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Dick to the Dawk on Bill Maher

I watched Dawkins on the Bill Maher show last night. Among other interesting things he said was when it comes to belief in gods if you were to rate his belief on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being most belief and 10 being least he puts himself at a 6. Then he compares belief in gods with belief in fairies and pink unicorns. So I guess he’s conflicted about those too. Bill Maher then ridiculed religion in predictable trite ways which caused Dawkins to reconsider the belief rating and up it to “6 point 9″. Hilarious. Richard Dawkins is really a centrist on religious beliefs. Who’da thunk?

Too bad Bill Maher didn’t ask Richard Dawkins to rate his belief in the existence of material intelligent agents who can alter the course of evolution by tinkering with the DNA of living organisms. Personally I put that “belief” at a 1 (no doubt) unless someone convinces me that Craig Venter doesn’t really exist.

Correction: The scale is 1 – 7. Dawkins isn’t a centrist. It seemed unreal. But who uses scales of 1 – 7? Is that a British oddity?

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31 Responses to Dick to the Dawk on Bill Maher

  1. By “existence of material intelligent agents” I take it that you are using the word “material” to equal significant and important, as opposed to the intelligent agent having a material existence?

    With all this discussion of material and materialists, just double checking.

  2. I see you did mean “material” as flesh and blood, or maybe double meaning. I am going back in my cave.

  3. I do find this statement on Dawkins’ part to be most surprising. If this is true, he is more of an agnostic than an athiest. Quite surprising for one who preaches the joy of athieism.

    This, again, is consistent with my view that his childhood sexual abuse is the driving force in Dawkins’ life. This model makes sense of him being 4 out of 10 that there is a God, yet willing to work hard to convince others to abandon their belief in God.

  4. “Then he compares belief in gods with belief in fairies and pink unicorns”

    I wonder if Dawkins is legitimizing fairies and pink unicorns as subjects worthy of historical analysis.

  5. In The God Delusion he puts himself at a six on a 1-to-7 scale; perhaps he misspoke, or DaveScot misheard, in this interview.

  6. congregate is right: Dawkins very definitely put himself at a six on a 1-to-7 scale (I just listened to it on youtube), and very quickly thereafter said 6.9 was “reasonable”. He didn’t give himself a 7 because he thought scientists can’t commit themselves to that kind of certainty.

    I think DaveScot should delete or revise this post before the Darwinist bloggers have a field day with it.

  7. A 1 to 7 scale makes a rather big difference, doesn’t it!

  8. Per Leo Hales, Here is the interview on YouTube

    Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and RELIGION

    Dawkins does say 6 out of 7 ((1 being highest, 7 lowest)
    He then drops to 6.9 out of 7.

    DaveScott – I second Leo Hale’s recommendation to correct the primary post from 6 out of 10
    to 6 out of 7.

  9. [OFF-TOPIC] Foxnews.com has an online video interview with Ben Stein. In it Stein mentions that Expelled will be opening in 1,100 theaters, so they have apparently added 100 theaters in just the last week. This is about 230 more opening-weekend theaters than the biggest-grossing documentary in history.

  10. “The Joy of Atheism” That is just a weird statement. My littles brothers friend a 17 year old kid must have had too much of that “joy” because last saturday he killed himself, and hearing about this athiest philosophy of his made more sense out of it. The “joy” of atheism huh?

    I wasn’t knocking you bfast, I just think its ironic that people see joy in atheism, and I know you were refering to dawkins

  11. Revised the post to correct the mistake. That’s why I asked who’da thunk. Not me.

  12. I am starting to worry that Expelled is being hyped a bit too much – although I’m as excited as anyone here about its release.

    I just don’t think that the ID strategy is getting past first base yet. The first base, if I recollect Phil Johnson’s strategy, was to convince the theists out there that the blind watchmaker thesis was anti-theistic. The aim was not simply to unite ‘creationists’ of all stripes under one big tent, but to get theistic evolutionists to understand how contradictory their view of a divinely-guided evolutionary process really was (and how ignorant of Darwin’s theory it was).

