satisfaction by now. (This comment was languishing in the spam queue for a day.) It is a conflict between “child abuse” and “personal discomfort at home”, which isn’t there regarding other abuse.

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