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Richard Dawkins and "The Root of all Evil?"

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Principled
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Richard Dawkins and

Like many here, I watched the first episode last night of this TV documentary. I was particularly interested in seeing it as I had discussed a paper he had written, ridiculing religion, at one of the ecumenical staff meetings I attend at a local university (I am there by invitation, as I'm not staff!) More of that below.

I had also listened to Dawkins being interviewed on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2. The Channel 4 people had sent out the title without the question mark and the two men must have spent the first 5 minutes with Jeremy Vine asking how he could justify this title when the worst atrocities the world has ever known were committed by people who were not religious - Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Dawkins got angrier and angrier, insisting they get off this "boring subject" to get back to talking about the programme, but Vine would not let it go. Dawkins had to agree about these worst atrocities, but said that Hitler was a Catholic (did his Catholicism motivate his evil? - I doubt it) and that though Stalin and Mao were atheists, their atheism had no connection with their evil.

So in other words, if you're "religious" and do evil, it's the fault of the religion, but if you're atheist, it's not….. Hmm

Personally, I believe that it's never the core teachings of the religion - even Islam means peace and Jesus spent his time teaching about love and forgiveness. It's always the way that men have either read something literally, misunderstood it, or, have corrupted it and used religion as an excuse for power and tribalism. The conflict in Northern Ireland wasn't about religion (if the terrorists had really been Christians - either Catholic or Protestant) they would have been practising love and forgiveness, not hatred and bigotry. No, as so often happens, it's tribalism and the greed for land.

The fundamentalist thinking that Dawkins encountered last night was scary - oh yes, but it's not the majority world view. As I explained on my thread The Roots of Fundamentalism, it's always born out of fear and ignorance.

In it, I quote from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who wrote a book called "The Dignity of Difference" and it caused such a storm, he was forced to retract it, then re-write it, leaving out this sentence ".. no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth." He was asked, on the thought-provoking documentary "Children of Abraham" last year, what causes the difference between an inclusive religious belief and the closed mind of the fundamentalist and he replied that it all boils down to a key factor in our psychological makeup – insecurity.

"I define fundamentalism as the attempt to impose a single truth on a plural world. And what really lies behind it is fear – a profound insecurity, that makes you feel when you meet somebody who’s not like you, or doesn’t agree with you, that that challenges and threatens your very being.

Aggression is always a sign of insecurity and insecurity is always at bottom, a lack of faith, not the presence of it."

I wish that Channel 4 had called the programme "Fundamentalism the Root of all Evil?" which would have been much closer. Dawkins is ignoring all the goodness that comes out of people's individual practice of their religion. The anti-slavery movement in Britain came out of the church, opposing the government. The idea of setting up charities was also a Christian one.

To get behind the way Dawkins thinks, I just want to share some of the outcome of the discussion I had on the paper: "Snake Oil and Holy Water" by Richard Dawkins at the local university.

An agnostic physicist introduced the meeting and went round the room, asking for various people’s ideas of God and their observations on this paper. He particularly wanted to discuss two themes from the paper. The first:

I once asked a distinguished astronomer, a fellow of my college, to explain the big bang theory to me. He did so to the best of his (and my) ability, and I then asked what it was about the fundamental laws of physics that made the spontaneous origin of space and time possible. "Ah," he smiled, "now we move beyond the realm of science. This is where I have to hand you over to our good friend, the chaplain." But why the chaplain? Why not the gardener or the chef? Of course chaplains, unlike chefs and gardeners, claim to have some insight into ultimate questions. But what reason have we ever been given for taking their claims seriously? Once again, I suspect that my friend, the professor of astronomy, was using the Einstein/Hawking trick of letting "God" stand for "That which we don't understand." It would be a harmless trick if it were not continually misunderstood by those hungry to misunderstand it. In any case, optimists among scientists, of whom I am one, will insist, "That which we don't understand" means only "That which we don't yet understand." Science is still working on the problem. We don't know where, or even whether, we ultimately shall be brought up short.

Interestingly one professor said that he believed that science was only in its medieval stages and had not yet reached the ultimate understanding and that when it did, science and religion would be found to be identical.

I started off by sharing the Christian Science understanding of what God is and then read them these comments of astrophysicist Laurance Doyle from SETI Institute (taken from Science and the Sacred: Separate or Synonymous? on spirituality.com: Video webcast - sadly no longer online)

Quote:
You can be the world's expert, but if the data does not back it up, if you cannot demonstrate the truth of it - you have no final authority. The final authority in science is what the universe has to say about the subject.

I think that's the difference between dogma and belief. A scientist at no point encounters the dogma, or shouldn't (accept the dogmatic response) "I'm sorry, that's just the mystery. You're going to have to accept that on blind belief." That is anathema to science. The scientific process is, question, question, question, and only truth will survive.

"Where science runs into a conflict with the sacred is in not accepting a limited version of the Source – a limited version of Mind. You can’t convince a scientist who works with googleplexes and galaxies and accelerating universes, much less quantum probabilities, that God is a tribal god that will fight. In the scientific community, a colleague of mine said, "You’re not trying to mix religion and science, are you?" I said, "Oh, no, no, no. I’m trying to make religion scientific."….

"The philosophy I have of science is that you’re doing science when you take the evidence of intelligence above the evidence of the senses. The earth used to be thought to be flat. Well, it took evidence of intelligence to say it was round, because the senses say it’s flat."..End of quote

There was a hush in the room and they were all intently listening. The agnostic physicist said to me that he deeply identified with what I’d just quoted.

Einstein came up and it seemed a good opportunity to tell them that it was reported that Einstein used to spend hours studying Mary Baker Eddy’s primary work Science and Health and that he is once said to have remarked to the librarian: "Science and Health is beyond this generation's understanding. It is the pure science. And, to think that a woman knew this over eighty years ago!" They all laughed, but I hope it will give them pause for thought.

