Thread: Purgatory: DawkinsWatch - 2007 Board: Limbo / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Having only just caught up with Alister McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion, I was interested to discover that the great meme man himself has recently chosen to answer his critics. He pens an article in The Times where he responds to many of his most popular diatribes railled against him. Perhaps this is no surpise given a man not given to humility, but he hasn't budged one micron. But a couple of his answers are especially revealing.

I’m an atheist, but I wish to dissociate myself from your shrill, strident, intemperate, intolerant, ranting language.
Atheists who do not like Dawkins' particular hardline atheism are simply wrong and weak - they are affording religion with respect that it does not deserve. Faith cannot be appeased. The more I reflect on this, the more chilling I find it.

You ignore the best of religion and instead . . . “you attack crude, rabble-rousing chancers like Ted Haggard, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, rather than facing up to sophisticated theologians like Bonhoeffer or the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
His answer here is breathtaking:

quote:
If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place and I would have written a different book. The melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible.
If ever I was tempted in my darkest hour to believe that Richard Dawkins spoke about some kind of actual reality, then this is definitively the moment where my mind is at rest. The most incredible thing about the quote above is that he has had months to reflect on it. It is so factually baseless, verifiably incorrect and - well, let's call a spade a spade - WRONG, that for the first time I am seriously considering his own mental health, with no hyperbole. This man is a respected scientist, he is at home with data analysis. He cannot be afforded the excuse of ignorance.

It's hard to avoid coming back to that word again... delusional.

[ 10. August 2007, 00:03: Message edited by: Duo Seraphim ]
 
Posted by Merchant Trader (# 9007) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
It is so factually baseless, verifiably incorrect

How many sophisticated theologians like Bonhoeffer or the Archbishop of Canterbury are there? Are the majority of Christians like Bonhoeffer or the ABofC? Does subtle, nuanced religion predominate?

In his 'Letter to a Christian nation', Sam Harris attacks a Christianity that I barely recognise in what I believe. However, like Dawkins he argues that he is attacking the most popular face of Christianity at least in the US.

I do not know whether they are right or wrong in numbers. How can we verify or disprove the facts?
 
Posted by Gwai (# 11076) on :
 
It doesn't sound as if they know whether they're right or wrong about numbers either. One might think scientists would know better than to make presumptions about such things.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
[Saying decent understated religion is numerically negligable] is so factually baseless, verifiably incorrect and - well, let's call a spade a spade - WRONG, that for the first time I am seriously considering his own mental health, with no hyperbole.

I'm not sure about these numbers, so I'd be interested in your source. I'm assuming you have hard data to back up this somewhat uncompromising statement.

Whatever the individual numbers, I think it is fair to say that the official statements of belief of the mainstream churches (to which most of these individuals belong) will include the Nicene creed. This as written is not a subtle, nuanced statement of belief.

I'd welcome some kind of a broad-based distancing of Christian faith from these literal claims about virgin birth, incarnation, resurrection and judgement. Funny thing is, I'd be unquestionably deluded if I thought that was likely to happen any time soon.

Going by their official stated beliefs, then, Dawkins is not wrong. You appear to be hoisted on your own hyperbole.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
I strongly recommend that you watch "Jesus Camp" the movie. In it you will get a nice cross section of what a lot of Christians in America actually believe, think, and act like. It is not subtle. It is not nuanced. And the fact of the matter is, they use politics like a cudgel to advance their religious beliefs, rolling over the subtle nuanced Christians that remain.
 
Posted by Gwai (# 11076) on :
 
Oh come on, Geo. Having strong opinions is cool but some statements can get a bit silly. Do you have any evidence that Jesus Camp represents a cross section of American Christianity? I've lived in the south. I've lived in the Bible Belt. And never ever have I talked to anyone who has given me reason to think they would approve of that form of Christianity.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Why yes, I Do.

quote:
The video game engages young gamers as the Tribulation Forces to fight the evil peacekeepers. In multiplayer mode, gamers play on both sides.

"It's ironic the game has been put out for Christmas, which honors the Prince of Peace who said, 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,' " says Mr. Elnes. "What this game says is 'Cursed are the peacekeepers, for they are children of the Antichrist.' "

More


Falwell's (leader of the Religious Right) greatest hits

Dobson and Giuliani

Old news.

Gingrich, He's Baaaack

42% of (American) poll respondents think people and animals have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.


And GW Said:

quote:
"I wouldn't pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn't be said in a school because it had the words 'under God'' in it. I think that's an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process, as opposed to strict interpretation of the Constitution."
--Second Presidential Debate, St. Louis, October 8, 2004

"I believe that God wants me to be president."
--According to Richard Land, as quoted in ""Understanding the President and his God"

"We need common-sense judges who understand our rights were derived from God,"
--As quoted in ""Understanding the President and his God"

"God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

"This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."

And that was just a random sampling.

[ 21. May 2007, 02:41: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Ian Climacus (# 944) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
I'd welcome some kind of a broad-based distancing of Christian faith from these literal claims about virgin birth, incarnation, resurrection and judgement. Funny thing is, I'd be unquestionably deluded if I thought that was likely to happen any time soon.

Then what you'd have is not Christianity in any shape or form: Jesus as simply a moral teacher? I'll take Buddhism then.

---

The Root of all Evil started screening here last night: and there's an article in the Sydney Morning Herald here. I didn't watch it, and probably won't -- he's far too shrill and broad in his sweepings for me. And rather pompous and condescending. Puts me offside, despite any wisdom he may have buried under the vitriol.

[ 21. May 2007, 03:07: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]
 
Posted by ecumaniac (# 376) on :
 
The Times article is amusing because of the Google text ads that display down the side.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
You ignore the best of religion and instead . . . “you attack crude, rabble-rousing chancers like Ted Haggard, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, rather than facing up to sophisticated theologians like Bonhoeffer or the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
His answer here is breathtaking:

quote:
If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place and I would have written a different book. The melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible.
If ever I was tempted in my darkest hour to believe that Richard Dawkins spoke about some kind of actual reality, then this is definitively the moment where my mind is at rest. The most incredible thing about the quote above is that he has had months to reflect on it. It is so factually baseless, verifiably incorrect and - well, let's call a spade a spade - WRONG
I suspect that what Richard Dawkins would call "decent, understated religion" is very different from you are thinking of. It probably excludes miracles, moral judgments based on divine revelation, religious education for children and all sorts of other things which are characteristic of mainstream religion.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
I'm absolutely staggered that anyone should try to defend the clearly indefensible (no hyperbole, just on fact).

The most obvious point to note is that Dawkins was talking about ALL "reasonable" religion being numerically negligable. The names he quotes are Christian theologians, however, and maybe we have a clue as to what sort of rare religious person he thinks is reasonable. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of the Church of England, the largest protestant denomination in that country. Is it reasonable to assume that only a negligable number of those under his care agree with his considered views?

When Dawkins speaks of religions, he tends to mean fundamentalists (everyone else is simply not serious). But let's broaden the definition to include, in the case of Christianity, all evangelicals as being totally unreasonable (no slight intended, this is Dawkins we are talking about who interchanges the two terms anyway). According to a 2001 study of the self-described religious identification of the US adult population for 1990 and 2001 from the Graduate School and University Center at the City University of New York, 28.6% are Evangelical, 24.5% Roman Catholics and 13.9% are Mainline Protestant. So of all Christians, Evangelicals are in the minority. One could go on to look globally at Orthodox, Liberation theology etc, but why bother?

