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That nice Mr Attenborough
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Boss Cat
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:30 am    Post subject: That nice Mr Attenborough  Reply with quote

Did you hear Sir David on DID?  As charming and civilised as we might expect.

Two things he said though that interested me:  firstly he said Darwin had changed or influenced (I can't remember the exact word, sorry) us more than anyone else.  Well, I am not so sure.   I think that is a zoologist speaking.  It's his subject.  Not to say that Darwin does not still influence our thinking and will do for a long time to come (and it hasn't always been for the better has it?  Not his fault but he has been misunderstood and misused to truly horrific ends).  But not only Darwin a relatively new kid on the block - what about Marx, Shakespeare, Newton, Einstein, Da Vinci, Freud, Hitler or Jesus come to that?  Or the Buddha?  How would you measure this?

Secondly he was asked directly about how his work influenced his beliefs.  I always thought he was a convinced (though not confrontational or anti theist) atheist.  However, he said that he did not have the confidence to be an atheist so described himself as an agnostic.  He also stated that there was nothing in the 4 billion year history of life that was inconsistent with there being a supreme being.  

Fair enough; seems an honest and thoughtful response to me.  But although most atheists on here will say 'well of course we don't know' so must acknowledge a degree of agnosticism, they ARE confident enough to say 'I am an atheist, and until there is evidence for God then I will stay one'.  

Do you think Sir D was being courteous and tactful or do you agree with him?  Do you think knowing the history of life is inconsistent with belief in a supreme being?
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:09 pm    Post subject: Re: That nice Mr Attenborough Reply with quote

Boss Cat wrote:
Did you hear Sir David on DID?  As charming and civilised as we might expect.

Two things he said though that interested me:  firstly he said Darwin had changed or influenced (I can't remember the exact word, sorry) us more than anyone else.  Well, I am not so sure.   I think that is a zoologist speaking.  It's his subject.  Not to say that Darwin does not still influence our thinking and will do for a long time to come (and it hasn't always been for the better has it?  Not his fault but he has been misunderstood and misused to truly horrific ends).  But not only Darwin a relatively new kid on the block - what about Marx, Shakespeare, Newton, Einstein, Da Vinci, Freud, Hitler or Jesus come to that?  Or the Buddha?  How would you measure this?

Only Darwin provided the explanation for our existence and the explanation for the diversity of life that we see on this planet. None of the others even come remotely close. Shakespeare? No, really, come on.

Quote:
He also stated that there was nothing in the 4 billion year history of life that was inconsistent with there being a supreme being.

He seems to have forgotten his own words from just a few years back:

Quote:
Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries. In an interview with this week's Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: "They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance."

Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give "credit" to God, Attenborough added: "They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator."


Quote:
Fair enough; seems an honest and thoughtful response to me.  But although most atheists on here will say 'well of course we don't know' so must acknowledge a degree of agnosticism, they ARE confident enough to say 'I am an atheist, and until there is evidence for God then I will stay one'.
 
Absolutely.

Quote:
Do you think Sir D was being courteous and tactful or do you agree with him?

The former. He takes very much the same non-confrontational line, unwilling to get embroiled in religious debates, that Darwin himself did.
Quote:
Do you think knowing the history of life is inconsistent with belief in a supreme being?

Yes, if that supreme being is viewed in even remotely traditional terms (all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, etc).
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There’s no reason to be agnostic about ideas that are dramatically incompatible with everything we know about modern science. - Sean M. Carroll


Last edited by Shaker on Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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genghiscant
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Do you think knowing the history of life is inconsistent with belief in a supreme being?


No. But it is inconsistent with the bible & religion.
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People look at the possibilities, choose the one that most appeals to them, and then work backwards to justify the position.
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Leonard James
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.

Attenborough  was being very cautious in using the words 'hard to reconcile'. What he cited was impossible to reconcile with 'benevolent'.

He was simply underlining the fact, as I frequently have, that although it is possible that there is a creator force, it certainly cares not a jot about the suffering of humans in any sense that we use the word 'care'.
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Boss Cat
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The argument about the existence of suffering is a strong one against a benevolent creator.  For me it is not a conclusive one by any means but I think it is valid, worth listening to and not to be casually dismissed.  Sir David was responding to quite different questions though, wasn't he?  I don't think he contradicts himself.  And if he does not see things absolutely and stick to them - well all the better for him.

The type of people who write things like I hope you suffer in Hell or whatever are representative of a type of religious person but they do not speak for all believers; the repeat violent offenders I've met who, when asked their religion, snort contemptuously and say 'don't have nuffink to do with religion' aren't representative of non believers.

Darwin was a hugely significant figure, but I disagree with you Leonard!  And no-one, no-one has explored what being human means as brilliantly as Shakespeare did.  Well that's my view anyway.  But how would you measure these things.  Sorry Sir David, you are wrong on that one!
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boss Cat wrote:
Darwin was a hugely significant figure, but I disagree with you Leonard!  And no-one, no-one has explored what being human means as brilliantly as Shakespeare did.  Well that's my view anyway.  But how would you measure these things.  Sorry Sir David, you are wrong on that one!

If the world's history had panned out exactly as it has - Shakespeare included - but if Darwin had never lived we'd find ourselves in the position of having some phenomenal plays and poems but no understanding of the origins of the sort of animal who writes phenomenal plays and poems. Shakespeare, pre-Darwin, had no such understanding: post-Darwin, we do.
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Leonard James
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boss Cat wrote:

Darwin was a hugely significant figure, but I disagree with you Leonard!  And no-one, no-one has explored what being human means as brilliantly as Shakespeare did.  Well that's my view anyway.  But how would you measure these things.  Sorry Sir David, you are wrong on that one!

Willy understood much of what made humans tick, but knew nothing about their origins. Darwin switched the light on in that respect.
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Boss Cat
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So knowing where you come from is more significant than questioning why you act as you do?

And why would knowing the origins of life be more thought provoking than understanding the workings of the universe?  I mean, unless we think there is something extra special about life - but you don't think that do you?

Oooh, naughty!  But I stand by my first point - how do you measure this?  And how do you establish where one person's work ends and another begins?
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boss Cat wrote:
So knowing where you come from is more significant than questioning why you act as you do?

In this specific instance, if evolutionary psychology has any validity, it's actually one and the same thing.
Quote:
And why would knowing the origins of life be more thought provoking than understanding the workings of the universe?  I mean, unless we think there is something extra special about life - but you don't think that do you?

Life qua life may be fairly common throughout the universe, based on several highly suggestive scientific strands: the really interesting property is consciousness. I can very easily picture a universe without consciousness: I can't even begin to imagine consciousness without a universe for it to occur in.
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Leonard James
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boss Cat wrote:
So knowing where you come from is more significant than questioning why you act as you do?

Both are important spheres of investigation. The Bard was an impressively keen observer of human behaviour as his plays reveal, but he made no attempt to explain why we act as we do. Darwin opened the door to that knowledge by discovering that our forbears were the same as those of other ape species, and our motivations come from common sources.

Quote:
And why would knowing the origins of life be more thought provoking than understanding the workings of the universe?

I don't think I said it was ... that is something each individual decides for himself. 
Quote:
I mean, unless we think there is something extra special about life - but you don't think that do you?

No, I don't. Life is just a form of chemo-physical reactions.
Quote:
Oooh, naughty!  But I stand by my first point - how do you measure this?

You can't.  
Quote:
And how do you establish where one person's work ends and another begins?

I don't understand the question. If you are referring to the two aforementioned people, their 'work' was not really connected in any way. Darwin was a scientist and Willy was a playwright.

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