Sunday, August 05, 2007



As I see it, this little 'trinity' of atheists do little to heal a broken world - and they appear more concerned with their own selfish agendas, and less concerned for the betterment of humanity.

In my view, their little crusade of joint self-aggrandisement will prove to be divisive to humanity, which must learn to co-operate with each other - whatever the cherished beliefs -if it is to survive and thrive.

Have you read their books, Richard? No, I thought not.....
AC, I now don't waste my time reading books - especially from secular fundamentalists - whose extreme views I profoundly disagree with - especially Dawkins.

I'm not threatened by such people - it's just that their non-religious views don't really interest me very much - they're just not relevant enough for me.

I don't need to read the Bible from cover to cover to understand what it's getting at.

I don't have to read Dawkins-Hitchens-Harris from cover to cover to understand what they're getting at.
It's obvious from your writings that you don't read many books, Richard. Who else apart from your increasingly tedious trio of Joad, Orwell and Chomsky?

Your views are so PREDICTABLE.
Better to be "predictable" than inconsistent...

...and if the reading of books were a measure of wisdom, our university education system would have created students of life capable of solving this 'unholy mess' of a system, years ago !
Emerson - who he? - said that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
I'm assuming that is dear ol' Ralph Waldo...and not Keith...but the latter played a great moog synthesizer in his day ;)
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know" (Ralph Waldo - not Keith - Emerson)
I've no wish to be provoking, Richard, but I suspect that your unwillingness to read authors whose views you have decided in advance you disagree with is because you fear you won't be able to muster convincing arguments to refute them.
No, AC.

It's just that believe I can put my time to better use.

This might be self-deception on my part - it might not - but I don't care.

A man's got to do what a man's got to do...
Not self-deception, Richard. Just intellectual arrogance.
I hereby solemnly declare the rest of this lovely sunny day a "Don't be beastly to Richard" day.

Thanks for taking my teasing in such good part - and keep up the posts, which you know I enjoy and appreciate. With so much folly, dishonesty and sheer lunacy in the world, I fear we are merely tilting at windmills. But it wouldn't be us if we didn't keep on doing it....
Your words, AC, are said without malice - and with kindness. Thank you.
"I don't waste my time reading books".

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear.

I suggest that you read more books. You don't have to agree with something to be intellectually exercised by it.

To attack Dawkins without reading him misses the point completely. He is not as extreme as you think (Hitchens, however, is a professional antagonist, as well as being a big fan of our pal Orwell). If you read his work, in full context, you may perhaps get a better understanding of what he is actually trying to say. Some may even be agreeable to you.
Please do not misquote me, Danivon...I said :

"I now don't waste my time reading books...whose extreme views I profoundly disagee with..."

That's somewhat different from :

"I don't waste my time reading books".

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear
Well, if you litter your text with hyphens, it will be difficult for people to read it properly.

But still, the fact that you avoid reading things that you think you will disagree with (without actually having read them) is still the main problem that I have with your statement.

Harris I have little time for, because he is worse than Hitchens as a polemicist. But I suggest that you read Dawkins yourself, and not rely on the views of critics or his cheerleaders.
As an elementary logical proposition, Richard, how can you 'profoundly disagree' with the allegedly extreme views of these authors if you refuse to read their books?

This level of argument is kindergarten stuff and beneath contempt.

You are obviously emotionally disturbed and irritated by the thought that non-believers in a 'supernatural' entity regard theism as not only mistaken, but as socially and politically dangerous.

You said, on another thread, that you consider atheism dangerous nonsense.

Whether or not it is nonsense, why is it dangerous?

Will you kindly explain in an adult manner, as a change from all this childishly petulant pouting?

Then, we might have a worthwhile discussion.
"Emotionally disturbed..kindergarten stuff..beneath contempt..childishly petulant pouting"...

Freddie the fish rises, looks at 'de bait', and swims away with amused contempt...he's seen that 'de bait' before.

Freddie ain't hungry to read Dawkin the Duck who quacks endlessly about 'The Swan Delusion'...