But what about other religions? You will find some fundamentalist Hindus, but not too many. If you look really hard, you can even find a few fundamentalist Budhists, incredible though that may seem. But as a percentage, these traditionally very tolerant faiths hold very few hardline followers. One could perhaps use the phrase "numerically insignificant".

How about Islam? Are there really 1.6bn wannabe suicide bombers? Well, no. According to this survey, the overwhelming majority of Muslims is most countries (including Pakistan and Indonesia) say that suicide bombing is "never" justified. Moderate Islam is very much alive and well, and there are no shortage of muslim theologians to vociferously defend their historic faith in these terms.

You can spin all this as much as you like, but it is impossible to honestly arrive at a "numerically insignificant" number. As I originally said, it is the fact that Dawkins has had many months to consider these words that is the most alarming. In response to reason when put to him, he appears to becoming ever-more militant and unreasonable, dismissing any evidence that does not fit his prejudices. In which light, this other Dawkins response from his Times article is grimly amusing:

quote:
You’re as much a fundamentalist as those you criticise.
No, please, do not mistake passion, which can change its mind, for fundamentalism, which never will. Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe”, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.

Dawkins has seen plenty of evidence to counter his views, and his response has been to harden them. By his own definition, Dawkins is now a fundamentalist.
 
Posted by Most Moved Mover (# 11673) on :
 
I don't really care what Dawkins thinks about religion. I can't see it as something worthy of getting excited about. I think we give him more space and time than he merits.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
Then what you'd have is not Christianity in any shape or form: Jesus as simply a moral teacher?

There is no universal, simple definition of Christianity. If you see it as one religion to be joined, with perhaps the historic creeds as statements of belief, that's one view. I'd argue that at best that describes a shell, that anything approaching a reflection of meaningful Christian faith is what goes on at the individual level. That includes as many variations as there are individuals.

Jesus was the man who inspired the birth of the Church and continues to inspire those who read his story. Including it seems Richard Dawkins (Atheists for Jesus).
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
You can spin all this as much as you like, but it is impossible to honestly arrive at a "numerically insignificant" number. As I originally said, it is the fact that Dawkins has had many months to consider these words that is the most alarming. In response to reason when put to him, he appears to becoming ever-more militant and unreasonable, dismissing any evidence that does not fit his prejudices.

If significant numbers of Christians were not militant and unreasonable, you might have a point. But that wasn't the case last time I looked. It seems unreasonable, even if some of us would prefer it without the spin, to condemn an atheist for responding in a similar way.
 
Posted by dogwonderer (# 12169) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
By his own definition, Dawkins is now a fundamentalist.

No he isn't, by his own or any other reasonable definition. Dawkins is guilty of many things, but fundamentalism? I don't think so. I hate to defend the sour old fart, but you're wrong about this. Like he says in his interview, which you quote, his opinions (however fervently held, and however objectionable) are subject to change in the face of evidence, as per the scientific method. If your God appeared to Dawkins in a puff of smoke, his opinion of the non-existence of God would be refuted by the evidence. Like he said, fundamentalism is irrefutable by any evidence.

I have a suspicion you don't like him because his views differ from yours. When your church leaders take an equivalent uncompromising stance with their beliefs, do you consider them to be fundamentalists?
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:

It is so factually baseless, verifiably incorrect and - well, let's call a spade a spade - WRONG, that for the first time I am seriously considering his own mental health, with no hyperbole.

quote:
I'm absolutely staggered that anyone should try to defend the clearly indefensible (no hyperbole, just on fact).
My italics. IMO this thread needs two things more clearly defined:

'subtle nuanced (snip) decent understated religion'

and

'hyperbole'
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
The most obvious point to note is that Dawkins was talking about ALL "reasonable" religion being numerically negligable. The names he quotes are Christian theologians, however, and maybe we have a clue as to what sort of rare religious person he thinks is reasonable.

I suspect that Dawkins thinks a `decent, understated' religion -- inasmuch as he's thought it through at all -- is something along the lines of a religion that cannot readily be used to justify persecution or oppression.

I don't know this for sure; I'm just going by his frequent writings on how he thinks religion is used as a tool for such abuses.

If this is the kind of thing he means, it would indeed put most of mainstream religion outside his criteria for acceptability; the number of people inside would, indeed, be numerically negligible.

Of course it is not the fault of religious beliefs that they are so often cited as reasons to behave in discreditable ways. Nevertheless, they are used this way, and have been throughout history. I don't think any particular mainstream religion is any better or worse than any other: all have been used to justify violence or subjugation at some point.

Sticking my neck out a bit, I speculate that the kind of religion that has firm, dogmatic creeds is more likely to be (ab)used in an oppressive way. I think that any system of belief that has at its heart a set of beliefs that must be correct, and every contrary view must be incorrect does lend itself to such an abuse. If we know we're right, you must be wrong. I wish to repeat that I don't hold religion culpable for this -- it's just an unfortunate fact of human nature.

On the other hand, I would speculate that a system of religion that is intrinsically tolerant of differing viewpoints (Quakerism? Theosophy?) would be far less likely to be used satisfactorily in this way. I just can't see anyone raising a rabble of Quakers.

There is no way to get by logic from the premise that religion is used to support oppression to the conclusion that religion is false. All the same, the fact that Christianity seems to be used as a rallying point for bigots and homophobes, among others, does trouble me.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
If significant numbers of Christians were not militant and unreasonable, you might have a point. But that wasn't the case last time I looked. It seems unreasonable, even if some of us would prefer it without the spin, to condemn an atheist for responding in a similar way.

Again, you provide no evidence that this is true - forgive, but is sounds like a vague unsubstantiated hunch. I have no doubt that there are numerically significant numbers of religous people who are dangerous. But that is not what Dawkins is saying - he says that the number NOT doing this is numerically insignificant. This, I maintain, is indefensible and is contrary to all available evidence. On a similar theme:

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I suspect that Dawkins thinks a `decent, understated' religion -- inasmuch as he's thought it through at all -- is something along the lines of a religion that cannot readily be used to justify persecution or oppression.

I don't know this for sure; I'm just going by his frequent writings on how he thinks religion is used as a tool for such abuses.

If this is the kind of thing he means, it would indeed put most of mainstream religion outside his criteria for acceptability; the number of people inside would, indeed, be numerically negligible.

Could you illustrate how all but a numerically negligable fist of faithful advocate abuse and opression? All those warmongering Budhists perhaps? Or that arch militants Desmond Tutu and his followers? etc etc

This is just silly. One can rattle off dozens of awful examples, but it proves or even suggests nothing. I could tell you awful stories of rapists, and it would say nothing about ordinary men (or sex for that matter). There is no evidence to support Dawkins ludicrous statement, and as I have shown the merest edges of the boundless evidence to prove it is, in fact, false.


quote:
Originally posted by dogwonderer:
Dawkins is guilty of many things, but fundamentalism? I don't think so. I hate to defend the sour old fart, but you're wrong about this. Like he says in his interview, which you quote, his opinions (however fervently held, and however objectionable) are subject to change in the face of evidence, as per the scientific method. If your God appeared to Dawkins in a puff of smoke, his opinion of the non-existence of God would be refuted by the evidence. Like he said, fundamentalism is irrefutable by any evidence.

I have a suspicion you don't like him because his views differ from yours. When your church leaders take an equivalent uncompromising stance with their beliefs, do you consider them to be fundamentalists?

