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Colbert Dawkins

Stephen began, " my guest tonight is a scientist who believes there is no God. You know what, he'll have an eternity in hell to prove it." Stephen Colbert's interview of Richard Dawkins author of The God Delusion was excellent. Richard handled Stephen's style well and landed some solid blows. Well done Professor Dawkins.




Quicktime Video 8.6 MB 6'45

 

Comments

How exiting to have both of these brilliant guys, both at the top of their game, both regulars on onegoodmove, sitting across from one another on a fake political pundit talk show, and then to have the video posted on here!

I cringed, I laughed, I even got a tear in my eye. Well done, Dawkins and Colbert. And Norm. I don't think I ever thanked you for having Quicktime clips, but so many people complain about it that I should balance it out by saying that I use a Mac, and Quicktime is the best! This is my favorite clip that has been posted here in a while. Thanks!

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but could it be merely a coinkidink that two of the main focusus, the heavy hitters, the "gods" if you will (i have NO self control, sorry) of this blog have finally met on tv? what forces could have brought them together? in line with my nebulous, ill-considered, counterintuitive, intellectually lazy belief that very few things having to do with my entertainment are totally random, i'd like to thank you, norm, for playing a part in creating this monumental event, and bringing us this monumentally entertaining clip. you totally rock. please continue to affect and create reality with my highly amused blessing. damn, i KNEW this was bound to happen, i just didn't think it would happen so quickly! i still can't get over it.

Colbert showed the ultimate compacting of most objections to what Dawkins says: "It makes my head hurt."

What a great segment.

"That's at best a superfluous hypothesis and at worst a highly unparsimonious one."

Methinks this is the first time I've heard the word "unparsimonious". Good interview. I already have the book. Can't wait to get around to read it.

Nice interview, saw it last night.

But i would have preferred Mr. Dawkins on TDS rather than the report.

This interview was so fun to watch. I've watched about 5 or 6 times now, I have to stop! It really was wonderful to see it go so well. Richard made many great points in the segment, more than I expected him to be able to sqeeze in!

If Colbert wasn't an admitted Christian and Sunday school teacher, I'd almost think he was on Dawkins side.

Terrific interview. I've never seen Colbert get so lost in an interview before. Dawkins is learning how to handle Christian thinking better. In his "Root of All Evil" series he seemed to lose his temper.

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Thank you so much for this!
(Also, I too enjoy the quicktime video)

What's particularly interesting is that in real-life Colbert is a religious person. He teaches Sunday school, in fact. Yet he's big enough to give folks like Dawkins a chance to be heard.

Yes, it's great to see Dawkins has a sense of humor. With regard to Colbert he obviously "gets it."

Also, yes Quicktime rocks, on both Mac and PC (Mac at home, PC at work) and, with the right codec, will play anything you throw at it including windows media files. It can be a little tricky hunting down codecs, but well worth it.

That was great! Dawkins really seemed to be enjoying himself there.

Dawkins has a great sense of humor by the way --THE GOD DELUSION is dedicated to the late Douglas Adams (author of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, etc.). The two were the best of friends, and Adams introduced Dawkins to his wife, Lalla Ward.

I think Richard Dawkins is awesome but he's way to polite for American interviews. I don't think I've heard him so flustered before. He just didn't quite know how to deal with the utter irrationality of Stephen's arguments.

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Hawking, Dawkins, whoever,...hits the Big Time.

Congratulations!

But how did colors (the subjective, inner experience), sounds, smells, etc. "evolve"?

Is there not some Platonic-Whiteheadean realm of Eternal Object-ivity involved in this "subjective" experience?

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Dawkins definitely needs somebody who is an abrasive ass to make him look thoughtful and likeable. It's the great gracious trick of the Colbert Report to make any guest look good.

"That's at best a superfluous hypothesis and at worst a highly unparsimonious one."

Aren't those essentially the same thing? If a hypothesis is superfluous, then it's a real drag on your parsimony. Maybe the distinction is the "highly"?

Given the amount of press Dawkins is getting of late, and how much enthusiasm his fans seem to get out of seeing him every time he's interviewed, I'm really curious to know if there's more to the crux of his argument around why God doesn't exist. Can someone summarize?

I've heard him repeatedly explain natural selection, why evolution isn't random, why not believing in God is just being 'an atheist on one more thing', and why he doesn't like religion from a historical perspective. However, these all continue to strike me as arguments best targeted to creationists or people who have a poor understanding of evolution.

Does Dawkins have anything new to add for people who are not creationists, accept & understand the idea of evolution, yet still have faith? Because every time I hear him talk, he sounds more like a politician with talking points, none of which actually speak directly to why someone should believe there is no God. Dawkins does a great job of kicking the legs out from under the bad-science arguments used by some theists, but then seems to assume that based on that, I should not believe in God (despite the fact I didn't subscribe to any of those arguments in the first place). The primary reason I haven't bought his book, is because I have yet to hear him (in any interview I've seen) hint at anything deeper.

Is there something more to his book? Who is his audience, aside from the people who already agree with him, and the people who apparently are bad at science?

In regards to Colbert's religious beliefs--from Time Out.

TONY: You created The Daily Show religious-satire segment, "This Week in God." How do you square your Catholicism with comedy?

SC: I love my Church, and I'm a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals, who were very devout. I was raised to believe that you could question the Church and still be a Catholic. What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That's totally different from the Word, the blood, the body and the Christ. His kingdom is not of this earth.

Kevin,

You know after all this time I still don't know what you mean when you say you believe in God. Dawkins in his book is talking about a personal God. The one that answers prayers and performs miracles. Is that the God you believe in? As you may have noted in the Colbert interview Dawkins acknowledges that you can't prove such a God does not exist only that it is highly improbable. So improbable as to be as certain as you be about any question. If your view is of a personal God that is outside of time and space well you heard what he had to say about that. I'm sure you've heard of the anthropic argument against existence. A statistical argument that argues that too many things would have to be right for us to exist. Evolution explains our complexity and and reduces the question to one of if a dna type molecule could occur by chance. Dawkins discusses the math involved and concludes it can. Dawkins turns the anthropic argument around on those who profess belief in a god, and argues that a being as complex as a god would be many more times as unlikely as a human and statistically impossible.

