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Dawkins walks out on flying horse?

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Sigh. We need a map. No, listen:

From Twitlonger:

I’m accused by @ggreenwald of refusing to be interviewed by Muslim journalists! Here’s what actually happened.

I was at a Royal Society meeting to launch the new Stephen Hawking Prize for Science Communication sponsored by @STARMUSfestival, the imaginative conference series that brings scientists together with astronauts and creative musicians. The very nice PR woman arranged press interviews for the speakers. Science communication is dear to my heart, and I agreed to be pulled out of the conference for a series of interviews, on condition that the journalists would ask me about the Hawking Prize & STARMUS, not religion. One journalist, from New Statesman, soon made it clear that he wanted to talk of nothing but religion. My impatience grew, fed by my desire to rejoin the conference. I kept trying to drag him back to the agreed topic. Eventually, the PR woman arrived & signalled to the journalist that his time was up, but he asked to be allowed to carry on. He had just admitted that he believed in flying horses. In exasperation that I had left the conference to talk to a time-wasting journalist whose world view was ludicrously unconnected with reality, I terminated the interview and went off with the PR woman. I now find myself accused of refusing to be interviewed by Muslim journalists! More.

Something happened here … What?  Also, why aren’t other people involved in this kind of controversy? It doesn’t come up every day.

See also: Dawkins is distressed by the idea of hating religious people. To judge from past history and the responses, Dawkins’s followers know him better than he does.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Contributions solicited to Dawkins’ retirement fund… Use the Donate button at UD, and we promise to do our best to help.

Maybe this is background to how it all got started:


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45 Replies to “Dawkins walks out on flying horse?

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    And to think Christians believe Jesus will return on a flying horse.

  2. 2
    Andre says:

    Actually Mung as a Christian I believe Christ will return using an awesome spaceship just like the one that fetched Elijah. Burning flying horses! Don’t forget the burning part. Or it really is a burning flying horse like my Felsteed in WoW.

  3. 3
    News says:

    How does Dawkins manage to upend himself into these mudholes?

  4. 4
    daveS says:

    Did Dawkins do something wrong? If so, I don’t see it.

  5. 5
    News says:

    daveS at 5, If one is headfirst in a mudhole, one did something wrong. Let’s make a quick list of all the people this has not happened to.

  6. 6
    daveS says:

    News,

    Based on the information in this post, I don’t agree that he’s in a “mudhole”. If his explanation of the incident is accurate, then he behaved appropriately, IMO, and it’s the journalist and Glenn Greenwald that are in the wrong.

  7. 7
    goodusername says:

    News,

    daveS at 5, If one is headfirst in a mudhole, one did something wrong. Let’s make a quick list of all the people this has not happened to.

    Most people wouldn’t get into a dispute with a journalist, because journalists aren’t interested in interviewing most people.

    If one does get into a dispute with a journalist, that doesn’t mean they did anything wrong.

    And this hardly seems to qualify as a “mudhole.” It’s fascinating how everything is exaggerated when Dawkins is somehow involved.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    I can see walking out on a flying carpet, but walking out on a flying horse sounds like some sort of circus act.

  9. 9
    News says:

    The journalist has hit on Dawkins’s handicap: He is a naturalist atheist and must therefore insist that the flying horse cannot exist in principle.

    Many people could exit the contention by saying that they are not qualified by definition to judge the claims of another religion regarding a supernatural entity, which one takes the flying horse to be.

  10. 10
    daveS says:

    It’s interesting that supernatural flying horses get more respect here than dark matter, cosmic inflation, and of course the multiverse.

  11. 11
    News says:

    daveS at 10: You know perfectly well what the answer must be: Dark matter, cosmic inflation, and of course the multiverse all demand respect, attention, and funding as science (with vastly differing levels of plausible evidence). If no one asserts the flying horse to be this-worldly science, only a naturalist atheist need have been in the contention at all. That is a key weakness of their position, one that Steve Fuller perhaps senses.

  12. 12
    daveS says:

    If no one asserts the flying horse to be this-worldly science, only a naturalist atheist need have been in the contention at all. That is a key weakness of their position, one that Steve Fuller perhaps senses.

    Well, I take it that the journalist believes that flying horses actually do or did exist, regardless of whether this is a scientific matter or not. You don’t have to be a naturalist atheist to have doubts about this, or at least wonder where he’s getting this information.

    Speaking as a naturalist atheist, I would love to see compelling evidence of a supernatural occurrence. They just never seem to happen when I’m around.

