Thursday, May 10, 2007

The New Atheism



As many are aware, there is a New Atheist movement going on today; a more radical, aggressive, proselytizing form of atheism. Atheists are trying to grab the initiative and finally knock out religion once and for all. (Good luck!)

I don’t know if I should be doing this, however I have a few suggestions for my opponents in the atheistic community.

First of all, instead of trying to argue about how ethical and nice atheists are, which is a hopeless cause after atheists killed about 100 million people in the last century, the New Atheists should admit that atheists are evil and embrace that fact. Try to be frank and open: “Yes, we’re selfish pleasure seekers and we’re proud of it.” Believe me, that will appeal to some people.

Second of all, atheism needs to have a simple but powerful symbol, like other religions have. I recommend the Jolly Roger, pictured above. It symbolizes swashbuckling piracy and also the embracing of death which atheism stands for. Remember, atheists believe in eternal death, not eternal life. It also was used as the symbol of certain SS units in the Second World War, which makes it even cooler. One of my atheist colleagues already uses a similar symbol.

Thirdly, the New Atheists need a catchy new name. I suggest “rake" in the sense of "an immoral or dissolute person; a libertine". I think it’s much better than Richard Dawkins idea “brights”. “Brights” sounds too intellectual, and it’s like a light bulb or something. “Rake” implies hedonist, pleasure seeker and is a little reminiscent of “punks”, or “niggas” which is now used positively by some black teenagers.

Anyway, this is just my two cents, for any atheists reading.

38 comments:

avrum68 said...

It's fair to say that 99.9% of atheists and religious folks haven't given either side much thought, and choose their beliefs based on upbringing and convienince.

However the "New Atheists" - along with the internet - are keeping my rabbis real. No longer can Aish and other kiruv movements throw around half baked ideas (think Discovery...think Bible codes) and expect silence from their audience. This will make for a richer, more dynamic Jewish theology.

As well, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Dawkins debunkers...though from the Jewish side. Uh, besides JP, ARE THERE ANY RABBIS WILLING TO TAKE HIM ON?

jewish philosopher said...

The truth is, Orthodoxy is slowly evolving. ;-)

My favorite critique of the "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins is a little known book called "Not By Chance", written by Lee Spetner, an Orthodox Jew.

Spike said...

Lee Spetner has been criticised for his poor understanding of evolutionary theory and misuse of mathematical models here, here, and here. All in all, he misuses mathematical models, fails to apply his criticisms to his own model, and grounds his arguments on false assumptions. If he had a proper argument, why did he not publish it in one of the scientific journals, rather than a religious press?

Do you believe that populations can evolve small changes over time? Yes or no.

jewish philosopher said...

There are plenty of refutations of those refutations. Question everything. And scientific journals on principle will not publish creationist literature.

Dawkins himself has no special expertise in evolutionary theory and has not published his evolutionary writings in scientific journals.

Do you believe that pole-vaulters are able to jump higher now than a century ago? So do you therefore believe that given a few million years practice they will be able to vault to the next galaxy? That's what the small changes you're referring to are like in comparison to trilobites becoming men.

Spike said...

What do pole-vaulters have to do with evolution? You seem very hung up on this analogy, why? Are men like distant galaxies whereas trilobites are merely moderately tall sticks? What?

Dawkins' Published papers (not a complete list):

* Hierarchical organisation: a candidate principle for ethology. In Growing Points in Ethology (eds P. P. G. Bateson & R. A. Hinde), pp. 7-54· (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1976)

* Replicator selection and the extended phenotype. Zeitschrift fŸr Tierpsychologie 47, 61-76. (1978)

* Twelve misunderstandings of kin selection. Zeitschrift fŸr Tierpsychologie 51, 184-200. (1979)

* Selfish Genes in race or politics (letter). Nature, Vol.289, No.5798, p.528 (1981)