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Dawkins' book is quite deep and detailed, Kevin. It's definitely worth a read. He couldn't possibly reduce all that into soundbites. It's a profound work.

Kevin,

Dawkins only recognizes two types of faith: belief in a personal God, and deism. Deism he dismisses out of hand as all-but-atheism. Belief in God is equated with a Simpson-esque, bearded, robbed man sitting on a throne in the clouds.

So no, he does not address other types of faith, I think largely because he doesn't have much to say on the matter. He himself has admitted (rather proudly) that his grounding in theology is non-existent.

Dawkins: I don't have to understand your beliefs, because I know they are wrong. Science is all I need to know.

Fundamentalist: I don't have to understand the science behind evolution, because I know it's wrong. The Bible is all I need to know.

I was glad to hear Mr. Dawkins retort: “Who created god?” I’ve been using that line in arguments ever since I was a young atheist. It usually has the same effect that it had on Colbert, it tends to make the delusional head hurt. I love Pachinko, by the way!

Oh god (I mean gawd) that was a thing of beauty. I may have to fork over the cash to upgrade my QuickTime to Pro so I can download this one.

TMH

He himself has admitted (rather proudly) that his grounding in theology is non-existent.

Let's see your citation for that and the context.

From the Science and Theology Newsite (responding to Allistair McGrath's claim that he is ignorant of Christian theology. Which he is.):

"Yes, I have, of course, met this point before. It sounds superficially fair. But it presupposes that that there is something in Christian theology to be ignorant about. The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject. It is empty. Vacuous. Devoid of coherence or content. I imagine that McGrath would join me in expressing disbelief in fairies, astrology and Thor’s hammer. How would he respond if a fairyologist, astrologer or Viking accused him of ignorance of their respective subjects?

The only part of theology that could possibly demand my attention is the part that purports to demonstrate that God does exist. This part of theology I have, indeed, studied with considerable attention. And found it utterly wanting.

And Norm, since you seem so interested in pigeonholing belief into catagories (having asked me the same question you asked Kevin above, in a previous thread):

I am a Christian Existentialist Humanist.

Quaker.

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Yeah, yeah, but what about my querilous query about subjective "inner" experience? What do Dawkins and his ilk say? Berkeley, the episcope (like Zeno d'Elea) has been "refuted," but never refuted. And what about the Escher-tile-like unfolding of spacetime, in Einsteinian four dimensions? Is it only Life that evoves? What about Environments? Where do they fit around anthropically-principled Principals, like Me? Am I the only rogue interogator?

Come on, stop sweeping so many loose ends under the rug! You guys have Truth on your side, don't hesitate to wade in a bit deeper.

Colbert seems like a very profound dude, I bet he thinks through HIS stuff, not that Dawkins doesn't, but...

Oh, well...

I am certainly no Preacher, I'm just singing quartertones to the tone-deaf choir. Can you feel the beats? Can you catch the Vibe? Groovy.

It is not that I'm trying to pigeonhole anyone, but that an is difficult to discuss anything without defining what it is we're talking about. I suspect the problem again in this discussion turns on a definition of what religion is what is meant by the term theology. If you are speaking of religon as a philosphy where the term God has no concrete meaning and belief in the supernatural has no particular currency then it is like any secular philosphy that draws from human experience informed by science. We can both agree that many teachings of Jesus are good, but that has nothing to do with how I would define religion, nor would I define it as theological and I believe that is the context that Dawkins is talking about. What is it that distinguishes theology from the study of the same kinds of issues in a secular way if not God and the supernatural?

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"The only part of theology that could possibly demand my attention is the part that purports to demonstrate that God does exist. This part of theology I have, indeed, studied with considerable attention. And found it utterly wanting."

Sounds like his grounding in theology is actually the opposite of non-existent. It is existent, if incomplete/sparse. You'll have to forgive him for ignoring the countless irrelevancies provided by a large field of "study". (Contexts are so damned inconvenient, aren't they?)

Jef wrote:

I was glad to hear Mr. Dawkins retort: “Who created god?” I’ve been using that line in arguments ever since I was a young atheist. It usually has the same effect that it had on Colbert, it tends to make the delusional head hurt. I love Pachinko, by the way!

Jef, children will reason about the universe this way: the universe can't go on forever, but if it ends somewhere, then what's on the other side? Sounds logical but we know better. How is your question about God any different than the child's question above?

Norm wrote:

It is not that I'm trying to pigeonhole anyone, but that an is difficult to discuss anything without defining what it is we're talking about.

Norm, that seems right. But isn't the concept of God so amorphous that maybe we shouldn't even be using the word God? I don't know any two people who say they believe in God who believe exactly the same thing. And if believers can't even agree on the content of their belief, what does that say for the concept of God?

Instead of asking Do you believe in God, maybe our questions need to be more specific. Do you believe in the survival of consciousness after death? Do you believe that prayer works? Do you believe that Jesus was god incarnate? Do you believe that the universe was created?

It'd be easier to have discussions on these more specific questions, imho.

Is it just me, or did anyone else notice how that's got to be the first time Colbert has actually been stumped while in character? (Unless you account for the chuckling match he had with Joe Scarborough a few months ago)

Not only that, perhaps it's by chance that Dawkins was able to use his standard responses even when faced with a satirist. o_O

Norm: I did hear what Dawkins said. He said that postulating a God that exists outside space and time (a phrase needing further definition) is 'so easy', which seems to be his way of saying, "I don't like that because I can't refute it." My opinion is that a God capable of creating the universe would (by definition) transcend the limits of that universe, and only interact with it to whatever degree he chose.

Dawkins' ability to prove God to be statistically improbable/impossible would seem to be dependent on making some large (and non-intuitive) assumptions about the nature of God - namely that God is not omnipotent, or is some kind of being which is more powerful than man, but still bound by the laws of this universe. And while I can understand it's easier to poke holes in that type of God, that's also not the most common view most people hold of God.

