HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Religion & Spirituality » Religion (Group) » Straight up hit piece on ...

Fri May 1, 2015, 01:11 AM

Straight up hit piece on Daniel Dennett

Last edited Fri May 1, 2015, 02:50 PM - Edit history (1)

Daniel Dennett is generally considered the 'nice one' of the 'four horsemen of the non-apocalypse' but some preacher-man took it upon himself to drag Dennett down to his own level, then beat him with experience.

Atheist Professor Betrays Ignorance Beyond Belief


In recent years, so-called New Atheists have become more aggressive and vociferous, and have achieved considerable media visibility. Normally, it rarely pays to argue with them, as their general cultural and historical ignorance means that you have to explain too many basic factual issues to them before you can share any common basis for proceeding. On occasion, though, one of the pack says something that is so silly and obnoxious as to demand a response, and this is one of those occasions.

For centuries, one of the ugliest aspects of Christian and secular culture was the crude stereotype of the Old Testament. Even in ancient times, Marcionite Christian heretics presented the Old Testament God as a violent, capricious monster, who stood in harsh contrast to the loving and merciful deity revealed in the gospels. Jesus, in that view, came to rescue the children of Light from the cruel God who slew the Egyptians in the Red Sea, and ordered the massacre of the Amalekites.

Professor Dennett refers to the Old Testament God as Jehovah. I have no idea why he is using that term, which is a Latinized version of one guess at the divine Name mentioned frequently in the Bible. The form was much used in earlier translations in the seventeenth century, and it is still employed today by some obstinate fundamentalists. Not for many years has it been used by mainstream scholars or translators, Christian or Jewish.


http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/atheist-professor-betrays-ignorance-beyond-belief-5909228778684416

This article really betrays a desperate air of grasping at straws, that last line in particular is reaching about as far as he can, complaining about Dennett's use of an accepted name for the Christian god, probably shook his faith because it highlights that a) he has a name, and b) it's necessary to distinguish what god we're talking about.

35 replies, 2503 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply Straight up hit piece on Daniel Dennett (Original post)
Lordquinton May 2015 OP
longship May 2015 #1
struggle4progress May 2015 #2
Cartoonist May 2015 #6
Jim__ May 2015 #9
TM99 May 2015 #3
skepticscott May 2015 #4
Lordquinton May 2015 #12
skepticscott May 2015 #5
trotsky May 2015 #8
Lordquinton May 2015 #13
Yorktown May 2015 #7
Leontius May 2015 #10
skepticscott May 2015 #11
edhopper May 2015 #14
Humanist_Activist May 2015 #18
mr blur May 2015 #21
rug May 2015 #27
TM99 May 2015 #15
beam me up scottie May 2015 #16
skepticscott May 2015 #17
edhopper May 2015 #19
skepticscott May 2015 #20
edhopper May 2015 #22
beam me up scottie May 2015 #23
skepticscott May 2015 #24
beam me up scottie May 2015 #25
Cartoonist May 2015 #26
LiberalAndProud May 2015 #28
okasha May 2015 #29
Cartoonist May 2015 #30
okasha May 2015 #31
Cartoonist May 2015 #32
skepticscott May 2015 #34
edhopper May 2015 #33
skepticscott May 2015 #35

Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Fri May 1, 2015, 01:25 AM

1. Grasping at straw men.

I love Dennett. He is the gentle Santa Claus of the new atheists. He even looks the part.


This is the guy who wrote Breaking the Spell: Religion as a natural phenomenon, which is a very intelligent and reasonable argument that, given that religion is such a huge cultural influence, maybe we ought to study what makes it tick. It is a rather brilliant book. And Dennett has said that he revised it before publishing it because early drafts were criticized by believers. He also said that his revisions did not matter whatsoever. He was still criticized.

But that is the type of atheist I rather like. He does what he can, even if it does not do much good.

Plus, he looks like Santa. So he's got that going for him.