* Universal Darwinism. In D.S.Bendall (ed.) Evolution from Molecules to Men, pp. 403-25. (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1982)
* Opportunity costs of inbreeding. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol.6, No.1, pp.105-106 (1983)
* Adaptationism was always predictive and needed no defense. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol.6, No.3, pp.360-361 (1983)

* Universal parasitism and the co-evolution of extended phenotypes. Whole Earth Review, n62 p90(10) (1989)

* The evolved imagination. Natural History, Vol.104, No.9, p.8 (1995)

* The Pope's message on evolution and four commentaries: 3. Obscurantism to the rescue - Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol.72, No.4, pp.397-399 (1997)

co-authored

* Dawkins, R. & Dawkins, M. Decisions and the uncertainty of behaviour. Behaviour 45, 83-103. (1973)
* Dawkins, R. & Carlisle, T. R. Parental investment, mate desertion and a fallacy. Nature 161, 131-133. (1976)
* Dawkins, R. & Krebs, J. R. Animal signals: information or manipulation? In Behavioural Ecology (eds J. R. Krebs & N. B. Davies), pp. 282--309. (Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications. 1978)
* Dawkins, R. & Krebs, J.R. Arms races between and within species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B, 205: 489-511 (1979)
* Dawkins, R. & H. Jane Brockman, Joint Nesting in a Digger Wasp as an Evolutionarily Stable Preadaptation to Social Life, Behaviour, 71, pp. 203-245 (1979).
* Dawkins, R. & Brockmann, H. J. Do digger wasps commit the Concorde fallacy? Animal Behaviour 28, 892-896. (1980)


There are quite a few "evolutionary writings" in scientific journals there.


Question Everything? You dare to try to tell me to question everything! How about questioning the apparently unswerving belief that the torah must be true? Oh, right, only question the things that disagree with me. I will freely accept that agnosticism is the only justifiable position, I just feel that the evidence for supernatural events is so very unforthcoming that, well, why bother.

Scientific journals, in general, require evidence and results. That is what excludes creationists, not some grand conspiracy.

avrum68 said...

"Dawkins himself has no special expertise in evolutionary theory and has not published his evolutionary writings in scientific journals."

In this round:
JP - 0
Spike - 1

badrabbi said...

Spike;

Just curious, not counting his books, I counted 270 Journal publications for RL Dawkins. What prompted the above citations from all the rest?

Spike said...

Ease of finding, explicit mention of evolution or ideas that depend upon evolution. Mostly laziness in info gathering, they are from the first decent result from google.

badrabbi said...

"
I have this invisible friend. He is good to me, but sometimes, for no reason that I can think of, He hits me. He is very smart; He invented the internet in one day while playing with his ipod. I talk to Him all the time, and if you can't hear Him, well then it is your problem.
All of you who think He may not exist, well then you are no good immoral punky Rakes.
"

jewish philosopher said...

I'm referring to articles primarily on the topic of evolution published by Richard Dawkins in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Are there any? Looking at his CV, I'm not sure.

Bad, I thought you and Spike were my invisible friends. I've never seen either of you. What proof is there you exist? Because something as complex as an Internet comment needs an intelligent designer? Did I hear someone say Watchmaker Principle???

Spike said...

Wow. You are an ignorant dick. When presented with clear evidence you manage to completely ignore it. Nice. Or did you miss the list I posted upthread? It's there, you just have to scroll up a bit.


P.s. I'm not your friend. You are far too keen on killing people for my liking.

badrabbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
badrabbi said...

LOL, JP, how do you know I exist? OK - Lets do this: You write something to me and something to GOD. Whichever responds, exists! OK?

avrum68 said...

"Wow. You are an ignorant dick"

And you're living up to the reputation that atheists are mean spirited.

"I'm referring to articles primarily on the topic of evolution published by Richard Dawkins"

JP, you lost this one. Wouldn't it be best to employ some good ol' Jewish humility and admit it? Your blog is an excellent one, and I'm learning tons. But if you're going to take on the Dawkin Faithful, do your research first.

badrabbi said...