What do I mean when I say I believe in God? I mean that I think it likely that the universe is not an accident, and that there is a design, and a designer who has an interest in his creation. That is the core part of my belief - everything after that is less a belief, and more an exercise in, "I wonder if maybe..."

eyeswideopen: I don't expect his soundbites to cover the book, but so far I'm not hearing any new argument from him that leads me to believe there's something more in the book beyond expounding on the (IMHO) tired or tangential themes he seems so enamored with.

TMH: If that's an accurate description of Dawkins' perspective, then I think the book would be a waste of my time. Not just because I wouldn't dismiss deism as all but atheism, but more importantly because I can imagine a near-infinite number of variations between the Simpson-esque, bearded, robbed man sitting on a throne in the clouds and Deism. Dawkins does, however, seem to like to only argue the extremes.

Richard Hendley: No, I'd say his grounding in theology is non-existent (from the standpoint of theologians). He's apparently studied aspects of theology with a scientific approach (which is very different than being a student of theology). He's looked apparently only for scientific evidence, which isn't what theology is about.

Read Spinoza.

I've never seen Colbert get so lost in an interview before. Dawkins is learning how to handle Christian thinking better. In his "Root of All Evil" series he seemed to lose his temper.

To be fair, he's talking to Colbert here, and there he was talking to Ted Haggard. Anyone with any degree of common sense would be pulling their hair out with spending 10 minutes with the man and his nonsense.

And Dawkins' books are hilarious, btw.

Theology includes Tillich and Kierkegaard as well as Thomas Aquinas. And modern theology is much more sophisticated than Dawkins gives it credit for.

"What is it that Dawkins attributes to an outdistinguishes theology from the study of the same kinds of issues in a secular way if not God and the supernatural?"

In short, belief in the divine, often experienced directly, which cannot be proven rationally. One can choose to consider this experience seriously, or try to explain it rationally as some sort of collective social meme. (I personally find the subject of memes to be less than scientific, but that's another thread.)

Dawkins wants to explain religion rationally (or explain it away, rather) and therefore is only interested in "proofs that god exists." (That is a very narrow, and rather unimportant, field in theology, btw.)

The question, I suppose, is how much of the human experience one belives can be explained by science alone.

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Dear Kevin,

If Dawkins were to approach theology in any other way, in any way that isn't critical and rational, there really would be no point in examining theology at all, would there?

If the only valid approach to theology is an approach that accepts appeals to the supernatural--faith--then you've taken as a premise the very thing in dispute: the legitimacy of faith.

Kevin, glad you stand up and thus be singled out as a target for those of us on here who do not scribe to religion, which there are many.

I'm not of the same mentality or of the same attitudes that Dawkins has, but I would say that if you want to believe that there is a creator who is at least organising this universe partly or wholly, well, go right ahead.

What brings people like Dawkins and me on agreeance is that your form of magick (for which that would be classed as such, if it wasnt so believed to be true by a lot of people) is no different to the Wiccan view on life or that we are all working energetically through Sacred Geometry and Songlines in this world.

I am not an Atheist, coz I think its egotistical to claim that there is or isnt a god. Like, who are WE to say there is. There may be, but hey, I feel a lot of atheism here is due to the political climate in the USA, and I am deeply opposed to the nutjobcases that are pushing through asinine and medieval atittudes to life.

Sorry guys but I dont give a stuff if 2 people of the same sex marry, I dont care about political symbols being set alight (ooohhhohohohohohhelphelpaflagisalight!), and if I was a woman I would tell the antiabortionists to fuck off & stride into a clinic - if any still exist due to these common-sense-retards closing them down - to have an abortion. Up yours if you wouldnt want me to have one, and nothing would change that.

I LOVE this site Norm, not coz I am an Atheist®, but that I cant stand Bush and you get some great clips.

The think that grates me most in this world are ideologies. Creationism is as much an ideology as Atheism. If one is being used to seperate us, then we are all guilty of jumping on that wagon. If I dont like you or want to ridicule you becuase you think differently, then whoever is doing it has a disease of seperation.

I agree with Dawkins that religious parent dont have a right to label the child a Hindu, Muslim, Xian as much as a ANC child or an Icelandic Revolutionary Party kid. I agree religion is spoken brutally and is abusive....

I dont need to waste my time in finding out if a father figure who will make me s.a.f.e in this u.n.s.a.f.e world and one that is uncertain (when HASNT it been uncertain) and since I didnt grow up with religion, then I dont need to think about bearded men in the sky.

What I want to find out in this life is how I can enter into the unknown and live with it. How it can influence my life, and more importantly for a happier life where I am accepting of a lot more and relaxed (ie not ideological about things), a journey into my inner world will not end.

No atheist or Xian can tell me that my inner world doesnt exist. Whether it is my mind, or another world where my dreams happen, really I dont mind.

However, I am also interested in a scientific view of it. Sure it may be genetics, but since change is inevitable, so too will science change.

eg my partner is a Masters in Biology and also a Teacher at High School. She puts as much emphasis on her inner world and her dreamworld, as she does on science. She is also finishing her PhD on the Philosophy & History of Science, and I tell you, I am learning a lot about what really goes on inside the heads of scientists once you take out the ego and long words.

And the differences between religion & science, as worked on by their adherants, are strangely similar.

Im not her, so I am not the best person to argue or debate this, but I am getting that way...

So, look, do whatever you do, but if you use your ideology to harm others, then I dont care if you are atheist or religious. If you arent spreading joy or positivity in the world while knowing what shit happens on this planet, then you are contributing to a depressed place.

Then again, I do love wit and sarcasm and TDS so go figure....

My 2,45 euros worth

Richard - There's a difference between approaching something critically/rationally versus trying to apply the scientific method to it. The study of art is certainly approached critically & rationally, but one does not try to apply scientific methodology to a painting.

