Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Daily Gazette
Swarthmore College
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Volume 8, Number 57

Write to us! daily@swarthmore.edu
Photo of the day: http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/daily/photo.html
Today’s issue: http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/daily/


1) Dr. Richard Dawkins speaks on the religion of science

2) Rowe discusses Greek philosophic view of need

3) Debate results

4) World news roundup

5) Campus events


1) Upcoming contests


Today: Cool and sunny with a high of 46.
Given the success of the “Da Vinci Code,” I began to wonder if I could
put some sort of code in here, especially given the success of last week’s complete
lack of subliminal advertising.

Tonight: Clear skies and a low of around 30.
But then I got really lazy.

Tomorrow: Both sun and clouds, highs in the low 50s and lows in the mid 30s.

Now let’s see if anyone can find any higher meaning in my humble, completely
non-coded words. There’s no code. I mean it.


Lunch: Open face turkey ham sandwich, curly fries, vegetarian chili, open face
vegetable sandwich, French cut green beans, mixed vegetables, Asian chicken
salad bad, marble cake

Dinner: Catfish with creole tartar sauce, corn pudding, broccoli-mushroom stir
fry, tomatoes Provencal, brussels sprouts, cheesesteak bar, cheesecake


1) Dr. Richard Dawkins speaks on the religion of science

by Lauren Janowitz
Gazette Reporter

Last night, Dr. Richard Dawkins gave a lecture entitled “The Religion
of Science” in the Science Center. Dawkins is a Professor of Zoology at
Oxford University and author of numerous papers and books, including “The
Selfish Gene” and “The Blind Watchmaker.”

The packed event was sponsored by the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia,
which is dedicated to maintaining the separation of church and state and providing
a discussion space for freethinkers. They define a freethinker as “a person
who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition,
authority, or established belief.” Their members include atheists, agnostics,
and rationalists.

Dawkins first began by defining what he meant by the religion of science.
“Science is definitely not a religion,” he explained, “but it
is important to recognize a commonality between religion and science.”
He listed three types of religions-theistic, in which there is an active and
intervening God, deistic, in which God set up the universe but is not active,
and pantheistic, in which God is merely a poetic synonym for nature or the universe.

He then pointed out that the God referred to by Einstein, Hawking, or most
scientists is this third type. Thus, Einstein’s famous quote “God doesn’t
play dice,” essentially means “Randomness doesn’t lie at the heart
of all things.” Einsteinian religion is not a religion in the typical sense;
it is a sense of wonderment regarding the universe and its laws.

Next, Dawkins listed five different arguments for believing religion; evidence,
i.e, the facts support X; tradition, i.e, the people have always believed X;
authority, i.e, the holy book says X; faith, i.e, I just know X is true; and
revelation i.e, an inner voice tells me X. Only the first argument holds up
to scientific standards, as it is based solely on evidence. “We know science
works,” Dawkins argued, “One travels by Boeing 747, not a magic carpet.”

In discussing tradition, Dawkins pointed out that religion always runs in families.
“It’s fascinating how whatever religion you’re brought up in turns out
to be the right one!” he joked. He then showed a newspaper clipping of
three children in a Christmas pageant. The caption listed them as a Sikh, a
Muslim, and a Christian. “It is grotesque to label four year olds with
the religion of their parents,” he claimed. To prove this point, he put
up another copy of the picture, with the captain changed to “a Keynesian,
a monetarist, and a Marxist.” While this seems absurd, claimed Dawkins,
it is seen as normal and right to put religious labels on children.

Dawkins then used Charles Darwin as an example of an authority figure, asking
the audience to imagine scientists poring over and analyzing “The Origin
of Species,” rather then going out into the field to do research. This
is what happens in religion, he says, with much of the information coming from
a limited number of authoritative sources.

Faith, Dawkins pointed out, is believing in spite of lack of evidence. “In
religion, faith is a virtue. Doubting Thomas, patron saint of scientists, is
looked down upon by the other disciples, who had unquestioning faith.”
He went on to explain that faith has no place in science, where experimental
evidence trumps all. The honesty of the field is policed by a system of rigorous
peer review.

Finally, he dismissed revelation, “In religion, private internal revelation
is treated as a reason for belief.” He cited the example of Pope Pius XII
in 1950, who declared as dogma the idea that the Virgin Mary’s body rose into
Heaven. This sudden declaration was prompted by an inner revelation.

Dawkins ended his lecture by quoting Einstein; “The most beautiful thing
we can experience is the mysterious.” While science is not a religion,
it is still capable of producing deep feelings, similar to those from religion.
However, science has all the virtues that religion once had, and none of the
vices religion now has. Essentially, Dawkins explained, the most important aspect
of science is its ability to uplift the spirit.


2) Rowe discusses Greek philosophic view of need

by Scott Blaha
Gazette Reporter

Christopher Rowe of Durham University in England gave a talk called “Some
Greek philosophers on the nature of need” for the Classics department this
Monday. The talk focused on Socrates’ views on desire, rather than Aristotle’s,
which are analogous to today’s. His lecture was based on a book on Plato which
he has recently finished.

The talk attracted about 10 students and several faculty. Student reaction
to the talk was mixed, with some students seeming interested and others leaving
during the talk.

According to Rowe, “What we do on any occasion is determined by our beliefs
of what is good.” The Socratic theory of need tells us that “all desire
is for the good.” He contrasted this to the Aristotelean view that there
is a greater good that has needs.

He further explained that “we are used to the Platonic view of desire
overturning rational thought.” Showing that the Stoics argued “every
living creature’s first impulse is towards self-preservation,” he said
that they took up Socrates’ view of need, but that it died out soon afterwards.
Finally, he brought he lecture to a close by concluding that Socrates thought
“All human desire is ultimately for wisdom.”