All that Freddie the Fish wants to do is swim in the lake, dream of the sea, shag Freda the Fish - and avoid 'de baits' on rusty hooks...and avoid fish bowls.
"I won't dance, don't ask me..."

Fine - but in that case why put up such a silly post in the first place?
Lighten up, AC - please.
Whether you agree with them or not, the writings of Richard Dawkins are much more intelligent and thoughtful than the rantings of Richard Symonds!
When someone resorts to being personal, it is often an indication that that someone is losing the argument
Richard, are you saying that your original post here was not an ad hominem attack upon the three authors you lampooned?

I sometimes think you must have acquired your debating 'skills' by reading the 'Sun' and 'Daily Mail'.
OK AC, if you're still out there wanting a "logical" argument, let's go for it...

You say : "As an elementary logical proposition, how can you 'profoundly disagree' with the allegedly extreme views of these authors, if you refuse to read their books"

Well, for me that's easy to answer :

I read the reviews and critiques of their work - mainly on the net.

Or has that answer no "elementary logic" to it - especially from someone who apparently has acquired the debating 'skills' by reading the 'Sun' and 'Daily Mail'...despite the fact he never reads such comics.

Over to you, AC - if you've got the balls for a real logical argument - not one gleaned from the 'Guardian'...
If you base your views on second hand evidence, the critiques written by others, can you not at least concede that this means that you are not actually talking about the original, but the image of it created by the reviewers.

Now, the problem with that is that the reviewers may well have an agenda of their own, and the image will be imbued with that, and it may not be obvious to a reader which parts of the image are tainted.

So, if you have a problem with Dawkins, it would seem that you actually have a problem with a caricature of his arguments as presented by 'middle men', not with Dawkins himself.

Personally, I find his arguments to be a little overplayed at times, and perhaps a little generalistic. However, the basic tenets of his defence of evolution are, in my opinion, well founded. His criticisms of the drawbacks of superstitious answers for the questions of life are also based on fairly clear principles.

I don't see atheism as dangerous, but then I am an atheist.
There's only so many hours in the day, Danivon, and there's only so many days in our life...we have to prioritise as to what is important to us, and what is not.

Dawkins & Co. are simply not that important to me...he might be to somebody else, but not to me.

It's a full-time job trying to think clearly for myself - and develop my own ideas - so I have little time for the likes of Dawkins & Co who try to tell me what I should think, and how I should think.

If I choose to read someone's book, or whatever, it must have a 'ring of truth' to must correspond with the facts.

In the limited time one has, I now choose to read authors of books who (I believe) write with a greater ring of truth, and correspond more with the facts.

Dawkins doesn't do it for me - and I make no apology for saying that.

I learn far more by reading others, other than Dawkins - so I won't waste my time reading his books.

To me, it's deeply illogical to say that if one hasn't read someone's book word-for-word, then one cannot understand what that someone is saying. That's utterly absurd, and beyond illogical...
How do you know that Dawkins doesn't have a 'ring of truth' if you don't read what he writes?

And if Dawkins et al. aren't that important to you, why do you waste space on your blog to launch such a swingeing and ignorant attack on them?

You have far too many bees buzzing around in your cranium. Richard. To paraphrase: "Richard W. Symonds is simply not that important to me...he might be to somebody else, but not to me."
I was responding to this - stop being a bully AC;)
Best if we don't leave comments on each other's blogs any more, Richard. Like you, I've better things to do.
Over-reaction and sad - it seems you have taken this personally.

It is not meant so - far from it.

But if you wish me not to post on your blog either, I will respect that wish...but deeply saddened by it.
I have not taken it "personally" at all - you know very well I have a warm personal regard for you - but I find your method of 'argument', as exemplified in this thread, a sheer waste of time.

I have no respect for someone who writes as scathingly as you do about people whose books he refuses to read. It is dishonest.