This is not to say that God & religion should be exempt from scientific scrutiny. But someone who approaches theology (or art) looking for scientific proof of specific ideas is pretty much guaranteed not to find them.

This is not to say that God & religion should be exempt from scientific scrutiny. But someone who approaches theology (or art) looking for scientific proof of specific ideas is pretty much guaranteed not to find them.

Well then Kevin, drop the whole 'God created the universe and all living things' and ANY connecting to Intellegent Design, and while youre at it, kick out the story of the Great Flood (Theocratical Geology and Zoology) or that God does anything with this planet. Accept abortion as it is - coz God isnt involved in anything that science is involved in. Let Stem Cell Research happen

Basically, be against Abortion or Stem Cell Research, if you are, for the fact that you dont like to see embryos die. Not because of God, but because you dont like to see cells get destroyed.

Accept that the earth is more than 6000 years old, which you might be doing at the moment...

Basically, make God a small g, and start embracing the energy of the unknown within. Make your journey personal.

If you are looking out to the sky or ground to connect with god, dont start reading books or looking at the window that sits in the way. Thats no connection.

And remember where your morals come from, the basic fact that you wont rape & steal, coz you dont want to be stolen from or raped, and you probably think that its pretty pretty bad thing to do.

If you do, or are already doing these things - congratulations. You are now on a track to seeing what really connection the universe or god has to bring you.

Enjoy the inner journey or enjoy starting your inner journey without interferance from someone elses ideas of how things are. Peace.

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Kevin, TMH: Deists are nontheists by definition, and thus Dawkins is correct in categorizing them with atheists & agnostics.

Kevin: Reading Dawkins' book will clarify your mind on the subject.

Eric Vigo: Atheists do not claim to know that deities do not exist, they simply do not believe in them due to their exceedingly low probability and the acute lack of evidence for them. In other words, it is an absence of belief. Atheism is no more a dogma or belief than baldness is a hair color.

I think it is essential for humans to fully and clearly distinguish between belief (that which is taken on faith) and knowledge (that which can be relied upon and is supported by solid evidence). It is a grave error to confuse the two, as world history and current affairs so painfully demonstrate. Human, know thyself. For the good of the planet.

Kevin, What would a proof of existence outside of space and time look like. Is it simply enough to assert it. It is not Dawkins responsibility to refute every possible explanation for a God but rather for those who make a claim for God's existence that is something other than faith-based to provide the evidence. Is that what your claim is faith based. You seem reticent to define exactly what your beliefs are which makes discussing the issues with you fruitless. Please answer a couple of questions. Do you believe the God you believe in answers prayers? Does the God you believe in perform miracles? Is your God anymore than a feeling that there must be something? Do you worship your God in any way?

Oh god (I mean gawd) that was a thing of beauty. I may have to fork over the cash to upgrade my QuickTime to Pro so I can download this one. Posted by: CJ | October 18, 2006 12:47 PM

Hey CJ, if you've got a Mac, you may be able to find the file while it's still open in your browser by going into your user account folder, then Library/Caches/Safari or Library/Caches/Firefox, or whichever browser you prefer and use. Of course, it's much easier with Quicktime Pro, but for the meantime, you can sift and comb through the caches, find the larger files, type the ".mov" suffix at the end, double-click and see what happens.

Happy hunting, dude!

One thing that I don't particularly understand is that a lot of the theists I know call themselves Christian. I think it's already a leap to believe that a deity exists without any proof, but to go one step further and choose a deity from the multitude that people believe in is ridiculous in my opinion. Oh well, there's a Christian church around the corner so I may as well believe in Jesus.

I saw this first on YouTube…I don't know why I didn't stop in here, I knew it would be posted. Dawkins did a great job, it can't be easy sitting across from that much intensity and wit even if you are as intelligent as Dr. Dawkins. I was a bit worried that he would fall victim to one of Colbert's infamous setups, but he breezed through perfectly, even when the crowd groaned unapprovingly at one of his more pointed anti-religion remarks. Always my favorites by the way.

I'm still wondering why art and music cannot be defined, analyzed in a scientific process and provide some truths as to their purpose, where they come from, and why they exist. They can be reduced to light, mathematics, emotion, reaction, culture, all which are within the sciences. But the supernatural, well by definition, since it is "super"-natural, it is not real.

I always thought Colbert played a "character" that argued for the point he was against in a manner that made him look bad because he is so extreme? I felt the audience was not with Dawkins at all on this, and I don't think they got Colberts jokes. Also it seems like the questions were set up ahead of time, I think colbert set him up to get out his points.

Who created god is a very valid question.

When introducing the concept of god, you introduce more problems and questions that are unanswerble than you are solving many.

Saying he is out of time and our reach IS a cop out, just like a parent saying, "Because I said so!" is one. It is along the same vein.

You alike it to a child saying, "Why? Why?" This is not the same. We only get fustrated with the child because we do not feel like answering all those questions. You can answer them all to a certain degree if decided to or looked up all the information available.

I believe the only reason the current singular god, that most people believe in, has only continued to exist because people are still scared of death. Just like how people use to be scared of lightening, or floods, or disease, etc. You have close to no control over those, just like death; so create a god you can appease (giving you the illusion of some control) and it takes away the fear.

The belief that this is our only life ... is a very scary one and one that will never disappear ... (Well .. except if we develop technology to keep ourselves alive forever)

The reason I see religion as being a bad thing for humans is that it is damaging to singular humans and the human race as a whole.

The reason I see religion as damaging is that it calls for complete and unwavering belief. It does not attempt to create room for thinking other wise. It attempts to make you view the world as black and white on many things. When you reach this level of thinking on these important issues, it will naturally glide over onto other issues that involve other people that calls for shades of gray. It does not call for tolerence of others beliefs. I do believe in a way, you will actually view human life as LESS important, when you believe in the afterlife. Who cares if you do not make great changes in this life time or make life better for others? This is just a short period between ETERNITY. This of course depends on the person, but I believe religion just further alongs this mentality.

If this was just a short period before heaven, would you rush ahead or slow down?

