May 2008

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It's amazing how many people failed to follow the suggested format for posting, or did so in a way that was intellectually flaccid.

I know I'm just adding to that count. But at least I got to use the word flaccid.

Steven McDaniel

"I see religion as a crutch. Some of us function perfectly well without this crutch and some of us lean on it quite a bit...Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote something similar in his essays and I echo his wish that some day everyone will be able to function well without this crutch..." Ed

Well, Mr. Ed, religion, or the denial thereof, is all about why we walk, not how we walk. I have had more than enough godless 'induhviduals' pull their cigarettes out of their mouths, put their beer down, and tell me smugly, 'Religion is just a crutch.' Now, any world view, including the denial of 'religion' can be a crutch. A religious person can use his faith as a crutch to sanction illogical ideas or behaviour, or to obtain a sense of 'peace.' An atheist can use a godless world view as a crutch to deny moral responsibility and avoid a guilty conscience, (his/her sense of 'peace'). The atheist can have thoughtlessly inherited his world view from forceful parents or peers (or Stalinist regimes) just like a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim can. Religion, or the lack thereof, ultimately has nothing to do with the analogy of walking aids. You and Arthur C Clarke need to stick to sci-fi (the atheists' scriptures).



You are an extraordinarily funny man who has made me think more than any else ever has and even though I rarely agree with your opinions on your blog, I will continue to purchase your books and my local newspaper with the sole intention of reading Dilbert.

Now, my own opinions:

I see religion as a crutch. Some of us function perfectly well without this crutch and some of us lean on it quite a bit.

When I see a one-legged person walking down the street using a crutch I don't think any less of him for using an artificial aid to accomplish something I can do perfectly well on my own. In the same way, I try not to think less of those who need help in teaching their children right from wrong. My wife and I love kids and I think we are pretty good parents, but I've seen quite a few induhviduals who need all the help they can get and then some. Who am I to scoff at their method of instilling morals, especially since it's the same method previous generations have used as far back as the eye can see.
(Although,as in any situation involving induhviduals, there are some whose beliefs are as helpful as a wheelchair with square wheels.)

Unfortunately, since most of us are handed this crutch as children and told that we need it to function, many who are perfectly capable are impeded by it. There will also always be those who take their crutch and use it to bash in the heads of anyone whose crutch is different.

Please don't take this as negative criticism; I'm incredibly entertained by watching you kick the walker out from under your readers and I admit I laugh as they splutter and rage at you.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote something similar in his essays and I echo his wish that some day everyone will be able to function well without this crutch.

Ergnob Krzuczek

Dawkins? Let me tell you about Dawkins.

Since when are we suppose to believe a load of flying
rabbits farted out of some scientist's arse just because
they are - gosh! - a scientist? Alas, Dawkins is not
even that. He's a *sociobiologist*. That is, for you
dummies who don't get it yet, not a scientist but more
along the lines of an astrologer or used-car salesman.

Dawkins will not, for example, mention all the halls
and colleges of Oxford that were founded by atheists and
other sociopaths of that ilk. Why? Because ZERO is an
embarrasingly low achievement for tossers who say they are
hot-shot supporters of intellect, reason, and education.

When was the last time Dawkins did any science? I can't
think of it. Can you? A long time ago he came up with
the oh-so original idea that we are all merely blind
droids serving highly intelligent selfish molecules.
Great stuff for a scifi show. Do we get Ferengi
lessons with that? Later on, well after his career was
washed up, he lays another turd of a scientific
thesis: our brains are controlled by sinister, invisible
non-corporeal mind-parasites. Way to go Perfesser.
And now, like every good Darwinian from Romanes to
Pearson to Huxley, he's getting into the real meat
of this darwinism science: religion. That's what this
monkeys-learning-how-to-drive BS was *really* about all
along, wasn't it, Mr Oxfurd Perfesser?