Then the conversation moved to:

In any case, the belief that religion and science occupy separate magisteria* is dishonest. It founders on the undeniable fact that religions still make claims about the world that on analysis turn out to be scientific claims. Moreover, religious apologists try to have it both ways. When talking to intellectuals, they carefully keep off science's turf, safe inside the separate and invulnerable religious magisterium. But when talking to a nonintellectual mass audience, they make wanton use of miracle stories--which are blatant intrusions into scientific territory.

The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children. Every one of these miracles amounts to a violation of the normal running of the natural world. Theologians should make a choice. You can claim your own magisterium* separate from science's but still deserving of respect. But in that case, you must renounce miracles. Or you can keep your Lourdes and your miracles and enjoy their huge recruiting potential among the uneducated. But then you must kiss goodbye to separate magisteria* and your high-minded aspiration to converge with science.

*magisterium: teaching authority especially of the Roman Catholic Church (I was relieved that none of the professors knew what that meant either!)

(I felt last night that it was very sad that he had to put those dear people at Lourdes into a programme with evil in its title. They are not mass killers. What evil goes on at Lourdes?)

Back to my discussion. Most people that night felt that Dawkins were incredibly arrogant calling people ignorant just because they believed in miracles. The maths professor said he used to laugh at dowsing until he discovered he could do it!

I took a deep breath and then told them I didn’t have any problem believing in the miracles of the Bible, because, in a small way, I had experienced similar things in my own life. I said that there is a higher reality (that most people are oblivious to) than the physical world and its limitations and that Jesus was totally conscious of this and so was able to transcend all the so-called laws of matter.

I then told them the previous week I met Philip, whose healing I describe on and
who had staggered into a talk about Mary Baker Eddy dying and racked with pain and disability and how he then found he was pain free and the next day his legs were the same length and he could eat anything and instead of death he is alive and kicking!

The agnostic physics professor said: "Well, that’s exactly what Richard Dawkins needs to know. Surely this chap must have X-rays and hospital records? That’s the sort of proof we need. This sort of news shouldn’t just be shared with a small group of academics in this room – the world should be told about it. You Christian Scientists have a duty to let the world know about what is going on."

Love and peace,

Judy

PS: Here is a link by the way to a thought-provoking article about the argument between creationism and evolution (which came up a lot in the programme last night):

Monkeys, intelligent design, or none of the above?
Jeremy Carper
Reprinted from the January 9, 2006, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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Sacredstar
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RE: Richard Dawkins and "The Root of all Evil?"

Aggression is always a sign of insecurity and insecurity is always at bottom, a lack of faith, not the presence of it."

Well i disagree on this one Judy because the core issue of agression can have many different root causes. In my experience irrational behaviour is often the result of an abused child, indoctrination or past life repercussions. Yes in same cases insecurity can come from fear and as faith actually means trust, it can signify a lack of trust inbuilt due to life experience. However, a lot of what we see going on in Jerusalem is about what is mine and thine (attachment) and the core of selfishness on both sides. So when and if people move into their hearts of love, let go of wishing to own lands/property and move into the community of US sharing we will indeed see a different story unfold.

I am sure that you will agree there is a long way to go yet. It seems that it is only when the religions dissolve that peace will indeed reign and I think this is at the core of Dawkins belief. As witnessed on the prgramme a lot of these problems are coming from the top e.g. some religious leaders are saying no, they cannot come here - it is OURS.

I see a lot of the fundamentalists including atheist fundamentalists are just using religion as a means to vent their own anger within that has not been healed. In my view if it wasn't religion they would focus their anger on something else and as we know anger and hostility is the biggest predictor of heart disease. So these people do have big heart blockages.

My view is that religion will get swept away in its own time as more and more people come to the realisation that they do not need religion to be one with God. In fact I would go as far as to say that God never asked for worship and Jesus advised people to pray alone.

The walls of separation will come down and I think that people like Dawkins are all playing their role in helping those walls to come down so that the people gain their freedom, liberation and spiritual independence. Man certainly does cause a lot of harm in the name of religion/belief for and against. However, that does not mean that I agree with everything that Dawkins says because I do not.

It really feels like the darkness of fundamentalism (in all its guises) is facing the light of love in more ways than one; in recent days it has been made very clear to me that nobody is being asked to be a martyr for the cause of love. Martyrdom was created by religion to control spiritual man and this runs deeply in human consciousness. Humanity has a golden window of opportunity to break this negative cycle. I look forward to viewing a world that is full of beings that are loving less moving into becoming love beyond measure.

Although I strongly adhere to the fact that the light of love of Gods truth is steel compared with the iron fist that humanity now faces. Love means acceptance in unconditinal love to me yet we see such a lack of acceptance of others in all walks of life - we even witness it on these forums.

And as is states in the bible these roots of less good will be pulled up because they were not planted by God.

Love beyond measure

Kim xx

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Principled
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RE: Richard Dawkins and "The Root of all Evil?"

H Kim,

Thanks for this - you and I are thinking along the same lines here.

I just want to clear something up though, where you wrote:

Sacredstar

quote:
Aggression is always a sign of insecurity and insecurity is always at bottom, a lack of faith, not the presence of it."

Well i disagree on this one Judy because the core issue of agression can have many different root causes. In my experience irrational behaviour is often the result of an abused child, indoctrination or past life repercussions. Yes in same cases insecurity can come from fear and as faith actually means trust, it can signify a lack of trust inbuilt due to life experience.

Kim, you can't take one part of the quote out of context!

The words are from an interview with Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who was talking specfically about fundamentaism, not about aggression:

He was asked, on the thought-provoking documentary "Children of Abraham" last year, what causes the difference between an inclusive religious belief and the closed mind of the fundamentalist and he replied that it all boils down to a key factor in our psychological makeup – insecurity.

