Sunday School

Sunday School 25th April 2021

This topic contains 126 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  TheEncogitationer 3 days, 5 hours ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 127 total)
  • Author
  • #37425

    Simon Paynton

    @simon – That is not what he said (or tweeted). I remember the incident very well as I had recently met him.

    I wonder how well any of us would stand up if all and every of our actions and remarks are reported to the whole world.

    But some things are going to put people’s backs up.  I’ve probably said things on social media which wouldn’t stand the light of day.   I try to keep my foot out of my mouth.

    – I had a look at the original tweets – Dawkins had virtually swallowed his whole leg.  If he had ever been sexually assaulted, he wouldn’t be saying those insulting things.



    Ironically with the Dawkins elevator began in a fairly stupid way:

    A woman attending a conference had drinks until 4am with some of the attendees and she had gone up to her room in an elevator one of the male attendees (this was all after a speech and the drinks were in the hotel bar). He very politely suggested having coffee in his room. She then made a vlog:

    Guys don’t do that…I was a single woman, in a foreign country, at 4 a.m., in a hotel elevator with you—just you—and don’t invite me back to your hotel room, right after I have finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.

    All I can say is…I understand that she felt uncomfortable and that even in an elevator there can be a gender imbalance, but she most definitely should have worded her vlog more carefully. She implied that the guy was sexualizing her when in reality she “felt” as though she was being sexualized. We don’t know his intentions and even if he was hoping for something intimate, an opening like “lets have coffee in my room” is hardly sexualizing someone. She could have simply suggested that there are better ways and places to initiate that kind of conversation. Suggested that some people don’t like being proposed that way. But her blanket negative imperative and blanket attack on that guy (and by extension guys [and even girls] who would propose something like that) was overgeneralising and aggressive.

    That isn’t to say that the following responses from male atheists were good ones. JP Myer’s response was to say in effect “just shake it off and move on”. This is also a very nonconstructive response.

    Some responses we in the lines of “not all people would feel the way you did” or “you should wait a few weeks before you make this vlog” or “you should have anonymised the details in your vlog” etc. Some responses were fairly stupid.

    Dawkins then later butted in with a response that was ridiculous. He in effect asked her to stop whining and compared this little elevator incident with the plight that women face such as true harassment, female genital mutilation, child marriage, marital rape etc. This was a colossally stupid thing to say. While in effect what he was saying was true, women around the world have to deal with a lot worse, he went about it in his own pointlessly aggressive and dismissive way.

    You can imagine the guy in the elevator is utterly mortified and now feels like an absolute sexual predator after all of this attention.

    Some male atheists went on to then say truly vile things to her, even excusing sexual harassment in general, suggested she should have been raped in the elevator and then she received death threats (fairly standard online shit).

    Dawkins then later appologised:

    There should be no rivalry in victim-hood, and I’m sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison

    To which she snarkily replied:

    Richard Dawkins just did the blog-equivalent of coughing into his hand while mumbling ‘sorry’ to me. Eh, I’ll take it.

    She has never changed her stance and she wouldn’t have worded, or timed anything differently.

    I would argue that in each step of the way, people should have been a lot more careful how they dealt with the subject including her. All of them lost an opportunity to educate and make a meaningful debate by not being careful how they word things, not considering the feelings of others and becoming increasingly childish.

    Dawkins and several other known male atheists have certainly said a lot of very stupid things in the last decade on topics like race, gender, class and sexuality. In effect they made atheism seem like an aged straight white male boys club (even if they are for the most part progressive). It has given new atheism a bad name and has set things back some years I believe.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by  Davis.

    Simon Paynton

    Speaking as an armchair commentator, I’d say that the lady’s response to Dawkins’ fulsome apology was not very gracious.  I think the original guy shouldn’t have propositioned her in the elevator.

    I wouldn’t say that Dawkins etc. have set anything back – but it looks like he’s hung on past his time, opening his mouth with nothing to say.  Atheism is such a loose coalition, that I don’t feel discredited by association.

    You don’t find William Lane Craig carrying on like this.


    Strange the “Dear Muslima” case about Dawkins and Rebecca Watson has resurfaced here. It was in a hotel in Dublin at the World Atheist Convention in 2011, organized by Atheist Ireland and which I attended. It went from zero to Internet outrage in a very short time frame, with many commentators falsely reporting on it as if they were there. I have no more to say on the topic.