Atheists have a mean spirited reputation? Really? For not believing in something?

Consider the following statement: "atheists killed about 100 million people in the last century, the New Atheists should admit that atheists are evil and embrace that fact. Try to be frank and open: “Yes, we’re selfish pleasure seekers...."

True, JP did not use the word 'dick', but I ask you: which statement is more mean spirited?

jewish philosopher said...

Badrabbi, you must think I’m some sort of moronic fundamentalist fool. Certainly, your emails APPEAR to have an intelligent author, however that means nothing. Science has proven that many incredibly complex systems may appear to have an intelligent designer but in fact are the result of pure chance. Ask Professor Dawkins. Plus, personally, I find some of your comments disagreeable. Therefore, I will declare you nonexistent and all comments coming from you are the result of random static on the Internet.

I am an a-badrabbi-ist.

OK. I’ll give you a chance. BADRABBI, APPEAR TO ME NOW! YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES! I AM WAITING!

About Dawkins’ publications, I think I’m correct. Professor Dawkins is actually an expert on animal behavior. If I have a problem training my hamster, he's the first one I'll call.

jewish philosopher said...

Time is up, Bad. See, you didn't appear. You aren't there. It's all a myth, just as I thought.

Spike said...

From the link you posted:

H.J.Brockmann, A.Grafen & R.Dawkins (1979) Evolutionarily stable nesting
strategy in a digger wasp. Journal of Theoretical Biology 77, 473-496
H.J.Brockmann & R.Dawkins (1979) Joint nesting in a digger wasp as an
evolutionarily stable preadaptation to social life. Behaviour 71, 203-245
R.Dawkins & J.R.Krebs (1979) Arms races between and within species.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 205, 489-511
R.Dawkins (1979) Twelve misunderstandings of kin selection. Zeitschrift für
Tierpsychologie 51, 184-200
R.Dawkins (1989) The evolution of evolvability. In C.Langton (ed.) Artificial
Life. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison Wesley, p 201-220
R.Dawkins (1990) Parasites, desiderata lists, and the paradox of the organism. In
A.E.Keymer and A.F.Read (eds.)The Evolutionary Biology of Parasitism .
Supplement to Parasitology, 100, S63-S73

All of which are directly related to evolution, and published in peer-reviewed journals. You, on the other hand, are apparently not an expert in any form of biology, beyond describing the entire field as bunk, based on the oh so very good evidence of your magic book. Stylish.

badrabbi said...

My dear JP, I am in fact here. The experiment did work. You summoned two potentially intelligent entities to respond, Myself and God. I did reply to you. God did not. You have to now ask yourself why he did not. The possibilities are as follows:
1. God exists, but does not want to engage in this stupid experiment.
2. God exists but did not get the email, in which case he is not omniscient
3. God exists, but did not know how to respond, in which case, he is not omnipotent.
4. God does not exist.

I suspect that you can only live with possibility #1. Now, my question to you is: Do you really want to worship a God that has not bothered to make his presence unequivocally known in 2000 years?

avrum68 said...

"Now, my question to you is: Do you really want to worship a God that has not bothered to make his presence unequivocally known in 2000 years?"

I guess it depends on what "make his presence" means to you? As a poet and musician, I'm fine tuned to subtle details, and hence, don't need to be hit over the head with experience to appreciate a sublime moment. My tradition tells me that God is in every breeze, sunrise, etc. If I choose to ignore these events, that's my problem. As Adin Steinsaltz has eloquenty stated...most doubt has nothing to do with theology, but psychology. A stunning observation.

jewish philosopher said...

Spike,

H.J.Brockmann, A.Grafen & R.Dawkins (1979) Evolutionarily stable nesting
strategy in a digger wasp. Journal of Theoretical Biology 77, 473-496
H.J.Brockmann & R.Dawkins (1979) Joint nesting in a digger wasp as an
evolutionarily stable preadaptation to social life. Behaviour 71, 203-245
might qualify, but he wrote them in partnership. I don't know to what degree he was involved with the evolutionary part.

