Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Reviews > Other Reviews


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 3rd Jan 2006, 10:20   #1
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: Decent Telly

Richard Dawkins does a polemical thing next Monday, 9 January 2006 on C4 at 8 or 9pm, The Root of All Evil? Naturally it's a swingeing attack on religion. Should be worth watching as he's always an engaging speaker, even if there may be an occasional element of sophistry to his arguments. In the trailer he declaims: "Without religion, you would have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But to get good people to do evil things, you need religion."
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Jan 2006, 10:40   #2
NottyImp
the aging anarchist
could do better
 
NottyImp's Avatar
 
Join Date: 16 May 2003
Location: Afloat, also!
Posts: 1,827
Default Re: Decent Telly

Quote:
"Without religion, you would have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But to get good people to do evil things, you need religion."
That's someone else, isn't it? Sounds like Thomas Paine, or someone of his ilk.

I still find it amusing when some of us poor, shy, retiring godless folk claim he's a "little too strident".
__________________
Currently reading: The Way to Bright Star: Dee Brown.
NottyImp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th Jan 2006, 9:25   #3
Wavid
Administrator
befriends strangers
 
Wavid's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Lincolnshire
Posts: 4,553
Send a message via AIM to Wavid Send a message via MSN to Wavid Send a message via Yahoo to Wavid Send a message via Skype™ to Wavid
Default Re: Decent Telly

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self
Richard Dawkins does a polemical thing next Monday, 9 January 2006 on C4 at 8 or 9pm, The Root of All Evil? Naturally it's a swingeing attack on religion. Should be worth watching as he's always an engaging speaker, even if there may be an occasional element of sophistry to his arguments. In the trailer he declaims: "Without religion, you would have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But to get good people to do evil things, you need religion."
Did anyone catch this last night? I saw little chunks here and there, but not much.
__________________
Site Admin | Blog | Reading List | Email | Current Reading: The Sportswriter, Richard Ford
Wavid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th Jan 2006, 9:45   #4
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: Decent Telly

I taped the Dawkins as I was unexpectedly called out last night, will probably watch it tonight.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th Jan 2006, 9:51   #5
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,731
Default Re: Decent Telly

Well, I can't admit to having watched it - I completely forgot both this and the John Simm time-travel cop show as one daughter had a migraine and the others were rapt with my Xmas Dr Who DVD's.

However...my attention was caught (well, suckered) to Johann Hari's review of it in the Indy this morning which, being one of those annoying Indy portfolio articles, I can't reproduce. The tenor of it, which made steam come out of my ears, was thus:

a) stuff that religionists do that is bad - extreme faith schools (madrassahs, Intelligent Design etc); anti-condom Catholics; paradise-seeking terrorists; anti-blasphemy play-banners etc... and this from a section of the population that is tiny (judging on attendance figures).

b) There is a conflict between faith and reason - a dichotomy, no less. Faith is opposite to reason - cue stuff about Darwin cutting God's involvement out of the picture...blind universal forces and pitiless indifference is where it's really at.

c) Post-modern C21st has its own miracles deriving from 'reason': medicine esp. (compared to a few puny things that Jesus did).

Quote:
Faith cannot make anything happen out here in the real world ...except a lonely prayer
*sound of Col despairing quietly*

d) old rehearsal of the 'god of the gaps' argument - we have whittled God out of existence - and Bertrand Russell's rejection of God as 'first cause'.

e) okay, some scientists 'mesh' faith and science but hey, there's only a few of them compared to the proliferation of Dawkinses, so we'll call them "token Christian scientists" (*not Christian Scientists*).

f) Dawkins might go over the top a bit - there are other deadly human delusions too (eg Mao) but he is ultimately "noble enough to live with emptiness".


Faith cannot make anything happen out here in the real world... and nor can reason: not until someone gets up and does something, whether it is discovering penicillin or or sitting at a table in the Wannsee Villa (what they thought was a 'reasonable' solution); or whether it is founding the Truth and Reconciliation Trials or holding huge peaceful weekly prayers demonstrations in the Thomaskirche in Liepzig in the late 1980's, or abolishing slavery. Or yes, going the terrible fundamentalist route of exterminating someone who doesn't agree with your viewpoint.