    Simon Paynton

    I don’t quite agree with this article on people become atheists.

    Cognitive byproduct theory contends that religion arose from innate thought processes that emerged to serve other functions. …

    By this account, any self-reports of atheism only go “skin deep,” in that non-believers would have to actively suppress their innate religious feelings at all times. As is often said during war, “There are no atheists in the foxholes.”

    The original premise may be correct – cognitive byproducts – but it’s silly to say that this leads to non-believers having to actively suppress their innate religious feelings.  We just don’t.  On the other hand, I do think that religious people sometimes have to work hard to suppress atheistic feelings.


    @simon but it’s silly to say that this leads to non-believers having to actively suppress their innate religious feelings. We just don’t.

    I fully agree Simon. We do not have any innate religious feelings. Humans are prone to magical thinking, to seeing patterns where none exist and to making up an answer when the correct one is not yet discovered. We do not have a “god gene” and more than we have a “UFO gene” or “ghost gene”.



    @simon but it’s silly to say that this leads to non-believers having to actively suppress their innate religious feelings. We just don’t. I fully agree Simon. We do not have any innate religious feelings. Humans are prone to magical thinking, to seeing patterns where none exist and to making up an answer when the correct one is not yet discovered. We do not have a “god gene” and more than we have a “UFO gene” or “ghost gene”.

    In this regard, on the other side of the nature/nurture coin we have childhood religious indoctrination. Might even affect physical brain development and nurture a predisposition to believe in ghosts and vaccine conspiracies.



    I do think that religious people sometimes have to work hard to suppress atheistic feelings

    I would say that this is an endless challenge for the religious. Especially as claims by the churches and their holy books become more and more impossible to defend. Even before the scientific method blew the lid off of the majority of garbage the bible and the church claimed, there was already so much endless doubt in Europe at the time that theologians obsessively tried to give logical proofs of God’s existence. Their very prayers (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) are mantras that repeat “yes…God exists” and that “their truth is the only truth”. The most devout actually have to repeat this numerous times a day. And to hold down their intellectual nausea over their uncertainty they even make “faith” (the belief that you know when you cannot know) is an admirable thing.

    If you live in a culture which was historically religious or are surrounded by the religious…once you work out the absurdity of religion and break the barrier of “I don’t have to believe in stupid shit…you have to convince me stupid shit is the case” you barely struggle, if ever with believing in stupid shit anymore.

    Anyone living in the modern world confronted with all sorts of other stupid shit and endless challenges to their belief in stupid shit…makes believing in stupid shit and endless struggle.

    Yes some atheists go back to religion. Some never were atheists. Some were seduced by the fantasies. Some honestly went to the light and back to the dark. Their numbers are trivial.

    When the religious attack atheism and mis-characterise what non-belief is and what goes on in the mind of non-believers…they honestly just show their own weaknesses and their own struggles.

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  Davis.



    According to The Daily Mail, Richard Dawkins didn’t consider his “Humanist of the Year Award” important enough to even list on his Curriculum Vitae.  Evidently, Dawkins seems to be taking his “cancellation” pretty well.

    British scientist Richard Dawkins is stripped of his Humanist Of The Year award after comparing transgender people to race faker Rachel Dolezal

    It gives rise to the question: If you’re “cancelled” and don’t give a damn, does it make a noise in the woods loud enough to disturb the Pope while he’s shitting? 😁

    Things like this are why I like my Atheism informal and disorganized.  As Madalyn Murray O’Hair and Kin learned too late, one bad HR move can ruin your whole spatio-temperal coordinates.



    If Dawkins had made a casually racist comment then I doubt there would be much controversy. If he made a misogynist comment there would be less controversy. If it was a homophobic comment it would have been sort of controversial. But a trans-phobic comment meets mild controversy. Different kinds of bigotry are met with various levels of indifference. It seems like a notable portion of the public are happy to overlook casual transphobia as “just asking questions” and “concern for social debate”. Stuff that just wouldn’t seem to happen if the conversation was about race (and less likely to happen if it was brazen racism).

