Category: Featured

OPEN DISCUSSION – SEPT 2018

This thread has been created for open discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that all Terms of Use apply as usual.

If you would like to refer back to previous open discussion threads, the three most recent ones can be accessed via the links below (but please continue any discussions from them here rather than on the original threads):

OPEN DISCUSSION – JUNE 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – JULY 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – AUGUST 2018

“Jewish child”? “Muslim child”? “Christian child”?

Cultural Tradition has its place, but that place is not in factual education.

By Richard Dawkins

My oft-repeated (some might say too oft) point about the absurdity – indeed wickedness – of labelling children with the religion of their parents (“Would you speak of a ‘Postmodernist child’, or a ‘Gramscian Marxist child’?”) is usually effective. People nearly always get the point immediately, although whether their future consciousness is raised to the point of actually wincing, as I do, whenever they hear ‘Catholic child’ or ‘Muslim child’ is another matter. But there is one counter-argument that I often meet, and it sounds superficially plausible. It is my purpose here to deal with it.

The objectors I am speaking of often invoke the special case of Judaism, but the point can be made more generally. It is ridiculous and wrong, they say, to try to discourage parents from passing on their cultural traditions to their children. Language, accent, styles of dress, diet, mealtime habits, proverbs, poetic allusions, games, non-verbal signals or greetings such as head-shaking or nodding or social kissing, these are all culturally transmitted. Humanity would be the poorer if we lost them. Religion, so it is claimed, is just another member of the list.

I accept much of that and rejoice in the colourfully varying traditions of world cultures. But religion is not just another member of the list. It is completely different. Here’s why.

Religion makes truth claims about the real world.. This sets it apart from other traditions handed down, such as styles of dress and cookery. If a ‘Jewish child’ is labelled by a yarmulke on his head and peyot curls in front of his ears, that seems to me no more sinister than a culturally transmitted preference for cricket or baseball, or a habit of wearing a kilt and sporran rather than trousers (culturally transmitted body-mutilation of children is a very different matter). The problem arises when the ‘Jewish child’ (‘Muslim child’ etc) is assumed to hold, by virtue of his Jewishness (etc), a belief about some factual proposition: a proposition, say, about the age of the world, whose truth depends only upon evidence and is not culturally determined. Such faith-based beliefs about reality all too often actively contradict the evidence and therefore subvert genuine education.

There are legitimate and admirable respects in which people differ from one another by virtue of traditions, handed down through generations. Factual beliefs about the real world should not be among them. When you put it like that, I find it hard to imagine how any person of goodwill and intelligence could seriously disagree. Yet because it is usually not put like that, there are many people, even non-religious people of intelligence and goodwill, who have been duped into confusing the ‘cultural tradition’ side of religion with the ‘factual beliefs’ side. When such confusion flows from the labelling of children it is downright wicked.

OPEN DISCUSSION – AUGUST 2018

This thread has been created for open discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that all Terms of Use apply as usual.

If you would like to refer back to previous open discussion threads, the three most recent ones can be accessed via the links below (but please continue any discussions from them here rather than on the original threads):

OPEN DISCUSSION – MAY 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – JUNE 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – JULY 2018

Question of the Week – 7/18/2018

The social media videos parodied by the McGill Office for Science and Society are all over platforms like Facebook and Twitter. What’s the most ridiculous or outrageous claim you’ve seen in one of those videos? Were you able to figure out whether it was false?

Our favorite answer will win a copy of Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins.


Want to suggest a Question of the Week? E-mail submissions to us at qotw@richarddawkins.net. (Questions only, please. All answers to bimonthly questions are made only in the comments section of the Question of the Week.)

Talk Nerdy Episode 214 – Bertha Vazquez

In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Bertha Vazquez, the Director of the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, a division of the Center for Inquiry. They discuss her incredible work providing the tools and training necessary to effectively teach the science of evolution throughout middle schools in the United States. Follow TIES: @rdfrsTIES.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

OPEN DISCUSSION – JULY 2018

This thread has been created for open discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that all Terms of Use apply as usual.

If you would like to refer back to previous open discussion threads, the three most recent ones can be accessed via the links below (but please continue any discussions from them here rather than on the original threads):

OPEN DISCUSSION – APRIL 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – MAY 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – JUNE 2018

Question of the Week — 6/20/2018

We know that if you’re looking for a book to base a society upon, the Bible (which is full of violence and death and floods and plagues and whales swallowing people) is not a great choice. Plus, most of it is made up. But what if we had to choose one book of fiction upon which to found a new and prosperous human society? Could we flourish within a moral society if our civilization was founded upon something like Harry Potter, Great Expectations, or The Cat in the Hat?

Our favorite answer will win a copy of Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins.


Want to suggest a Question of the Week? E-mail submissions to us at qotw@richarddawkins.net. (Questions only, please. All answers to bimonthly questions are made only in the comments section of the Question of the Week.)

OPEN DISCUSSION – JUNE 2018

This thread has been created for open discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that all Terms of Use apply as usual.

If you would like to refer back to previous open discussion threads, the three most recent ones can be accessed via the links below (but please continue any discussions from them here rather than on the original threads):

OPEN DISCUSSION – MARCH 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – APRIL 2018

OPEN DISCUSSION – MAY 2018

DISCUSSION: The Irish abortion referendum – what now?

We’ve set up this thread to cover the political and social aspects and implications of the Irish abortion referendum.

It is very specifically NOT for discussion on abortion itself: any comments on that should continue to go on the An Exchange on Abortion thread. Equally, comments about the political/social aspects and implications of the Irish result should be posted here, not there.

There have already been several relevant comments posted on the Open Discussion thread – May 2018 and An Exchange on Abortion threads. In the interests of keeping this discussion here, we will be removing them from those threads and putting them here instead. Not something we normally do, since they will all show as having been posted by us, but in this case it’s the only way of maintaining the correct sequence.

 

Question of the Week – 5/23/2018

What music inspires an appreciation for science and reason in you?

Our favorite answer will win a copy of Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins.


Want to suggest a Question of the Week? E-mail submissions to us at qotw@richarddawkins.net. (Questions only, please. All answers to bimonthly questions are made only in the comments section of the Question of the Week.)