  13. 13
    Robert Byers says:

    T though the British Muslim reporter did a great job. very sharp despite having the audience laugh at his presumptions.
    Dawkins ideas are no more or less valuable then anyone else. only if he uses science to say this or that is not trur about God or the bible.
    Its very unsies for anyone, tailless primates, to say they know anything conclusive about such complicated mattters as the universe and biology. If known then fix. PLEASE.
    Miracles are not miracles to GOD. The bible never uses the word miracle. To God is natural. So no impressive thing is impressive. in fact horses to heaven is not much compared to the immune system.

    If God existed creating the world in six days would be not a big deal.
    Creating the world by chance is impossible in billlions of years.

    P.S. Was it really bring scientists,astronauts, and creative musicians together??
    What about the prophets on horsesto the sky, and uncreative musicians!

  14. 14
    aarceng says:

    Dawkins said he only wanted to talk about Hawking Prize & STARMUS, not religion, but he still engaged this reporter for several minutes. He could have cut it off at the beginning.

  15. 15
    Vy says:

    It’s interesting that supernatural flying horses get more respect here than dark matter …

    At least there’s a good idea of what a flying horse might look like. Dark matter? You might as well be searching for Vulcan.

    … cosmic inflation …

    Physics defying ad hoc rescue device of a theory with more fudge factors than theory vs. Horse, with wings? Yeaaaaa, the horse wins.

    … and of course the multiverse.

    You do realize that fairies SHOULD exist if there’s an iota of truth in the multiverse hunch, right?

  16. 16
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    At least there’s a good idea of what a flying horse might look like.

    What would a flying horse look like? If it had wings, how big would they have to be? Does this look like a feasible design?

  17. 17
    daveS says:

    Regarding your other points, at the time (mid 1800’s), searching for a planet inside Mercury’s orbit was a totally reasonable thing to do. Nothing unscientific about it.

    If you have a better explanation for this, then please publish it.

    Likewise, if you have a better solution than inflation for the horizon problem (among other things), let’s hear it.

    I don’t know what your personal beliefs are, but many of your colleagues believe in spirits and demons in this universe. The existence of fairies in the multiverse sounds roughly as plausible to me.

  18. 18
    Vy says:

    What would a flying horse look like?

    Your image fits the bill.

    If it had wings, how big would they have to be? Does this look like a feasible design?

    Hercules should know.

    Mercury’s orbit was a totally reasonable thing to do. Nothing unscientific about it.

    Of course 😉

    If you have a better explanation for this, then please publish it.

    Likewise, if you have a better solution than inflation for the horizon problem (among other things), let’s hear it.

    So your evidence for the existence of the undetected and undetectable is by using it to explain away falsifying evidence that don’t fit with your presuppositions about the age and formation of galaxies and the universe? Wow, Ptolemy would be proud. “All we need is one more epicycle, just one!”

    The existence of fairies in the multiverse sounds roughly as plausible to me.

    Interesting. Is there anything in the Multiverse 101 Guide that forbids the existence of flying horses in this universe?

    Also, I’m guessing the multiverse just willed itself into being, right? Or perhaps it came from the multi multiverse?

  19. 19
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    Your image fits the bill.

    Where do the powerful muscles driving the horse’s wings attach? Do you think a horse configured as in the picture would be physically able to fly? Looks unlikely to me.

    Hercules should know.

    ?

    Of course.

    Are you aware of how Neptune and Pluto were discovered?

    So your evidence for the existence of the undetected and undetectable is by using it to explain away falsifying evidence that don’t fit with your presuppositions about the age and formation of galaxies and the universe? Wow, Ptolemy would be proud. “All we need is one more epicycle, just one!”

    What is the falsifying evidence that you’re referring to? And are you a YEC?

    Dark matter and cosmic inflation are not assumed to be undetectable in principle. The discrepancy in galaxy rotation curves and the horizon problem exist. Dark matter and inflation are hypothesized to resolve these problems. Do you have any better ideas?

    Interesting. Is there anything in the Multiverse 101 Guide that forbids the existence of flying horses in this universe?

    No, but I propose that high school physics makes flying horses as depicted in the image practically impossible.

  20. 20
    Andre says:

    DaveS

    I’ll give you a clue it seems to me you’re not really getting it. If the multiverse is true then Jesus is true, Odin is true, fairies are true, Flying horses are true…. You see in an infinite multiverse everything is true nothing is false and science is useless. .. There might not be a flying horse in this universe but I can guarantee you in an infinite configuration of laws they absolutely exist. Oh and so does the FSM, Han Solo, and Frodo. Everything is true in a multiverse.