But I have just quoted, by example, how his opinions (in this case on the number of reasonable religious people in the world) are factually innacurate. This is evidence, and yet here we are months later with Dawkins' response that these people simply do not exist. This is a perfect example of a fundamentalist mindset. This issue about existence of God is another far more complex matter, but is in this case beside the point. Dawkins has a wide variety of beliefs with regard to religion - God is but one of them. I have shown that another of his beliefs regarding religion reveals a fundamentalist view.

And by the way... I have church leaders?!!! How quick we are to make assumptions...

quote:
Originally posted by 206:
IMO this thread needs two things more clearly defined:

'subtle nuanced (snip) decent understated religion'

and

'hyperbole'

Fair points, I'll have a stab:

'subtle nuanced (snip) decent understated religion' - Dawkins' words. Since he uses Bonhoeffer and Rowan Williams as examples, I can only presume he means using intelligence and critical faculties in relation to faith. As indeed a huge percentage of religious people do.

Hyperbole - stretched beyond reality in order to make a wider point.
 
Posted by Birdseye (# 5280) on :
 
Aw, scientists can be so funny -my dad's one (for the benefit of the following, he's not a biochemist, or nutritionist, he's a mathematician and physicist), and he doesn't like potato skins (in fact he mainly likes cheese on toast), but mum said 'they're nutritious' and he said 'that's nonsense' and I said -'no really - I think the minerals are stored nearer the skin of potatoes'- he got irate and insisted there was no nutrional value in leaving the skins on or eating them -then I did a netsearch and printed off a couple of independent government nutrition analyses(US and UK) of potatoes cooked in varying ways, with and without skins -and there were (of course huge differences -with loads more useful minerals in the ones with skin on.

He refused to look at the research tables and insisted that it was still nonsense and that he wouldn't believe it unless he himself had done the experiment (despite no-one having anything to gain or lose by the potato results)
I then asked him when he'd last circumnavigated the Earth and whether he still believed it was flat -but he works with satellites and said 'no of course not - but I could prove it's not flat with equations and a look at the horizon'- so then I said 'you say you've been to China, well I don't believe you, I think that China is in fact merely a PR stunt based on the deliberate dissemination of misinformation and mass hallucinations'

He stormed off...
Whenever I read any quote by Richard Dawkins I see my dad's grumpy chops in my minds eye and think, God bless Dicky-D for a sweet daft old representative of the 'science' loony fringe...

It also makes me kind of intrigued about the sort of mind that feels it is enquiring but in fact is about as enquiring as a crossbow bolt aiming at a strawman across a field of rare butterflies:
'What butterflies? I didn't see any butterflies... as I first astutely percieved when taking aim, I have now proven, this man is in fact made of straw! '
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Again, you provide no evidence that this is true - forgive, but is sounds like a vague unsubstantiated hunch.

You missed it. I gave as evidence the fact that most mainstream churches use the historic creeds to outline their beliefs. That obviously says nothing about how stridently or militantly they express them, but does I suggest illustrate an underlying commitment to beliefs that are not subtle or nuanced.
quote:
I have no doubt that there are numerically significant numbers of religous people who are dangerous. But that is not what Dawkins is saying - he says that the number NOT doing this is numerically insignificant. This, I maintain, is indefensible and is contrary to all available evidence.
Using words and phrases like 'indefensible', 'contrary to all available evidence', and 'ludicrous' to refer to Richard Dawkins' views seems unwise. If you want to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, anyway.

Literal claims about a virgin birth, incarnation, resurrection and eternal judgement, made by the majority of Christians every time they take communion, looks like a clear illustration of a broad commitment to beliefs with negligable evidential support. Dawkins' regards these as dangerous. I'd say that's at least a defensible position.

[ 21. May 2007, 13:19: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
There is no evidence to support Dawkins ludicrous statement, and as I have shown the merest edges of the boundless evidence to prove it is, in fact, false.

There is no evidence to support Dawkins' statement as you interpret it. My point is that you are (perhaps) not reading it as he wrote it. I might be wrong, of course, as I have no particular insight into what goes on in what passes for this man's mind.

Whether people do, as a matter of fact, use people's religious beliefs to inspire them to do wicked things is only relevant if you read Dawkins as saying that this actually happens. But, as I read it, for Dawkins the only acceptable form of religious belief is one where this would be impossible, or at least extremely implausible.

Dawkins clearly thinks that mainstream religious belief, of all the mainstream religions, could potentially be used to inspire people to wickedness.

I am inclined to agree with this. I don't need to find evidence that this is happening now -- what is important for Dawkins, I think, is the potentiality. Since Christian, Moslem and, yes, even Bhuddist beliefs have been used in the past to justify violence, there is undoubtedly a potential that they can be so used. You can't argue that a thing which has actually happened has no potential to happen.

Now I could be quite wrong about what Dawkins is saying. Maybe he is saying that the vast majority of religious believers hold to dangerous, oppressive, or divisive beliefs. If he is saying that, then I think he is mistaken.

If he is saying that the vast majority of believers hold to beliefs that have the potential -- however small -- to be used in discreditable ways, then I am inclined to think he is right.

I think in interpretating Dawkins' statement, you have to bear in mind that he sees Christians as a pretty homogenous bunch, rightly or (undoubtedly) wrongly.
 
Posted by dogwonderer (# 12169) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
But I have just quoted, by example, how his opinions (in this case on the number of reasonable religious people in the world) are factually innacurate.

This is not evidence that Dawkins is a fundamentalist.

You seem to be saying that, since there are large numbers of religious people who are 'reasonable' in your opinion, Dawkins' opinion that only a few of these people are reasonable is 'fundamentalist'.

Well, I think your opinion is rather unreasonable. Am I, therefore, a fundamentalist?
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by dogwonderer:
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
But I have just quoted, by example, how his opinions (in this case on the number of reasonable religious people in the world) are factually innacurate.

This is not evidence that Dawkins is a fundamentalist.

You seem to be saying that, since there are large numbers of religious people who are 'reasonable' in your opinion, Dawkins' opinion that only a few of these people are reasonable is 'fundamentalist'.

Well, I think your opinion is rather unreasonable. Am I, therefore, a fundamentalist?

I think you (and Crooked Cucumber) have twisted Dawkins' words beyond what they bear. I suggest you read his words again, and here is the full Q&A:

quote:
You ignore the best of religion and instead . . . “you attack crude, rabble-rousing chancers like Ted Haggard, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, rather than facing up to sophisticated theologians like Bonhoeffer or the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place and I would have written a different book. The melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible. Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini. These are not straw men. The world needs to face them, and my book does so.

Dawkins has made himself crystal clear - "Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini". This is factually innacurate. Show me the survey that shows that, globally MOST muslims support Osama Bin Laden, or MOST Christians support Robertson or Falwell, let alone whatever fanatic he pretends that Hindus or Budhists MOSTLY support.

But of course, he goes further - it is not just a majority, but a majority so great that fundamentalism's opposite, "decent, understated religion" is "numerically negligible". To suggest that this is not, in fact, what he is saying seems ludicrous.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Dawkins has made himself crystal clear - "Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini". This is factually innacurate. Show me the survey that shows that, globally MOST muslims support Osama Bin Laden, or MOST Christians support Robertson or Falwell, let alone whatever fanatic he pretends that Hindus or Budhists MOSTLY support.

But of course, he goes further - it is not just a majority, but a majority so great that fundamentalism's opposite, "decent, understated religion" is "numerically negligible". To suggest that this is not, in fact, what he is saying seems ludicrous.

I don't think there is a survey of Robertson, Falwell, or Haggards (RFH) believers. And I think that you are doing a form of Godwin when you compare even RFH to Osama and I despise RFH as much as the next guy.

