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Richard Dawkins’ forthcoming book: Makes you wonder …

In the light of Sal’s recent post about atheists levelling charges against each other re sex (huh? whodathunkit?), it’s interesting to note that BookTV is interviewing the best known of their number, Richard Dawkins, on his forthcoming book, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist. We learn:

Richard Dawkins is the [sic] of numerous books, including The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion. He is a professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University and founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Actually, that position is now held by Marcus du Sautoy. Dawkins has not held the position since 2008. Unless we are missing something here, his forthcoming book is marketed on the basis of something he stopped doing five years ago, after which he has mostly promoted atheism, not science. And when was the last time he published an actual science paper?

Here at UD, we haven’t lost our sense of wonder either, it turns out, and we now wonder whether we will need to find more up-to-date and respectable opponents.

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19 Responses to Richard Dawkins’ forthcoming book: Makes you wonder …

  1. Don’t you listen to her Dickie D! You’ll always be the top heathen dog in my book:

    Richard Dawkins – Beware the Believers
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaGgpGLxLQw

  2. I actually find Dawkins less nasty then a lot of the others from what I’ve seen.
    being popular doesn’t make you a scientist to be equated with men who actually accomplished great things in science or the herd that contributed something .
    They always parade legions of these people opining on science but never did anything.
    Hawkins, Dawkins, Sagans, and so on.
    What have they patented??
    No offensive meant but what have they done to be noted as noteworthy as thinking scientists.?
    I find the true list “scientis” who did things is always pro-creator.

  3. seems Dickie D’s claim to fame,,,

    his own creative thinking ignite the spark that results in his radical new vision of Darwinism, The Selfish Gene.

    Has suffered a major setback in the face of advances in science:

    “The genome is an ‘organ of the cell’, not its dictator”
    - Denis Nobel – President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences

    Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology – Denis Noble – 17 MAY 2013
    Excerpt: The ‘Modern Synthesis’ (Neo-Darwinism) is a mid-20th century gene-centric view of evolution, based on random mutations accumulating to produce gradual change through natural selection.,,, We now know that genetic change is far from random and often not gradual.,,,
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.....4/abstract

    In the following video,,

    Modern Synthesis Of Neo-Darwinism Is False – Denis Nobel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/10395212

    Dr. Nobel States in regards to all the rules (i.e. assumptions) underlying Dawkins’ radical new vision of Darwinism, ‘The Selfish Gene’,,

    ALL OF THESE RULES HAVE BEEN BROKEN

    Also of note, here is a new video of Denis Nodel from the recent conference on Physiology in Britain:

    Physiology moves back onto centre stage: a new synthesis with evolutionary biology – Denis Nobel – July 2013 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzD1daWq4ng

    Also of related interest:

    Researchers have finally developed a mathematical model for molecular biology that has actual predictive power by ignoring the ‘bottom up’ Darwinian ‘historical accidents’ presupposition and using a ‘top down’ physiological perspective:

    Simple Math Sheds New Light On a Long-Studied Biological Process – Aug. 7, 2013
    Excerpt: Hwa and his team arrived at their surprising finding by employing a new approach called “quantitative biology,” in which scientists quantify biological data and discover mathematical patterns, which in turn guide them to develop predictive models of the underlying processes.
    “This mode of research, an iterative dialogue between data quantitation and model building, has driven the progress of physics for the past several centuries, starting with Kepler’s discovery of the law of planetary motion,” explains Hwa. “However, it was long thought that biology is so laden with historical accidents which render the application of quantitative deduction intractable.”,,,
    “When we plotted our results, our jaws dropped,” recalls Hwa. “The levels of the sugar uptake and utilization enzymes lined up remarkably into two crossing lines when plotted with the corresponding growth rates, with the enzyme level increasing upon carbon limitation and decreasing upon nitrogen and sulfur limitation. The enzyme levels followed the simple mathematical rules like a machine.” “From the overall pattern, it is clear that there’s nothing special about glucose,” he adds. “Now we know this process is not about the preference of glucose over other carbon compounds, but rather the fine coordination of carbon uptake in the cell with other minor, but essential nutrient elements such as nitrogen and sulfur.”
    Hwa points out that the physiological insights derived from simple mathematical relations guided them to figuring out both the strategy and molecular mechanisms their bacteria employ to coordinate carbon metabolism with those of other elements.,,
    Hwa says he and his team are now applying the same quantitative approaches to learn more about the response of bacteria to antibiotics and how cells transition from one state to another. “This kind of quantitative, physiological approach is really underutilized in biology,” he adds. “Because it’s so easy to manipulate molecules, biologists as well as biophysicists tend to jump immediately to a molecular view, often decoupled from the physiological context. Certainly the parts list is important and we could not have gotten to the bottom of our study without all of the molecular work that had been done before. But that in of itself is not enough, because the very same parts can be put to work in different ways to make systems with very different functions.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....155154.htm