Religions all through history, and even today, are willing to kill or be killed, as they do not value certian human life as much. Sure jingoism can bring about the same thing, but not to the level that religion takes it.

Many will cry for the benefits of the religious illusion. How it is comforting and helpful to many. That is great, but its damaging effects FAR out weigh these. Abuse of alcohol and drugs can be comforting as well ... I love and value truth, and I will not ascribe to a falsehood just because it is comforting or helpful.

Norm: What would a proof of existence outside of space and time look like. Is it simply enough to assert it. It is not Dawkins responsibility to refute every possible explanation for a God but rather for those who make a claim for God's existence that is something other than faith-based to provide the evidence.
So, wait a second. Dawkins is only trying to refute people who's claim for God's existence is something other than faith-based? Isn't almost all religion faith-based? Haven't it been talked about ad nauseam that the number of people out there who believe it's possible to prove God's existence scientifically is (statistically speaking) small?

Is that what your claim is faith based. You seem reticent to define exactly what your beliefs are which makes discussing the issues with you fruitless.
I'm only reticent to write a dissertation on my specific religious beliefs. I gave you the broad outline before. A creator with interest in his creation. Why can't you respond to that alone, as that's all I'm hypothesizing?

But just for giggles, here's answers to your questions: Do you believe the God you believe in answers prayers? I don't know. Quite possibly, although I doubt in any strict 'cause & effect' way. An omnipotent God, unbounded by our view of time, could answers prayers as part of creation itself.

Does the God you believe in perform miracles? Again, a similar answer answer to above. A god who had to perform miracles by breaking the laws of nature would (to me) be less impressive, than say, a God who knew as part of creation itself that (for example) the Red Sea waters needed to recede for Moses at a certain place and time. Again, this is more of a thought exercise in 'What would a truly omnipotent God, capable of creating the universe, actually look like?' rather than, 'This is what I strongly believe, and I'll argue that belief to be true. I think it's arrogant for human beings to claim certainty on things they have no way of being certain about (theists & atheists alike).

Is your God anymore than a feeling that there must be something? Don't even know how to answer that one. Is there anything more to why I believe in God than that? Yes, but not a whole lot. My belief (which is to say, a hunch and not a certainty) is a result of weighing a great number of factors and ultimately deciding that I think the God possibility is at least as (if not more so) compelling than the alternative explanations around the origin of the universe, the existence of life, the history of belief in God, and the state of the current social phenomenon of people wrestling with faith.

Do you worship your God in any way? I'm really curious how the answer to this one in any way helps you respond to the original premise, but I do worship. However, my view of worship (and this one isn't just me - there's a fair amount of progressive theology that's with me on this) is not the act of kneeling down and saying, "Oh God, thou art so big and great, etc.", but rather a conscious effort to try to live my life a certain way - specifically to recognize and appreciate what I have, and not to squander it because it has intrinsic value - as opposed to taking the approach that nothing truly matters and I should just do whatever I want at any time.

Now, how did any of those specifics help you (or Dawkins) respond to the notion of an omnipotent God, and your ability to disprove his existence, or otherwise calculate any kind of scientific probability of his existence?

Perhaps humans created gods because they thought they'd worn the wonder out of the universe.

It's as good as any other reason.

What difference is there between the "Christian" god (the One who brought forth Judaism, followed by Catholicism, followed by Islam, Protestantism et al) and Odin, Jove, Samhain and the rest of the Patheon?

Rhetorical question.

This is one of my favorite quotes:

"Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are."

...and I bring this sharing Kevin and others points of views that you might believe in things that might be not all that clear, but then again, you do... and that doesn't make you inferior or irrational. Deep inside of us, we are what we are. Look at the questions you posted: do you beleive in God? What God? Your God? Outside Space-Time God? Inside? Is God a feeling? What is beleive? What is is? Do you pray? When you pray, you expect your prayers to be answered?

My two problems with the extra questioning are that, for the sake of debating, Kevin (and others) doesn't have to answer those questions any more than the others. It might be easy to place your self at the end of the spectrum, usually in a place and with judgements usually stablished by others (Dawkings, Nietzche, etc), that to be somewhere in the middle, with your own beliefs, pretty much influenced by who you are, though you can't define it (see the quote). The other problem I have, is that, the ones at the end of the spectrum with preconcived judgements, obviously have more clarity and are backed up (by Dawkings in this case), but that doesn't make them better or superior, something you perceive in the tone of the postings.

At the end of the day, Kevin wont buy nor read the book, and the others will buy, recommend and wait for the next Dawkings book, wish they wrote them themselves, feeling more intelectually secure. Why do they do this? Deep inside of them there is something they cant name.

Try the Battleground God quiz at:

http://www.philosophersnet.com/games/god.htm

It is hard to take the quiz without finding yourself in a contradiction.

You will see that the existence of sufficiently powerful god is indeed irrefutable. You have to assume some limits to God's powers in order to trust your logic and evidence.

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If they (His followers) hide God beyond Space, in another dimension presumeably, or "outside of time," and Colbert knows his stuff here, then you atheists have to go track Him down where He is hidden. If God is in the tribal region of Pakistan, hanging out with Osama, hey, maybe Osama is outside of time, maybe that's why they can't find him, ...

Leonard Susskind is a physicist who has written a book on Stringtheory and the illusion of intelligent design.

If Hawking, Dawkins, whoever, can do all this good work, easy to understand, about selfish genes, miserly Memes, etc., why can't he tread upon the sacred grounds beyond Space, and outside of Time? The "happy hunting grounds" of my people [the "natives," Us sprouted Spartoi, chthonically sprung from this very Earth, this Land of North "America" (some of whom are ignorant creationists with Myth-smyths of our very own)].

Happy Hunting Big Guns!

vonmenth: Postulating a god that is out of time/space isn't a cop-out unless you're viewing the question as some kind of contents (as opposed to a search for truth). It's understandable that some people don't like that proposition, but their feelings on it have nothing to do with it's validity. Einstein refused to accept quantum mechanics in his lifetime because he was offended at the idea there was an 'unknowable' aspect to physics (hence his famous phrase, "God does not play dice with the universe..."), but we now believe quantum mechanics to be true (or the best model we've been able to come up with, anyway).

