Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Discussions and related news items

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Postby aZerogodist » Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:00 pm

A big fan of the Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and a great article by the Irish Times,
she should of got that Noble Prize.

I have often heard the debate from christians that science is somewhat anti-religion? Even though most of the 'Gaints-of-science' were religious & never saw a conflict between the pursuit of science & their belief in a god.

So reading the IT-article, halfway through the faith vs science subject leaps in.

She is also known for her championing of women in science and for her Quaker faith, which remains unmoved by the appliance of science. She has always been an advocate for the idea that science and faith can, as she put it, sit “lightly with each other” and it is part of the Quaker faith to believe that you can get closer to God by observing his creation.

She is critical of the well-known atheistic scientist Richard Dawkins saying he has a “fundamentalist view” of the subject.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sci ... 39591.html

It's a pity that some religious people see science as a threat, without trying to understand it or the people behind the science.

There's a similar quote from Maxwell: ''If we had seen Him in the flesh we should not have known Him any better, perhaps so well.''
James Maxwell, mathematical physicist, gave us the equations for electromagnetism.
aZerogodist
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
 
Posts: 1280
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:04 pm
Location: Co. CORK

Re: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Postby Dr Raskolnikov » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:05 am

Disappointing. Bell-Burnell could have been a powerful voice for reason. I don't see how it is constructive to criticise Dawkins for questioning religious belief, or to resort to the pejorative accusation of fundamentalism, which is a lame and shallow charge that even the most swivel-eyed, bat-shit creationist holds back until pushed into a corner. This is the last refuge of the desperate. It is merely ad hominem, and I expected better.
Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know. Important things. - Ned Flanders
Dr Raskolnikov
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 pm
Location: "In the beginning there was the word, and the word was "word up biatch""

Re: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Postby UDS » Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:15 am

Dr Raskolnikov wrote:Disappointing. Bell-Burnell could have been a powerful voice for reason. I don't see how it is constructive to criticise Dawkins for questioning religious belief, or to resort to the pejorative accusation of fundamentalism, which is a lame and shallow charge that even the most swivel-eyed, bat-shit creationist holds back until pushed into a corner. This is the last refuge of the desperate. It is merely ad hominem, and I expected better.

What, we should avoid critical engagement with the throughts of Richard Dawkins, becuase it might not be "constructive"?

The accusation of fundamentalism is certainly pejorative, but that doesn't mean its unfounded. Without seeing her reasoning for it and her arguments in support of it, why do you assuem that it's "lame" and "shallow" and "the last refuge of the desparate"? Is it impossible to contemplate that criticism of Dawkins' views might be rational, even well-founded?

No offence, Dr Raskolnikov, but the overall flavour of your post calls to mind precisely the kinds of attitudes that sceptics should reject. This newspaper report devotes just one sentence to Bell-Burnell's views on Dawkins, of which just two words are a direct quote. There isn't anything like enough there to make an assessment of the soundness of her position.
UDS
 
Posts: 120
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:23 am

Re: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Postby Dr Raskolnikov » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:33 am

Dr Raskolnikov wrote:Disappointing. Bell-Burnell could have been a powerful voice for reason. I don't see how it is constructive to criticise Dawkins for questioning religious belief, or to resort to the pejorative accusation of fundamentalism, which is a lame and shallow charge that even the most swivel-eyed, bat-shit creationist holds back until pushed into a corner. This is the last refuge of the desperate. It is merely ad hominem, and I expected better.


UDS wrote:What, we should avoid critical engagement with the throughts of Richard Dawkins, becuase it might not be "constructive"?


I don't have a problem with critical engagement at all, but it seems to me that Bell-Burnell's normally exemplary critical faculties have been impaired by her religious belief, when she chooses to challenge Dawkins by calling him a "fundamentalist". This is a "zombie" argument, in that it has been shot dead but refuses to lie down. Dawkins is a scientist - he would change his mind if the evidence weighed against him. But the religious fundamentalists, by definition, will never change their minds.

UDS wrote:No offence, Dr Raskolnikov,
Here we go...

UDS wrote:but the overall flavour of your post calls to mind precisely the kinds of attitudes that sceptics should reject. This newspaper report devotes just one sentence to Bell-Burnell's views on Dawkins, of which just two words are a direct quote. There isn't anything like enough there to make an assessment of the soundness of her position.


Just two words? The article quotes a full paragraph:

Bell-Burnell wrote:“He believes science can prove anything. If it is not amenable to scientific proof, it doesn’t exist. If you care for a young child, for instance, is that science?”


And here again I disagree with Bell-Burnell. Emphatically yes, if you care for a young child, that is science. It is the core of evolution by natural selection that individuals who do not care for their child will not pass on their genes. She has been hoist by her own petard.
Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know. Important things. - Ned Flanders
Dr Raskolnikov
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:16 pm
Location: "In the beginning there was the word, and the word was "word up biatch""

Re: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Postby bipedalhumanoid » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:08 pm

Dr Raskolnikov wrote:
Dr Raskolnikov wrote:Disappointing. Bell-Burnell could have been a powerful voice for reason. I don't see how it is constructive to criticise Dawkins for questioning religious belief, or to resort to the pejorative accusation of fundamentalism, which is a lame and shallow charge that even the most swivel-eyed, bat-shit creationist holds back until pushed into a corner. This is the last refuge of the desperate. It is merely ad hominem, and I expected better.


UDS wrote:What, we should avoid critical engagement with the throughts of Richard Dawkins, becuase it might not be "constructive"?


I don't have a problem with critical engagement at all, but it seems to me that Bell-Burnell's normally exemplary critical faculties have been impaired by her religious belief, when she chooses to challenge Dawkins by calling him a "fundamentalist". This is a "zombie" argument, in that it has been shot dead but refuses to lie down. Dawkins is a scientist - he would change his mind if the evidence weighed against him. But the religious fundamentalists, by definition, will never change their minds.