ArtificialLife. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison Wesley, p 201-220
is a book, not different that "Not By Chance".

But Bad, how do I know you exist at all? Because your comments give an appearance of intelligent design? So you are saying that the appearance of intelligent design proves the existence of a designer even if I can't see him? And what about Occam's Razor? Let's say I choose to believe that a designer is writing these comments which keep appearing on my blog, but who designed the writer? So you see, the Intelligent Design theory answers nothing. I’m not sure I can continue wasting time writing to a non-existent being.

badrabbi said...

Avrum, you see, when Hashem was at the top of Mount Sinai, talking to the Jews, or when he was parting a large sea (what sea was that by the way?)or when he was having a staff turn into a snake and eat the Egyptian snake, or when he had manna fall from the sky for people to eat for 40 years, or when appeared to people as a cloud, or...

You see, there was nothing subtle about this. It wasn't like "oh this sunset is pretty, it must be God!". No, he spoke UNEQUIVOCALLY to people. When was the last time he did this?

badrabbi said...

JP, progressively you are making less and less sense. What exactly are you saying?

We, as atheists do not deny that things that appear designed may have designers. If I fell upon a computer in the woods, of course I am going to assume that there was someone who designed and constructed the computer. What am I missing here?

NO ONE SAID THAT WATCHMAKER DOES NOT PROVE ANYTHING.

What we are saying, for a thousandth time, is as follows:

1. To say that there is a designer is not to say that there is a GOD.
If you fell upon a computer in the woods it does not mean that the designer of this computer is Jacob Stein! It also does not mean that there is one designer. The computer could be a Dell, in which case there is a group of people at Dell who made it. It could be a Gateway, in which case I understand why it was left to rot in the woods! But the designers are not necessarily the same.

In other words, if you accept that there is a designer, it does not follow that the designer is ONE God.

2. To say that there is a designer does not ALWAYS mean that the designer has consciously done the designing. I previously gave you an example of the Grand Canyon ‘designed’ by the Colorado River.

What amazes me is that you constantly say the same thing over and over. The way genuine philosophical arguments go is that you give an opinion, and I respond to that opinion. Then, it is your turn to respond to my response. It is not that you say the same thing over and over. So, let’s try this. I have responded to your watchmaker assertion by raising the above two objections. Now let us see whether you would address the above, rather than perseverate.

badrabbi said...

Also, you still have not explained why I responded to your email and God did not!

Spike said...

I'm sorry, you are now trying to claim that he didn't write these papers? You stated, incorrectly, that he had not written any papers about evolution. I presented you with examples. You stated, again, giving links in your own post, that he had not written any papers about evolution. I gave you examples. Now, you are trying to claim that he didn't write these papers. If you can't see the dishonesty inherent in your actions here, then there is no hope for you.

Additionally to the two papers you have cited, these are also explicitly about evolution:
R.Dawkins & J.R.Krebs (1979) Arms races between and within species.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 205, 489-511
R.Dawkins (1979) Twelve misunderstandings of kin selection. Zeitschrift für
Tierpsychologie 51, 184-200


Back to the fun, have you an justification for the Kuzari principle? You have gone very quiet on the other thread.

jewish philosopher said...

So Bad, you're trying to tell me that although I have never seen you, I should assume that since your emails have the appearance of having been created by an intelligent designer, then I should assume that there is one? I have to think about that.

Of course, there is still no way of knowing if there is one person designing these emails or many, or if it is a human, a dolphin or a space alien, etc. etc. I am not jumping to any conclusions. After all, I am basically an a-badrabbi-ist.

Spikes comments seem to lack features of intelligence, so I assume they are indeed created spontaneously.

avrum68 said...

", or when he was parting a large sea (what sea was that by the way?)"