R&K

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Fri May 1, 2015, 01:25 AM

2. I found this one a quite enjoyable read

DANIEL DENNETT HUNTS THE SNARK
by David Bentley Hart
January 2007

... if one sets out in pursuit of beasts as fantastic, elusive, and protean as either Snarks or religion, one can proceed from only the vaguest idea of what one is looking for. So it is no great wonder that, in the special precision with which they define their respective quarries, in the quantity of farraginous detail they amass, in their insensibility to the incoherence of the portraits they have produced ... the Bellman and Dennett sound much alike ... The Bellman’s maxim, “What I tell you three times is true,” is not alien to Dennett’s method. He seems to work on the supposition that an assertion made with sufficient force and frequency is soon transformed, by some subtle alchemy, into a settled principle ... Generally speaking, Dennett’s method in all his books is too often reminiscent of the forensic technique employed by the Snark, in the Barrister’s dream, to defend a pig charged with abandoning its sty: The Snark admits the desertion but then immediately claims this as proof of the pig’s alibi (for the creature was obviously absent from the scene of the crime at the time of its commission) ... The most irksome of the book’s defects are Dennett’s gratingly precious rhetorical tactics, such as his inept and transparent attempt, on the book’s first page, to make his American readers feel like credulous provincials for not having adopted the Europeans’ lofty disdain for religion. Or his use of the term brights to designate atheists and secularists of his stripe (which reminds one of nothing so much as the sort of names packs of popular teenage girls dream up for themselves in high school) ... Dennett expends a surprising amount of energy debating, cajoling, insulting, quoting, and taking umbrage at nonexistent persons ... Dennett is convinced he is dealing with intransigent oafs, and his frustration at their inexplicably unbroken silence occasionally erupts into fury. “I for one am not in awe of your faith,” he fulminates at one juncture. “I am appalled by your arrogance, by your unreasonable certainty that you have all the answers.” And this demented apostrophe occurs on the fifty-first page of the book, at which point Dennett still has not commenced his argument in earnest ...

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/003-daniel-dennett-hunts-the-snark

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to struggle4progress (Reply #2)

Fri May 1, 2015, 06:58 AM

6. I enjoyed it too

As unintended comedy.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to struggle4progress (Reply #2)

Fri May 1, 2015, 10:36 AM

9. Yes an enjoyable read. Thanks for posting it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Fri May 1, 2015, 03:46 AM

3. There is no link to the original article.

 

So it is hard to comment on this without context.

Please add it. Thanks.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to TM99 (Reply #3)

Fri May 1, 2015, 05:42 AM

4. Seriously?

 

If you're really interested in the context and not just nit-picking about an oversight, how hard would it have been to Google "Atheist Professor Betrays Ignorance Beyond Belief". Answer: Easier than typing the post you just did.

Comment to your heart's content!

http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/atheist-professor-betrays-ignorance-beyond-belief-5909228778684416

I assume, given your professed love of "context", that your comments will include this author's failure to put Dennett's remarks in proper context.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to TM99 (Reply #3)

Fri May 1, 2015, 02:50 PM

12. fix'd eom

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Fri May 1, 2015, 05:57 AM

5. Aside from the usual academic strutting

 

Last edited Fri May 1, 2015, 11:09 AM - Edit history (1)

which we're tolerably familiar with in this room as well, the author can't seem to find much to say that isn't laughable. "Jehovah" is a commonly recognized (even if not commonly used) of the name of this god, and certainly isn't restricted to "obstinate fundamentalists". Has the author never heard the hymn "Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Jehovah"?

And this quote pretty well sums up the rest of his ignorance:

The whole vision of God as loving and forgiving derives from the Old Testament, as is clear to anyone who has ever opened its pages. If you think of the Old Testament God as merely “wrathful,” your knowledge of the text is very slight.


The whole vision of God (wondering why the author didn't use a better version of the name, instead of just the generic reference, as if he's sure there's only one and that he likes being referred to that way) as wrathful, cruel and murderous also derives from the Old Testament, as is clear to anyone who's ever opened its pages, or even been to Sunday school. Listing the examples is hardly necessary...they are legion and well-known. That "god" is unquestionably wrathful. His claim that Dennett characterized it as "merely" wrathful is simply a lie. And that's all this guy has.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to skepticscott (Reply #5)

Fri May 1, 2015, 08:07 AM

8. "as is clear to anyone who has ever opened its pages"

With the certainty of a fundamentalist - "MY reading is correct, and everyone else is wrong."

We even see it right here on DU with liberal believers.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to skepticscott (Reply #5)

Fri May 1, 2015, 02:54 PM

13. The old testament god is loving

in the way that he feels sorry that you're making him punish you.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Fri May 1, 2015, 07:46 AM

7. This article made me laugh.

 

I'm not a big fan of Daniel Dennett. Listened to one of his conferences in Edinburgh, and I found it slow paced and complacent (not to mention that he used the term 'bright' which I find pretty silly). But to write the following is to show considerable chutzpah:
In recent years, so-called New Atheists have become more aggressive and vociferous, and have achieved considerable media visibility. Normally, it rarely pays to argue with them, as their general cultural and historical ignorance means that you have to explain too many basic factual issues to them before you can share any common basis for proceeding.