"I define fundamentalism as the attempt to impose a single truth on a plural world. And what really lies behind it is fear – a profound insecurity, that makes you feel when you meet somebody who’s not like you, or doesn’t agree with you, that that challenges and threatens your very being.

Aggression is always a sign of insecurity and insecurity is always at bottom, a lack of faith, not the presence of it."

Love and peace,

Judy

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Sacredstar
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RE: Richard Dawkins and "The Root of all Evil?"

Do accept my apologies Judy I was most unwell this morning. Have been down with infections of chest, ears and cold as well. Just starting to feel a bit better this evening. Everyone here seems to have bugs at the moment and they are going around and around. Sorry to jump in it just kinda a jumped out at me like things do. 😉

Love and hugs

Kim xx

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Principled
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RE: Richard Dawkins and "The Root of all Evil?"

Though we saw the spiritual side of Richard Dawkins come out at the end, his relentless crusade to discredit all religion is so glaringly one-sided and lacking balance, that I feel I need to say a little more.

He dragged up some ghastly OT "thou shalt not's" - I didn't write them down, but, remembering something about stoning, looked up some of those. Now this is to me, evdence of a passage from the Bible that comes from human opinion and NOT divine revelation from God who is infinite unconditional Love itself:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deut. 21)

Well, I'm sure some parents reading this will sympathise 😀 but obviously even fundamentalists (apart from perhaps the Taliban) reject those parts of "sacred" texts, yet will criticise others (like me) who only take what is inspired as my guide.

While Richard Dawkins dug out some ghastly examples of human opinions, (like that above) the human part of the 10 Commandments given to Moses have formed the basis for just about every law we have in the democratic West and similar moral codes are to be found in all religions. They are a basis for human rights, women's rights and law and order in all civilized societies.

Richard Dawkins spoke about people acting morally only because they were afraid of hell and damnaton - I totally disagree. I believe we act rightly because it is our spiritual identity to reflect God's goodness. I have written more about this on the thread "Is the Bible/Koran out of date in our society?" on 17 January 2006.

This morning, I picked up the excellent Rough Guide to a BETTER WORLD - and how you can make a difference (I really encourage everyone to ask for one - it's free) What interested me is that they acknowledge (unlike Dawkins) the good that can come out of religion:

Speaking out - Faith-based advocacy

Faith-based communities, in rich and poor parts of the world, are key players on the road to creating a better world. Because successful development is not down to governments alone, but only takes place when players across society are engaged – individuals, business enterprises, trade unions, financial institutions – faith leaders play a key role as agents of social change.

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are poor, they call me a communist."
Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian priest

At one time faith groups were criticized for being more interested in converting people than helping them to find ways to overcome poverty. In some societies it was left to the state to look after “material” matters and religion to concentrate on “spiritual” matters. Today many of the major religions recognize that their spiritual vocation includes fighting for political change.

The ancient Hindu maxim Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, for example, means “all of creation is one family”. Maimonides, the twelfth-century Jewish philosopher, explains in his Eight Degrees of Charity that the most effective way to help the poor is to empower them to overcome their poverty. Muslims picture humanity as a body, and any discomfort or pain in one part of the body causes the whole body to suffer. And the Islamic principle of zakat, whereby a 2.5 percent donation of capital to the poor and needy is given, is an important way of putting beliefs into practice. Concern for a more compassionate society has also been central to Sikh Gurus, while Sikhs believe that concern for the wellbeing of others must mean promoting the rights of all people to a decent livelihood.

Whatever their differences, the major religions share a core belief that the earth and its fruits are made for all and not for the few. It is this common belief that fuels widespread moral outrage among believers of all traditions at the “scandal” of poverty.

For many with a religious conviction, prayer represents the most powerful form of advocacy.

Faith communities were global long before the word globalization was coined. Churches and mosques, for example, reach into almost every village and town and their leaders have first-hand experience of the reality of life for the majority of the world’s people. Along with other communities – women’s groups, trade unions, slum dwellers’ organizations – faith groups are a potent force for information distribution and social mobilization, a powerful base from which to challenge unfair political structures. And research suggests that when it comes to whom poor people really trust, it is less likely to be politicians, economists, police, or the army and more likely to be people in the church, the temple, the mosque, the synagogue or chapel.

Despite the debates that continue around the distribution of condoms and whether such schemes encourage casual sex, faith-based institutions, according to Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town, are key players in the response to diseases such as HIV/AIDS. One of the reasons, he says, is because “for the majority of people, regardless of their social or economic position in society, when they become ill with any chronic illness, including HIV/AIDS, the first port of call is to their spiritual source for guidance and support.”

Love and peace,

Judy

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Principled
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Like many here, I watched the first episode last night of this TV documentary. I was particularly interested in seeing it as I had discussed a paper he had written, ridiculing religion, at one of the ecumenical staff meetings I attend at a local university (I am there by invitation, as I'm not staff!) More of that below.

I had also listened to Dawkins being interviewed on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2. The Channel 4 people had sent out the title without the question mark and the two men must have spent the first 5 minutes with Jeremy Vine asking how he could justify this title when the worst atrocities the world has ever known were committed by people who were not religious - Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Dawkins got angrier and angrier, insisting they get off this "boring subject" to get back to talking about the programme, but Vine would not let it go. Dawkins had to agree about these worst atrocities, but said that Hitler was a Catholic (did his Catholicism motivate his evil? - I doubt it) and that though Stalin and Mao were atheists, their atheism had no connection with their evil.

So in other words, if you're "religious" and do evil, it's the fault of the religion, but if you're atheist, it's not….. Hmm

Personally, I believe that it's never the core teachings of the religion - even Islam means peace and Jesus spent his time teaching about love and forgiveness. It's always the way that men have either read something literally, misunderstood it, or, have corrupted it and used religion as an excuse for power and tribalism. The conflict in Northern Ireland wasn't about religion (if the terrorists had really been Christians - either Catholic or Protestant) they would have been practising love and forgiveness, not hatred and bigotry. No, as so often happens, it's tribalism and the greed for land.