    Yet, here in Britain (where I heard Johnson over ten years ago), the results of the ID strategy since then are virtually nil.

    I’m not claiming prophetic status, but when Expelled comes out, I expect the Bishops and the usual Theistic Evolutionary spokesmen amongst the Christian world here (if they condescend to mention it at all) will slam the movie with the usual one-liners straight out of Eugenie Scott’s playbook.

    These people are still the biggest problem that ID faces in terms of convincing ordinary people to take ID seriously. How to win this part of the war should be re-thought.

    By contrast, Richard Dawkins and the atheist attack dogs of his ilk are not so much major problems for ID but major liabilities for evolution, because they help ordinary people see the reality of what evolution implies and their unpleasant approach is exactly the advertisement for atheism that drives people to consider ID.

  13. …In it Stein mentions that Expelled will be opening in 1,100 theaters, so they have apparently added 100 theaters in just the last week…

    I live on the south side of Atlanta, and was pleasantly surprised when they added two more theaters within about 10 miles of my house about 10 days ago. I wonder if the kerfuffles involving PZ and Harvard are having their desired effect?

  14. Dave,

    A 7 point scale is common in marketing research. From Strongly disagree, disagree, somewhat disagree, neither disagree or agree, somewhat agree, agree and strongly agree. There are 5 point scales and 10 point scales and you can make a scale as many points as you want. You can also exchange the word you use such as change “agree” to like, likely, consider or positive etc. as well as how the basiç question is asked. There are all sorts of ways to ask the question. The 10 point scale was made famous by Bo Derek but was not necessarily the most common in marketing.

    The more points you have the more differentiation you get. Lots of people do not like the extremes so larger number scales is a way to get more differentiation between questions. There used to be a rule of thumb that definitely will buy correlated highly with trial for a new product. But it has been a few years since I was involved in such research.

  15. 15

    I use a scale of 1-7 because I can only think of 7 good adjectives for describing how good or bad something may be.

  16. Maher is a gnarl, a perfect interviewer for Dawkins. They ARE the talking snakes, by the way.

    Who is it that believes in Flying Spaghetti monsters and tooth fairies? Maybe space aliens. And all of those Hofferesque clappers fall for it every time.

    6.9? Please. I love it when someone quantifies something unquantifiable; the trademark self-stultifying statements are sadly humorous.

    There is no sound argument presented by any one of them other than their contempt for the God at whom they shake their fist. It is sheer unbelief and nothing else – not science, not philosophy, and not rational thought.

    The hubris is difficult to indulge.

  17. jerry

    Well that explains the 7 point scale because Dawkins is certainly doing marketing instead of science.

  18. Dave,

    There was a famous article in the marketing literature titled

    “Is Science Marketing?”

    It was written in 1983. I haven’t read it in over 20 years but here is a link to it.

    http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~ws.....keting.htm

    There is a point of view that most of what we do in life is marketing, namely trying to persuade others to take a certain course of action. I used to teach marketing and advertising and used this assessment in my courses. We are all marketing something here on this blog.

  19. “The aim was not simply to unite ‘creationists’ of all stripes under one big tent, but to get theistic evolutionists to understand how contradictory their view of a divinely-guided evolutionary process really was (and how ignorant of Darwin’s theory it was).”

    You will never, and I repeat, *never* get theistic evolutionists to understand or accept how contradictory their views are.

    Anyone who actually considers themselves a “theistic evolutionist” isn’t going to be swayed by anything. “Science” always comes first for them…they adapt their philosophical leanings and everything else to match up with the popular “scientific consensus”.

  20. @ Andrew:

    God seems to have a way with bypassing pharisees and ensuring that they look every bit as hypocritical as they are. The Lord dealt with the common (reasonable) people. God will only hold out His hand for so long.

