This much I know

Philosopher-AC-Grayling-001The philosopher AC Grayling is one of my favourite people. Here, at age 60, he makes some brief comments in the Guardian series “This much I know.”

A few choice extracts:

“The democracy of blogging and tweeting is absolutely terrific in one way. It is also the most effective producer of rubbish and insult and falsehood we have yet invented.

I am putting together a secular bible. My Genesis is when the apple falls on Newton’s head.

I would imagine Jesus was a kind of Jewish reformer. If you were looking for an equivalent to the figure you dimly perceive through the gospels it would probably be a Richard Dawkins.”

For some more provocative and thoughtful comment go to: This much I know: AC Grayling, philosopher, 60, London.

See also this video of a great lecture presented by Grayling to the Darwin, Humanism and Science Day Conference during June.


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12 responses to “This much I know

  1. I rather like his final remark:

    Every professor of philosophy needs a nine-year-old daughter. Mine has a habit of saying, “Daddy, that is a very silly idea.” She is always right.

    Mine is five. I very much look forward to her comments in a couple of years.


  2. A quick recommendation: At the end of the video, there is a link to a presentation from Dan Dennett at the same event. That was also very good. I particularly liked the discussion about words and language.


  3. I’m also quite a fan of Grayling. His book Against all Gods is such a wonderfully concise and eloquent contribution to the genre.


  4. thinkpoint,

    I’ve seen some silly arguments, but that is among the sillier and more ignorant. (Ignorant in the literature sense of not understanding what the actually things being said are.)

    It presupposes that ‘new atheist’ “movement” (there isn’t one in any formal sense AFAIK) is in the same manner as a religion, which it isn’t (and can’t be, think about it).

    It makes the “classic” error of claiming that disproving one thing proves another, as it were. This is the basis of the argument you link, and it’s a false basis for an argument.

    It’s really just an elaborated version of what creationists do when they try create an “argument” about evolution, point at the argument they created then, “oh, look, there is an argument, there must be something valid to argue about”. It’s an invalid line of logic because creationists created a false argument in the first place (the one about evolution).

    The argument you link goes on to make many other false statements too, like implying that atheists say their morals are superior (in practice I find it’s some religious people that do that; from an atheists point of view the stance is that good morals can be held independently of religion, the independence is the key).

    And on and on the errors and straw-mannerisms go! There are literally too many errors to correct, so I’ll leave it at that.

    Could I suggest an issue is that some religious people are so keen to “attack in defence” that they set up straw-man versions of atheists to attack, rather than look at what is actually being said?


  5. Thinkpoint, you need to make a point of thinking before you start posting.

    Your link has nothing to offer except silliness.

    Without God, all moral conclusions are merely subjective human opinions without any binding authority beyond what culture attributes to them.

    Oh, goody!

    Without the Flying Spaghetti Monster, all moral conclusions are merely subjective human opinions without any binding authority beyond what culture attributes to them.

    Without the Fairy Queen, all moral conclusions are merely subjective human opinions without any binding authority beyond what culture attributes to them.

    Without Pink Unicorns, all moral conclusions are merely subjective human opinions without any binding authority beyond what culture attributes to them.


  6. As so often happens, response never really engages in a serious way the arguments themselves. Atheists just talk about them and around them.


  7. Thinkpoint, the ‘arguments’ have been engaged with as seriously as they deserve. We’ve heard these ‘arguments’ hundreds of times and responded to them in a hundred different ways so that by now they’re simply an annoyance that shows that those who put them forward have no desire or perhaps capacity to engage in actual discussion. Your bringing them up might have elicited something more of a reasoned response had your original comment had attempted to “engage in a serious way” with the post. As it is, life is just too short. Indeed, I’m surprised that Heraclides gave as full a response to your comment as he did. I was going to simply ignore it.


  8. We’ve heard these β€˜arguments’ hundreds of times…

    True is that.
    You pop in and then…leave a link.
    Gee, thanks.
    What do you want, a medal?
    You come across as being a tool.
    A self-righteous tool.
    That’s ok.
    But….you also come across as being very boring and unimaginative too.

    (1) There is a website that successfully argues for the existence of God.
    (2) Here is the URL.
    (3) Therefore, God exists.

    (slow hand-clap from the audience to the dull-witted mouth breather)

    (1) If there are absolute moral standards, then God exists.
    (2) Atheists say that there are no absolute moral standards.
    (3) But that’s because they don’t want to admit to being sinners.
    (4) Therefore, there are absolute moral standards.
    (5) Therefore, God exists.

    (yawn, audience walks away)

    We’ve been there. Heard the “argument”.
    Didn’t impress anybody the first time around.
    What makes you think it will impress anybody now?
    Get new material.


  9. thinkpoints comment probably should have been picked up as spam – I know he has been posting exactly the same comment on other blogs.

    Seems a bit pointless, really, as he doesn’t want to engage in discussion and I would hardly think advertising his website here is going to be at all productive.


  10. thinkpoint,

    I did tackle the first part of it; if you haven’t a response, I’d suggest there is no defence for it πŸ˜‰

    I merely tackled the first few errors in the linked article to illustrate the nature of it; it just trots out a long list of “standard” fallacies creationists et al try impose on atheists. As the others have pointed out, the “points” raised are so familiar and trite as to be scarcely worth bothering with.

    However, it does suggest that this “senior pastor” isn’t really up to much in the intellectual sense if all he can do is repeat things for which corrections are widely available and extremely well-known.

    There is this naΓ―ve view among some non-religious people that the wackiness in religions is just a few “stray” followers. Certainly most of the people that carry out the physical acts that reach the news are followers, not leaders. This view comes with a corollary of sorts: the leaders are of more sound mind and have to “put up” with these “odd” exceptions, which they “apologise” for. The internet, however, has shown to me that in at least one sense this is not true: if anything, the intellectual rot is worse in the church leaders. Your article is a fine illustration of this. From that point of view, thanks for sharing it, it might dispel that particular naΓ―ve point of view from a few others.

    PS: ‘literature’ in the first paragraph should read ‘literal’ (sorry).


  11. Opps, my post crossed with yours Ken. Spam, huh? Guess I’l clam up then. I still think he’s “reverse advertising”, i.e. showing how silly it is.


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