If one does a google of "religious right" alone, you will see numerous articles similar to this.

In the article, it states things like:

quote:
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and 24 other Christian leaders this year tried to pressure the National Association of Evangelicals to silence its Washington director, the Rev. Rich Cizik, because Cizik is trying to convince evangelicals that global warming is real.

quote:
Conservative Christians are now veteran political operatives who can deliver votes in school board races and presidential campaigns. They fill leadership posts throughout the Republican Party and comprise more than one-third of the GOP base.
quote:
The organizational muscle of the movement -- once controlled by national groups linked to Falwell, Robertson and a few others -- now lies with local pastors, who were key to the 2004 re-election win of President George W. Bush.
And speaking of James Dobson, that guy has a radio show that delivers Fundamentalist garbage nationwide. I despise the man. He has a virtual empire with hate-filled rhetoric that commands mush attention from the Christian Fundies in America.

I really think that it may be hard for Christians in the UK to understand just how much crap we put up with from the "Religious Right" in America. And how pervasive and powerful they are. I'm not even sure moderate Christians in America get it sometimes because they are so used to it, and they may not be that far off from it.

One need only look at GW and what he has implemented and his rhetoric to see how pervasive it is. If you wonder why Dawkins is so shrill and over the top, I think he has seen enough of GW and his ilk, and "Intelligent Design" trial bullshit, and so on that he is responding to the American Right.
 
Posted by Johnny S (# 12581) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
One need only look at GW and what he has implemented and his rhetoric to see how pervasive it is. If you wonder why Dawkins is so shrill and over the top, I think he has seen enough of GW and his ilk, and "Intelligent Design" trial bullshit, and so on that he is responding to the American Right.

Possibly, only Dawkins is British and speaks out of a British University context.

I quite like having him on the scene as he is very good at pointing out the absolute rubbish that we Christians often churn out.

However, if you have a copy of 'The God Delusion' handy then have a flick through the footnotes. Look at how many are webpage addresses. Now I ask you, how can he pass his work off as at all academically credible if most of his 'research' was done via google?
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
I think you [dogwonderer] (and Crooked Cucumber) have twisted Dawkins' words beyond what they bear. I suggest you read his words again...

You're taking these quotes in isolation. If you drop them back in context, which if I'm reading The Times article correctly is an extract from a foreword or something to the new paperback edition of The God Delusion, it looks like an over-simplified statement that he expands on and qualifies in the book.

I don't see any point in demonising Richard Dawkins. He's playing up the role anyway. Yes, he has his limitations, just like the rest of us. He's also saying some things, as he's entitled to, that some Christians seem to find uncomfortable. So he overstates his case for effect. That doesn't mean the essence of what he's saying does not contain at least some pointers to truths to the Church might do well to acknowledge.

(For more context, you could have a look at Ruth Gledhill's write-up of an interview with him).
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
So he overstates his case for effect. That doesn't mean the essence of what he's saying does not contain at least some pointers to truths to the Church might do well to acknowledge.

I give him points for challenging the status quo. However, I think a criticism often rightfully levelled at televangelists may be applicable to him: follow the money.

'Subtle nuanced decent understated' atheists rarely have bestselling books or the kind of platform Dawkins has created for himself.

I can't speak to his science or theology but his marketing is well above average.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
One need only look at GW and what he has implemented and his rhetoric to see how pervasive it is. If you wonder why Dawkins is so shrill and over the top, I think he has seen enough of GW and his ilk, and "Intelligent Design" trial bullshit, and so on that he is responding to the American Right.

Possibly, only Dawkins is British and speaks out of a British University context.

I quite like having him on the scene as he is very good at pointing out the absolute rubbish that we Christians often churn out.

However, if you have a copy of 'The God Delusion' handy then have a flick through the footnotes. Look at how many are webpage addresses. Now I ask you, how can he pass his work off as at all academically credible if most of his 'research' was done via google?

Actually I think Dawkins is speaking globally. He gets that the US has enormous influence and that we are ran by religious freaks at the moment. Not to imply that everyone that is religious is a freak, but that the ones in power in the US are.

I completely "get" Dawkins (I think). The problem with being the near-sole-voice in pointint out the flaws of the other side, is that you are immediately rendered into a caricature of yourself.

It is simply a fact that (at least in the US) the sole remaining groups that are perfectly okay to attack are overwieght people and atheists. Atheists are the most hated group in America, even after muslims and gays.

I think Dawkins makes excellent points a lot of the time. Points that some Christians can learn from. For example, by tolerating the freaks in your midst you empower them and diminish the impact of the "Good" message. The voice of moderation needs to be heard too.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by dogwonderer:
No he isn't, by his own or any other reasonable definition. Dawkins is guilty of many things, but fundamentalism? I don't think so. I hate to defend the sour old fart, but you're wrong about this. Like he says in his interview, which you quote, his opinions (however fervently held, and however objectionable) are subject to change in the face of evidence, as per the scientific method. If your God appeared to Dawkins in a puff of smoke, his opinion of the non-existence of God would be refuted by the evidence. Like he said, fundamentalism is irrefutable by any evidence.

Dawkins is clearly a fundamentalist, just about science rather than about (Christian) religion. The Christian fundamentalist is of course open to any sort of change in his opinions and behaviour, as drastic as it may be, if he judges that it is commanded by God. The evidence the Christian fundamentalist accepts as truly relevant is limited to "spiritual" evidence from God. If Christ Himself appeared and declared evolution to be true, they of course would believe it. It just so happens that the fundamentalists know, or think they know, that this will never ever happen. In fact their spirituality is restricted to certain sources, like the bible, and they know quite well what sort of thing can be found there. It is irrelevant to them if reasonable arguments for something exist, if they can construct counter-arguments from their "spiritual" evidence, no matter how flimsy. Their first instinct is to eliminate non-"spiritual" sources of truth, not to harmonize them with God's word.

The parallel to Dawkins' scientific fundamentalism is strict. Dawkins also is willing to change his opinions and behaviour, but only if forced to by science. For he only accepts scientific evidence as truly relevant. So if God appeared in a scientifically verifiable manner, then he would fall to his knees and worship Him. But in fact he knows, or thinks he knows, that this will never ever happen. For his science is restricted to certain sources, like physical experiments, and he knows quite well what sort of thing can be found there. Philosophical or theological arguments are irrelevant to him, if he can construct counter-arguments from his scientific evidence, no matter how flimsy. His first instinct is to eliminate non-scientific sources of truth, not to harmonize them with science.

Dawkins is just as blinkered as Christian fundamentalists. The only difference is what he is blinkered about. He's also well on the way of becoming just as boring and predictable as they are...
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Dawkins has made himself crystal clear - "Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini". This is factually innacurate.

I concede that, taken on its own, this statement is either a falsehood or hyperbole. Put alongside the way he usually expresses himself on this subject, I am inclined to think that Dawkins is indulging in hyperbole here, rather than telling a lie. But I could be wrong.

Nevertheless, I tend to think that his more general claim, that religious beliefs are capable of being used to inspire wickedness, is a true one. Sadly. Of course, that isn't a claim that can be made exclusively of religious belief and, as I've said before, it doesn't say anything about whether any religious belief is, in fact, true.

Anyway, I'm not sure how I've come to find myself defending Dawkins. I don't think that Dawkins would recognize `subtle, nuanced' religious belief if it hit him in the face. My feeling is that he would assume that anything that was `subtle' or `nuanced' was incapable of being associated with religion.
 
Posted by mirrizin (# 11014) on :
 
A thought...