  21. 21
    daveS says:

    Andre,

    I’m not convinced that “everything is true in a multiverse”. How do you know this?

    That’s really beside my point, however. I claim that flying horses don’t exist in this universe.

  22. 22
    Andre says:

    DaveS

    If there an infinite amount amount of universes then EVERYTHING is true and nothing is false. That is the problem with the multiverse.

    There is no flying horses in the known universe that is for sure but what about the 85% of this universe we don’t know about?

  23. 23
    daveS says:

    Andre,

    If there an infinite amount amount of universes then EVERYTHING is true and nothing is false. That is the problem with the multiverse.

    My question is, how do you know this? Is 1 + 1 = 3 true in the multiverse?

    There is no flying horses in the known universe that is for sure but what about the 85% of this universe we don’t know about?

    Well, I assumed we were talking about the possibility of flying horses on Earth. Specifically, of the form shown in the painting I linked to. If we’re talking about creatures on another planet, for example, I would need to see more details.

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    Is 1 + 1 = 3 true in the multiverse?

    There are entities that think it is true. 🙂

  25. 25
    Vy says:

    Andre @20, absolutely!

    Where do the powerful muscles driving the horse’s wings attach?

    Sorry but my flying horse hasn’t arrived yet, I’ll be sure to let you know if your image is 100% correct when it arrives on Smunshnesday.

    FYI

    At least there’s a good idea of what a flying horse might look like.

    Are you aware of how Neptune and Pluto were discovered?

    LOL.

    What is the falsifying evidence that you’re referring to?

    Does inflation, dark matter, dark energy and several other fudge factors exist without presupposing the BB?

    And are you a YEC?

    Yup.

    Dark matter and cosmic inflation are not assumed to be undetectable in principle

    So searching for something you have no idea of is detectable?

    Well, how’s the search for comtiquat going? What’s comtiquat? It can be the stuff that keeps Saturn’s ring old enough to be consistent with the refuted hunch of nebula hypothesis.

    That’s about as much info we have about DM so I hope it’s enough.

    but I propose that high school physics makes flying horses as depicted in the image practically impossible.

    Maybe so but who said flying horses follow high school physics? For all we know, they transported Ka’el and his family from Universe X25 to ours. 😉

  26. 26
    Vy says:

    Well, I assumed we were talking about the possibility of flying horses on Earth

    I’m pretty sure we were talking about, as you put it, this universe. You comment is the first one to mention “Earth”.

  27. 27
    Vy says:

    I hope you know that the BB Theory is more or less dead in the water without the unproven and practically unprovable physics-defying naturalistic ad hoc rescue hunch of inflation.

    And what’s worse is that it’s not exactly a good hunch.

  28. 28
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    Sorry but my flying horse hasn’t arrived yet, I’ll be sure to let you know if your image is 100% correct when it arrives on Smunshnesday.

    Are you not interested in a serious discussion of the issue then?

    LOL.

    Well do you know what led to the discoveries of Neptune and Pluto?

    Does inflation, dark matter, dark energy and several other fudge factors exist without presupposing the BB?

    I don’t think the discrepancy with galaxy rotation curves disappears if you withdraw any assumption of the Big Bang.

    Yup.

    I think that’s your problem right there.

    So searching for something you have no idea of is detectable?

    That doesn’t parse for me. In any case, how do you suggest we resolve the galaxy rotation curve problem?

    Maybe so but who said flying horses follow high school physics? For all we know, they transported Ka’el and his family from Universe X25 to ours.

    Right. My hypothesis, which is that the flying horse bit is just legend, is starting to look more reasonable, no?

    I’m pretty sure we were talking about, as you put it, this universe. You comment is the first one to mention “Earth”.

    Ok, I will correct myself then—all along I have been assuming terrestrial flying horses. Clearly I can’t rule out the possibility of flying horses elsewhere in the universe.

  29. 29
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    I hope you know that the BB Theory is more or less dead in the water without the unproven and practically unprovable physics-defying naturalistic ad hoc rescue hunch of inflation.

    Do you believe that the universe is currently expanding?

  30. 30
    goodusername says:

    I hope you know that the BB Theory is more or less dead in the water without the unproven and practically unprovable physics-defying naturalistic ad hoc rescue hunch of inflation.

