Whoops, Wrong Again, Professor Dawkins

Last night (Friday, November 2), I tweeted the following:

@RichardDawkins says Mormons are too stupid to be president. Is David Harold Bailey too stupid to be rocket scientist? http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/richard-dawkins-anti-mormon-self-delusion/

(Bailey is a mathematician and computer scientist with a B.S. from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Stanford. He was a NASA computer scientist for fourteen years, and currently works at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.)

I hardly expected a response from Professor Dawkins himself, so I was surprised when Professor Dawkins tweeted back:

@AnswersAuthor I doubt he believed in the charlatan Joseph Smith’s magic hat, or that Native Americans are Jews.

Well, I’m not a Mormon and I’m no expert on LDS doctrine. I don’t know anything about a magic hat or Jewish Native Americans—so for now, I’ll have to take Professor Dawkins’ word that these are tenets of LDS faith.

But so what? If Mitt Romney is mentally unfit to be president simply because he’s a devout Mormon, then Kevin Rollins was mentally unfit to be CEO of Dell Computers; Jon Huntsman, Sr., was mentally unfit to be a plastics entrepreneur and philanthropist; J. Willard Marriott and J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., were mentally unfit to run the Marriott hotel empire; David Neeleman was mentally unfit to run JetBlue, David Harold Bailey was too stupid to be a NASA scientist, and on and on.

Since these devout Mormons were all highly intelligent, high-achieving individuals, that would seem to obliterate Professor Dawkins’ argument. I have never heard Professor Dawkins ever offer a single scrap of evidence that Mitt Romney made crazy, irrational policy decisions as governor of Massachusetts or CEO of the Olympics. If there were such evidence to present, I trust Professor Dawkins would have eagerly presented it.

It’s obvious to me that Professor Dawkins’ argument against Governor Romney is specious and irrational, based on atheistic prejudice, not fact and reason. The evidence for high-achieving, successful Mormons flatly and definitively contradicts Richard Dawkins attacks on Governor Romney. So I tweeted back:

@RichardDawkins Mitt’s Mormon beliefs haven’t prevented him from balancing budgets. Obama’s Keynesian beliefs are killing the economy. #Fact

After sending that tweet, a thought hit me: Professor Dawkins had offered a testable, falsifiable hypothesis. He had said that, in his opinion, it was highly unlikely that mathematician and NASA computer scientist David Harold Bailey seriously believed in Mormon doctrines, which Dawkins characterized as belief in “the charlatan Joseph Smith’s magic hat, or that Native Americans are Jews.”

So I decided to google it—and in 0.39 seconds I had my answer. I immediately tweeted a second reply to Professor Dawkins:

@RichardDawkins Whoops, Prof, you’re wrong again. David H Bailey has a website harmonizing science & LDS theology: http://www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/ 

As of this writing, I’ve received no reply.

I guiltily confess I felt a bit gleeful when I composed that tweet. But it is so much fun to be right.

___________________________________

For a more thorough discussion of Professor Dawkins anti-Mormon views see my blog piece, “Does Atheism Make You Stupid?” or the related commentary piece at World Net Daily.

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
—George Orwell

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UPDATE, Monday, November 5:

On November 3, Richard Dawkins tweeted, “Bishop Romney really IS Mormon in the full batshit doolally sense.” The eminent professor apparently thinks all he has to do is mock Mormon belief and it somehow proves that Mitt Romney is crazy. But Professor Dawkins hasn’t proven anything.

The only way to prove Dawkins’ thesis is to go over Romney’s record as governor and CEO of the Olympics, and unearth some crazy “batshit” Mormon-induced decisions and policies Romney initiated. If no such decisions and policies can be found, Dawkins’ claim cannot be substantiated.

The mere fact that Mitt Romney holds a religious view that Richard Dawkins deems to be “batshit” and “doolally” proves nothing. The government at all levels is populated by religious believers of all kinds, and all of those believers embrace doctrines Dawkins considers “batshit.” Yet these government leaders somehow manage to function quite effectively nonetheless.