The statement that "most religious people are not sufficiently educated and believe in delusions" seems a lot less vindictive when you consider the truth value of the observation that most people in general are not sufficiently educated and believe in delusions.

I mean, are most people in the general public that scientifically nuanced? I wonder...

It might just be a matter of sampling.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Literal claims about a virgin birth, incarnation, resurrection and eternal judgement, made by the majority of Christians every time they take communion, looks like a clear illustration of a broad commitment to beliefs with negligable evidential support. Dawkins' regards these as dangerous. I'd say that's at least a defensible position.

Hang on, you believe in God, don't you?

My view is that if God exists, then He is almost certainly the God described by traditional Christianity, because this is the only way I can reconcile His existence with human suffering. The question which requires the most faith on my part is whether He exists at all. Now, I am not asking you to agree with my reasoning but I would like you to acknowledge that, from my perspective, you are as fundamentalist as the rest of us, with the added drawback that your theology does not (to my eyes) seem to have any credible way round the Problem of Evil.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
I think you (and Crooked Cucumber) have twisted Dawkins' words beyond what they bear. I suggest you read his words again, and here is the full Q&A:

quote:
You ignore the best of religion and instead . . . “you attack crude, rabble-rousing chancers like Ted Haggard, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, rather than facing up to sophisticated theologians like Bonhoeffer or the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place and I would have written a different book. The melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible. Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini. These are not straw men. The world needs to face them, and my book does so.

Dawkins has made himself crystal clear - "Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini". This is factually innacurate. Show me the survey that shows that, globally MOST muslims support Osama Bin Laden, or MOST Christians support Robertson or Falwell
You should read the God Delusion more carefully. Dawkins draws the dividing line between reasonable and unreasonable differently to you. He doesn't say that most believers support Bin Laden or Robertson, but that they are like them in that they have firm convictions on moral and factual matters which founded on no evidence. He acknowledges that there can be 'moderate' religion - religion which believes (on poor grounds) things which are relatively helpful or harmless - but he doesn't think this is reasonable. He thinks that the moderates, far from being a contrast to the extremists, give apparent legitimacy to the poor habits of thought that allow the extremists to exist at all.

The quote seems to me to summarise an argument made in the book in greater detail, that it is the mode of thinking, not the specific conclusion reached, that is the problem, and that if you have millions of people believing (for example) that the best reason to forgive others their trespasses is because it says so in some old book, then you will inevitably have some thousands of those also thinking that it is right to stone people to death for working on a Saturday when the same old book says it is. Dawkins would agree that the people who believe in forgiveness are 'moderates' in some sense, but they aren't practising a religion which he would call reasonable.

Religious people whom Dawkins thinks are wholly reasonable ARE numerically insignificant. I'm not sure that even Bonhoeffer or the Archbishop of Canterbury make it (Mother Teresa, for example, certainly does not) - I detect an unspoken "for the sake of argument" assumption that a case could be made for some people, but not many.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mirrizin:
A thought...

The statement that "most religious people are not sufficiently educated and believe in delusions" seems a lot less vindictive when you consider the truth value of the observation that most people in general are not sufficiently educated and believe in delusions.

I mean, are most people in the general public that scientifically nuanced? I wonder...

An excellent point.

I think part of the problem is that Christians are expected to defend the whole paraphernalia of Christian beliefs - Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, eternal life - while atheists are merely defending the proposition that God does not exist, which is quite easy to do (unsheath Occam's Razor). But most atheists are also secular humanists, and I bet that if you asked the average secular humanist to defend their secular humanism, they would struggle.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
His answer here is breathtaking:

quote:
If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place and I would have written a different book. The melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible.
If ever I was tempted in my darkest hour to believe that Richard Dawkins spoke about some kind of actual reality, then this is definitively the moment where my mind is at rest. The most incredible thing about the quote above is that he has had months to reflect on it. It is so factually baseless, verifiably incorrect and - well, let's call a spade a spade - WRONG, that for the first time I am seriously considering his own mental health, with no hyperbole. This man is a respected scientist, he is at home with data analysis. He cannot be afforded the excuse of ignorance.
Ok, and let me kick off by saying that Dorkins is the second to last Pom I'd stick up for - Blair being last.

I understand where you're coming from - you're clearly not one of the raving nutters, nor are the majority of posters on this site.

Take NZ as a great example - especially since we have 2006 census statistics:

Anglican 554,925

Catholic 508,437

Presbyterian, Congregational and Reformed 431,139

Christian not further defined 192,165

Methodist 120,546

quote:
...affiliation with Evangelical, Born Again and Fundamentalist religions increased by 25.6 percent, and affiliation with Pentecostal religions increased by 17.8 percent.

According to those base statistics, I could reasonably expect to find similar numbers of churches and churchgoers of all three of Anglican, Catholic and P,C&R branches in Auckland.

The truth is that in Auckland, the ratio of fundamental churches to mainstream churches is between two and three fundie churches to one mainstream church - yes, there are over twice as many fundie churches as all other churches combined.

And NZ's a highly secular country, for chrissakes!

People may wear the badge of sane christianity when the census taker calls, but the facts about people who attend church show a vastly different picture. Fundamental christianity is the growth area of christianity and it seems to me that Dawkins has the right target.

He isn't after you, just the crazies.

Rather than thinking Dawkins is deluded, maybe it's actually you kidding yourself that you and your sane mates are still the majority? I got the impression from your post that you'd be less pissed off at Dawkins if you agreed that fundies were everywhere. What if he is right, then?

Plus, the obvious attraction that they're a hell of a lot easier targets than Rowan Williams. I have no doubt that Rowan and Dorkins would provide a highly stimulating debate - but apart from some of us on this board, who would watch it? They'd be so far above the majority that it wouldn't rate, there'd be no histrionics and it would be like a Vicar's tea party - there's no mileage in it for Dawkins and as he says, why would he want to battle something he doesn't dislike?

I agree that while fundies may be numerically the major sect worldwide, that calling thoughtful christians "negligible" is certainly tarnishing the truth. A minority, sure, negligible, no.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Dawkins is just as blinkered as Christian fundamentalists. The only difference is what he is blinkered about.

You present the contrast as if it were symmetrical. That would only be the case if your "spiritual evidence" and scientific evidence are equally falsifiable. You're playing word games there.

Dawkins may be a fundamentalist. My reading is he's probably not, that he really is committed to a search for truth, but that his ability to focus on a problem to the exclusion of anything else has meant that religion has only ever been for him a truth-diluting distraction. For now he's focusing on promoting his book. When he's given that his best shot, who knows where his search will take him, what he'll choose the focus on?
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
My view is that if God exists, then He is almost certainly the God described by traditional Christianity, because this is the only way I can reconcile His existence with human suffering.

I don't how you've arrived at that. As far as traditional Christianity speaks with a single voice on suffering, I've not seen it offer any reconciliation with a loving God that I found convincing.
quote:
The question which requires the most faith on my part is whether He exists at all. Now, I am not asking you to agree with my reasoning but I would like you to acknowledge that, from my perspective, you are as fundamentalist as the rest of us, with the added drawback that your theology does not (to my eyes) seem to have any credible way round the Problem of Evil.
I've no idea how you've arrived at that either. I can say with Dawkins that my faith is evidence-based, although I probably include more of the personal than he does. However, I don't have a book to sell, and I was a convinced evangelical Christian for many years. So I probably have a less one-sided take on the evidence.

For what it's worth, my theology has no problem of evil to get round. Whether you find it credible would I suspect depend on how far you were willing to step back from traditonal Christianity in order to consider it.
 