    It’s fascinating how among many old-earth Creationists/ID Proponents the Big Bang is ”one of the best attested theories in science” and it’s the atheists trying to quash the theory (as regularly seen in News stories here), and among YECs it’s often viewed as a silly fairytale that atheists are trying to keep alive by any means.

  31. 31
    Vy says:

    It’s fascinating how among many old-earth Creationists/ID Proponents the Big Bang is ”one of the best attested theories in science” and it’s the atheists trying to quash the theory (as regularly seen in News stories here), and among YECs it’s often viewed as a silly fairytale that atheists are trying to keep alive by any means.

    Absolutely! 🙂

  32. 32
    Vy says:

    Are you not interested in a serious discussion of the issue then?

    The issue is/was: Does the multiverse, DM, and inflation have more credence than flying horses?

    Given what has been discovered about those 3 things i.e. a whole lot of zilch, nada, nothing, I’d rather “just add wings” to a horse and send it to some undetectable corner of wherever.

    Well do you know what led to the discoveries of Neptune and Pluto?

    I wonder what my initial “Of course ;)” meant to you.

    I don’t think the discrepancy with galaxy rotation curves disappears if you withdraw any assumption of the Big Bang.

    You could stop assuming the BB and long ages. I’m pretty sure less fudge factors could solve it.

    I think that’s your problem right there.

    Likewise.

    That doesn’t parse for me. In any case, how do you suggest we resolve the galaxy rotation curve problem?

    You could try this.

    Right. My hypothesis, which is that the flying horse bit is just legend, is starting to look more reasonable, no?

    Nope. I’d choose a flying horse over DM, inflation and the multiverse any day.

    Ok, I will correct myself then—all along I have been assuming terrestrial flying horses.

    OK.

    Clearly I can’t rule out the possibility of flying horses elsewhere in the universe.

    Yup.

    PS. I don’t believe in the existence of flying horses but, IMO, flying horses have more credence than DM, the multiverse (which would lead to a universe of flying horses), and inflation.

  33. 33
    Vy says:

    Do you believe that the universe is currently expanding?

    Nope 🙂

  34. 34
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    Me: In any case, how do you suggest we resolve the galaxy rotation curve problem?

    Vy: You could try this.

    Me: Do you believe that the universe is currently expanding?

    Vy: Nope 🙂

    From the Hartnett paper linked above, entitled “Spiral galaxy rotation curves determined from Carmelian general relativity”:

    Carmeli [5, 6] approached the problem from a different perspective. He formulated a modification, actually an extension of Einstein’s general theory, in an expanding universe taking into account the Hubble expansion as a fundamental axiom, which imposes an additional constraint on the dynamics of particles [2].

    Confirmed by creationwiki:

    Cosmological relativity is an extension of the principles of Special and General Relativity to cosmological scales. Developed by Dr Moshe Carmeli, this theory is a combination of Einstein’s original special and general relativity; however its starting point is the expansion of the Universe and not the propagation of light.

  35. 35
    Vy says:

    Here’s your question:

    Do you believe that the universe is currently expanding?

  36. 36
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    Do you then believe that the universe expanded in the past, but is now static?

    Frankly, I don’t even know what a YEC would do with Doppler shift data from galaxies etc., unless it involves some sort of kludge to get around the distant starlight problem.

    I will also note that Carmeli adds fifth “space-velocity” dimension to spacetime, which is interesting given your complaints about fudge-factors above. It looks like he and Barry Setterfield got into a spat over this issue.

  37. 37
    Vy says:

    Do you then believe that the universe expanded in the past, but is now static?

    If it expanded, it was on day 4 of creation.

    Frankly, I don’t even know what a YEC would do with Doppler shift data from galaxies etc., unless it involves some sort of kludge to get around the distant starlight problem.

    This and this should help.

    I will also note that Carmeli adds fifth “space-velocity” dimension to spacetime, which is interesting given your complaints about fudge-factors above. It looks like he and Barry Setterfield got into a spat over this issue.

    And he’s responded here.

  38. 38

    Yea Dawkins … isn’t he the smartest man in the world?

    Did ya know he’s the one that revealed a long held secret that Edwin Herbert Land actually invented (evolved) the eye. Yea, no kidding Land just held some of his new fancy film up to the sun for a really long time and it turned into an eye … complete with arms, legs and feet. Nobody would have known that had it not been for the ‘smartest man in the world’ Richard Dawkins.