The parent/child analogy works quite well, methinks (are you a parent?). Try explaining to a toddler why crossing the street is dangerous. It's not just a question of not 'feeling like answering all those questions' or not wanting to look up all the available information. It's not just a question of language to make a toddler comprehend the context and the larger situation - aisde from the lack of language, and learned knowledge, their brains are not yet developed to the point that they can fully grasp the big picture. A parent just says "No. I will not let go of your hand." and leaves it at that, despite the fact that the child may feel the situation is unfair.

The reason I see religion as damaging is that it calls for complete and unwavering belief. It does not attempt to create room for thinking other wise...It does not call for tolerence of others beliefs...Religions all through history, and even today, are willing to kill or be killed, as they do not value certian human life as much.
Some pretty gross over-generalizations you got there. Many of the characteristics you describe can be applied to some religious people (and some atheists, by the way), but that's about as far as you can go. It is not a necessary component of religion for one's beliefs to be complete or unwavering, nor would I say most religious people are big on killing or devaluing human life.

Kevin,

I put that poorly. It is certainly a question science can address, but there are two questions here. Does something outside of time and space exist and is there some entity there that runs the show. The current inability to refute such an idea is certainly not evidence that the idea has any validity. Your concept of god is so amorphous as to be beyond discussion. I'd like your reaction to something P.Z. Myers wrote about Dawkins view of religion.

Religion is a cultural heritage that should be appreciated for its contributions to history, literature, and art, and Dawkins actually advocates more education in the subject. At the same time, its promotion as a guide to absolute truth, as a dogmatic and authoritarian prescription for behavior, and as a substitute for scientific thinking, leads to catastrophic excesses and false conclusions, which he documents at length. We can respect poetry as a window on the human mind and an outlet for the expression of beauty, but we'd laugh at someone who claimed that poetry explained cosmology, was grounds for declaring war, or could cure cancer. But religion makes these kinds of claims, and a dangerous majority accepts them. Dawkins asks that we recognize religion as a legitimate expression of human feeling—but that we avoid overendowing it with powers it does not possess.

Kevin I think it is safe to say that if the world were filled with folks who have thought out their deism as much as you have, us atheists would be much much happier. But, don't underestimate the Christian tendency to devalue human life. I've heard many times that "this life is just temporary", when justifying a feeling of helplessness when it comes to changing the world - mostly because God controls everything. Praying for an end to the Iraq war or Islamic/any sort of terrorism, for instance, is not going to do anything - let's be honest.

Eric Vigo: Atheists do not claim to know that deities do not exist, they simply do not believe in them due to their exceedingly low probability and the acute lack of evidence for them. In other words, it is an absence of belief. Atheism is no more a dogma or belief than baldness is a hair color.

I think it is essential for humans to fully and clearly distinguish between belief (that which is taken on faith) and knowledge (that which can be relied upon and is supported by solid evidence). It is a grave error to confuse the two, as world history and current affairs so painfully demonstrate. Human, know thyself. For the good of the planet.

Heya Eyeswideopen

I dont argue with the spirit of what you say. To take it one step further, any stated view about something, and holding to that, means that you have set up the standard to make what ever existance of evidance fit in with it.

That is why I mentioned my gf. She has made distinguished note that science is as much an ideology as is religion.

That doesnt make it bad, it just follows human emotional bonding and dualistic one sided camping.

For instance, you embark on an experiment to prove that B becomes C upon contact with A. Your hypothesis needs proof. B does not change into C. You have 2 choices: either accept that B doesnt become C and you hypothesis must change, or reject what you found and keep trying.

Just about all experiements in science fit the latter. Thats fine, completely. I dont argue against that. You have an idea and you want to see it work. Which is OK & ideal, but if you add an ogical on the end of ideal, then you want the world to fit in with what you think it should be.

A lot of scientists do this. So it is not necessarily wrong to say that atheism is an ideology, as you are saying there is no proof that God exists, or none has been shown.

And I am not saying that no proof has been found, but I can say to you that I will not ever say that there is no proof based on my ability to not percieve its existance. And I dont really care...so I am not argueing for or against in a dualistic sense...

What I mean is that the greys involve that we know a little about infinity, and that little means we slam our fists & say "its there coz this book says" or "its not there coz we havent found a way of monitoring it"

Ai....

Well then Kevin, drop the whole 'God created the universe and all living things' and ANY connecting to Intellegent Design, and while youre at it, kick out the story of the Great Flood (Theocratical Geology and Zoology) or that God does anything with this planet...
I'm glad you quoted both sentences there, but had you forgotten the first one by the time you were done reading the second?

All I said was (in response to Dawkins Theology street cred) that if you study theology looking for proof of God, then Theologians would say you're doing it wrong. Now take your meds and calm down.

Norm,

You said, "Your concept of god is so amorphous as to be beyond discussion." Obviously it isn't, as we're discussing it. What it is, is beyond any scientific ability to prove or disprove. But I'm not trying to prove it - I know it's not provable. That's why it's faith (I'll be first in line to try to debunk anyone who claims they can prove God's existence). But is there a place in this world for belief (and discussion of beliefs) which by definition, can not be proven? I'd argue yes, provided all parties agree on that from the beginning.

My response to the P.Z. Myers quote is that (like much of Dawkins writing) it has seeds of truth, but then proceeds to make some overreaching assumptions/claims. This has always been a large part of my annoyance with Dawkins - he tends to phrase things in very absolute fashion (as does the religious right he despises). I think there's a lot of grey in the equation, and too easy to say 'Religion is bad'.

At the same time, its promotion as a guide to absolute truth, as a dogmatic and authoritarian prescription for behavior, and as a substitute for scientific thinking, leads to catastrophic excesses and false conclusions, which he documents at length.
I completely agree with this statement, but the key part of it seems to be the inclusion of the phrase "its promotion as". Religion is not consistently viewed by its followers as a guide to absolute truth, a dogmatic and authoritarian prescription for behavior, or a substitute for scientific thinking. It is by some, but not all, and (again) there's examples of all three stemming from things other than religion also.

We can respect poetry as a window on the human mind and an outlet for the expression of beauty, but we'd laugh at someone who claimed that poetry explained cosmology, was grounds for declaring war, or could cure cancer. But religion makes these kinds of claims, and a dangerous majority accepts them. Dawkins asks that we recognize religion as a legitimate expression of human feeling—but that we avoid overendowing it with powers it does not possess.
'Religion' doesn't make these claims. Some members of some religions interpret them this way, but this is social commentary. This is discussion of the bad or evil things people do in the name of religion. It says absolutely nothing as to whether or not a given religious belief is true.

Now take your meds and calm down.

Oh really. Do you really wish to show credibility by including personal insults? Geez. Read some debating 101 manuals, Kevin. Is attack the best you can do?

To address your point, I dont see how I am delinking 2 points in my post.

Sure, you are repeating your point, and not adding to it, so I wont repeat mine. But I will add in saying that proof of an inner god, or a god within is as present as you wish it to be. I will not dispute your inner truth. I mean, why would I?

What I would dispute is the belief that someone is directing everything as proof in itself. You come up with a credible parallel to the Scientific Method, and I as a future science student, will give you as much credibility as it deserves.

Now, tell me Kevin, would my point become more clear if I added a personal insult directed at you? No. So, if you wish to discuss this with me, and at no point will I say you are wrong...then go ahead, but if you attack me personally - without a real sense of humour in your post, particularily, I will designate you as a troll, and ignore you.

Do as you wish...

Christopher, I appreciate your comments but I'd still argue that there is not a 'Christian tendency to devalue human life'. I'd argue that some Christians most certainly have displayed that tendency. But many would also argue (and back it up with scripture) that human life is incredibly precious. It would be hard to argue that the central figure of Christianity (Jesus) wasn't pretty clear on this particular subject.

People have (historically) decried science because of bad things done by some scientists. Do the actions of bad scientists hurt the public image of science? Yes. Do I believe they make science bad or wrong? No.

Whether praying for an end to the Iraq war or Islamic/any sort of terrorism does any good, I have no idea. But I certainly don't believe that prayer (and I'm not real big on prayer, but I know people who are) without action is an acceptable response to injustice.

Oh really. Do you really wish to show credibility by including personal insults? Geez. Read some debating 101 manuals, Kevin. Is attack the best you can do?
Um, if you thought that was a personal attack, I sincerely apologize. I didn't think it particularly nasty, and if I had to do over again, I'd gladly omit it.

As to your point(s)...I honestly have no idea what you're trying to say at this point.

I said if someone studies theology looking for scientific proof of God, then Theologians would say they're doing it wrong.

Not sure how you got from there to issues of Abortion, Stem Cell Research, my 'inner energy', moral compass, theft or rape. I thought the idea above was fairly simple.

Actually I think we're discussing why it's difficult to talk about it what you mean by God, still a decidedly fuzzy concept. You seem more a deist than a theist to me, with a hope that the theist position is right.

You write:

Religion is not consistently viewed by its followers as a guide to absolute truth, a dogmatic and authoritarian prescription for behavior, or a substitute for scientific thinking. It is by some, but not all, and (again) there's examples of all three stemming from things other than religion also.

Dawkins distinguishes between the two in his writing and has different criticism of the two groups of believers and further acknowledges that others also do evil. He's not lumping all into one group as you seem to believe. Fundamentalist religion is dangerous and those who are not fundamentalists need criticize the fundamentalists in the same way they criticize non-religious evil-doers, and quit showing respect for their belief.

Ah, part of the problem is that I use the word theism in it's broad sense: The belief in a god (or gods).

I don't like using theist to describe a 'personal' god, because that just invites the question of what umbrella term one should use when they can not (or do not care to) be more specific.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theism So, I use theism in the first sense, as opposed to the 'second' (according to their terminology).

I understand Dawkins makes the theist/deist distinction, but I don't like how quickly he jumps from (what are apparently) hugely different topics. I would be so much happier if he didn't confuse the two issues.

If he wrote two books, one decrying the evils of religious fundamentalism and intolerance, and another explaining his case against the very idea of any kind of deity, then I could fully support him on the first, and raise an eyebrow at his trying to tackle the second. By combining the two, he seems to be trying to make a case against the idea of God via guilt by association, which makes me question his ability to be rational and objective.

No worries, Kevin. Eric

A humble request: Please, for either God's sake or the sake of a meaningful discussion, refrain from talking about books that you have not read. Like, really. Just stop. :)

to whoever said they've never seen dawkins get flustered, believe me, it's happened, look for his documentary where he talks to ted haggard, he gets very pissed, and you can just see his pot boiling over.

Hi all, is it possible to stop debating the idea, nature or even idendity of God or gods at this thread?

Everyone here has their own ideas of what constitutes Gods and there is no common agreement on his essential aspects. So why bother discussing this?

If you read Dawkins' writings, you will know that he wrote his book in a way that precludes any discussion on the nature of the God i.e. his explantion of natural phenomana in the world from the past to the present logically and clearly excludes the possibility of a divine guiding hand.

In this way, Dawkins does not have to go into the essential nature of every divine being that is seen as the creator of this world, which can number in thousands and is irrelevant to the objective of his discussion.

It is a fruitless debate to go into whether there is a god or that this god is more real than another god or my god beats your god? These are mere speculations and are not matters of science.

You want to bear Dawkins' thesis?

Easy. Just visit every cave drawing done by Early men for a graphical depiction of God or even angels.

You will find no such thing as the idea of God and angels have always been an idea that became popular in the last thousand of years of human history.

Go back further than that and you will see animals being revered as representations of higher beings.

And at the dawn of man, fire and winds and other aspects of elements were worshipped as spirits with indomitable souls.

That is why a discussion of evolution has to preclude a nit-picking discussion of the nature of God as his very nature has changed throughout time.