Professor Dawkins needs to show that the religious views of Mitt Romney have actually, demonstrably prompted disordered behavior. He has never offered a scintilla of evidence to support such a claim. And if there is no evidence to that effect, then those religious ideas must be deemed harmless, even if they seem like “batshit” to the esteemed professor.

Fact is, one could easily make the case that Mormon values of hard work, honesty, humility, personal responsibility, and so forth actually make Romney more qualified as a leader than a non-Mormon. You will never see a devout Mormon on welfare, for example. Why is that? It’s because Mormons believe in self-reliance and in taking care of their own.

Whatever Professor Dawkins may think of “magic hats,” much of what is admirable about Mitt Romney appears to come from his Mormon moral and ethical principles. You can’t just say a person has a religion you think is “batshit,” and therefore he’s unfit for office. You must provide evidence that those beliefs have made him dysfunctional as a leader. Absent such evidence, Professor Dawkins is only spouting anti-Mormon bigotry.

Frankly, the only dysfunctional behavior I observe is that of the hysterical biology prof who tosses around terms like “batshit” and “doolally.” It is sad to witness Professor Dawkins’ intellectual meltdown.

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5 Comments

  1. Would you want someone who believed in fairies to be able to push the big red button? I wouldn’t. If you aren’t aware of what nonsense Mormons believe then you might find it a bit of an eye opener. OTOH biblical literalism (Noah’s Ark !?) is hardly the height of plausibility either, so I suppose It’s just a question of degree – and anyone with faith based beliefs who questions Mitt’s religion would just be the pot calling the kettle black.

    Reply
  2. I had this discussion again and again with atheists on Twitter who quailed at the thought of a Mormon with a “big red button.” I honestly doubt that there is a “big red button” in the White House that a single crazed individual could press and launch Armageddon.

    The anti-Mormon, anti-Romney hysteria voiced by Professor Dawkins, and now by you, is a paranoid delusion on par with the anti-Obama Birther delusion. And this “red button” meme must have infected the entire Dawkensite herd, because I observed it in at least half a dozen people who debated me on Twitter.

    It’s a moot point now, but Mitt Romney is a sane and successful business leader with a proven track record of balancing budgets and turning around failing enterprises and making them successful. In other words, he is exactly what America needed for these times.

    Barack Obama has nothing to show but a proven record of failure in office—particularly his spectacular failure in managing the economy and fiscal policy. Re-electing such epic failure was a deluded act by an irrational electorate.

    You didn’t address a single point of all the evidence I presented which demonstrated that all this anti-Romney paranoia (and anti-Mormon bigotry) is unfounded. You didn’t cite a single instance in which Mormon doctrine has prompted Romney (or anyone else) to act crazily or irresponsibly in a leadership role. Because you can’t.

    The Obama campaign dishonestly painted Romney as an evil Wall Street raider without an ounce of compassion for others. In fact, Mr. Romney regularly, consistently donated a huge chunk of his considerable income to charity throughout his career (in 2011, he donated almost 30%, though claiming only a little more than half that on his tax returns). He did so because of, not in spite of, his Mormon principles.

    By contrast, the Obamas only began donating heavily after Barack decided to run for president (they gave 21.8 percent in 2011, but less than 1 percent in 2000 and 2001). The Bidens are even worse pikers, donating an average of $369 a year for the past ten years. Clearly, Obama and Biden are only generous with other people’s money; Romney is generous with his own money, because that is a Mormon ethical principle.

    I presume the “biblical literalism” line was somehow aimed at my beliefs. Well, look around my blog site, friend. You won’t find anything posted here that is not well-founded on reason and evidence.

    Unlike your “big red button” meme.

    Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your interest.

    Reply
  3. Well, the kind of dangers that Mitt’s strong religious views result in are pretty apparent in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TxMD02zU9SE, even if you discount his nutty beliefs about a second coming in Missouri. Politicians should not carry religious views such as on abortion into their public life. Most of us here in Europe gave a big sigh of relief when Obama was reelected.