Posted by sanityman (# 11598) on :
 
[ETA x-posted with Dave Marshall]

I suspect RD's interpretation of "reasonable" religion is one that few outside the Sea of Faith would support - after all, he's a reductionist materialist. Defining "reasonable" to mean something like "not giving credence to sources of information other than empiricism and logic" makes his statements true.

Of course, this Queen of Hearts behaviour with regards to words like "reason" is unhelpful in the extreme, and make a reasonable (ha!) debate next to impossible, because you're using the same language to mean different things.

It has been pointed out elsewhere that RD's views are hardly "reasonable and nuanced". The problem remains that he not only wishes to target the fundies but also to lump just about every thinking Christian in with them (Williams, Bonhoeffer et al). That this annoys people is hardly surprising.

Oh well. I started writing to defend RD against some of the more OTT criticisms, but the words just won't come [Frown]

- Chris.

[ 21. May 2007, 22:44: Message edited by: sanityman ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Dawkins is simply knowingly intellectualy dishonest when it comes to theology.

The implication that most Christians are like Falwell and Phelps is absurd.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Religious people whom Dawkins thinks are wholly reasonable ARE numerically insignificant.

Indeed, I strongly suspect that the number of people, religious or otherwise, who are always wholly reasonable is 0. Dawkins certainly isn't.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Dawkins is simply knowingly intellectualy dishonest when it comes to theology.

The implication that most Christians are like Falwell and Phelps is absurd.

The implication that most Chirstians in the UK are like Falwell (he didn't say Phelps IIRC) is absurd. The notion that most Christians in the US are like Falwell, is NOT.

And you cannot be knowingly intellectually dishonest about a "belief system" such as Christianity. You can be knowingly intellectually dishonest about data and maybe theories, which he is not.

He correctly makes this point repeatedly to his detractors. Not that any of them pay attention to it or bother to read his argument.

If Christians cannot agree amongst themselves on theology, how the hell can you expect him to be "intellectually honest" on something that isn't even intellectually honest amongst yourselves? Theology varies WILDLY.

Does the wine turn to the ACTUAL meat of Christ or not?

Did miracles in old times happen when all we see of miracle makers now are fakes and liars?

The dead are dead. End of discussion. That theology says otherwise does not make it so under critical observation and analysis.

You either believe, or its all bullshit. Dawkins is in the latter camp, so if he calls theology on its bullshit, he can hardly be called a bad theologian. He thinks it's bullshit. His detractors are arguing whether he knows how to argue with their bullshit better than they know their own bullshit. It's all bullshit to him.

It's as if you said "Dawkins is simply knowingly intellectualy dishonest when it comes to [bullshit]." Well, yeah!
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
You should read the God Delusion more carefully. Dawkins draws the dividing line between reasonable and unreasonable differently to you. He doesn't say that most believers support Bin Laden or Robertson, but that they are like them in that they have firm convictions on moral and factual matters which founded on no evidence. He acknowledges that there can be 'moderate' religion - religion which believes (on poor grounds) things which are relatively helpful or harmless - but he doesn't think this is reasonable. He thinks that the moderates, far from being a contrast to the extremists, give apparent legitimacy to the poor habits of thought that allow the extremists to exist at all.

The quote seems to me to summarise an argument made in the book in greater detail, that it is the mode of thinking, not the specific conclusion reached, that is the problem, and that if you have millions of people believing (for example) that the best reason to forgive others their trespasses is because it says so in some old book, then you will inevitably have some thousands of those also thinking that it is right to stone people to death for working on a Saturday when the same old book says it is. Dawkins would agree that the people who believe in forgiveness are 'moderates' in some sense, but they aren't practising a religion which he would call reasonable.

Re-reading this, I see the error in my above post. Sorry. However, I still think Dawkins is mistaken and that he himselves believes things which can't be proven. Epistemologically, very few things can be proven. I suspect that the line between "can't be proven but rationally defensible" and "not reasonable" is more blurred than Dawkins allows for, and neither do I think, for example, that the Bible's injunction against murder falls into the latter catergory, although it does possibly fall into the first.

He appears to have missed the possibility that some people agree with the ethics of the Bible because their experiences and prior knowledge leads them to similar conclusions, rather than vice versa. Christians who think murder is wrong, to continue the example, do not nec think that "just because the Bible says so" and their reasons for believing it may not be as poor as Dawkins imagines.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
And you cannot be knowingly intellectually dishonest about a "belief system" such as Christianity.

Yes, you can. He repeatedly misrepresents and distorts the opinions and beliefs of other people. Whether or not those opinions are valid is completely and utterly 100& irrelavent. He either makes sweeping pronouncements about all or most belivers without making any effort to prove or even research his alligations or else he is simply a liar.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
If i spent ten minutes googling for the most whacked-out bizaros I could possibly find on the net who call themselves "libertarians" and then repeatedly implied that all libertarians were like that, even in the limited sense that Dawkins uses, then that would be knowingly intellectually dishonest.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
And you cannot be knowingly intellectually dishonest about a "belief system" such as Christianity.

Yes, you can. He repeatedly misrepresents and distorts the opinions and beliefs of other people. Whether or not those opinions are valid is completely and utterly 100& irrelavent. He either makes sweeping pronouncements about all or most belivers without making any effort to prove or even research his alligations or else he is simply a liar.
Whether those beliefs and opinions are "Valid" is not relevant? Say again? [Killing me]

There in lies the rub, doens't it? This is not about reason or validity, so it's not unreasonable for Dawkins to be pilloried for not being valid about that which is NOT valid!

Besides, Libertarians points are within the realm of the real. Those points can be reasonably debated. As can socialists or communists or whatever. I do not know of any truly political system that requires you to validate the invalidatable in order to discuss it. Let me know if you can think of one.

Validate the validatable, yes. I can say "Libertarianism is better!" and you can say "Prove it!" and I could come back with lots of case studies and systems that worked with Libertarianism, or socialism for that matter (ironically).

You on the other hand could say "Miracles actually happened" and I could say "prove it!" and all you can say is "Because the bible/koran/whatever said so!" and I go "Prove it! It doesn't happen NOW" and we go round and round. Not validatable. A belief system.

Dawkins is not required to validate religious bullshit with the correct form of religious bullshit. Bullshit is bullshit.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Whether those beliefs and opinions are "Valid" is not relevant? Say again? [Killing me]

Dawkins is rightly pillioried because he undermines the very thing which he is attempting to champion. Any reasonably bright theology undergrad knows that Dawkins arguments about theology are simply wrong. He is wrong about the sort of questions theology asks. He is wrong about the sort of language it employs. He is wrong about where theologians get their ideas. He is wrong about the history of theology. He is wrong about what theology actually is, and most of all he is wrong to assert that religious faith and blind, unquestioning certainty are the same thing.

Whether religious ideas are accurate or not is not even slightly relavent in the sense that his prior assumption that all religious ideas are wrong does not excuse him from that tedious chor of actually knowing something about them - and it is painfully obvious that he does not. The accuracy or otherwise of religious ideas is pertinent if he is doing to discuss them intelligently, even to reject them. That is not what Dawkins does, however.

I don't understand why defenders of Dawkins say that he is not obliged to know anything about the subject he is critiquing because he thinks it is rot. Or he is entitled to tell lies about religious believers because they are all stupid anyway! What special pleading! As an example, I think libertarianism is rot, but that doesn't mean I am entitled to write a book in which I repeatedly misqoute and misrepresent libertarians, assign beliefs to them that they don't actually hold, make innacurate statements about the evolution of libertarian ideas, tell lies about what libertarianism attempts to do, knock down strawlibertarians and then say this is a serious academic study which "refutes" libertarianism!!!!