UDS wrote:No offence, Dr Raskolnikov,
Here we go...

UDS wrote:but the overall flavour of your post calls to mind precisely the kinds of attitudes that sceptics should reject. This newspaper report devotes just one sentence to Bell-Burnell's views on Dawkins, of which just two words are a direct quote. There isn't anything like enough there to make an assessment of the soundness of her position.


Just two words? The article quotes a full paragraph:

Bell-Burnell wrote:“He believes science can prove anything. If it is not amenable to scientific proof, it doesn’t exist. If you care for a young child, for instance, is that science?”


And here again I disagree with Bell-Burnell. Emphatically yes, if you care for a young child, that is science. It is the core of evolution by natural selection that individuals who do not care for their child will not pass on their genes. She has been hoist by her own petard.


+1

I commend anyone's passion for objectivity, but some of us do tend to overcompensate somewhat.

These arguments have no more substance than if she'd referred to him as the high preist of atheism, or for that manner, called him a poo poo head.

The word fundamentalist is a defined word with a meaning. It doesn't mean "anyone with strong views on an issue". Dawkins has always answered this accusation by stating that he makes up his mind based on the available evidence and will change his mind as new evidence comes in. That is about as far from fundamentalism as you can get.

Bell-Burnell wrote:“He believes science can prove anything.”


This sets up the straw man argument. Dawkins has expressed a belief that science will continue to improve our understanding of the universe. He has never expressed a belief that science can prove anything.

Bell-Burnell wrote:If it is not amenable to scientific proof, it doesn’t exist.


And the strawman grows arms. Dawkins has expressed a view that, if science can't prove something, that doesn't mean religion can. A far cry from the claim that only things amenable to scientific proof exist.

I'd say that if anyone is exercising fundamentalism it's those who blindly acceptthe concept of NOMA.
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
bipedalhumanoid
 
Posts: 2675
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:55 pm

Re: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Postby DaithiDublin » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:30 pm

I've been trying to track down the interview that her comments about Dawkins are drawn from, but no luck so far. I did find this interesting interview with her from a BBC interview.

From what she says here she sounds like a deist more than a theist. Actually she sounds like someone who doesn't know what she believes. Here's an example:

Q Does - God is a hypothesis. Does He require evidence?

JBB Well for me, God is a hypothesis. But I'm not sure that everybody would agree with me on that one. I think for some God is much more...present (laughs). It's definite, (laughing) it's er...

Q But you see, people would say 'That's not a scientific statement.'

JBB No. I would agree with that. I as a teenager was looking for proof of the existence of God, and of course didn't find it. And gradually came to the realisation that I suspect we're not meant to have proof of the existence of God. I suspect we are meant to act without proof, on probabilities - but ultimately with 'I don't know' as the bottom line. And I made the conscious decision to adopt the hypothesis that there is a God, and to run with that hypothesis and see what happened. And I haven't felt the need to abandon that hypothesis yet. But it could happen - who knows?

Q And are you vigilant in your scrutiny? Do you constantly examine this hypothesis?

JBB Yes I do. The proof - that's not really the right word - the data, the evidence is sufficient to convince me. Would not convince anybody else, I don't expect - and I don't know that it's meant to convince anybody else. But I have enough evidence that there is a God from experiences in Quaker worship for example. I'm also aware that quite a lot of my experience of God comes in a Quaker meeting for worship when a number of other people in the same room at the same time will have similar experiences in so far as one can describe these experiences to one another.

Q When you say in so far as you can describe them to one another, can you try and describe it to me?

JBB It's difficult because it is a very deep and intimate experience. It is at the level of sense, nudging, prompting is a word that, that Quakers will use. Er...

Q Is it like a trance?

JBB N...no, I don't think so, although if there is a strong sense of the presence of God, I find that intellectual questions float away as being irrelevant, and one is just wanting to be there. Sitting, breathing, em...


It obviously hasn't hindered her ability to do science, but the god she talks about in the interview is nothing like the Christian god. The problem I find, is that her name appears on those lists Christians like to trot out of scientists who believe in God. In their God-blindness they hear the word and think that that gives their views credibility.

An example of that is this transcript of a creationist 'documentary' called Testing God: Killing the Creator, where this quote is used:

Jocelyn Bell Burnell: Yes, discovering that cosmic microwave background, or the heat or hiss left over, certainly made astronomers much, much more confident that they understood the Big Bang and 15 billion years swathe of the universal history. And certainly for those of us who are astronomers and religious, the question promptly comes up, what was god’s role in all this, or even did God have a role in all this.


Even though her own views on God are so ill-defined, she here aligns herself with other religious scientists who, when faced with a new discovery or result 'promptly' try and see how God fits into it. I think this is the nub of her complaint with Dawkins et al. And I think it implies that she sees what herself and other religious scientists do as a step beyond what other scientists do. They are open minded. :roll:
As yet I have not found a single case of a terrestrial animal which fertilises itself.

- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
(he obviously never went to Bray)
DaithiDublin
 
Posts: 188
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:15 pm
Location: Bray, Co. Wicklow

Re: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell: God & Richard Dawkins

Postby Munchkin » Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:01 pm

DaithiDublin wrote:It obviously hasn't hindered her ability to do science, but the god she talks about in the interview is nothing like the Christian god. The problem I find, is that her name appears on those lists Christians like to trot out of scientists who believe in God. In their God-blindness they hear the word and think that that gives their views credibility.


That's what religious people do. The pretty much just make stuff up to fit their beliefs.
Munchkin
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:40 pm


Return to Science and Scepticism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 1 guest