The fundamentalist thinking that Dawkins encountered last night was scary - oh yes, but it's not the majority world view. As I explained on my thread The Roots of Fundamentalism, it's always born out of fear and ignorance.

In it, I quote from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who wrote a book called "The Dignity of Difference" and it caused such a storm, he was forced to retract it, then re-write it, leaving out this sentence ".. no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth." He was asked, on the thought-provoking documentary "Children of Abraham" last year, what causes the difference between an inclusive religious belief and the closed mind of the fundamentalist and he replied that it all boils down to a key factor in our psychological makeup – insecurity.

"I define fundamentalism as the attempt to impose a single truth on a plural world. And what really lies behind it is fear – a profound insecurity, that makes you feel when you meet somebody who’s not like you, or doesn’t agree with you, that that challenges and threatens your very being.

Aggression is always a sign of insecurity and insecurity is always at bottom, a lack of faith, not the presence of it."

I wish that Channel 4 had called the programme "Fundamentalism the Root of all Evil?" which would have been much closer. Dawkins is ignoring all the goodness that comes out of people's individual practice of their religion. The anti-slavery movement in Britain came out of the church, opposing the government. The idea of setting up charities was also a Christian one.

To get behind the way Dawkins thinks, I just want to share some of the outcome of the discussion I had on the paper: "Snake Oil and Holy Water" by Richard Dawkins at the local university.

An agnostic physicist introduced the meeting and went round the room, asking for various people’s ideas of God and their observations on this paper. He particularly wanted to discuss two themes from the paper. The first:

I once asked a distinguished astronomer, a fellow of my college, to explain the big bang theory to me. He did so to the best of his (and my) ability, and I then asked what it was about the fundamental laws of physics that made the spontaneous origin of space and time possible. "Ah," he smiled, "now we move beyond the realm of science. This is where I have to hand you over to our good friend, the chaplain." But why the chaplain? Why not the gardener or the chef? Of course chaplains, unlike chefs and gardeners, claim to have some insight into ultimate questions. But what reason have we ever been given for taking their claims seriously? Once again, I suspect that my friend, the professor of astronomy, was using the Einstein/Hawking trick of letting "God" stand for "That which we don't understand." It would be a harmless trick if it were not continually misunderstood by those hungry to misunderstand it. In any case, optimists among scientists, of whom I am one, will insist, "That which we don't understand" means only "That which we don't yet understand." Science is still working on the problem. We don't know where, or even whether, we ultimately shall be brought up short.

Interestingly one professor said that he believed that science was only in its medieval stages and had not yet reached the ultimate understanding and that when it did, science and religion would be found to be identical.

I started off by sharing the Christian Science understanding of what God is and then read them these comments of astrophysicist Laurance Doyle from SETI Institute (taken from Science and the Sacred: Separate or Synonymous? on spirituality.com (sadly no longer online)

Quote:
You can be the world's expert, but if the data does not back it up, if you cannot demonstrate the truth of it - you have no final authority. The final authority in science is what the universe has to say about the subject.

I think that's the difference between dogma and belief. A scientist at no point encounters the dogma, or shouldn't (accept the dogmatic response) "I'm sorry, that's just the mystery. You're going to have to accept that on blind belief." That is anathema to science. The scientific process is, question, question, question, and only truth will survive.

"Where science runs into a conflict with the sacred is in not accepting a limited version of the Source – a limited version of Mind. You can’t convince a scientist who works with googleplexes and galaxies and accelerating universes, much less quantum probabilities, that God is a tribal god that will fight. In the scientific community, a colleague of mine said, "You’re not trying to mix religion and science, are you?" I said, "Oh, no, no, no. I’m trying to make religion scientific."….

"The philosophy I have of science is that you’re doing science when you take the evidence of intelligence above the evidence of the senses. The earth used to be thought to be flat. Well, it took evidence of intelligence to say it was round, because the senses say it’s flat.".. End of quote There was a hush in the room and they were all intently listening. The agnostic physicist said to me that he deeply identified with what I’d just quoted.

Einstein came up and it seemed a good opportunity to tell them that it was reported that Einstein used to spend hours studying Mary Baker Eddy’s primary work Science and Health and that he is once said to have remarked to the librarian: "Science and Health is beyond this generation's understanding. It is the pure science. And, to think that a woman knew this over eighty years ago!" They all laughed, but I hope it will give them pause for thought.

Then the conversation moved to:

In any case, the belief that religion and science occupy separate magisteria* is dishonest. It founders on the undeniable fact that religions still make claims about the world that on analysis turn out to be scientific claims. Moreover, religious apologists try to have it both ways. When talking to intellectuals, they carefully keep off science's turf, safe inside the separate and invulnerable religious magisterium. But when talking to a nonintellectual mass audience, they make wanton use of miracle stories--which are blatant intrusions into scientific territory.

The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children. Every one of these miracles amounts to a violation of the normal running of the natural world. Theologians should make a choice. You can claim your own magisterium* separate from science's but still deserving of respect. But in that case, you must renounce miracles. Or you can keep your Lourdes and your miracles and enjoy their huge recruiting potential among the uneducated. But then you must kiss goodbye to separate magisteria* and your high-minded aspiration to converge with science.

*magisterium: teaching authority especially of the Roman Catholic Church (I was relieved that none of the professors knew what that meant either!)

(I felt last night that it was very sad that he had to put those dear people at Lourdes into a programme with evil in its title. They are not mass killers. What evil goes on at Lourdes?)

Back to my discussion. Most people that night felt that Dawkins were incredibly arrogant calling people ignorant just because they believed in miracles. The maths professor said he used to laugh at dowsing until he discovered he could do it!

I took a deep breath and then told them I didn’t have any problem believing in the miracles of the Bible, because, in a small way, I had experienced similar things in my own life. I said that there is a higher reality (that most people are oblivious to) than the physical world and its limitations and that Jesus was totally conscious of this and so was able to transcend all the so-called laws of matter.