I think I might e-mail him and suggest he takes a look at Doubts and Loves.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th Jan 2006, 21:45   #6
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Richard Dawkins: The Root of All Evil?

I've moved the existing posts on this programme from the Decent Telly thread to its own special Palimplace. By way of a bonus, it gives a semi-amusing thread title to which chinking can post the response "Yes."

I taped the first show last night and watched it tonight. Needless to say there was nothing he said that I disagreed with. To be fair to Dawkins (as I would be, seeing as how I agree with him...), there's little overlap between the programme and what Johann Hari said according to Col's summary above. Probably point (a) and the first half of point (b) were pretty much what it was about.

Dawkins pointed out some of the major follies of the major religions, such as Lourdes (where, out of over 10 million pilgrims over the last hundred or more years, there have been just 66 'confirmed miracles' as the nice Lourdes PR man called them - a statistically null result, and of course none of these, Dawkins suggested, was something that might not get better anyway, such as a severed limb growing back); or the Assumption of the Virgin (first thought of in about 600AD and now official Catholic doctrine, as fine an example of the silliness of Papal infallibility as the recent volte-face on Limbo).

Then we met the truly frightening Pastor Ted Haggard of the New Life Church, a staring-eyed nutter with a sink-plunger mouth that kept his teeth permanently bared. Relations between him and Dawkins deteriorated pretty rapidly, as can be seen from this transcript (which I found on someone's blog):


Quote:
Ted Haggard: 'We fully embrace the scientific method, as American evangelicals - and we think, as time goes along, as we discover more and more facts, that we'll learn more and more about how God created the heavens and the earth - '
Dawkins points out that the evidence shows the earth to be 4.5 billion years old, Haggart says (perkily, cheerily), 'You know what you're doing?' and explains that he's paying attention to just part of the scientific community, and that maybe in a hundred years 'your grandchildren will laugh at you.'

'You want to bet?' Dawkins asks, sharpish.

'Sometimes it's hard for a human being to study the ear or study the eye and think that happened by accident.'

'I beg your pardon, did you say "by accident"?'

'Yeah.'

'What do you mean "by accident"?

'That the eye just formed itself somehow.'

'Who says it did?'

'Well, some evolutionists say it.'

'Not a single one that I've ever met.'

[Sarcastically wondering]: 'Really?!'

'Really.'

[More wondering]: 'Ohh.'

'You obviously know nothing about evolution.'

'Or maybe you haven't met the people I have.' [laughs] 'But you see - you do understand - you do understand that this issue right here, of intellectual arrogance, is the reason why, people like you, have a difficult problem with people of faith - '
Ah yes, but Haggard's self-confessed intellectual arrogance aside, one has to hand it to Dawkins. He may come across a wee bit humourless (though there was a nice shot of him, at one point, walking 'into the light'), but at least he has the balls to take these people on directly, rather than do a Louis Theroux or Jon Ronson and talk about them afterwards. He did it too with a truly unbalanced Muslim - a convert, having been a Jewish settler in the Gaza strip, no less - who Dawkins thought might be more reasonable than yer average mentalfundalist, clearly forgetting the old rule about ex-smokers being the most vehement critics of their old habit. As soon as they had shaken hands, and Dawkins explained that he was 'a gentle atheist' who didn't hate anybody, he was told by the Muslim that he hated atheists because, among other crimes, "you dress women like whores." Dawkins could only reply: "Women dress themselves!" When Dawkins said he thought this man might have more understanding because he of all people should see that "somewhere over there, there's someone else with a faith as strong as yours, who believes that he is the one who is right," yer man went off on some other rant about those goddamn atheists and how they have no moral structure. This summed up the programme really: the justifiable fear of people who will not listen; nor indeed look, think or question.

These are all fundamentalist issues, the extreme end of the spectrum. But of course mainstream ideas typically evolve from the extremes, and when Dawkins considers that all religions are dangerous because of this, and that a state of no religion would be preferable, the question is whether doing that would throw the baby out with the bathwater, and eradicate the good done by the religious (as opposed to by religions) too. Dawkins, I think, says that if it did, then that is a price worth paying.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th Jan 2006, 23:33   #7
amner
Administrator
is beyond help
 
amner's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 10,918
Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The Root of All Evil?

I've just seen this, so need to collate my thoughts a little. The clear first impression though, was just how shaken he was by the Islamic guy he met in Jerusalem. He admitted he'd been naive, and frankly, he looked pretty taken aback by the whole experience. Unsurprising, since the gentleman in question was pretty angry at...well, everything, really.

Ted Haggard was frightening, too, but I couldn't help but wonder why Dawkins didn't have a pop at someone from the middle ground? Of course, there's another show to come, but chucking total barmpots up on the screen makes us want to despise them.

Can we not see him arguing the toss with Richard Holloway or Rowan Williams? As I say, it's only half time, but Jonathan Miller's Short History of Disbelief was better at this stage...

Jury out.
__________________
amner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11th Jan 2006, 0:32   #8
Oryx
Palimpsestarian
eats too much cheese
 
Join Date: 26 Nov 2004
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,282
Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The Root of All Evil?

I have to admit I haven't seen this, but from John's description, I think it would irk me a bit. What Amner said: its easy to pick on nutters and those with less than normal IQs. Reminds me of a polotics professor I had at uni, right wing but very brilliant, who used to stage these straw man debates with dumb communists (yes, Notty, there are a few) to prove his capitalist points.

I'd rather hear a discussion with someone like this for example

http://www.christianethicstoday.com/...olo_002_8_.htm

(sorry, don't know how to do the fancy link thing)


Oryx
__________________
currently reading: The Secret History, Donna Tartt

Last edited by Oryx; 11th Jan 2006 at 5:18.
Oryx is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11th Jan 2006, 8:05   #9
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,731
Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The Root of All Evil?

I was going to say something similar - it is easy enough to find crackpots in every interest group in the world, religious or not. Dawkins never does the big debate thing with the heavyweights from the other side, and according to one person I have chatted to about this, when he does, he can be left floundering (not in dumbfounded amazment either).

Discussing exactly this yesterday with Mr Col re the Johann Hari article, I said that the other side's (faith representatives) serious problem is that although there are some 'heavy hitters' out there, they are usually busy with other important heavy-hitting things and are wary of sticking their necks out, without doing so collectively maybe, since the public's general ignorance about religious belief today (sorry to keep harking back to this but the Holloway book confirms this) makes it very hard for them to make the leap between the theology of yesteryear and the dynamic of what is believed by heavyweight theologians now, and hence (like Hari) they completely misunderstand and misjudge and therefore condemn it with cliches.

(In a similar way, and no less doctrinal , there are no heavy-hitters for Richard III out there either, countering the Starkey's.)
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11th Jan 2006, 8:29   #10
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The Root of All Evil?

Isn't the difficulty though, Col, that the 'heavyweight theologians' of today don't actually have that much sway, even when they're Archbishop of Canterbury? It seems to me that many - too many, of course - Christians are happy with the myths they were brought up on as children, because those are the ones that inspire utter unquestioning confidence and assurance, which is a nice if naive position to be in.

As for Dawkins not questioning the good good guys, I suppose it's because he doesn't say (contrary to the Hari piece on his programme) that religion never inspired anyone to do anything good, though I suspect he would argue that a good person would be doing good things anyway even if they didn't believe in God. The programme, by the very title, is about the negative effects of religious belief. The futility of having a debate between Dawkins and, say, Holloway is that it would ultimately boil down to "There is no God" / "Yes there is (or at least I think there might be)" with no enlightenment on either side.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Richard Yates John Self Book Reviews 239 13th Mar 2011 19:23


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 22:11.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.