If Dawkins wants to masturbate in public then that is up to him, I suppose, but it doesn't further the debate. Anyone, rligious believer or not, who knows much about theology or religion knows that Dawkins knows very little about it indeed and that Dawkins actually undermines athiests. He makes athiests look dumb, to be frank. Which is why many athiests do not seek to defend him.

And before you say that he is a brilliant scientist so he must be right about religion, please ponder the fact that the greatest linguist who has ever lived is a certain Mr. Noam Chomsky.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
You on the other hand could say "Miracles actually happened" and I could say "prove it!" and all you can say is "Because the bible/koran/whatever said so!" and I go "Prove it! It doesn't happen NOW" and we go round and round. Not validatable. A belief system.

I think you have misunderstood the objection to Dawkins. In a certain sense, whether miracles happen or not is relavent, but that is not the sense in which the objection operates.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal,genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
- Richard Dawkins

Yup, looks like his read of the theology is spot on to me.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
You present the contrast as if it were symmetrical. That would only be the case if your "spiritual evidence" and scientific evidence are equally falsifiable. You're playing word games there.

No, I'm not. I simply reject the notion that empirical falsifiability is the be all and end all of determining truth values. That reduces the human intellect to much less than it is and it is as a matter of fact self-contradictory (for the detection of regularities in empirical data, which is after all what the data is for, is not itself empirical). The scientific method is the equivalent to an error correction algorithm, it serves to suppress the most common mistakes made in certain types of questions. That's all. The claim that it must be possible to receive all important insights through this error correction algorithm is nothing short of extraordinary. Extraordinary proof for that is not available, and indeed it is impossible to obtain it through the error correction algorithm itself (yet another self-contradiction).

What Dawkins has done is the classic mistake of the prideful scientist: to assume that because he knows something well, he must know everything. He is trying to occupy foreign intellectual territory with the limited tools he has at his ready disposal. It is not working well. But instead of bowing out, he employs a smokescreen of offensive rhetorics in the hope that people get too upset to think clearly about what he actually says. That may be enough for some more or less entertaining rounds of intellectual fisticuffs in Purgatory, but it is not enough for a professional scientist posturing globally as the atheist Messiah.

Dawkins is a failure. I'm very happy if he continues his crusade though. As far as I'm concerned, the best he can do is make atheism look like an idiotic option, the worst he can do is to separate Christian chaff from wheat. So his worst is not so bad at all for Christianity.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:

quote:
...affiliation with Evangelical, Born Again and Fundamentalist religions increased by 25.6 percent, and affiliation with Pentecostal religions increased by 17.8 percent.

...

The truth is that in Auckland, the ratio of fundamental churches to mainstream churches is between two and three fundie churches to one mainstream church - yes, there are over twice as many fundie churches as all other churches combined.

I can't help thinking that this debate would be improved if people used their terms with more precision. That's noy you, TheAtheist, I'm talking about in particular -- the census-takers are clearly in a muddle too.

What, exactly, are `evangelical, born-again, and fundamentalist religions'? More to the point, why are they considered similar enough to lump together?

`Evangelical' broadly refers to an movement based on Luther's sola scriptura, sola fide and, as a movement (and a technical term), predates protestantism. (Christian) fundamentalism is a movement from the early 20th century which emphasises conservatism and scriptural inerrancy.

Most (Christian) fundamentalists are evangelical, but not all evangelicals are fundamentalists, or even have much sympathy with fundamentalism.

I have no bloody clue what a `born again religion' is supposed to be. I would guess that it's referring to the Pentecostal churches, which tend to make a big deal of this rebirth thing. Again, there is no direct correspondence between this and evangelicalism, properly defined, or fundamentalism, properly defined.

I don't know if many commentators really do think that terms like `evangelical' and `fundamentalist' mean essentially the same thing (which they don't). More likely they are all used, along with the appalling `fundie', to mean `people we are scared of'.

If you put evangelicals, properly so-called, in the `people we are scared of' category, then of course there are a lot of people to be scared of. But this is just silly.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
What, exactly, are `evangelical, born-again, and fundamentalist religions'? More to the point, why are they considered similar enough to lump together?

Fair point. The trouble is that the "fundy" churches have no structure as such. It's very easy to count Catholic and Anglican churches and know that they are the same as the one down the road, but how can I tell the difference between the Elim Christian Church, the International Baptist Church and the Evangelical Church of Christ?

We are probably a bit too liberal with terms, but it's more of an occupational risk than something which is going to muddy the waters too much.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
We are probably a bit too liberal with terms, but it's more of an occupational risk than something which is going to muddy the waters too much.

I don't agree. In my view, the `religious right' of the USA is a cause for concern, and it matters a great deal how widespread are the attitudes it espouses.

Inasmuch as `evangelical' is broadly the same as `protestant' (the difference is fairly technical) I would image that more than 50% of UK Christians would describe themselves as evangelical (yes, this is a wild guess).

But I would be very surprised if more than a tiny minority of these people identified with the `religious right' of the USA.

So using historical terms like `evangelical' as a synonym for (essentially) `mad Christian' hugely overstates the number of `mad Christians' there are.

This is how witch-hunts get started.
 
Posted by Alaric the Goth (# 511) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
...Fair point. The trouble is that the "fundy" churches have no structure as such. It's very easy to count Catholic and Anglican churches and know that they are the same as the one down the road, but how can I tell the difference between the Elim Christian Church, the International Baptist Church and the Evangelical Church of Christ?

We are probably a bit too liberal with terms, but it's more of an occupational risk than something which is going to muddy the waters too much.

Anglican churches are indeed not the same. The one I am now going back to, that used to be my regular church years ago, is very far to the 'evangelical' end of the spectrum. The one in a different town I went to last Sunday, (whilst visiting a shipmate and family!) was breathtakingly ‘Catholic’, so different in fact that you’d wonder the two churches were in the same denomination.

It was a worthwhile experience to attend such different churches on two consecutive Sundays to see what a ‘broad church’ the Church of England can be.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Whoa, what a load of posts!

If the quotes in the Times have been subbed to changed Dawkins' meaning, then I retract my first post. I have no particular desire to give Dawkins any of my money in the form of a shiny new paperback edition - does anyone have the actual full relevent Q&A to hand?

In the meantime, in the absence of any evidence to suggest otherwise, I'll continue to work with the assumption that what he wrote is what he meant. And what he wrote - his answer to many months of intelligent criticsim - was nonsense.

True, there are an alarmingly high percentage of US Christians who are fundamentalist (and believe in nonsense like Young Earth Creationism). But say it again - this is not the point. Dawkins says ALL religion - every variety, everywhere on the globe (including the very significant percentage of American Christians who are not fundamentalist). Now maybe his own definition of reasonable religion does not encompass people like Rowan Williams, in which case he is either an appalling writer, has been apallingly edited or is decietful. But if he does view Williams as reasonable, one cannot evade the conclusion that he is the leader of a large mainstream religion whose followers could reasonably be expected to accord with his views.

He tells the majority of religous people in the world that their beliefs are the same as fanatical extremists. In which case, all global surveys of religious opinion are wrong, and the people making their statements are liars. This would not be the first time that Dawkins has told other people that they do no mean what they say - he did so with Stephen Jay Gould. This is the classic Dawkinsian response - "an intelligent person does not agree with my prejudiuces, therefore they must be lying". The evidence is disregarded, in favour of pre-existing beliefs.