I then told them the previous week I met Philip, whose healing I describe on and who had staggered into a talk about Mary Baker Eddy dying and racked with pain and disability and how he then found he was pain free and the next day his legs were the same length and he could eat anything and instead of death he is alive and kicking!

The agnostic physics professor said: "Well, that’s exactly what Richard Dawkins needs to know. Surely this chap must have X-rays and hospital records? That’s the sort of proof we need. This sort of news shouldn’t just be shared with a small group of academics in this room – the world should be told about it. You Christian Scientists have a duty to let the world know about what is going on."

Love and peace,

Judy

PS: Here is a link by the way to a thought-provoking article about the argument between creationism and evolution (which came up a lot in the programme last night):

Monkeys, intelligent design, or none of the above?
Jeremy Carper
Reprinted from the January 9, 2006, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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Principled
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Well he's back again! :confused: Tonight (Monday) at 8 pm on Channel 4

Enemies of Reason

Slaves to Superstition is on C4 Mon 13 Aug 2007 8pm; part 2 Mon 20 Aug 8pm

In his last Channel 4 series, Root of All Evil?, the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins explored how organised faith and primitive religious values blight our lives.
But the fault line runs deeper even than religion. There are two ways of looking at the world – through faith and superstition or through the rigours of logic, observation and evidence – in other words, through reason. Reason and a respect for evidence are precious commodities, the source of human progress and our safeguard against fundamentalists and those who profit from obscuring the truth.
Richard Dawkins

Yet, today, society appears to be retreating from reason.

Apparently harmless but utterly irrational belief systems from astrology to New Age mysticism, clairvoyance to alternative health remedies are booming.

Richard Dawkins confronts what he sees as an epidemic of irrational, superstitious thinking...

Can't wait!

Love and peace,

Judy

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norbu
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the music of life, biology beyond the genome

in his recent book, the music of life, denis noble, emeritus professor of cardiovascular physiology at oxford university, places an interested twist on richard dawkins lines, showing that dawkins is using opinion, not empirical science to drive his argument.

please go to this link to read the rest...

love and peace

norbu

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Venetian
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Judy had actually reminded me that this TV show was on.

I think it's pretty essential to encounter opposite views to one's own in order to double-check on oneself - but only up to a point! I mean, life is short and you can't spend all your life listening to sceptics about your own beliefs. So I decided to give it a miss. (Oh, those comments are not directed at you, Judy, as you have a special interest.) But my TV guide even ended a description of the programme with "Why is he so cross?" I had no need to spend an hour of my evening listening to an idiot who is also "cross" or in the vibe of anger of some form.

But I did have a few free minutes, and saw maybe 10 minutes anyhow when astrology was being discussed. If discussed is the word. What was D trying to prove there, as his tiny public opinion sample - LOL 12 people! - wasn't even approaching science anyway? (In those 10 brief minutes I didn't see him 'cross' at least.) He ridiculed astrology and as an antidote turned to astronomy. LOL, he doesn't know that all the great foundational "astronomers" such as Newton were astrologers first and foremost? (Though IMO astrology does have a lot to answer for - but then again, how utterly dishonest can you get? D focussed on proving that tabloid horoscopes for the day are unfounded: well, that's not real astrology and I'm sure we all know that. Utterly, brain-numbingly dishonest of him.)

As it's a kind of documentary someone will be behind its slant. Is it D and his cronies, or is it an open-minded programme? I didn't wait to see, but suspect its his project and he's the editor. What I saw means and proves nothing.

V

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nishira
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hmmm, they didn't have this program on here in the states (well, come to think of it - i'll have to search for that). it's probably a good thing - i think if i had watched it (and if it's on - i would be compelled to watch it) - it simply would have made me angry - not that it should have (because it's up to me to get angry or not - right?) - but....it would have...

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Venetian
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Admittedly from a mere ten minutes I saw, Dawkins' chief lie is the lie that he is "scientific" when he was/is nothing of the kind. He confronted a very calm astrologer, who replied well I thought, and said something like, "So for you it's all just based upon belief?" Yet it was extremely clear that Dawkins is also just belief-driven, not in any way being scientific, and even less open-minded which is also to be scientific.

For example, on the astrology subject Dawkins' rejection was based on the fact that "we don't know how it could work". That's not science. Science is to statistically find out if something works whether we know how or not. So Dawkins doesn't even know what science is. Why should we pay attention to him? (Well, I did only give him ten minutes. 🙂 )

He reminds me of Prof. John Taylor, a physicist-sceptic in the late 1970s. Parapsychology had proved beyond reasonable doubt in the lab that atomic-level psychokinesis (mind over matter) could be demonstrated often, almost at will. So Taylor couldn't argue it wasn't happening. What he did do was 'proclaim' that it couldn't be happening through an unknown means. At a 2-day conference he began by chalking across a blackboard "Electromagnetism Or Bust". On the second day a friend of mine, Julian Isaacs, got up to speak. He was then young, so pretty courageous in challenging Taylor: he began in kind by chalking across the blackboard, "Down With Reductionistic Materialism". The effect was dramatic! Half the people, about exacty 50%, stood up and clapped. And half sat there stony-faced. 😉

V

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Energylz
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Good post V. I couldn't get time to watch the program on TV, but I didn't need to really, cos I know the sort of thing that it would have shown.

You're absolutely right about the science side of things. Science is a belief system in it's own right.

It all reminds me of the accounts that Lynne McTaggart details in her book The Field and, even though there is good strong research into certain fields, it still gets hushed up.

Love and Reiki Hugs

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Principled
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V - for someone who didn't want to watch the programme..........:)

In the end, I found it so boring I went and made dinner, so missed most, but was glad, because I then saw the super prog on Calcutta and beyond, followed by a not so good, but still interesting (the camera zooming put me off more than anything) one on Pakistan. I'm going to so miss all these wonderful glimpses of India and Pakistan when this anniversary is over!