Their general (..) ignorance means that you have to explain too many basic factual issues to them?
I beg your pardon?
Krauss is an astrophysicist, Dawkins an evolutionary biologist, Harris a neurology PhD.
Not to mention that a large fraction (a majority?) of the members of the Academies of Science in the western world is atheistic.

Most religious apologists do not understand evolution, and the author of this article dares suggest ignorance is on the atheistic side? I guess with god on your side, all sins are forgiven. Including that of blatantly distorting reality.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Yorktown (Reply #7)

Fri May 1, 2015, 01:29 PM

10. I've found many atheists to be quite ignorant

 

when it comes to a basic understanding of the cultural and historical facts of religion and even more so the theological points.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Leontius (Reply #10)

Fri May 1, 2015, 02:10 PM

11. And so are many religious people

 

Particularly since most atheists were once religious.

What was your actual point again? Oh, right..you've been sampling the thoughts of "many" atheists, and finding that they aren't experts on YOUR religion. As if they'd be more likely to be religious if they knew what went into Serious Theology (R).

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Leontius (Reply #10)

Fri May 1, 2015, 04:31 PM

14. Don't surveys show

atheists are more knowledgable about religion than believers in general?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Leontius (Reply #10)

Fri May 1, 2015, 10:02 PM

18. Evidence or examples? n/t

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Leontius (Reply #10)

Sat May 2, 2015, 10:18 AM

21. I've found many theists to be quite ignorant

 

when it come to a basic understanding of how the Universe actually works, irony, how morality develops, what happens after death, why the Resurrection is ridiculous, why women are not inferior to men, why bigotry is unacceptable and, in particular, stuff like this this:


and this:

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to mr blur (Reply #21)

Sat May 2, 2015, 09:15 PM

27. I've found many anti-theists to be quite dependent on cartoons.

 

In actual discussion, reason yields to ad hominems in short order.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Yorktown (Reply #7)

Fri May 1, 2015, 05:06 PM

15. Your three examples given

 

are men who are brilliant and educated in one specific scientific area but yes, are completely uneducated, inexperienced and unqualified to discuss religion the way they do.

No, most religious people do understand and accept evolution. And those that don't are as ignorant of science as these New Atheists often are of the religions that they opine upon.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to TM99 (Reply #15)

Fri May 1, 2015, 05:21 PM

16. Nice example of the Courtier's Reply.

The Courtier’s Reply

There’s a common refrain in the criticisms of Dawkins’ The God Delusion that I’ve taken to categorizing with my own private title—it’s so common, to the point of near-unanimous universality, that I’ve decided to share it with you all, along with a little backstory that will help you to understand the name.

I call it the Courtier’s Reply. It refers to the aftermath of a fable.

I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor’s boots, nor does he give a moment’s consideration to Bellini’s masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor’s Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor’s raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.

Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.

Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.

Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor’s taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/24/the-courtiers-reply/



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to TM99 (Reply #15)

Fri May 1, 2015, 09:20 PM

17. Do you have even a few meaningful examples?

 

Or are you like the author of the article and so many others in simply making an unsupported declaration and thinking it carries any weight?

Would any rational person say that someone has to have studied astrology or homeopathy for as long and in as much detail as those who claim to be professionals in the field in order to criticize those practices? But somehow the existence and behavior of gods and the horrible abuses of religion have been granted a bizarre shield of intellectual depth that supposedly makes them unfathomable to anyone who has not devoted decades of study to them.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to TM99 (Reply #15)

Sat May 2, 2015, 09:00 AM

19. Apparently

"most" religious people don't accept or understand evolution

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/30/5-facts-about-evolution-and-religion/

" Nearly two-thirds (64%) of white evangelicals say that humans and other living things have always existed in their present form,"

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to edhopper (Reply #19)

Sat May 2, 2015, 09:43 AM

20. What he meant probably needed to be qualified

 

as do most of the broad-brush statements about "religious people" made by the religionists here, by saying "most religious people I know...."

There seems to be a persistent belief that things outside their own personal experience either don't exist or don't count.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to skepticscott (Reply #20)

Sat May 2, 2015, 03:14 PM

22. But even with the scholarship

so far being the likes of Dawkins, Dennet and Harris??!! He makes that mistake?