3) Debate results

This weekend the debate team competed at Fordham University. Chris Ford was
the 9th place novice speaker, and Chris and Garth Sheldon-Caulson were the 4th
place novice team. Additionally, Aviva Aron-Dine was the 10 place speaker overall,
and Aviva and Sonya Hoo were the 9th place team overall.


4) World news roundup

* Georgia’s new leader, Nino Burjanadze, yesterday promised to quickly hold
presidential elections after veteran President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned
to scenes of wild jubilation as the man who helped end the Cold War was forced
to step down after weeks of angry protests. She said new elections would be
held within 45 days as required by Georgia’s Constitution, and promised to keep
to the former president’s foreign policy course, which has seen Tbilisi aim
for NATO membership. Opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili, who organized last
weekend’s protests, signaled his intent to run for president yesterday. A senior
economic aide close to the interim President said Georgia would ask Washington
for US$5 million to stage new elections. US State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher said that the US recognized the interim government and US Secretary
of State Colin Powell called Burjanadze to express US support.

* A record 1.06 million voters in Hong Kong have sent their government a strong
message of disapproval by giving political parties allied to it a severe drubbing
in a municipal election on Sunday. The main target of their resentment against
the Tung Chee Hwa administration for trying to ram a controversial law down
their throat was the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB).
Other pro-government parties, which in the Hong Kong context means being pro-Beijing
as well, were also trounced. In contrast, the Democratic Party, long a thorn
in the side of the Tung government and its key backer, Beijing, emerged as the
largest winner, increasing its 86 seats to 95. Ordinarily, district council
elections are very much a municipal affair but Sunday’s election came into sharp
focus because it was the first electoral test of public sentiments after July’s
political crisis. It was also widely seen as a prelude to the more crucial Legco
election next year, in which a defeat of pro-government parties could herald
another, possibly more destabilizing, political crisis for Hong Kong and China.
Beijing, in particular, has been anxious to know whether all its efforts in
helping to shore up the Tung government as well as the ailing Hong Kong economy
would bear fruit on Sunday.

* A key gas pipeline has been blown up in northern Iraq, setting off a huge
fire and threatening production at the country’s largest oil refinery. The glow
from the huge fire that followed could be seen 30km away in the night sky over
the town of Kirkuk, the BBC reported. A North Oil Company spokesman in Kirkuk
said an explosive device caused the pipeline fire. Sabotage of pipelines and
other infrastructure has become a major problem for the United States-led coalition
and its Iraqi partners as they try to revive the country’s giant petroleum industry
– the key to economic recovery. The latest attack has halted supplies of gas
from Jambur oil field to a power plant in the town of Baiji. In the northern
city of Mosul, gunmen set off a roadside bomb and opened fire on a passing US
convoy. One soldier was wounded in the attack, which took place a day after
two American soldiers were killed there and their bodies mutilated. Witnesses
to Sunday’s attack said gunmen shot the soldiers, sending their vehicle crashing
into a wall. About a dozen teenagers then dragged the men from the wreckage
and hit them with concrete blocks. While some Mosul residents said they were
appalled at the mutilation of bodies, others showed no sympathy for the Americans.

* 32 university students died and 139 were injured when fire swept through
an overcrowded Moscow dormitory block of Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba People’s Friendship
University in the early hours of yesterday. With smoke pouring from the five-story
building during a heavy snowstorm, many leapt from windows in the concrete block
housing foreign students. Some of the students were poisoned by carbon monoxide,
while others suffered head injuries and broken limbs when they leapt from the
building. Forty teams of firefighters took three hours to extinguish the blaze,
which started at about 2:00 a.m. Investigators suspect an electrical fault,
although arson has not been ruled out. Citing a foreign students’ union, Interfax
news agency said those living in the block included students from China, Vietnam,
Bangladesh, Ecuador, Tahiti, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Angola. The university,
founded in 1960 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, was named after Congo’s
first president. It was designed to provide subsidized Socialist education to
students from the developing world.


5) Campus events

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Team Meeting
Trotter 201, 3:00 p.m.

WRC Open Hours
WRC, 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
(Sex and the City Screening at 8:00p.m.)

American Narrative Cinema Screening: “Do the Right Thing”
LPAC Cinema, 7:00 p.m.

College Democrats Meeting
Parrish Parlors, 7:00 p.m.

Pro-Choice Task Force
Kohlberg 226, 8:00 p.m.



1) Upcoming contests

Women’s Swimming hosts Bryn Mawr, 6:00 p.m.
Men’s Swimming hosts Kutztown, 6:00 p.m.
Women’s Basketball hosts McDaniel, 6:00 p.m.
Men’s Basketball hosts Drew, 8:00 p.m.

No contests are scheduled for tomorrow.



“Never do anything yourself that others can do for you.”
–Agatha Christie


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Contact the staff at daily@swarthmore.edu

Managing Editor: Pei Pei Liu
Campus News Editors:

Greg Leiserson
Alexis Reedy

Living & Arts Editor: Evelyn Khoo
World News Editor: Roxanne Yaghoubi
Sports Editor: Saurav Dhital
Associate Editor: Megan Mills
News Reporters:

Scott Blaha
Charlie Buffie
Anya Carrasco
Jonathan Ference
Alex Glick
Lauren Janowitz
Jaeyoon Kim
Sanggee Kim
Ken Patton
Maki Sato
Angelina Seah
Christine Shin
Siyuan Xie

Sports Writers: Sarah Hilding
Holice Kil

Robbie Hart
Kyle Khellaf
Max Li
Casey Reed


Charlie Buffie
Greg Leiserson

Weathercaster: Josh Hausman

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notably the Associated Press (
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