Anyway, back to SD. I observed two things - he was not as aggressive as with his religious delusionists - in fact, he was very calm and charming throughout I thought. And like you, I felt he was doing a disservice to his subject. It started off with him at a MBS exhibition. He just picked the odd stall-holder at random. And it also struck me that if he wanted to seriously investigate astrology, are the tabloid generalisations the best way of doing it.

Far better, I feel was an experiment where a class of university students were asked to write down their date, place and time of birth and they were told they would be sent to an astrologer for analysis (if that's the right word) All agreed that the results described them perfectly, but all had received the same information - a better result that Dawkins got last night.
But after all, it could be argued that we all have a sprinkling of various characteristics!

I heard him interviewed on the radio talking about his experiences making the programme. I might have missed this part, but one woman told him that his deceased father was always close to him and Dawkins replied that that was quite right as he came to visit the family every week (he is not dead!)

Next week he debunks the National Health, with its spending on complimentary therapies.

Love and peace,

Judy

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Venetian
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There's a lot of rubbish in the New Age and in some concepts of New Age-style healing, but there's the heck of a lot that works and needs explaining. So that to me is real cutting-edge science: to explain how the inexplicable actually does work.

I happened to get hold of a 2-video box-set of my favourite film, JFK, and a documentary on the subject (which is at least equally stunning factually). Saw some of those late last night. And in the documentary a key subject they keep coming back to is that at least in the USA, the media largely consider their role to be to be there to support the Establishment. (Europe would never have allowed anyone to get away with Dealey Plaza, it is argued.) The idea is that mainstream media really don't seriously question core values or statements, of truly high significance, from the governing elite.

So I'm wondering why Dawkins has these shows, and why there aren't shows to give the opposing PoV. But maybe if I think of it, there are. You have to wonder why he's given a clean sheet for this though - but then again maybe if we add all TV progs up, there is a balance?

That view of the media was interesting though. Sorry, this is so off-topic, but I think of David Kelly, and there's been precious little media confrontation of that obvious (IMHO) official lie of suicide. So in a way I see people like Dawkins as being accepted onto TV for all the same reasons.

V

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Principled
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Did anyone watch Richard Dawkins tonight? He was trying to debunk the falsehoods of alternative and complementary therapies.

Over and over again he stressed that scientific medicine is the only safe and reliable way. Well, is allopathic medicine really scientific when yesterday’s meat is often today’s poison? Is it always safe and reliable?

He seems truly troubled by the huge use of homeopathy and in particular that some of it is funded through the NHS. Interestingly, Mary Baker Eddy during her search for healing which ultimately led to her discovery of Christian Science, tried many of the alternative and complementary therapies of her day, including homeopathy.

Unlike Richard Dawkins and the doctor he interviewed who did not understand how it works, she wrote:

Homoeopathy is the last link in material medicine. The next step is Mind-medicine. (Miscellaneous Writings p 270)

The author's medical researches and experiments had prepared her thought for the metaphysics of Christian Science. Every material dependence had failed her in her search for truth; and she can now understand why, and can see the means by which mortals are divinely driven to a spiritual source for health and happiness.
Her experiments in homoeopathy had made her skeptical as to material curative methods. Jahr, from Aconitum to Zincum oxydatum, enumerates the general symptoms, the characteristic signs, which demand different remedies; but the drug is frequently attenuated to such a degree that not a vestige of it remains. Thus we learn that it is not the drug which expels the disease or changes one of the symptoms of disease.
The author has attenuated Natrum muriaticum (common table-salt) until there was not a single saline property left. The salt had "lost his savour;" and yet, with one drop of that attenuation in a goblet of water, and a teaspoonful of the water administered at intervals of three hours, she has cured a patient sinking in the last stage of typhoid fever. The highest attenuation of homoeopathy and the most potent rises above matter into mind. This discovery leads to more light. From it may be learned that either human faith or the divine Mind is the healer and that there is no efficacy in a drug. (Science and Health p 152)

Evidences of progress and of spiritualization greet us on every hand. Drug-systems are quitting their hold on matter and so letting in matter's higher stratum, mortal mind. Homoeopathy, a step in advance of allopathy, is doing this. Matter is going out of medicine; and mortal mind, of a higher attenuation than the drug, is governing the pellet. (S&H p 158)

Metaphysics, as taught in Christian Science, is the next stately step beyond homoeopathy. In metaphysics, matter disappears from the remedy entirely, and Mind takes its rightful and supreme place. (S&H p 156)


Here is a link to read this discourse on homeopathy direct from the book (read on to page 158):

Interestingly, there was one scientist on the programme he spoke to, who seemed to admit that allopathic medicine worked on the “placebo effect” too. Many doctors today will say that the same drug will have a different effect on different people – why, if it’s so scientific and proveable - isn’t it because its efficacy lies in the faith that the patient has in the drug, the doctor, the operation? I can cite many cases where, when there is no faith in the drug, it doesn't work and also, like when a high dose of narcotics have been taken by accident (one chap thought the bottle in the fridge was soda pop!) violent hallucinations have immediately ceased when the higher law of God (divine Mind) have been applied.

And what about when the “placebo effect” as Richard Dawkins seemed to be explaining away everything as, works when “scientific” medicine doesn’t? What happens, when, at its highest, there is not only a physical change, but a mental, emotional, moral and spiritual transformation?????

Here are a couple of links to healings that were medically diagnosed and for conditions that were deemed either chronic or incurable.