    Transphobia is one of the last bastions of easier to get away with bigotry. And it is no coincidence that it is generally people of the older generations doing it. Those who have accepted the evils of racism, got on the train with the problems of misogyny (more or less), dislike homophobia but aren’t quite there on the transphobia part. It is a relatively new issue for them and old habits seem hard to die.

    What is surprising is that even life long crusaders against other forms of bigotry can only half-heartedly understand the harm of transphobia. Another clear sign it is the last bastion of sort-of-excusable bigotry is how some U.S. states are still trying to (or just recently tried) to enact transphobic legislation (some getting away with it more than others). I’ve watched videos of Dawkins stand up for women’s rights, LGTBQ+ rights and against racism. And he has been doing it for a long time. But it is peppered from time to time with bizarre and baffling pseudo sexist comments and clearly his love for equality and tolerance is not enough fuel to get him over his old age discomfort with trans-issues. And you’ll see that those who cheer him and people like Rowling on, are themselves life long anti-racism and/or anti-sexism warriors who are in their 70s and 80s (like Rushdie or Atwood) and just cannot take “just asking questions” or “just having a debate” about trans-issues are seriously as other forms of bigotry.

    I have no problem with Dawkins losing his humanist award. A fundamental principle of humanism is equality and treating others with dignity. His trans-stupidity, as we say in Spanish, was just “the last drop [of stupid comments] that overfilled the glass”. If you stand up for secularism and reason but you can only half-heartedly stand up for equality and dignity then you certainly don’t deserve to be singled out as one the top-tier prize worthy humanists.

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by  Davis.

    I have no problem with anyone suffering a loss of social standing or having awards revoked. I think Dawkins “question” was more ill-informed than deliberately trying to be antagonistic.

    I find that the “outrage” was driven more by the shouts from SJW’s than it was by the reaction of the trans community. I am not trying to defend anyone but some of these cancellations seems more Judge Roy Bean with “you’ll get a fair trial followed by a first class hanging” rather than inviting “offenders” to a engage with anyone offended by what has been said so that more people could come to understand the issue.


    Simon Paynton

    Personally I find the idea of “social consequences” for speaking out of turn, pretty ominous.  To me, it sounds like the Chinese government.



    I think Dawkins “question” was more ill-informed than deliberately trying to be antagonistic.

    I agree, but to some extent we could say the same about individuals asking ‘If humans evolved from apes, then why are there still apes?’ On its own, it’s just a silly thought worth a chuckle. It’s like the Limmy sketch where he can’t get his head around the idea that a kilogram of feathers weighs the same as a kilogram of steel (because steel is heavier than feathers). It’s funny on its own.

    However, in a society where evolution is ‘controversial’, it’s rhetoric that keeps the ‘debate’ going. And while some people are sincerely asking without ill intent, others are deliberately pushing it as one of countless  specious challenges to frustrate the conversation knowing it’s easier to spread nonsense than to quell it with reason. While the former group is far more understandable than the latter, from an epidemiological perspective, how different are they?

    I just wish sometimes people could take a step back and say, “I suppose that was a rather lazy line of inquiry, wasn’t it?”.


    Here is a video on the reactions of people from around the world on what they think of the U.S. health care system.

    I post it as a follow up to the discussions on the topic we had recently. It is from the NYT so might be pay-walled (Yes, I spend $2 pm for it!)




    To count two versions of one fallacy, Father Simon is using a “No True Scotsman” Fallacy with both Religious Believers and Atheists.  Both here:

    “It is related to the faithful’s deeds. You may say you are religious, but your deeds show that you are corrupt and oppressive; you kill others in the name of God; you ignore other people’s rights. People can become atheists because of such deeds,” said the priest, who has written dozens of books since 1988, including the latest one titled Surviving the Dai Nippon.

    And here:

    “From my experience, those choosing atheism seem to be not really atheists. They just have a different understanding of God. For example, they believe in God only as the life-giving entity and the energy that moves everything. But they do not believe in God as a person, or monotheism,” he said.

    Also, he’s psychologizing by claiming to know the minds and motives of people he’s mostly never even met.

    Here, he’s arguing from a false premise about Atheism and from there, making an Argument From Ignorance Fallacy and an Argument from Emotional Appeal Fallacy i.e. Feelz Before Realz:

    He believes that atheism can never survive. “None of its argumentations are reassuring,” Father Simon said.





Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 127 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.