I mean that's like using the name Jehovah in reference to the OT God.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to edhopper (Reply #19)

Sat May 2, 2015, 03:49 PM

23. And these are the people who think they're qualified to call atheists ignorant?



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #23)

Sat May 2, 2015, 04:37 PM

24. No, it's the people who claim

 

that "most religious people" understand evolution who think that they are qualified to call other atheists ignorant on the subject of religion.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to skepticscott (Reply #24)

Sat May 2, 2015, 04:41 PM

25. Must be another way of knowing.

The Truthiness will set you free, scott!

You will be healed by the powah of Jeebus!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Sat May 2, 2015, 09:11 PM

26. Biblical Scholars

The biggest delusion that they all work under is the belief that the Bible is a book of facts. But not just any facts, these facts are so mysterious that it takes years of study to ascertain their meaning.

Question: "Is Jehovah the true name of God?"

Answer: In the Hebrew Scriptures, the name of God is recorded as YHWH. So, where did the name “Jehovah” come from? Ancient Hebrew did not use vowels in its written form. The vowels were pronounced in spoken Hebrew but were not recorded in written Hebrew. The appropriate vowel sounds of words were passed down orally. As a result, when ancient Hebrew is studied, scholars and linguists often do not know with absolute confidence how certain Hebrew words were pronounced.

This particularly becomes an issue when studying the Hebrew name of God, written in the Hebrew Scriptures as YHWH, also known as the tetragrammaton. Despite much study and debate, it is still not universally agreed upon how the Hebrew name for God YHWH was pronounced. Some prefer “Yahweh” (YAH-way); others prefer “Yehowah” or “Yahuweh”; still others argue for “Jehovah.”


So there you have it. Anyone who calls God any other name than by the current one accepted by scholars, if they have agreed on one (this is not clear), than they are ignorant beyond belief.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Cartoonist (Reply #26)

Sat May 2, 2015, 10:20 PM

28. "belief that the Bible is a book of facts" ...

Many Biblical scholars aren't searching for facts. They will weave a narrative around a story to attempt to suss out the wisdom god meant to impart. The tradition for arguing the intended meaning of holy text predates Jesus, I'm sure. And please, don't confuse wisdom with facts.

Which is why even those people who devote themselves entirely to Biblical scholarship will never agree as to the "facts" of the matter.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Cartoonist (Reply #26)

Sat May 2, 2015, 10:48 PM

29. "Jehovah" was the construction

of an eighteenth-century German philologist., who would have pronounced it "Yehovah," basically imposing German phonemes on the Hebrew. Current usage among translators and other scholars is "Yahweh." The English J-sound is not found in Hebrew.

Clearly, Dennett isn't familiar with contemporary historical or archaeological scholarship, still less with theology.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to okasha (Reply #29)

Sat May 2, 2015, 10:55 PM

30. Current usage

Subject to change.

Who cares?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Cartoonist (Reply #30)

Sat May 2, 2015, 11:02 PM

31. You do, apparently,

in your unsourced post 26.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to okasha (Reply #31)

Sat May 2, 2015, 11:43 PM

32. No, I don't

That was merely to show how absurd the article of the OP was. Google Jehovah and you'll get lots of hits. Dennett isn't the only one who uses the name. It doesn't invalidate anything he says. You and the author will have to try harder. Good luck.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to okasha (Reply #29)

Sun May 3, 2015, 09:08 AM

34. That's too funny

 

because here's the direct quote from the author:

Professor Dennett refers to the Old Testament God as Jehovah. I have no idea why he is using that term, which is a Latinized version of one guess at the divine Name mentioned frequently in the Bible. The form was much used in earlier translations in the seventeenth century

And yet here you are, claiming that "Jehovah" is an 18th century construction. Which leaves us with two possibilities: Either you're full of it, or the author is even more ignorant on the topic than you claim that Dennett is. Which is it, okasha?

As far as why Dennett would have used that form, does it really take a genius to have a clue about that? Regardless of "current usage among translators and other scholars", it's a commonly used form that his audience (which he knew would not be restricted to "serious" theologians and academians) would be familiar with. Simple, yes?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Sun May 3, 2015, 08:55 AM

33. We better tell the

Jehovah's Witnesses about this giant error.

They are using the wrong name for God, their whole religion must therefor be false I guess.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to edhopper (Reply #33)

Sun May 3, 2015, 09:17 AM

35. Yes, according to the OP and many posters here, they obviously are ignorant

 

about their own religion. Clearly their use of that form cannot be respected unless they have studied the history and culture of their own religion for decades and have become "serious" scholars and theologians.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread