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Dawkins on SBS

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Richard Dawkins was also on ABC in Australia last night in a panel discussion show called Q&A.

Here are the links in 3 parts. The last part devolved into talk about Australian Immigration policy.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDn6mYjj880

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X61mMl7V7E

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeNuiFT601g

Please excuse our idiotic politicians who are on the panel.

dawkins is, as always, a pleasure to listen to. 2 points:

when the interviewer says the recent dubai assasination of the hamas weapons procurer was perpetrated (on the assumption, unproven so far, that it was the work of the israeli mossad) by people acting "in the name of god", dawkins merely accepts this ridiculous claim and sticks it in his "quiver". intellectually dishonest. what, do you think the hamas guy was killed by orthodox jews, acting in the name of their religion? don't be silly.

2nd, when he says (a common atheist talking point) that you don't need a degree in "leprauchanology" to realize that leprachauns don't exist, he disingenuously ignores the fact that, especially today with the internet, a "degree in leprachanology" may be aquired in about half an hour's worth of research. not a fair comparison at all to the religious traditions he opposes.

JB, (will have some fun with ya grin)

Did you get a degree studying the Greek and Roman and Hindi beliefs before rejecting them? What about the other thousand religions, including Scientology.

I also don't think that most Massad agents are strictly orthodox jews, but like any other person in the military, they will kill on command. Isn't assassination a much cleaner way of doing war? Kill one instead of hundreds?

My main beef with Israel is the core belief that Jews are the people chosen by God above all others. I am a Goya, (and a mensch I hear) and if there are such things as souls, I have one too.

robinson, you can't be a goy and a mensch at the same time. a goya is a woman and a mensch is a man.

you object to the jewish doctrine of "choseness" in spite of the fact (i have little doubt) that you know little of it. fine. but it has nothing to do with the modern state of israel, except in the religious doctrines of the modern "national religious" movement, who see the state as a sign that god's on our side or whatever. they are a pretty small minority, and riven by internal conflict themselvess. i wouldn't make too big a deal of it. if you'd care to research it a bit, you'll find that this "chosenness" isn't necessarily such a wonderful thing, anyway.

sorry, can't be a goya. you got that i guess.

as far as my "degrees"- yes, i have a pretty good idea about hindi, buddhist and scientologist beliefs. i don't prima faciae reject anything, unlike you lazy "i just don't wanna deal with it" kind of people. :) but it's true, i'm not a buddhist or a hindu. i could be, though. not a scientologist, i don't think.

2nd, when he says (a common atheist talking point) that you don't need a degree in "leprauchanology" to realize that leprachauns don't exist, he disingenuously ignores the fact that, especially today with the internet, a "degree in leprachanology" may be aquired in about half an hour's worth of research. not a fair comparison at all to the religious traditions he opposes.

It seems to me that you're reinforcing Dawkins's "talking point". To spend a half an hour on leprechaunology is to spend half an hour too long. You can make an intelligent decision about leprechauns in half a minute. In order to satisfy critics who whine about his lack of theological training, Dawkins would have to spend half a lifetime - far more time than theology is worth if the existence of God is implausible from the outset. (The mere act of labelling it as a "talking point" does nothing to refute the point either.) Failed hypotheses do not have to be knocked down one by one forevermore in order for us to be confident of the correctness of those which are well-supported by evidence.

methinks thou dost protest too much, sir. if you've never wasted a pleasant half an hour learning about something completely useless i'll eat my hat. surely you've done so (and more) at this very site.

it's true that the fact the leprachaun/unicorn/santa claus thing is a talking point does not in itself refute it. i would do this by coming up with a much better analogy- "i don't need a degree in literature to know that i don't like to read". i think that would be much closer to what you are saying, and starkly highlights the true meaning and implications of it.

anyone who wants to use leprachauns as a pillar of their worldview and hasn't bothered to take half an hour and learn literally everything that may be known about them (which can be done) is a disingenuous fool. and i've heard dawkins mention leprachauns by now, i'm pretty sure, more than anyone i've ever seen or heard or met, including wiccans.

i would do this by coming up with a much better analogy- "i don't need a degree in literature to know that i don't like to read".