    Of related mathematical note to how useless the ‘historical accidents’ conjecture of Darwinists is:

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

    “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) –

    of related interest to physiology in general, The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci c. 1487. It is the one commonly associated with the science of physiology:

    Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour – interactive image
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi.....iatour.jpg

    “Speaking as one who has examined the original Vitruvian Man drawing, I can say that Leonardo was looking for a numerical design scheme that informs the proportions of the human body.
    The drawing began as an illustration from Vitruvius’ book, De Architectura where Vitruvius justifies the use of the square and circle as design elements because those shapes are integral to the human body: a man’s height is equal to his width (with arms outstretched) as a square, and a circle drawn with the navel as center and feet as radius is coincident with the hands’ reach.
    Leonardo also notes the other proportional relationships from Vitruvius such as the head height measures to the whole as well as the arms and hand sections.
    Leonardo then continued measuring (from the evidence of pin point indentations made by walking dividers, especially along the left vertical edge) to find more proportional relationships. He would take a measure of a part of the figure with the dividers and walk that measure along the height to see if the measure would fit an even number of times.
    From this drawing and others where Leonardo was working on the same type of problem it is evident that Leonardo believed there was a something like a unified field theory of design where everything in nature was related by numerical and geometrical design systems.
    He was one of the original ID thinkers.”
    - Dr. Ford – UD blogger

    Human Anatomy – Impressive Transparent Visualization – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – video
    https://vimeo.com/26011909

    “How came the Bodies of Animals to be contrived with so much Art…. Was the Eye contrived without skill in Opticks, and the Ear without Knowledge of Sounds?” -
    Sir Isaac Newton

    On discovering the laws of planetary motion, Johann Kepler declared this very ‘unscientific’ thought: ‘O God, I am thinking your thoughts after you!’

    Music and verse:

    Steven Curtis Chapman – Lord of the Dance (Live)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDXbvMcMbU0

    John 1:3
    Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

  4. I really don’t see why Dawkins receives such high praise. I’ve read both The God delusion and The selfish gene. I’ve seen him in debates many times too. Aside from being a good writer (my opinion), I got the feeling he was more interested in pushing his agenda rather than discuss the science.

    I often found myself thinking how small minded and arrogant he was. And all this back then when he was supposed to be a somebody.

    Since then he seems to have fallen from grace. As the OP mentioned, he hasn’t done much science in awhile and he seems to have become somewhat eccentric of late.

    I’m sure his book will sell well. I’m also sure the success of his work, past and present, had nothing to do with science but more to do with his agenda and those who subscribe to the same worldview.

  5. As the OP mentioned, he hasn’t done much science in awhile and he seems to have become somewhat eccentric of late.

    He is 72 and has made a lot of money from his popular books. If I were him, I’d be enjoying my retirement.

  6. Curious, how out of date the promo information is. Wonder who supplied it.

  7. Another work from Little Dick D. Fantastic. I could use a good laugh. And judging by the supercilious title, this self-important puff piece should be an instant “classic”.

  8. “Climbing Mount Improbable” “The Blind Watchmaker” “The Selfish Gene” and “The Greatest Show On Earth” …. these were catchy titles and catchy titles help sell books. With a title like “An Appetite For Wonder” … this book is destined to flop but at least he can count on some of his more dedicated fans at the Panda Club to purchase copies.

    Of related interested:

    Back about eight years ago when I was becoming acquainted with ID, I was one evening flipping through TV channels and happened to discover Richard Dawkins speaking. The setting was at a university chapel (how appropriate!) and Richard was involved with a few other scientists who were discussing various topics and then would allow time for the audience to ask questions. One man directing his question to Dawkins ask “Why would evolution select for a religious gene?”…. I can not exactly recall his reply but Dawkins did not hesitate to believe that there could be a religious gene which predisposes one to believe.

    Hmmm “The Religious gene” …. might make a catchy title for a best seller !!!!

  9. Richard Dawkins …. “He’s a legend in his own mind” …. as the song goes !!!

  10. Mr. Fox you state:

    He (Dawkins) is 72 and has made a lot of money from his popular books. If I were him, I’d be enjoying my retirement.