Not because of evolution. But because of the growing horizons of the imagination and literary talents of man.

To the religious people here, if your god is the one through God, why wasn;t your God mentioned since the start of human history in every human culture and civilisation?

Unless he's not really the one true god.

TYPO: You want to BEAT Dawkins' thesis?

Hi Kes!

Yes, it does make one wonder why it is that God left all of those Neanderthals without any gospel to guide them.

Kes,

Have you read Dawkins book?

Hi Norm, I've only read his book "The Blind Watchmaker" as I'm still waiting for my Amazon purchase of "The God Delusion" to arrive. As it's publshed in October, it is not yet on sale in Singapore.

I've also read Dawkin's published writings and articles where they are available like this one:

Why There Almost Certainly Is No God. 23 Oct 06.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-dawkins/why-there-almost-certainlb32164.html

==========

While I DO NOT completely understand all the terms he uses, I'm familiar with how Dawkins argue or approach his case.

Dawkins never lets himself be bogged down by issues relating to the nature of God.

Mostly because he is not so much anti-Christianity as he is anti-religion.

Natures of God are beyond the realm of discussions on Darwinism.

However the process by which man can evolve in a way that requires a concept of God is what Dawkins has addressed.

And which is one that Dawkins refutes completely as irrational superstitious behaviour.

That is perfectly acceptable to most.

However, Dawkins' thesis on how evolution impacts or influence our idea of God is a little dicey as it steps into "social" darwinism, rather than genetic darwinism.

There's a clip on Dawson's thinking here at this blog 3-4 months back where a researcher said that group socialising / thinking was an evolutionary trait.

This is a dicey hypothesis as he can't prove it besides using logic and conjecture.

That's the problem with using science to examine God.

You simply have no facts or evidence to examine whether there is a God or there is not.

Dawkins did the next best thing.

He used an evolutionary approach to examine how man could have evolved in a way to require the idea or superstition of God or gods.

And once he established it, he debunks this completely.

=====

As for the Neantherdals, which are quite different to the Cro-Magnon modern man, I also wonder why God would let them die and why there seems to be so many versions of man in ancient times.

All the different species of man in the dawn of time looks so different in appearances and bone structure that one can't help but wonder which of them is the mirror image of the one true god.

I found it very strange that Dawkins used the “But who created God?” argument because for the longest time the most common Atheist response to the question of “Who created the universe?” was to boldly claim that surely “No one was needed” since the universe had always been here and had no actual beginning so you didn’t need God to create it etc.

Now post Einstein’s Theory of relativity and the hard work of many scientists verifying the Big Bang we have the Atheists conveniently changing arguments as Dawkins does in this interview and conveniently forgets that Atheists used to claim no one was needed to create the universe because it had always been here. So when people who state as part of their belief in God that he transcends time and space the Atheist say look at these silly ideas of the religious. Who are they kidding! Yet talk to Nobel winning cosmologists and those who study physics since they fully understand the implications of a universe coming from nothing. They know it likely implies a cause that is not physical and that is not restrained by time. No un-testable Multi-universe theory or imaginary numbers plugged into elegant universe theory equations will change this.

Dawkins Reveals Atheist slight of hand. When the data changes (Big Bang) and threatens your strong hold of belief (An Eternal Universe) and even contradicts your long held positions just quickly jump up and shout that it’s the other fellow who always had that silly and preposterous belief and that you always have been innocent of such foolishness. Since most people aren’t really that well read on the topics and don’t know the common positions (current ones and past ones now quickly hidden and/or fully disowned) Dawkins can make such a statement and the gullible audience – causing at least those predisposed to Darwinism to gleefully snicker with delight and yell “Give it to those God lovers again Dawkins”

The point is that God haters will always surround themselves with teachers and leaders who tell them just what their itching ears want to hear. That’s why Darwinists are looking into space comets for the origins of life since the once entertaining parade of Origin of Life theories like chance, self organizational, and RNA World theories have themselves gone from being ROCK SOLID PROOFs (claimed especially in text books and popular media) to actually being somewhat of embarrassments highlighting the failures of science to come up with plausible workable theories. The adaptive Atheist knows instinctively that he must scamper around looking for some other shelter from the growing evidence against him. Next the Atheist will tell us that they are certain that life began on some other planet in some other theorized way and that “This Time” they are 100% sure their facts (aka conjectures) are supported. So they will gain more time by evading the issues before them by saying “Just wait a little longer” for some for unknown law of physics or matter that will explain it all. It’s just around the bend. Well it was around the bend in Miller-Urey 1953 and Kenyon 1969. Since they certainly have got the FAITH they might as well build a temple and carve an idol or place the meteors in the temple and then come up with some hymnal worship songs while they wait for their scientific deliverer from the heathens of God believers. They will be waiting a long time.

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i think i see where eli's coming from.years of experience, you know. i would say...jim beam black label? yohimbe?...no, i've got it- la cocaina! am i right,huh, huh?

Eli, your points are way off base.

Dawkins raises an interesting point.

Christians can ask atheists who created the world and the Christian answer is God.

So why can't atheists ask Christians who created God?

Why is God the final answer to the scheme of things?

Why stop there?

The essential element in science is too keep questioning.

The problem with religion is that it wants people to stop questioning and take its dogma as answers and facts.

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"the essential element in science is to keep questioning.."

Yes, and the essential element in Religion is to end it. When a two-and-a-half year-old discovers the causal chain that can be hopped onto with the word "Why?" iterated ad infinitum, the Elders and Wisers have to have a way to turn it off, shut it up. But the scientific mind keeps up the questions, silently, mentally, anyway, into adolescence, and beyond.

Also, if one were to be religious: which one? There are any number of religions. The competition is fierce, and deadly. There is only one Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psych-, etc., are in the words of E.O.W., "consilient," they all fit into a single coherent system). And there is only serious competition within Science, about details, not essentials. (P.S. No offense intended regarding Indo-Portuguese, etc.)

Indo-Portuguese? Some details, thanks!

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