  21. Well that explains the 7 point scale because Dawkins is certainly doing marketing instead of science.

    In Judeo-Christian theology, seven is the number of completion and perfection (e.g., God completed His perfect creation in seven days). Thus, I suppose the completed, perfect atheist would identify with the number seven — or should that be negative seven?

  22. Anyone who actually considers themselves a “theistic evolutionist” isn’t going to be swayed by anything. “Science” always comes first for them…they adapt their philosophical leanings and everything else to match up with the popular “scientific consensus”.

    FtK, don’t give up on us “theistic evolutionists,” okay? As someone said on another thread, most of us are not that well educated about the issues, and depend on consensus science to think them through for us.

    Similarly, I am a “theistic physicist,” a “theistic chemist,” and a “theistic philosopher.” The point is that I’m a theist without a lot of expertise in these other fields. As long as there aren’t glaring incompatibilities with theism, I’m content for the most part to leave them to the specialists. I have specialized in other areas.

    I think “Expelled” will have a lot to say to people like me. It highlights the fact that there are social-psychological processes involved here which keep the playing field from being level. Once those can be identified and addressed, ID will be free to sink or swim on its merits. I believe it has merit and will swim.

    (I’m a member of the American Psychological Association and was deeply disappointed when the APA took a position against ID. At that point, I thought the APA lost its ability to make observations about the social-psychological processes involved in this skirmish, and became one of the players instead. Without any apparent awareness of the soc/psych dynamics…which is where social psychologists could make a real contribution!)

  23. That’s so true FtK! Luckily some of us have the Bible to make sure we keep an open mind about science and philosophy!

    Bililiad, I’m tired of identifying sock puppets on this site, so I’m just going to let your comments pass…

  24. You will never, and I repeat, *never* get theistic evolutionists to understand or accept how contradictory their views are.

    FtK,
    Just because theistic evolutionists have contradictory views doesn’t make them incorrect. Christianity, for example, is filled with doctrines that are on the surface contradictory. The Trinity jumps immediately to mind. The divinity and humanity of Christ is another. Transubstantiation yet another.

    What is more contradictory, believing that God employed evolutionary mechanisms (including chance) to create the diversity of life or that the cup of wine you are drinking is both fermented grape juice and the blood of Christ?

  25. bililiad,

    Give it a rest. You’re obviously *another* sock puppet, so go crawl back in the drawer.

    Lutepisc,

    You’re right (again). My view is biased to a degree because of my experience in the Internet debates. I’ve *never* seen anyone reconsider their opinions about these issues. But, of course, that stands to reason as many of us are essentially activists for a particular position.

    I realize there are many people out there who have no clue as to what ID actually entails due to all the misinformation floating around

    I probably need a break from the Internet for a while as I’ve become very jaded. But, I’m certainly not going to take that break until after Expelled has it’s run at the box office!!

  26. Speaking of Dick, see Was Richard Dawkins really stumped by a question about genetic information? CMI’s DVD Frog to a Prince shows the Apostle of Atheism unable to provide an example of information increase in the genome. See timeline, raw footage, and answer to critics.

  27. Okay, I just have to know…

    Are you the *real* Jonathan Sarfati? There are so many sock puppets running around here at UD that it’s impossible to trust anyone using a name like yours.

    Of course, you could say “yes”, and I still wouldn’t know for sure….sigh.

    The Internet sucks in that respect!

  28. MB135:

    Re: Just because theistic evolutionists have contradictory views doesn’t make them incorrect. Christianity, for example, is filled with doctrines that are on the surface contradictory

    1 –> Paradox, the counter-intuitive and the contradiction are very different. [Besides, you identified something which is a matter of a particular theology of the eucharist, not an actual core matter of the Christian faith, as opposed to say what is taught in Rom 1:16 - 3:26, and 1 Cor 15:1 - 11. That God may be triune is counter-intuitive, but no more an actual contradiction than the fact that one may stand at one and the same point on the surface of the earth and be simultaneously north of London, Bangkok and New York. or, more classically: that the Shamrock of Eire is both one and three [i.e. referring to two different aspects of one and the same phenomenon!], as Padraig reputedly pointed out.]