    Which is exactly the attitude one would expect from an atheist (especially from one who wrote a book entitled ‘The “Selfish” Gene’) Whereas the Biblical view of ‘retirement’ is quite different:

    Francis Chan on living eternally – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yIKZnHnHNM

    Verse and music:

    Matthew 6:19-21
    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    Sending Up My Timber Everyday – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWFiBIyhSAk

    It is worth reminding ourselves just how strong the evidence is for an afterlife compared to just how weak the evidence is for Darwinian evolution:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life, or origin of a molecular machine, or origin of a protein), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Dr. Jeffrey Long: Just how strong is the evidence for a afterlife? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mptGAc3XWPs

    ‘When you die, you enter eternity. It feels like you were always there, and you will always be there. You realize that existence on Earth is only just a brief instant.’
    Dr. Ken Ring – has extensively studied Near Death Experiences

    ‘Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything – past, present, future – exists simultaneously.’
    - Kimberly Clark Sharp – NDE Experiencer

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

  11. I get a chuckle that Richard Dawkins refers to himself as a scientist. You would think that a scientist would, you know, actually do science. If you look at his bibliography (which you can see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....bliography) you will notice that most of his academic publications are editorial in nature. Dawkins is a guy who hasn’t really contributed all that much to the scientific endeavor. He took the work of Trivers, Hamilton, and Wilson and made a career out of it. He is a science popularizer, or a public intellectual. A scientist, he is not.

  12. @ 11

    Jeff …. how about “a defender of the faith”

  13. Robert Byers asks,

    They always parade legions of these people opining on science but never did anything.
    Hawkins, Dawkins, Sagans, and so on.
    What have they patented??

    I don’t know that any of the ones you named have ever patented anything. But, as Jeff M in 11 points out, Sagan and Dawkins are science popularizers: they made it accessible to laypersons.

    Out of the three, the only one I consider to be a real scientist (in terms of peer-reviewed published works) is Hawking.

  14. 14
    Kantian Naturalist

    I read The Blind Watchmaker and liked it well enough. I was terribly disappointed by The God Delusion, with the exception of a lovely footnote that explains why moths tend to fly into candles. A Devil’s Chaplain struck me as ducking all the hard epistemological questions. I’ve read enough of Dawkins’ work to agree with Paul Churchland’s assessment that Dawkins is “an epistemological naif.”

    He’s a decent science writer, but since I’m old enough to remember Stephen Jay Gould, Loren Eiseley, and Lewis Thomas, I’m not particularly impressed by Dawkins.

  15. Barb
    I agree they are famous for popularizing or simply detting audiences for certain subjects under the methodology title called science.
    i don’t see Hawkins as having done much relative to his prestige. no offensive to him but its just minor stuff about minor things in space.
    I question it would be remembered 50 years from now.
    I don’t know what a scientist is or rather disagree with how the title is thrown around.
    They are all thinkers in science as are the people are this forum but in the end what is the accomplishment or patent ? Should that be a indicator of who should be listened more to?

  16. Speaking of new books, a friend of mine is soon to release his book.

    “Evo-illusion – Why IID Trumps ID and Evolution by Stephen T. Blume”

    http://www.evillusion.net/

  17. @ KN

    Just to amaze you, I agree somewhat with your assessment. “The God Delusion” is not his best work. I found it tedious and much prefer Hitchens’ “God is not Great”. But Dawkins is a great science communicator and his series of popular books from “The Selfish Gene” to “The Greatest Show on Earth” all bear re-reading. He has said he regards “The Extended Phenotype” as his seminal work.

    Dawkins bibliography

  18. 18
    Kantian Naturalist

    Alan Fox, I’m not amazed at all that we have similar assessments of Dawkins. To my recollection, the main thing you and I have disagreed about is whether contemporary and recent philosophy has contributed to society and human welfare. Apart from that, we’re mostly in agreement.

  19. Robert Byers @ 15:

    I agree they are famous for popularizing or simply detting audiences for certain subjects under the methodology title called science.

    Yeah, that’s mostly Carl Sagan.

    i don’t see Hawkins as having done much relative to his prestige. no offensive to him but its just minor stuff about minor things in space.
    I question it would be remembered 50 years from now.

    Hawking attempts to explain the origin of the universe and how black holes work. I admit to having read his book, A Brief History of Time, but that was a while ago.

    I don’t know what a scientist is or rather disagree with how the title is thrown around.

    A scientist, to me, is someone who practices science. Whatever that science may be: medicine, genetics, biology, cosmology, etc. A naturalist, to me, is an amateur scientist; someone who has an interest in the natural world but lacks the education (usually to doctorate level) that science demands.

    They are all thinkers in science as are the people are this forum but in the end what is the accomplishment or patent ? Should that be a indicator of who should be listened more to?

    Patenting an invention is fine, but shouldn’t science be more about new discoveries and new theories? We remember scientists who changed our minds: Louis Pasteur, Galileo Galilei, Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton, etc. We may remember people who’ve published books or papers or monographs, but we absolutely remember scientists who published ideas that changed how we view our world.

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