    We’ve also had some economic problems in Europe and the UK, but we don’t attribute them only to heads of state, although perhaps politicians were somewhat complicit in the causes of the banking crisis, which has lead to liquidity problems here in the UK.

    I do now notice that you profess faith in christianity and claim that modern cosmology supports those views (which it doesn’t – cf Vilenkin/Guth/Krauss etc.) so not entirely rational IMHOP; although I’ve no idea what a Christian anthropicist might be.

    Reply
  4. I have seen the Romney video before. If I remember correctly, I came across it when Dawkins tweeted the YouTube link. I don’t know why you and Dawkins both think that interview discredits Romney. You say, “Politicians should not carry religious views such as on abortion into their public life.” Romney specifically says in that video that he does not do so. His position on abortion, he says, is “a secular position.” The church allows him to support choice as a politician, but he opposes abortion on secular grounds.

    I don’t know for sure, but I presume that Romney opposes abortion on the same secular grounds that caused Bernard Nathanson—an abortion doctor, atheist, and co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League—to change his views and become an atheist pro-life advocate.

    Here’s the complete Romney quote in context:

    “I was beaten up in Boston because I pointed out time and again that I encouraged girls not to get abortions, that I told them to have adoptions. I have never done anything in any way that violates the principles of my church in that regard. I’ve made other mistakes. But the church does not say that a member of our church has to be opposed to allowing choice in society. Therefore, there are Mormon Democrats. There’s a Democratic Party in Utah filled with Mormons, and the church does not say they’re wrong. It does not say excommunicate them. The church says, We are vehemently opposed to abortion ourselves and for ourselves. But we allow other people to make their own choice. I disagree with that view. Politically, I looked at that and I said, You know what? That’s wrong. And it’s not a Mormon thing. It’s a secular position to say, You know what? I was wrong. We should have as a society a prohibition on abortion under the following circumstances. But it’s not violating my faith, let me assure you.”

    Clearly, that quote does not support your contention.

    I’m familiar with Vilenkin, Guth, and Krauss. I suggest you view this Vilenkin video which presents a view of the universe as having a beginning, totally in line with my own anthropic views: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXCQelhKJ7A&feature=player_embedded

    The visual aids Vilenkin uses in that video can be viewed here: http://www.ctc.cam.ac.uk/stephen70/talks/swh70_vilenkin.pdf

    Vilenkin shows why inflationary, cyclic, oscillating, and static universes are extremely unlikely, and a universe with a beginning is the probable model.

    Lawrence Krauss has been widely misinterpreted. Even though his book is called A Universe From Nothing, and it features a spike-the-ball afterward by Richard Dawkins, Krauss now qualifies his claims and says, “I didn’t make any definitive claims . . . and I get offended when people claim I make such.” (Even though Dawkins made such a claim right in Krauss’s own book! And even though the book is called A Universe From Nothing!).

    Here’s the link for the Krauss remarks: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2012/09/21/is-cosmos-a-piece-of-light-verse-tossed-off-by-a-bored-god/

    The fact that scientists are still arguing over the details doesn’t mean that my worldview is “not entirely rational.” My views rest on a much broader body of evidence than the anthropic evidence alone.

    A Christian anthropicist is one whose worldview is largely informed by the anthropic principle of Brandon Carter and whose religious model is based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I believe the term anthropicist was coined by physicist and SF writer David Brin in a science fiction short story, “What Continues, What Fails . . .”

    All the best. —JD

    Reply
  5. Thanks for pointing out that video, which I hadn’t come across (although I’m not unfamiliar with Vilenkin’s ideas).

    Think we’ll have to agree to disagree about Mitt; political views are hardly something that one can put to any sort of test, particularly now in the case of Mitt, which is why science is so much more interesting :).

    Anyway I posted a response on god and the universe here: https://thetruthwillmakeyoumad.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/who-made-god/#comment-384

    as it seemed more appropriate (you can move it, if that was wrong).

    Best Wishes! Roq

    Reply

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