"I find your level of 'argument'...a sheer waste of time"

OK AC, I take your point - you don't find my arguments "logical"...but I'm desperately trying to find a level of "logical" argument which you would be happy with - and I'm failing.

I am asking you to help me approach this controversy in a way which does not degenerate into unpleasantness.

I believe this problem can be resolved - and the fascinating debate can continue - by finding a common methodology of logic.

Let's give it a try...please.
Well, you won't succeed in injecting any logic into your position until you agree to read Dawkins and Harris and then we can discuss their arguments on their merits.

No unpleasantness, I assure you - just sheer weariness with the tedium of your obtuseness.

This really is my last response until you agree to read the books. Otherwise, the least you can do is to refrain from attacking these authors.
OK, I'll read 'The God Delusion" and come back to you...
American Robert Weitzel, author of "The Unholy Trinity of Atheists", has kindly given permission to post an email he sent to me...I hope you enjoy it as much as I did - and still do :

Thank you for sending the blog steam along.

My, you Brits are a civilized lot. We Yanks would never stoop so low as to apologize for our bad manners, or reconcile after a heated exchange . . . we just hold grudges.

Seriously though, interesting reading. I can see both side of the argument.

I agree with the bloggers who say that a person cannot truly understand another's words second-hand.

In that sense, I've tried to read as many right-wing fundamentalists as I can stomach. You know, "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

In that spirit, I've read the entire Bible (admittedly when I was a born-again christian . . . don't ask). But, I also agree with you that it does seem to be a bloody waste of my time when I'm reading someone I profoundly disagree with.

But it's also fun, in that it gives one a smug sense of righteousness to think every few lines..."You're full of poo". We, of course, would say "shit."

I don't know what it's like in England regarding the influence of religion in everyday life, but in the U.S. it can be suffocating . . . especially the influence of the conservative religious.

I think Europeans have grown up a bit more in that respect. So, for an atheist writer to even get in print, in a mainstream American newspaper...

For 'The Unholy Trinity' piece to appear in the Capital Times ( of Madison, WI - a small but influential liberal paper - is something to be thankful for . . . from an atheist point of view.

Of the three writers, Dawkins is my favorite . . ever since his first book, "The Blind Watchmaker."

I don't consider Dawkins a ranter. He is uncompromising, however . . and straight-forward in his challenge to the irationality of religious faith.

This is not a perjorative statement. Faith, by its very definition, is irrational - if it wasn't, it would not be faith. So, it is the irrational he is attacking.

Dawkins takes exception (and rightly so I believe) with parents branding their children with a religious faith from day one.

So they become known as a Catholic kid, or a Jewish kid, or a Whatever kid. I was a Catholic kid.

Imagine a parent getting their child tattooed with a hideous skull and cross bones because they happen to like the look.

The child had no choice in the matter, but must either live with the tattoo or endure the painful and expensive operation to have it removed, when they grow tired of the look of it.

This is the very process many atheists go through - erasing their parents' religious tattoos.

I must admit that it was not a painful experience for me, and I've never felt the need to 'hide in the closet', as many of my atheist friends have.

Harris is okay, but I don't think he adds anything new to the argument, though I like reading him, as you may appreciate.

Admittedly, Hitchens does rant sometimes . . . but that's cathartic too (for atheists). I'm sure he won't win any converts with his in-your-face style, but then no single writer will win converts in the religion war.

(Speaking of war, I strongly disagreed with his take on Iraq)

It's a slow process, as I can attest. But, hey, there are so few atheist writers, especially those published and distributed in the mainstream. Please don't deny us our "heroes."

I was in Borders Bookstore (a chain store) the other day. They had five or six double-sided rows of books on religion and new age spirituality, and only one double-sided row of books on science.

I think there might have been the 'Unholy Trinity' books as the only atheist offering. This is our lot in American life.

Anyway, thanks again for sending the stream. It made for interesting 'morning coffee' reading.

Keep those civilized British manners polished.

Best Regards,
Bob Weitzel

p.s. I subscribe to the international edition of the Weekly Guardian.
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