2013-12-22

Richard Dawkins – Appetite for Wonder

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by Neil Godfrey

As if on cue — given some recent discussion and a significant point of my previous post . . . .

 

HT ICH . . . .

“By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” Richard Dawkins

Despite great advances in the fields of science and technology, the human race seems to be paradoxically predisposed to unwavering belief in illogical, unverifiable and destructive superstitions. Most self-confessed ‘rational’ human beings will balk at the idea of witches and voodoo curses, of Zeus with his lightning bolts and Thor with his mighty hammer, but at the same time and in the same breath will assert the reality and continuing presence of a creative force of uncanny intelligence and inexplicable moral wisdom – for whose existence there isn’t even the slightest shred of scientific evidence.  ICH

12 Comments

  • 2013-12-23 00:04:47 UTC - 00:04 | Permalink

    superb

  • RoHa
    2013-12-23 00:46:53 UTC - 00:46 | Permalink

    What does “wonder” mean in this context?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2013-12-23 01:08:30 UTC - 01:08 | Permalink

      If you really don’t know, then I “wonder” if you actually watched the video.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-12-23 01:10:26 UTC - 01:10 | Permalink

      The same as it means to any human with the normal range of human emotions (psychopaths thus excluded), religious or atheist, when they feel awed by what they see and experience in nature. Why do you ask?

      • RoHa
        2013-12-23 07:56:57 UTC - 07:56 | Permalink

        I ask because I see the word tossed around a lot, but I haven’t been able to pin down a meaning for that context. As a verb, fine. As a noun meaning “an amazing thing, as in the seven wonders”, yes. But in this context, no. So it means ‘awe’?

  • mcduff
    2013-12-23 08:58:39 UTC - 08:58 | Permalink

    The nearest city to me is 100 plus kms away.
    The nearest town, population about 50 people, is 2 kms across the river.
    The nearest house that is occupied is that of my neighbours about 600 metres away, then there is nobody for kms in any direction [except across the river].

    So on cloudless nights with minimal moon the sky at my place is ablaze with stars.
    We take visitors ‘out the back’ to stand looking up.
    They are ‘awed’, they stare in ‘wonderment’.
    Cos most of them are from the city and there the lights of the city drown out the stars.

    For thousands of years, tens of thousands actually, we humans lived with the stars.

    Now, most of us do not.

    Its a loss.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-12-23 09:17:42 UTC - 09:17 | Permalink

      No doubt there is/will be a neurological/genetic/evolutionary explanation for this feeling but it will not make one whit of difference to the sensation and all it inspires. Indeed, the explanation will be just one more object of “wonder”.

  • 2013-12-24 00:51:28 UTC - 00:51 | Permalink

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-12-24 05:28:58 UTC - 05:28 | Permalink

      A sad/comical and good/bad example of what happens when one ignores the warning: “By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”

      I should add that I do wonder if we will eventually come to learn a new way of uncovering “secrets” of the universe that the current scientific method does not allow for. But standing up to deliver a lecture in which one does little more than violate a host of logical rules and argues in a way that can validate nonsense is not going to cut it.

  • 2013-12-24 03:13:34 UTC - 03:13 | Permalink

    There’s plenty of appetite for wonder within religion. Maybe not for the uber-fundamentalist inerrantist who is so scared he may contradict the Bible that he turns his brain off. But for those who grow up there is plenty of room for wonder. I grew up an uber-fundamentalist, and I left, and now I’m going back to church and there is much more room for wonder after letting go of the fundamentalism.

    “…. for whose existence there isn’t even the slightest shred of scientific evidence.” Ultimately its guys like Dawkins who prove that God exists. Dawkins and the homosexuals. If such radical evil can exist in our world, and all of those on its side rail against God, it must be that deep down they know he exists.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-12-24 05:03:37 UTC - 05:03 | Permalink

      There’s plenty of wonder in fairy tales and make-believe. I’d rather embrace the wonder of being astonished by what I see in the real world — how understanding and exploring reality can evoke unspeakable wonder. All that is diminished when we substitute reality for a make-believe entity.

      Are you saying Dawkins is “on the side of evil”? What evil has he advocated? Is there anything in the video that “rails against God”? I think you are in a rather curious mindset that views atheists as evil and anti-god, yes? I’m an atheist and I don’t take the slightest interest in “railing against God” — why rail against something I don’t believe exists?

      The Allies railed against the fascist powers in WW2 and the US did the same against the Reds in the Cold-War — “must be that deep down they knew they were right?”

      You rail against Dawkins and homosexuals — maybe deep down you know they are right?

      What sort of logic is this?

    • 2013-12-25 23:45:14 UTC - 23:45 | Permalink

      Yes, there is radical evil in the world. Sunni killing Shia, Shia killing Sunni, Muslims killing Christians, Buddhists killing Muslims…
      Oddly, none of them is on the side of Dawkins or “the gays”. Quite the reverse.

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