And guess what, all the chuckleheads who post here
actually believe that crap, because he says he's a
scientist so everything he writes has gotta be true.
Face it, Darwinians: Darwinism makes you dumb and
Darwin blows. You have as much credibility as Commies
and Green Party members. Here's a collective kick
in the nuts for ya: WOOF! Happy now?


there are some misunderstanding here.
it is false that Dawkins argues about things you said !

the process is more like :
1- scott says something showing he does not really understand evolution.
2- conclusion : scott should get to know more about evolution to understand it better
3- it turns out Dawkins wrote the best book for understanding evolution

the confusion comes that lately Dawkins has been spending most of his time arguing against creationists guys.

but back in the seventies and eighties, he was just explaining evolution and not arguing against anybody, and those are the books to read.

then, after understanding more clearly evolution, you could argue against it, but at least in a constructive way.

Daniel Garratt

Personally I think Dawkins is an idiot and Scott is not...

Steven McDaniel

"I'll allow myself to get a little worked up...A shockingly effective optimization algorithm is selective reproduction in an environment of gene-like mechanisms: that's math, not an interpretation of fossils." Larry

Tsk, Larry, the things we say in anger!


...uhmmm, I don't get it.

Where are all the punch lines?


Dawkins says, "I believe it is true that . . ."

Adams says, "I beleive I can make stupid people angry by saying . . ."

(Dance, monkey, dance!)

Will Von Wizzlepig

Scott, the problem with

Scott says

Dawkins says

is, while entertaining, a large portion of the time what you say cannot be taken out of context.

The scientists don't understand that you have used your entertaining writing style to work out your own thought experiments using your blog readers as the laboratory (I did not type lavatory.)

They're angry with you and don't like your lack of seriousness, and I suspect they dislike you for increasing what looks to them like disinformation.

I think it's likely these were the same kids in school who were mad at the rest of the student body when they did not join the chess club, because dammit, chess is fun.

While a fan of the scientists and you, it's been a bit of effort to see past the flurry of ruffled, heated posts on both sides. Of course, it always works out to both your advantage- people post like crazy when it's an angry us-them situation. quod erat demonstrandum


Adams asserts (in defense of "evolution smells like bullshit") that "Dawkins would agree that evolution 'looks like a blend of science and bullshit' to people like me who are not biologists."

I think he would not, especially if 'people like me' is taken to be 'at-least-clever and more than superficially devoted to the concept of rationality.' The whole point of 'The Selfish Gene' is to present the theory of evolution to a general audience in a more game theoretic / statistical dynamics sense; a person with your background might be even more impressed with John Holland's "Hidden Order" which presents the actual math (and, incidentally, clarifies that crossover, not mutation, is the engine of selection).

At the risk of monkey-dancing (for all I know, you and Dawkins are having these read aloud to you by the linesman at your tennis match), I'll allow myself to get a little worked up about your prima facie skepticism about evolution: the word "sophomoric" is precisely descriptive of that cleverness which takes a radical stance based on 'smell' or notoriety but refuses to engage on the merits. A shockingly effective optimization algorithm is selective reproduction in an environment of gene-like mechanisms: that's math, not an interpretation of fossils.

And as for free will...


As soon as Dawkins puts out a four panel comic strip, I'm sure I'll never read anything he says... And thats why I'm afraid of bananas.

Dan Quixote

I enjoyed today's increased interaction from Scott. I know that's more work, but it definitely increases the 'personal touch'. (We like to be touched)

The next step is to angrily answer each blog poster with well-rehearsed tongue-lashing, whether the poster disagrees or not. Oh wait, that's a different guy in the debate.

Steven McDaniel

"..Steven McDaniel stated "JASON, GREETINGS FROM EARTH!"
One doesn't have to be from outer space to forget part of 7th grade History class. Nor does one need to be rude in pointing out someone else's mistakes. I was wrong that zero were killed by Stalin and Mao for religious reasons, but your argument is still flawed..."

Jason you have proven conclusively that you can argue the hind leg off a donkey. I admire your ability to reconcile the tired old atheist mantra that religion caused nearly all wars with the fact that Stalin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Min, Enva Hoxa, Fidel Castro, Chairman Mao, and many others, all of whom were intensely and characteristically atheist, were responsible for more murders than all the popes and other religious figures in history combined. You do this persistently without even pausing for serious reflection. This ability seems to be unique to atheists, along with the ability to keep on arguing a patently untenable point of view like the Energiser Bunny. Is that polite enough for you?