I think that's a poor analogy. Few people dispute that Literature exists or that books exist. There's no good evidence that God or leprechauns exist - and is the existence of the thing that is at issue - and it nothing to do with one "likes" either of them. Learning about leprechaun or literature because one enjoys them is not what we're talking about.

You seem to enjoy repeating the idea that we atheists just don't want to deal with the way God is, but I hear all sorts of attitudes from atheists about whether they'd like there to be a God. Their views range from that of Hitchens who thinks that Heaven would be a celestial North Korea to those who seem to sincerely wish they could believe in the nonsense.

you're right my analogy sucked and you're right about why, too. i'm gonna have to try and polish that up. there MUST be a better comparison than leprachauns, which is really just designed to be insulting, as was my version, they sort of cancel each other out that way. thanks for catching that before i went on to make more of a fool of myself.

i think the topic you mention in your last paragraph is a really interesting one. i remember seeing a talk show- i think it was british- where the interviewee was basically asked "what things would you change about the world if you were god?" i thought it was a good idea for a show and then forgot what it was called. damn.

JB -- you wrote, "what, do you think the hamas guy was killed by orthodox jews, acting in the name of their religion? don't be silly."

Obviously, we don't know whether Mossad was responsible for the assassination (although it strikes me as pretty likely), much less what private religious beliefs are held by the assailants. That said, if we assume that it was Mossad, then it's worth considering that a substantial portion of the Zionist ideology that drives Israel to continue expanding its borders while strangling the society of the remaining indigenous population of Palestine--through, among other things, targeted assassinations of political leaders--is rooted in the religious belief that Eretz Israel belongs in toto to the Jewish people because it was promised to them by God. It's also worth considering the extent to which even the “secular” strands within mainstream Zionist ideology, especially insofar as they lead so many Israelis along with their supporters abroad to fiercely believe and perpetuate factually ridiculous propaganda about the situation on the ground in Palestine, can be understood to represent a kind of religious (or at least dogmatic) belief system. Isn't Dawkins's position that dogmatic ideologies like Stalinist Communism and Nazism function more-or-less as religions and are objectionable on similar grounds? This seems relevant here.

will: your comment contains so many false assumptions i don't know where to start.

israel is "expanding its borders" based on zionist ideology? i think israel, having left southern lebanon, sinai, taba and gaza is actually shrinking it's borders, not to mention giving up all of what is now known as jordan in the '48 war over the u.n. partition plan.

zionist ideology is based on religious belief? au contraire, mon frere. but i have dealt with this at length elsewhere here.

the assassination agents (assuming they're mossad) were motivated by zionism and/or religion. no way. unless you're willing to admit that zionism today is merely "enlightened self interest", the same motivation shared by all other countries.

palestine is a country? not.

"palestinians" (as opposed to jews) are "indiginous"? i think not. they've certainly been there long enough to have a valid claim but are definitely not any more "indiginous" than the jews. much less so in fact.

but let's cut to the chase: what you're really saying, i think, is a legitimate atheist talking point that too often gets lost in the mess- but not the one, unfortunately, that dawkins or his interviewer were bringing up here. namely:

religion is just dogma. and dogma is the enemy.

in this we are in agreement. separating religion from dogma is my life's work. and a thankless task it is, too.

and by the way: if you atheists keep going the way you're going, you'll also find yourselves desperately trying to separate atheism from dogma soon enough, soon enough. you have been warned.

seperating nothing from nothing is hard.

separating religion from dogma is my life's work. and a thankless task it is, too.

Instead of "thankless", are you sure you don't mean "pointless"?

If you don't know what you're talking about ,then you should try to be less condescending.

<<>

Israel’s seizure of these territories was, to quote Zeev Sternhell, “another step in the realization of Zionism‘s major ambitions“ which Israel had merely been awaiting a pretext to realize. It had no claim to them in the first place, and it continues to expand settlements in the far more substantial West Bank, while forcefully evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to make room for Jewish Israelis. Israel’s occupation of these territories is in direct violation of international law. As for Gaza, it has been subjected to a crippling siege/blockade effectively turning it into a poverty-stricken prison. The Israeli regime’s long term vision is clearly one of a greater Israel that does not involve a viable Palestinian state, and a cursory read through of foundational Zionist texts (Ben-Gurion, etc.) makes it clear that this has been the intention from the beginning.

<<<>>

That’s just completely ridiculous. I say clearly in my post that Zionism has a secular component, and its historical genesis was no doubt pioneered by many, perhaps primarily, secular organizations. But to deny the religious/biblical dimension of Zionism, particular as it obtains in contemporary discourse both inside and outside Israel, is just not serious.

“…some, like these outpost settlers, say they will never move because they believe they are fulfilling God’s plan with every hut they put up. They are likely to be a major stumbling block to any attempt to find a two-state solution. At the Neria outpost celebration, Noam Rein, a father of 10, looked out across the hills at Ramallah and called its presence “temporary.” He added: “The Torah says the land of Israel is for the Jewish people. This is just the beginning. We will build 1,000 homes here. The Arabs cannot stay here, not because we hate them, but because this is not their place.” Among the religious leaders who spoke at the ceremony, Rabbi Yair Remer of Harasha, a nearby outpost, noted that Thursday was the Ninth of Av, a Jewish day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the ancient temples. He suggested that the best way to cope with the tragedy of Jewish history was to do what the young builders of this outpost were doing.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/world/middleeast/30settlers.html?_r=1

I’ve been there, my sister’s in-laws are Israeli, my best friend is studying at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem. The vast majority of Israelis I’ve interacted with will cite Biblical precedent as justification for the occupation of Palestinian land. This may be anecdotal evidence, but its more than enough for me to dismiss your claim.

<<>>

Right, as Israel is quickly losing favor even among longtime supporters in the international community--particularly over the atrocities of Operation Cast Lead which were committed against a Hamas government‘s citizenry, which were retaliation to rocket attacks that were in turn initiated by Israel’s attack on Hamas operatives in November 2008 which violated the ceasefire agreement, and which were in many instances justified by completely false claims about Hamas engaging in human shielding, etc.--it was a great idea to infuriate sympathetic European states and the government of Dubai by forging passports to facilitate the assassination of a Hamas official on foreign soil. Israel carries out its campaign against the Palestinians with a fanatical, ruthless will to dominate that will inevitably prove self-destructive.

<>

This really depends on what you mean by “country,” but it doesn’t seem relevant either way since, you know, I didn’t say it.

<<<<"palestinians" (as opposed to jews) are "indiginous"? i think not. they've certainly been there long enough to have a valid claim but are definitely not any more "indiginous" than the jews. much less so in fact.>>>

I don’t understand how you can possibly think that. Prior to the dawn of Zionism-inspired immigration of Jews from Europe and elsewhere in the late 19th century, the population of Palestine was well over 90% Arab, the specific percentage depending on which year you want to mark the beginning of Zionist-Jewish influx. Over 80% of present day population of Gaza consists of refugees and the children of refugees. Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in 1948 to fulfill the Zionist project's goal of a homogenously Jewish state.

Also, if you're going to quote words from my post, please try to spell them correctly.

ok, you're an overqualified dick. that is, you know enough to be an impediment to truth, but not enough to know how to assist truth.

you should try looking at zionism from a jewish religious perspective (just for the hell of it) and see just how religious thought is twisted and perverted in it's service. the truth is, zionism was almost UNIVERSALLY rejected by religious jews, and it's ideologues only used religious thinking insofar as as it suited their purposes- not unlike "christian" politicians in the u.s., except they actually have a strong christian religious following. unlike the zionists in israel.

the modern mutation of "religious nationalism" that you refer to (hilltop youth, etc.) developed AFTER the founding of the state- in fact, after 1967, although they rely on mystical writings by rav cook and others which go back, oh, to the early 1900's. this stuff is very interesting and exciting (especially if you're trying to say the jews are nazis or fascists, which you are) but are not taken seriously by mainstream rabbinical thought.

sorry, i just don't have the energy to do this anymore. do a search on my name at 1gm and you'll see this is all old hat, in a big way, and you're wasting your time- and mine. but i appreciate your interest.

again, for the historically challenged: zionism doesn't just have " a secular component". it was invented and propogated by purely secular people, children of the enlightenment, who saw jewish nationalism as the natural right of the jews- independant of religious tradition which, yes, they referred to when it suited their purposes. but these were NOT religious people, and neither are their modern avatars. i recommend reading more if you're so interested.

btw, re: zeev sternhall: here you have an israeli professor saying what he thinks is the goal or purpose of zionism. very nice. i could bring you 20 israeli professors who say the jews are just trying to survive in a harsh world. so what, who cares what these professors think? look to the original sources, both of jewish religious thought and of zionism. i mean, if you're that interested.

You wrote: "[Zionism] was invented and propogated by purely secular people, children of the enlightenment, who saw jewish nationalism as the natural right of the jews- independant of religious tradition which, yes, they referred to when it suited their purposes. but these were NOT religious people,"

So...Martin Buber wasn't Jewish? Granted, he didn't advocate Jewish statehood, but he was certainly a significant Zionist figure whose work was highly influential in Zionist circles throughout the 20th century. I could cite plenty of additional examples. I don't think you could possibly demonstrate that none of major early Zionist leaders were religious, much less the tens of thousands of early participants in the Zionist movement.

"...and neither are their modern avatars."

Please -- look at the rhetoric of the Orthodox community in that country surrounding the settlements. Or the public statements of any number of prominent conservative and Orthodox American rabbis. I should know, I spent six years getting shuttled after regular school to a conservative US Hebrew school so I could listen to our rabbi drone on and on about the Holy Land.

"(especially if you're trying to say the jews are nazis or fascists, which you are)"

Hardly. The Israeli government doesn't resemble a fascist government, and as bad as the treatment of the Palestinians have been, Israel has never done anything comparable to the Stalinist purges, nevermind the Nazi Holocaust. The situation there does, however, bear an unsettling resemblance to Apartheid, which isn't a particularly outlandish thing to say -- the comparison was being made and debated in the pages of Haaretz well before Jimmy Carter's book was written.

I don't think you could possibly demonstrate that none of major early Zionist leaders were religious,

try me. buber himself was barely considered jewish, let alone religious, by the rabbis of his time, and anyway he was not a "zionist" in the way we're talking about.

i'm perfectly willing to accept that "zionism" is simply the belief that jews have a right to their own state in the land of israel. in this case you'd be right in that this is a religious idea, propogated by religious people- among many others. but the fact is religious people for better or worse distanced themselves from the zionist project at the time in a BIG way. zionism was, if anything, an anti-religious, secular nationalist movement that used religious imagery for it's own purposes. and it still is. the fact that many modern "national religious" jews use the achievements of secular zionism to justify their own religion is very interesting, but not germaine to this discussion.

[[ Hm, the first post's quote style ate the text. Let's try again. ]]

If you don't know what you're talking about,then you should try to be less condescending.

You wrote: "israel is "expanding its borders" based on zionist ideology? i think israel, having left southern lebanon, sinai, taba and gaza is actually shrinking it's borders"

But Israel’s seizure of these territories was, to quote Zeev Sternhell, “another step in the realization of Zionism‘s major ambitions“ which Israel had merely been awaiting a pretext to realize. It had no claim to them in the first place, and it continues to expand settlements in the far more substantial West Bank, while forcefully evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to make room for Jewish Israelis. Israel’s occupation of these territories is in direct violation of international law. As for Gaza, it has been subjected to a crippling siege/blockade effectively turning it into a poverty-stricken prison. The Israeli regime’s long term vision is clearly one of a greater Israel that does not involve a viable Palestinian state.

You wrote: "zionist ideology is based on religious belief? au contraire, mon frere. but i have dealt with this at length elsewhere here."

That’s just completely ridiculous. I say clearly in my post that Zionism has a secular component, and its historical genesis was no doubt pioneered by many, perhaps primarily, secular organizations. But to deny the religious/biblical dimension of Zionism, particular as it obtains in contemporary discourse both inside and outside Israel, is just not serious.

…some, like these outpost settlers, say they will never move because they believe they are fulfilling God’s plan with every hut they put up. They are likely to be a major stumbling block to any attempt to find a two-state solution. At the Neria outpost celebration, Noam Rein, a father of 10, looked out across the hills at Ramallah and called its presence “temporary.” He added: “The Torah says the land of Israel is for the Jewish people. This is just the beginning. We will build 1,000 homes here. The Arabs cannot stay here, not because we hate them, but because this is not their place.” Among the religious leaders who spoke at the ceremony, Rabbi Yair Remer of Harasha, a nearby outpost, noted that Thursday was the Ninth of Av, a Jewish day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the ancient temples. He suggested that the best way to cope with the tragedy of Jewish history was to do what the young builders of this outpost were doing. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/world/middleeast/30settlers.html?_r=1

I’ve been there, my sister’s in-laws are Israeli, my best friend is studying at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem. The vast majority of Israelis I’ve interacted with will cite Biblical precedent as justification for the occupation of Palestinian land. This may be anecdotal evidence, but its more than enough for me to dismiss your claim.

You wrote: "the assassination agents (assuming they're mossad) were motivated by zionism and/or religion. no way. unless you're willing to admit that zionism today is merely "enlightened self interest", the same motivation shared by all other countries."

Right, as Israel is quickly losing favor even among longtime supporters in the international community--particularly over the atrocities of Operation Cast Lead which were committed against the Hamas government‘s citizenry, which were in response to rocket attacks initiated by Israel’s attack on Hamas operatives in November 2008 which violated the ceasefire agreement, and which were in many instances justified by completely false claims about Hamas engaging in human shielding, etc.--it was a great idea to infuriate sympathetic European states and the government of Dubai by forging passports to facilitate the assassination of a Hamas official on foreign soil. Israel carries out its campaign against the Palestinians with a fanatical, ruthless will to dominate that will inevitably prove self-destructive.

You wrote: "palestine is a country? not."

This really depends on what you mean by “country,” but it doesn’t seem relevant either way since, you know, I didn’t say it.

You wrote: " "palestinians" (as opposed to jews) are "indiginous"? i think not. they've certainly been there long enough to have a valid claim but are definitely not any more "indiginous" than the jews. much less so in fact."

I don’t understand how you can possibly think that. Prior to the dawn of Zionism-inspired immigration of Jews from Europe and elsewhere in the late 19th century, the population of Palestine was well over 90% Arab, the specific percentage depending on which year you want to mark the beginning of Zionist-Jewish influx. Over 80% of present day population of Gaza consists of refugees and the children of refugees. Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in 1948 to fulfill the Zionist project's goal of a homogenously Jewish state.

Also, if you're going to quote words from my post, please try to spell them correctly.

2nd, when he says (a common atheist talking point) that you don't need a degree in "leprauchanology" to realize that leprachauns don't exist, he disingenuously ignores the fact that, especially today with the internet, a "degree in leprachanology" may be aquired in about half an hour's worth of research. not a fair comparison at all to the religious traditions he opposes

I think once you spend a lifetime studying religion you are compelled to believe, for fear that you have spent so much of your short time hear on earth reasoning out why a book cointaining the ultimate truth of the universe also has talking animals and men swallowed by fish and really at times reads like a dirty version of Curious George.

a dirty version of Curious George.

i'd be down with that.

i finally had a chance to view the last segments of this and in general really enjoyed the whole thing- so thanks norm.

i like the format where the "atheist guy" is just one representative on a panel where everyone is accorded equal "respect". and i think andyo is too harsh on dawkins. in spite of his brutal smackdown at the hands of middle-aged austrailian politician guy in the 4th segment- which hitchens, for instance, would never have taken lying down- it's clear that dawkins was an audience favorite, maybe THE audience favorite, and it is his gentle manner which allows for this. it didn't stop him from making some sharp points.

i too prefer hichens for entertainment/bulldog value, and harris for careful reasoning. but dawkins is probably the best bet for an atheist spokesman that "the masses" will actually listen to. in these days of image and soundbites, the guys who make it long term- like stewart- are basically all about charm. and this dawkins has in spades. in spite of all my quibbles with specific bits of reasoning and "talking points", i'm grateful to have lived to see the day when ideas like this are presented in mass media formats and treated seriously and, with all my disagreements and arguments with him, i think we can thank richard dawkins for that, more than the other "horsemen".

sorry that last comment was supposed to go on the dawkins q and a thread. easy to get confused.

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