Monday, December 10, 2007

So. Is it child abuse to describe little Jimmy as a "cultural Christian", do you think?


  1. That was a rhetorical question, by the way.

  2. We did not really have much of a say did we?
    I don’t want to use the P word, but certainly the BBC was determined not to let any real questions through. And although I am no papist, that must have been the most absurd fryer in the English speaking world (at least I hope so).

  3. What is "the P word" in this context? (I didn't see the programme; what sort of real questions did they not let through?)

    Taking Andrew's rhetorical question a bit more seriously than it was intended for a moment, I'll hazard a guess that Dawkins would say (1) that calling a young child a "cultural Christian" is still wrong because for all you know the child may, once old enough to have an opinion, repudiate the Christian culture, but (2) that it's not as bad as calling the child a "Christian" simpliciter because saying someone's "culturally Christian" asserts much less about them, and generally less contentious things. So there. :-)

  4. I was referring to "plants" as in planting questions that we have all heard him answer a dozen times and know exactly what he was going to say. Now I am fully aware that they were not likely to ask him any of my questions, after all I used words with more than two syllables, but still getting the dumbest theist you can find and putting him up against an oxford trained atheist is not exactly, as they say "cricket". And the atheist professors calling in for a bum slap-athon was quite unnecessary.

    As for the whole "Christian child" controversy, I have to say I am somewhat with Dawkins on this one, but then I do not believe in original sin or infant baptism so there you go.

  5. OK, I found a recording of the programme. The questions asked are certainly pretty much the ones you'd expect. But then, er, you'd expect them to be. It seems to me that if the questions were the same old ones that keep getting asked, that might be because they keep getting asked; never attribute to malice what can be explained adequately by incompetence. I didn't hear anything that seemed unreal or faked. A fair amount of stupid, but that's what you get on phone-in programmes.

  6. Phone-in programmes are usually stupid. Perhaps that is why they usually have some tart for us to gawk at while the unwashed masses phone-in for the sole purpose of hearing their voice on the telly. But Dawkins is not at all nice to look at, so one might presume that this programme was supposed to be for information. The fact that it gave us none may be do to the producers’ incompetents, true, but I doubt it.
    Prior to the programme I visited its website’s BB and there were actually some good comments (admittedly by no means the majority but still) I of course do not know the contents of the E-mails or phone-ins but they were probably about the same. At the beginning of the programme the host read some of the BB comments. Did he read any of the interesting or somewhat original ones? Not even close. The closest thing to a good question, that was ask, was the one regarding afterlife, and this was only because after Dawkins went through his predictable pantheon recitation, he went on to tell us he would ask God some science questions. Well, that sounds somewhat interesting, but did any one pursue it? No, they were too busy getting to their “who kills more people, Christians or atheists” nonsense. Who cares? If all atheists were bloodthirsty child molesters, would that make God any more real?

  7. I imagine they didn't pursue the thing about asking God scientific questions because most people are currently interested in Dawkins more as a spokesperson for atheism than as a person with a good scientific mind. Which is possibly a pity, but hardly a sign of conspiracy. I agree that the thing about whether Christians or atheists make the better mass murderers and how much that has to do with their religion is pretty stupid, but it's also something that comes up again and again and again. Yes, that makes it boring to those of us who've heard it again and again and again. It also presumably means it's interesting to those who haven't.

    I think the BBC asked the most representative questions, which aren't the most interesting to those of us who have been all round these controversies a dozen times but presumably are of interest to more people because they keep on asking them.

  8. I was of course being a bit sarcastic, I did not mean there was a “real” conspiracy, aside from of course the global conspiracy to pander to the lowest common denominator.
    I do think one of the victims was actually Professor Dawkins. As a theist apologist in training I go through a lot of arguments to see which ones hold up, it is a sort of natural selection. I imagine Dawkins has a similar process, but without adequate predators to aide in the culling, it is perhaps more difficult.

  9. Andrew,

    Hi, this is commenter cl from DaylightAtheism. I'm just dropping by to let you know I'm wrapping up an in-depth (and what I would also consider to be objective) summary of the post On Expertise. Rereading that post, I can see that you clearly got short thrift from everyone with whom you engaged, and short thrift is actually an understatement. OMGF in particular was very rude and effectively derailed many of your comments - not by cogent response - but through childish ad hominems and straight-out diversions.

    At any rate, just wanted to let you know what I was up to. I have a feeling you'll want to take a look at my work, but perhaps not.

    Sorry that this comment is random and out-of-context for the thread in which I posted it to. Where should I post the pertinent link to my work where it might be more appropriate?


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