    2–> Should theistic evolutionary views be actually contradictory, affirming or implying A and not-A in the same sense, then that suffices to show fundamental error. As, such a contradiction is necessarily false and indiscriminately entails further false and true statements, by the logic of implication.

    3 –> As a further consequence, those who believe a true contradiction therefore lose the ability to discern the true from the false.

    4 –> And if one believes what is false, one will be inclined to reject the contrary actual truth: that which — in Aristotle’s classic definition — says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not.

    Resemblance to what is going on in the civilisation on debates regarding these topics is — sadly — probably not coincidental.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: FtK, it seems that it is indeed Dr Sarfati, from some earlier remarks. Of course, I stand to be corrected.

  29. kairosfocus,

    I gave the examples that I did because I, for one, do not view theistic evolution as contradictory but rather paradoxical. Evolution does not imply or affirm anything that is contradictory to the nature of God. That some atheists disagree is unfortunate in that they are wrong. Thus there is no A and not-A contradiction any more than Christ being fully divine and fully human is a contradiction. Thus, while I agree with you that one who believes a true contradiction will end up believing falsehoods, I am unconvinced that evolution and theism are truly contradictory.

    I also do not see the relevance of dismissing transubstantiation as not being a core Christian belief. It is a legitimate example of seemingly contradictory/paradoxical beliefs in that 1 billion Catholics on the planet believe it, whether or not you consider it a core Christian belief. Now, if your point is that transubstantiation is a true contradiction, then FtK is right that you can never convince a theistic evolutionist that they believe in a contradiction.

  30. FtK, thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. I’ve been away for a while, so I hope you’re still around to receive my gratitude…

    Keep fighting the good fight! I appreciate your involvement and zest!

    (“Be wise as serpents…but harmless as doves.”)

  31. MB135:

    1] Okay, you mean paradox, as opposed to contradiction. Fine.

    On a few notes:

    2] I am unconvinced that evolution and theism are truly contradictory.

    The issue is not whether evolution [micro? macro?] and theism in whatever variety are incompatible.

    YEC’s, for instance, gerally accept microevolution, and in many cases a surprising degree of macro — with the remarks that post flood evolution was very rapid per founder principle etc.

    Many ID thinkers believe in common descent from a last common ancestor.

    The crucial issue with theistic evolution, proper, as SB commonly highlights in an apt summary, is whether the design in nature can only be CONCEIVED, or whether it may be observed and tested empirically.

    TE’s generally accept, in effect [if not in how they will state this] that design is in effect read-in relative to the theistic worldview, but is not evident in the phenomena of nature — which look like chance. Indeed, Fr Heller says pretty much that. [That is why TE's have so much trouble with the otherwise fairly simple idea of chance.]

    Design thinkers hold that the design is plainly evident in the observed world, and that we may infer from contingency to chance or intelligence, and from organised complexity to agency not chance. Some design thinkers think that the cosmos exhibits that sort of design by an extracosmic agent who looks a lot like the God of the Bible.

    Many also hold that since the observed cosmos was evidently designed to accommodate life, the best candidate for 5the author of life is the same theistic Designer.

    But that is theology and phil, not science. The Science part is inteh working out of the three causal factors, and the characteristic signs of necessity [natural regularities with little contingency], chance [tends to simply reflect the bulk of the configs available], agency [functionally specified, organised complexity that would otherwise not be likely to show up].

    3] I also do not see the relevance of dismissing transubstantiation as not being a core Christian belief

    I have simply noted the fact that the doctrine in view is a late development, and for instance is nowhere to be found in the cluster of common core creeds of the major streams of the Faith, and is not an explicit core teaching by comparison with say that which we may find in Rom 1 – 3 or 1 Cor 15:1 – 11 or Heb 6:1 – 2 etc. Indeed, it is quite controversial across major streams of the Christian religion, with many hundreds of millions in strongest disagreement with it.

    GEM of TKI

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