    And did you know he invented (evolved) mountains? Saw it myself where he built this beautiful thing from paper mache. He even said that if you climbed it you would discover the meaning of life. I tried it once, but it smashed down under my fat body so I gave up and looked for a Guru in Tibet instead … couldn’t climb that mountain either. Still looking for the secret of life …

    Then he invented (evolved) something or another that eventually turned itself into a hair pin … can’t remember much about that, perhaps some of the readers here remember.

    Hell yea … Dawkins is the ‘smartest man in the world,’ and I love (worship) Him dearly. Careful if you don’t agree, you might get called a bunch of bad names and lose your job at Burger King.

  39. 39
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    Wew. It seems even Hartnett has his own brand of cosmological inflation. Do you find it more plausible than mainstream theories of inflation?

  40. 40
    Vy says:

    It seems even Hartnett has his own brand of cosmological inflation.

    “His” brand?

    Do you find it more plausible than mainstream theories of inflation?

    Hmm…


    x billion Darwin years ago [Once upon a Neverland night], stuff happened and the universe/space/whatever belched, for no reason whatsoever (other than to keep the BB Story superficially less fantastical of course). That led to a purposeless überfast physics defying expansion of space and x years later, stuff happened [which caused TinkerBell and the universe tweaking Starfleet to strap in and step on the cosmic brakes] bringing the purposeless inflation to a screeching halt.

    vs.

    Isaiah 45:12 – I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.

    Yeaaaaa, I’d rather be consistent with GodDidIt than be inconsistent with probablymaybecouldnessdidit with never ending impossible Stuff Happens.

    Happy New Year! 🙂

  41. 41
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    Happy New Year.

    The day 4 expansion of the universe that Hartnett describes sounds just as ad hoc to me as the cosmologists’ version. Do you know if Hartnett’s inflation is in any way detectable?

  42. 42
    Vy says:

    The day 4 expansion of the universe that Hartnett describes sounds just as ad hoc to me as the cosmologists’ version.

    Ok, but the 17 or so verses that existed waaaaay before Hartnett was even born describing God “stretching out” the universe disagree with you.

    Do you know if Hartnett’s inflation is in any way detectable?

    Is God’s stretching of the universe at über hyperluminal speeds within a 24hr period some ~7,000 years ago “detectable”? Hmm, it sure sounds interesting but highly unlikely.

    However, when the BB Storytellers go in search for answers, they consistently return with a discovery that has to be wrong if the BB Story is true, and it’s been showing up for the last 4 decades or so. Lawrence “I hope God doesn’t exist” Krauss explains it best:

    But when you look at CMB map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That’s crazy. We’re looking out at the whole universe. There’s no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun — the plane of the earth around the sun — the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe. The new results are either telling us that all of science is wrong and we’re the center of the universe, or maybe the data is simply incorrect, or maybe it’s telling us there’s something weird about the microwave background results and that maybe, maybe there’s something wrong with our theories on the larger scales.

    Improving the tech doesn’t make it go away, it just makes it beautifully obvious. 😀

  43. 43
    Vy says:

    People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that. – George Ellis

    I suspect that the assumption of uniformity of the universe reflects a prejudice… It would be embarrassing to find, after stating that we live in an ordinary planet about an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy, that our place in the universe is extraordinary … To avoid embarrassment we cling to the hypothesis of uniformity. – Richard Feynman

    Unfortunately for those who prefer to see humans as a cosmic accident, reality isn’t always friendly. Also, I think you missed this.

  44. 44
    daveS says:

    Vy,

    Yes, I’ve seen the Ellis quote several times. It’s ironic that you post that, in view of your comment in #18:

    Wow, Ptolemy would be proud. “All we need is one more epicycle, just one!”

    If you do believe that the universe is around 7000 years old, you’re going to need a lot of epicycles to explain away the observations not only from cosmology, but from geology, paleontology, etc..

  45. 45
    Vy says:

    Yes, I’ve seen the Ellis quote several times.

    He’s certainly not the only one that acknowledges it 😉

    If you do believe that the universe is around 7000 years old, you’re going to need a lot of epicycles to explain away the observations not only from cosmology, but from geology, paleontology, etc..

    I’ve seen that several times too. Usually in the form of:

    “There’s a MOUNTAIN of evidence that the universe is x billion Darwin years old supported by multiple lines of evidence from xyz and the scientific consensus!!!”

    It’s either that mountain is conveniently hidden away in Neverland or it doesn’t exist cause all I ever find is puddles of disappointment.

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