[url]Horse healed of diagnosed tumor[/url]
Comparisons with ultrasound pictures by the vet

A Healing of Hepatitis C:
[url] "I just kept reading the book"[/url]

This was an interesting one. It involved a reporter with the Christian Science Monitor who worked on the special report: "What is a kidney worth?" about kidney trafficking. As a result of his time in Africa, (and I would add, accepting into his consciousness kidney failure as a fact,) he himself experienced it:

Organ trafficking - another view

After returning from Southern Africa in February, I was diagnosed with cerebral malaria, which the doctors told me had led to acute kidney failure. They told me that if I didn't get treatment, I would die. They could help keep me alive, they said, but had no way of jump-starting my faulty organs.

....I was told I needed to begin dialysis, which simulates the function of the kidneys, to keep me alive.

.....A breakthrough came when my boss reminded me of the report we were doing on organ trafficking, and I must admit that I had unwittingly begun to accept as reality the intractability of kidney failure. If it could affect some people, could it affect me?

I was buying into the perception that man is merely a bunch of component parts that can wear out, like a car. And yet Jesus taught the inviolability of man as the heir to God's goodness, and that perfection and wholeness constitute the true state of man. I prayed to see this more fully, and two days later my kidneys began functioning again. Within a week I was fully healed of all the symptoms related to the disease.

For people diagnosed with kidney failure, the choice often seems to be transplantation or a lifetime of dialysis.

My experience shows there is another way.

Placebo effect? Think again Richard Dawkins.

Love and peace,

Judy

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Venetian
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Hi Judy,

I didn't give up any of my time to Dawkins, no. Personalities and character underly all supposed "hard" science. So once again, when various TV guides called him "angry", "strident", "confused", and "annoying" - and that's just from average TV reviewers! - I didn't feel any need to subject myself to him LOL. Real science isn't driven by such emotions.

V

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Energylz
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I didn't see it as I was busy doing other stuff.
There seems to be two distinct types of scientists. Those who are willing to explore new things and keep looking even when there appears to be no immediate explanation, and those who are so blinkered they will only accept peer reviewed scientific papers where studies and experiments have undergone thorough (and expensive) double blind testing on large scales. The former are the ones who discover new things and create new scientific theories. The latter are the ones stuck in the past.

The research into allopathic medicines, unfortunately, is funded by the pharmaceutical companies (loadsa dosh!) and, as with all statistics, the figures for the results can be, how shall we say, "manipulated", in favour of getting the drug on the market. All they have to do is make sure they include a leaflet with the medicine detailing all the possible side effects. How many medicines do you come across that say "There are no known side effects after research and testing on both animals and humans over a 5 year period - Independantly tested by ...." or some such thing.

😉

Love and Reiki Hugs

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norbu
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holistic medicine - the hard science

the whole is greter than the sum of the parts.

the scientific method can only examine the action of one* factor on the subject. to do this all other factors have to be controlled. then the empirical scientist tries to work out the effect of each factor one at a time and then looks deeper to look at what makes up each factor: bodies to organs to cells to proteins to melecules to atoms to sub atomic particles. this approach is called reductionism.

the more we understand about how the world of mind and matter works, the more we see that events are complex and patterns emerge; like hurricanes from the flaps of the wings of a butterfly; cells from genes; tissues from cells; organs from tissues and consciousness out of complex neurology (this is all consistent consistent with dawkins' neo-darwinianism so far). then we see that consciousness effects nerves; that nerves effect organs directly and this causes cells to behave in certain ways that causes genes to express differently. possibly more powerful than the central nervous system link to muscles is the way the concsciousness effects the endocryne glands that produce hormones that dramatically effect the physiology or cells and expression of genes.

this is all hard science and yet it starts to show that there is a mind-matter causal path and not just a matter-mind causal path.

the fact is; the more science looks at the effets of mind on phsyiology, the more the kinds of observations that judy describes become plausible. science is looking ever more in this direction: i have never read it, but i picked up deepack chopras book, quantum healing, the other day and just read one paragraph which explained a lab experiment where a secondary sensual stimulus was applied alongside a drug on mice. after a period of (pavlovian**) habituation, the drug was withdrawn and the mice were then treated to only the sensual stimulus. the mice showed the same physiological response to the drug with only the sensual stimulus. this is one powerful placebo effect!

peace and love

norbu

*mor complex experimental design can look at a small number of factors.
** early psychology experiment by pavlov on a dog that showed it would salivate when it heard a noise that it associted with feeding time.

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Venetian
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I didn't see it as I was busy doing other stuff.
There seems to be two distinct types of scientists. Those who are willing to explore new things and keep looking even when there appears to be no immediate explanation, and those who are so blinkered they will only accept peer reviewed scientific papers where studies and experiments have undergone thorough (and expensive) double blind testing on large scales.

I certainly see what you mean, Giles, but from my experience the difference between the 'two types' of scientist is personality- and belief-based. What I mean is that if the 'second type' don't believe in a phenomenon, no amount of peer-reveiwed papers even, or large-scale replications, will convince them anyway. They are stuck in a belief system.

For example, parapsychology conducted experimentally by scientists has proven by any possible scientific means that some wierd and inexplicabel phenomena do take place. The greatest example of this is the series of ganzfeld-telepathy studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s by many. The results, over many thousands of trials, showed again and again that telepathy was taking place. As the effect was inexplicable, the experiments were so closely monitored and the experimental procedures were far more robust than in any 'normal' experiment. The ganzfeld results were proven over and over again. (I've been an experimenter and subject in them myself, and they can be astonishing.) But critics never did accept the results, always looking for a "way out". They are materialists, and so not open-minded to anything else.

The two types of scientist IMO are the open- and the closed-minded.

Edit to add: In fact there is only one type of scientist, and the rest are pretenders. For to be closed-minded is not to be scientific of course.

V

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Energylz
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Well put V. 😉

I like to think of myself as one of the open minded scientists or, as your edit implies, a scientist. 🙂

Love and Reiki Hugs

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Principled
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Hi Giles,I'm quite sure no-one would disagree with you either!:045:

Interesting that you should mention Deepack Chopra and quantum healing Norbu, because Dawkins actually interviewed him and (as it seemed to me) got him to admit that his meaning of quantum had nothing to do with quantum physics.

Anyway, RD will find out the absolute truth one day - as we all will!

Judy

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Venetian
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Well, RD will have been right in that. "Quantum" is just another of those catchy terms New Age folk add on to the titles of their books and workshops as it seems to give them scholarship. 98% of New Age people who use the word, it's true, won't even know what it means.

Nevertheless, I fancy that in 100 or even just 50 years from now, the majority of people, and probably even scientists, will look back (if they can be bothered) at RD and snigger at his attitudes.

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Energylz
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Having done quite a bit of reading up on QED (Quantum Elecro Dynamics and other Quantum theories) it seems to me that a lot of the Quantum physicists don't really know what Quantum means either. 😉

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norbu
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quanta

hi judy

i did not see the program or know exactly what is meant by the term used in the context of quantum healing, but i do understand its meaning in physics and as a generic term: it just means a discrete unit of a measurable substance, usually energy.

in physics this is the unit of energy, in the form of a quantum of electromagnetic energy; "a particle of light" that is required to shift the energy status of the eclectron shell of a molecule or atom.

there are amazing parallels thoughout science that echo this model in physics and these patterns are, in general, counter to the dawkensian reductionist position. i imagine dawkins would try very hard to undermine anyone that held a belief out of line with his own dogmatic view by trying to establish that they were using a term, supposedly monopolised by hard science, innapropriately.

what, i would suspect, is that dawkins does not recognises that probabilistic phenomenology of quantum science in physics, paralleled in chaos theory, complexity theory and systems biology in the observation of emergent systems, is profoundly problematic to the reductionist and provides an open window to establishing mind as having a causal role in evolution as well as health.

i wouldn't take dawkins' luddite polemic too seriously in this or any other attempt he makes to hold onto a materialist hegemony.

love and peace

norbu

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Venetian
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what, i would suspect, is that dawkins does not recognises that probabilistic phenomenology of quantum science in physics, paralleled in chaos theory, complexity theory and systems biology in the observation of emergent systems, is profoundly problematic to the reductionist and provides an open window to establishing mind as having a causal role in evolution as well as health.

i wouldn't take dawkins' luddite polemic too seriously in this or any other attempt he makes to hold onto a materialist hegemony.

I agree, but what strikes me about such people is that - as you indicate - they are living within a framework of believing in Newtonian, probably not even Einsteinian, physics and science. Dawkins is a 'blast from the past'. That's why I reckon that in a few decades people would - I say "would" as I don't think they'll actually bother - look back at him and consider him a figure of fun and of ridiculousness. Along the lines of 1950s' scientists who assured us on TV that smoking is great for your health.

V

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norbu
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Along the lines of 1950s' scientists who assured us on TV that smoking is great for your health.

what do you mean? there is no evidence that smoking caues harm to your health! 😉

peace and love

norbu

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Principled
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Along the lines of 1950s' scientists who assured us on TV that smoking is great for your health.

V

To echo Norbu - now this is totally :offtopic:

I was amazed when I came across this is Science and Health the other day: "The tobacco-user, eating or smoking poison for half a century, sometimes tells you that the weed preserves his health, but does this make it so? Does his assertion prove the use of tobacco to be a salubrious habit, and man to be the better for it?" :cool-smiley-027:

That was written in 1875 so those views must have been around since the old tobacco leaf was first rolled.

Judy

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Principled
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This link arrived in my inbox today. Quite interesting in the light of RD insisting on scientific medicine and scientific studies and scientific controls, trials, analysis etc:

[url]When Medical Studies Collide[/url]

Contradictory reports? Meta-analysis may make things more confusing

Judy

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Venetian
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Hi Judy,

I haven't clicked on the link TBH, but meta-analysis should actually clarify. It's simply taking multiple and disparate experiments and adding all their results together to get a better idea of what the results really are. It teases out the percentages as many more trials are included.

V

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I’ve come back to this thread as last night I attended a very interesting (and lively!) talk by Dr Tina Beattie of Roehampton University. It had a rather inflammatory title: “Enemy in the Mirror: Richard Dawkins, the New Atheists and their Crusade against Fundamentalism” which brought Dawkin followers and a quite hostile Q&A session afterwards, but I found her ideas logical, reasoned and very much taking a middle line. What she tried to communicate last night was the need “for a more reasoned and creative dialogue between believers and non-believers about questions which impinge deeply on all our lives….”

Having heard some of the antagonistic comments last night, I felt so grateful for everyone on HP. Even the atheists/agnostics among us (like Giles for instance) are open-minded seekers and willing to explore what we have in common and to admit that often it’s just language that seems to divide us.

Here’s a link to an article she wrote on this subject on the website Open Democracy:
The end of postmodernism: the “new atheists” and democracy


The conflict between science and religion promoted by secular intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens is a smokescreen. Behind it, a far more important argument about global power and justice in a post-postmodern age is becoming unavoidable...

And to her book (I’m not getting commission – honest!)

[DLMURL="http://www.darton-longman-todd.co.uk/book_details.asp?bID=450&bc=0"]THE NEW ATHEISTS The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion[/DLMURL]

From its gradual decline during the latter part of the twentieth century, religion has been catapulted back into public consciousness, not least by acts of violence, extremism and various forms of fundamentalism. In this lively and provocative contribution to the debate the leading British feminist theologian, Tina Beattie, argues that the threat of religious fanaticism is mirrored by a no less virulent and ignorant secular fanaticism which has taken hold of the intellectual classes in Britain and America. Its High Priest is Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, but its disciples and acolytes include well-known public figures such as ………………

While I’m here, Conspiritualist gave us a very interesting link on the other Dawkins thread
to the Rupert Sheldrake web site where he describes his experience with RD and his refusal to discuss evidence:

This is also well worth reading!

Love and peace,

Judy

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