Science v religion - Dawkins v Haggard

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Thu, 2006-11-16 00:23

What happens when an atheist with a rather 'disintegrated' philosophical world view debates a religionist with an integrated but factually incorrect worldview about the foundations of science and the scientific method?

You can see the results here at You Tube in a clip from British TV series 'Root of All Evil': scientist Richard Dawkins v recently disgraced evangelical preacher Ted Haggard. Says Nicholas Provenzo (to whom goes the hat tip):

It shows the conflict between a philosophically disintegrated advocate of science ("we live in a world of subtle shades and not sharp black and white") and a philosophically misintegrated advocate of mysticism ("we believe the Bible is the word of God") and in my mind, makes it clear which argument is the worse cultural force.

Concludes Provenzo, "In analyzing the material presented in the clip, I came to the conclusion that Dawkins is weak, but Haggard is vicious... lest we forget—it is Haggard and not Dawkins who has [the US] President's ear."

LINK: Root of all evil, 1 - You Tube
The Scientist and the Preacher: Disintegration v. Misintegration - Rule of Reason

RELATED: Religion, Science, Politics

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Marcus's picture

...I don't know what pop science books you have read, but Dawkins is one of the best.

Maybe I am a different sort of reader though. I have been reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson - a non-scientist, and I have found some parts of it very snooze worthy.

Whereas I found Darwin's "Origin of Species", Dawkins' "the Selfish Gene" and "the Blind Watchmaker", James Watson's "the Double Helix", Jacob's "Of Flies, Mice and Men" and Bishop's "How to win the Nobel Prize" all written by scientists - unputdownable and gripping.


Robert's picture

... if you are still awake!

I tried to read Blind Watchmaker a few years back and consistantly fell into a deep sleep within five minutes of starting to read. God it was boring.

The problem wasn't Dawkins insights, it was his glacial-paced prose!

Scientists and empiricism...

Robert's picture

... hazard of the trade I'm afraid. We deal in the unknown and you've got to find & correctly identify the corner pieces of the puzzle before you can gainfully think about how the thing goes together.

And those non-scientists...

Marcus's picture

...swim perilously in an ocean of rationalism Smiling


Lindsay Perigo's picture

The science is always interesting. As an illustration of the scientists' fatal attraction to empiricism. Smiling

I can't remember...

Marcus's picture

...the first paragraph especially.

I think the book doesn't start picking up until about chapter three.

I thought the book, although with some obvious flaws, was very enjoyable and compelling. Although, if Linz doesn't find the science interesting he might find some chapters boring.

Of course, after having gone to the trouble to buy the book, the exercycle is not going to fall into disuse if Linz simply leaves it on the shelf Smiling


Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'll read the first para. Then am I excused? Smiling

To be fair...

Robert's picture

... with Dawkins you probably need to read the first paragraph. The bugger takes forever to say what he means.

Marcus ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It turns out that you have to wrench him from his gym exercycle with a crowbar before he will bend down to pick up a book.

Well, there is method in my madness. Smiling

Actually, I usually see how a book concludes before bothering with it. Which usually means I don't. For instance, the first sentence I spotted, dipping into the last chapter of Dawkins, was:

What we see of the real world is not the unvarnished real world but a model of the real world ...

Oh Christ. Do I really have to bother with this?!

I always assumed Linz...

Marcus's picture

...was an avid book worm devouring books at a rate of knots.

It turns out that you have to wrench him from his gym exercycle with a crowbar before he will bend down to pick up a book Smiling

The God Delusion

Ben's picture

I bought The God Delusion in a fit of atheistic fervor. I've been regretting it a bit more with each chapter I complete. Dawkins goes down the traditional sceptic line of reasoning. He is unsure of everything, and merely "sure" that God is very unlikely. This was somewhat unsatisfying to me, to say the least



Lindsay Perigo's picture

So I checked it out. Always a good idea. Haggard is vicious cos he's M, says Provenzo. Actually, I think Haggard is a way lesser threat cos he's quite self-evidently FI. A fucking idiot. Dawkins by contrast is a respectable intellectual. He corrupts the case against Haggard with appalling baggage no less fundamental than Haggard's. I can't wait to read The God Delusion I'm sure. Groan.


Oh Jesus!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Is this Provenzo thing part of the Vote Dem campaign? Oh for God's sake.

Napoleon on Strategy

Jeff Perren's picture

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." Napoleon Bonaparte

Not any more

Jeff Perren's picture

"In analyzing the material presented in the clip, I came to the conclusion that Dawkins is weak, but Haggard is vicious... lest we forget—it is Haggard and not Dawkins who has [the US] President's ear."

I'll bet the President is no longer listening since that creature self-destructed.

Incidentally, Billy Graham was the counselor to, what, 4 or 5 (?) U.S. Presidents. Oddly, the Republic survived this Christian influence.

And here is a very good place to use the lengthy quote I've been saving from someone with the intials, evw:

On Diana Hsieh's Noodlefood, Amy Peikoff writes:

QUOTE(Amy Peikoff)
"Living in Colorado Springs, I see the Evangelicals' aspirations to political power first hand. Ted Haggerty[sic], lead pastor of the New Life Church, is Bush's religious advisor and there are local pastors, who have worked for Haggerty, who are now running for office. In other words -- these people are not just trying to influence Republicans from the sidelines, they are working to gain positions of power in government. Such individuals are the most extreme and consistent among the religious right which means, in the long run, they will be the ones who take over the Republican party. Unless they are stopped.

I will be voting Democrat this election because this is necessary for our long term survival (if there is to be a long term)."

This is the same question-begging panic. How does it follow that because this minority of nut-cakes is "most extreme and consistent" they will take over? Why wouldn't their extremism keep them in a minority? It all depends on the context and the competing influences, which are ignored in these non-sequiturs. As Stephen pointed out, this frightening Haggerty [Ted Haggard] creature has already self-destructed. In fact we have seen a whole rash of this in recent years as Catholic leaders have been routinely exposed and discredited for their long history of child abuse and other prominent evangelicals have been exposed in major scandals.

I can already hear the mantra-like protestations redounding throughout Noodlefood that this is just a "concrete-bound objection." But, surely, if the supposed power of Ted Haggard can be used by Amy Peikoff to urge us to vote Democratic for fear of our "survival," then we should be permitted to use the actual impotence of Ted Haggard in order to quell the panic.

I can understand how someone newly exposed to these ranting lunatics would find them frightening, but isn't it "concrete bound" to drop all context and run to the progressive New Left out of this fear?

There is a repeated pattern in the exposure and self-destruction of these creatures: Often some lunatic fringe will appear to gain prominence as they begin to become more visible, but the apparent imminent threat is illusory -- they appear to be unchallenged only because no one takes their rantings seriously until they become more widely known, then they are promptly dispensed with as they are exposed for what they are.

I don't mean to completely dismiss the threat of religous-inspired political power if it becomes a cultural trend, but I see first hand far more danger and destruction from the progressive viro New Left precisely because as they have gained enormous power they have not been dispensed with. They are still there and the public is still morally intimidated by appeals to environmentalism. Their power is increasing and doing enormous damage to individuals and wiping out entire segments of the natural resources industries with no correction in sight." evw on The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans

evw on Haggard



Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'd plumb forgotten it was Haggard with whom Dawkins had that memorable altercation. Haggard the homo, hypocritically condemning homosexuality from the closet. Wotta lowlife. Couldn't have happened to a more revolting specimen. Smiling


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