Adams says: "Go"
Almost everyone else says: "The best idea I've had today is a joke about the pronunciation of the word 'tomato' "


Scott says: "I have not read The God Delusion, but I'm willing to bet that..."

Richard says: "I have not conducted such a survey, but I'm willing to bet that..."

I can see two monkeys dancing right there.


I really don't see a difference other than, with evidence of their published works, one is more scientifically rigorous and the other is more funny.

They are both saying that if some lunatic claims to have personally and uniquely received the true word of god, then that is laughable.

Neither of them claims to know the full details of a billion years of evolution, but they both know it has happened and is still happening.

They can both speculate, like Douglas Adams or Isaac Asimov, that there might have been something we don't about that kicked off the big bang.

I think Richard gets more abuse because:
A) he tries to educate those blinded by religious ignorance, Scott laughs at them
B) this is Scott's blog


I am surprised nobody has mentioned this yet, but "I have many critics. Perhaps you’ve noticed. Lately their ranks have swelled. Obviously I’m doing something right." smacks me as something our genius President Bush would think. Especially since you titled your post "Bring ‘em On". Who knew you guys were so similar! Now you, Bush, and Dawkins can all go out and have tasty adult beverages together.


Adams: "I created the Dilbert meme."
Dawkins: "I invented the meme."

But seriously.....

Dawkins views are unscientific and are skewed by his inner rage at religeon. Ironically his dogma is not only unscientific but also hypocritical!

Adams has a flexible, imaginative and undog(bert)matic view to the big questions, which is really the only defendable position when we have so little knowledge.


[I'm sure we both agree that religion has some good points and bad points. And I'm sure we both agree that there's no way to do a controlled test and compare the good with the bad. -- Scott]

As other people have pointed out, Dawkins is quite explicit about believing that religion is wholly bad. He even has a section on his website titled "Religion as Child Abuse".


Please! Can we have some idiot filter so that all the people who mentioned "Family Feud", either in earnest or in jest, are banished from posting comments from here on.

Dawkins: "There is almost certainly no God."
Adams: "There is no controlled experiment."

Dawkins: "Evolution is one of the strongest theories, like gravity, on its evidence."
Adams: "Evolution is a mixture of theory and bullshit."

Dawkins: "Religion is crutch that debilitates."
Adams: "There is no controlled experiment."


I tracked down this blog cuz I wanted to see what got Kathleen whats-her-name's knickers in a knot regarding the intelligence of Mexican. She predicted a great drop off of readers due to your words.

I reading the posts, I don't seem to find very many comments on the errors of your ways... just some deadly dull Dawkins vs Adams wars.

Oh, I guess the masses will continue on as always, appreciating a joke instead of a scold.


Chris Hulley

Hey Mr David MacMillan,

The name of the person who writes a post appears AFTER the post, not BEFORE ... wrap your skull around THAT one lol :-)


Considering the limited perception of the world around us, humans can never hope to be perfect. Or even dream of having a perfect concept of the universe and its laws. Mathematics is a tool which has helped us extend our perceptions of the world to great levels. But when it comes to biology and geology, we still are floundering.

But getting back to evolution. The reason why people react so strongly to evolution being denounced is because they watch people reacting strongly AGAINST evolution all over the United States of America.

A couple of videos up here might just show you what evangelists really talk when they try explaining evolution to a layman. And these are famous and powerful people with probably millions brainwashed under them.


Dawkins said: "Law of conservation of mass holds good no matter how or where or why we are. That is 100% certainity"

Well, mass is not conserved in nuclear reactions or at relativistic speeds (known fact!), so Dawkins is wrong in his own field. Actually, it is mass-energy and momentum that is always conserved. This is one major reason why the universe couldn't have ever been created, but rather that it must have always been around.... unless of course you assume some major God that blew himself up as in God's debris; also, although subjective, God's existance is evident in the hearts, dreams, hallucinations, and imaginations of people everywhere which has to account for something important that hasn't fully been explained by psychology or evolutionary neurobiology yet, but it is still within the grasp of science to discover these mysteries.

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