Badrabbi...you see, I'm not JP. I too would like an obvious sign, an obvious voice. However all signs i.e. Talmud, Midrash, rabbinical writings, point to a change in relationship b/w God and Jews. And in a sense, this is true for all relationships. All lovers pine for the days of intense passion and desire they had for their significant other. The actions, words, etc. After 15 years of a monogamous relationship, things change. Marital experts claim for the better i.e. marriage as a healing mechanism (see anything by Dr. David Schnarch). And as the relationship evolves, it's the subtle things that one has to pay attention to. If not, you're on a roller coaster ride of affair after affair.

Anyway, the desire to have God appear to us in the way we want Him to because that's what we want, and that's that. Well, it's very childish. But given our Peter Pan society, I'm not surprised we yearn for these experiences.

avrum68 said...

"Spikes comments seem to lack features of intelligence, so I assume they are indeed created spontaneously."

Spike proved you wrong, and you're coming across as brutish and thick headed. Your blog's stock will continue to drop if you can't refute his claim that Dawkin's has not written anything about evolution. He has, you're wrong, so admit it. And let's move on .

jewish philosopher said...

"Dawkins himself ... has not published his evolutionary writings in scientific journals."

I still think that's correct, except possibly for one article published jointly in 1979. If someone can email me a pdf of that, and I'm wrong, so I'm wrong. I will admit that I have sinned.

badrabbi said...

Avrum, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that our relationship has changed with God. God, for all intents and pursposes has been estranged from us. If this is so, in short, I would like a divorce!

An absentee landlord, after 2 thousand years of abandonement, has effectively forfitted his estate.

badrabbi said...

JP, your reply is so absurd as to not merit a response. I will direct all the other readers of this thread to follow our comments along and see JP for what he really is.

If this is a good example of Jewish philosophy, then, heaven help the intellectual Jew.

avrum68 said...

"Avrum, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that our relationship has changed with God."

I'm not saying anything. I'm only relying on Jewish sources that provide hints as to what's what. You've gotta be pretty smug (as well as close minded, myopic, etc) to state that YOU know what God should/shouldn't do, etc. And that's why Dawkin's Army and Religious Literalists deserve each other.

badrabbi said...

Avrum, if you want to call me smug, its ok. It is funny, though that 2 posts earlier, you were accusing Spike of being mean spirited.

I do not mean to know "what God should or should not do". I am saying that when God appears to have divorced himself from this this world for over 2000 years, then what kind of relationship am I supposed to have with him. Please re-read my previous post.

I ask you again - when a wife abandones her home such that she never responds to her husband, at what point is the husband allowed to divorce her? When God does not seem to respond in any unequivocal way, at what point is it correct to abandon Him?

avrum68 said...

"ask you again - when a wife abandones her home such that she never responds to her husband, at what point is the husband allowed to divorce her?"

Let God in whenever you can, and God will be there. Simple, yet very hard to implement. Truth be told, most of us would rather surf porn and eat potato chips. Let's fess up already.

zdub said...

Re "Not by Chance": Dawkins would agree with you JP. Natural selection is the process by which chance is taken out of the evolutionary process.

badrabbi said...

Avrum;
"Let God in whenever you can, and God will be there"

What exactly do you mean by this? I mean, forget about the touchy feely, feel good expressions for a minute. What exactly do you mean by "let God in and he is there"?

PS: How did you know I had a fondness for porn and corn?

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

Thanks for your reply. BTW, I asked you questions in the previous blog of JP.

avrum68 said...

badrabbi...it's hard to keep track of all the discussion. My reply will be simple and short:

Assuming you believe in God, if one can quiet him/herself down...way down, be mindful, one can experience the awe and majesty that our ancestors experienced many years ago. Through nature, art, relationships, and it would seem, science.

While living in Vancouver, I heard secular folks respond to mountains, sea, with expressions like: "My God what a beautiful snow capped mountain". With a bit of mindfullness and humility, one might appreciate this as a Godly moment. An opportunity to say a prayer, and expand the experience into an I-Thou relationship.

Of course, if you don't believe in God, then this is simply "touchy feely, feel good" gunk.