The charge of fundamentalism stands. Of course, I could make the point that why should I worry about being offensive with this, since he has said exactly the same thing to at least 3/4 of the world's population? But even though this is exactly how Dawkins behaves, this would be a little cheap. I do know some fundamentalists, and some are very decent, caring, intelligent people, and not at all dangerous to man nor beast. I just can't see how they reconcile their beliefs with the world around them. At the moment, no doubt this is the kind of fundamentalist Dawkins is. However, since his pronouncemnets become ever more extreme, I am concerned about the increasingly irrational path his beliefs are taking him - an more more extreme Dawkins may be lurking around the corner for all I know.
 
Posted by Alaric the Goth (# 511) on :
 
I'd have to agree, Noiseboy, with most if not all of that last post. It is incredibly lax of Dawkins not to look into the facts before slagging off all religious belief; lumping together very disparate categories of believer. I am not a fundamentalist, but am an evangelical, and that statement would probably cause Dawkins to develop apoplexy.

[ 22. May 2007, 10:20: Message edited by: Alaric the Goth ]
 
Posted by Off Centre View (# 4254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alaric the Goth:
I'd have to agree, Noiseboy, with most if not all of that last post. It is incredibly lax of Dawkins not to look into the facts before slagging off all religious belief; lumping together very disparate categories of believer. I am not a fundamentalist, but am an evangelical, and that statement would probably cause Dawkins to develop apoplexy.

I'm also going to say that I agree as well. I respect Dawkins, but some of his increasing rants have come across as provocations rather than complete arguments (i.e. everyone who has a religious belief is bad, that sort of thing).

Does anyone remember, I think it was either last year or a few months ago, when Dawkins went on a massive rant against the comedian Peter Kay? I think that was something to do with Peter Kay saying that he believed in a God and found that somewhat comforting, only for Dawkins to rant at him for it.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Off Centre View:

quote:
Does anyone remember, I think it was either last year or a few months ago, when Dawkins went on a massive rant against the comedian Peter Kay? I think that was something to do with Peter Kay saying that he believed in a God and found that somewhat comforting, only for Dawkins to rant at him for it.
IIRC, he was set up by the press who read the quote over the phone without attributing it. (Silly old Dawkins not asking for an attribution, or indeed context, perhaps, but clearly someone was stirring things up to get a story.)

Apropos of the whole fundamentalism thing, I think fundamentalism is about the relationship between believer and text. It is about believing that a given text is literally inerrant. It isn't about holding strong views and expressing them in an objectionable manner. If that were the case half the people who post in hell could be classed as fundamentalists.

So I don't think that Dawkins can accurately be characterised as a fundamentalist. I think 'aggressive and intellectually lazy (at least on the subject of religion)' is a more accurate characterisation. To paraphrase George Orwell on H.G. Wells, he squanders his talents on slaying paper dragons. But what it is to have talents to squander.
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Originally posted by Off Centre View:

quote:
Does anyone remember, I think it was either last year or a few months ago, when Dawkins went on a massive rant against the comedian Peter Kay? I think that was something to do with Peter Kay saying that he believed in a God and found that somewhat comforting, only for Dawkins to rant at him for it.
IIRC, he was set up by the press who read the quote over the phone without attributing it. (Silly old Dawkins not asking for an attribution, or indeed context, perhaps, but clearly someone was stirring things up to get a story.)

Apropos of the whole fundamentalism thing, I think fundamentalism is about the relationship between believer and text. It is about believing that a given text is literally inerrant. It isn't about holding strong views and expressing them in an objectionable manner. If that were the case half the people who post in hell could be classed as fundamentalists.

So I don't think that Dawkins can accurately be characterised as a fundamentalist. I think 'aggressive and intellectually lazy (at least on the subject of religion)' is a more accurate characterisation. To paraphrase George Orwell on H.G. Wells, he squanders his talents on slaying paper dragons. But what it is to have talents to squander.

I don't think it is wrong at all to describe Dawkins as a fundamentalist. He appears to believe that scientific facts are literally true which is not so. Every experiment, every hypothesis and antithesis, requires interpretation so that we can say that x is the outcome, which is good enough for all practical purposes.

By your own measure I think that makes him a fundamentalist.

As for his rant against Peter Kay, he was just being a bully, thinking that the statement was from a nobody. He was Found out by Fame. I do wish Dawkins would stick to his job, which is the public understanding of science, although you wouldn't know it.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
What does 'literally true' mean in this context?
 
Posted by dj_ordinaire (# 4643) on :
 
He has said on many occasions that he is not a fundamentalist for precisely that reason - although he believes scientific facts to be established to varying degrees of confidence, he would always be willing to change his mind if better evidence came along. The worst that can happen to a scientist in this respect is that she/he can become too attached to a 'pet theory' that the scientific method suggests they ought.

What could be argued is that Dawkins' belief in the non-existence of God - not justified by any scientific evidence - is a bigoted one in that it is intolerant of dissent. I'd still be leary of using the term 'fundamentalist' which should probably be left with the more specific meaning that it already enjoys.
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
What does 'literally true' mean in this context?

(with a nod to dj_ordinaire too)

I take literally true to mean true to the very letter. I don't think one needs to be attached to literal truth to be a fundamentalist though: some fundamentalists interpret scripture and arrive at non-literal conclusions and I should hope so too: I don't think God speaks to us in a man-made language. Amongst fundamentalists I'm sure they interpret scripture differently.

Ditto scientists, some have more confidence in established fact than others and the scientific community can get as attached to established wisdom as can part of any religion. So long as scientists don't denigrate religion on grounds of unreasonableness nor preachers run down science on the grounds of deviation from scripture I'll be happy.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Now maybe his own definition of reasonable religion does not encompass people like Rowan Williams, in which case he is either an appalling writer, has been apallingly edited or is decietful. But if he does view Williams as reasonable, one cannot evade the conclusion that he is the leader of a large mainstream religion whose followers could reasonably be expected to accord with his views. […]
He tells the majority of religous people in the world that their beliefs are the same as fanatical extremists.

You’ve missed the point completely.

Dawkins’ objection to “moderate” religion isn’t just about the content of people’s views, it’s an objection to religious faith as a means of forming views at all. If he thinks that Rowan Williams is reasonable, it isn’t because Rowan Williams has moderate views rather than extremist views – it’s because Rowan Williams has good reasons for his views. So the fact (assuming it to be a fact) that most Anglicans agree with their Archbishop does not make those followers reasonable. If they believe the same things, but for worse reasons, then they are unreasonable.

Dawkins’ argument (with which I happen to disagree) is that because faith seeks no reasons and resists rather than welcomes contrary evidence, ANY faith position is as valid as any other. It is a historical accident that we worship Yahweh rather than his old rival Baal. Sometimes faith may lead to morally good acts, sometimes to morally bad ones – in the same way that making decisions by flipping a coin sometimes leads to good decisions – but faith in and of itself can never offer rational grounds for choosing the good and rejecting the bad. It is therefore an inherently bad way of thinking.

The way in which I am (according to Dawkins) like Osama bin Laden is not that we believe the same things, but that we believe in the same way – we believe in a transcendent God, who has a moral claim on our allegiance, who can and does communicate by miraculous revelation, and whose commands are to be obeyed even when they exceed our understanding. And he’s right. Where I disagree with Dawkins is that I don’t think that it is a matter of mere accident or statistical distribution on a scale, that my faith leads me to commend forgiveness and Bin Laden’s leads him to commend suicide bombing. I think that there are solid reasons, within a faith-centred world-view, to distinguish and choose between the two. That is, I think that one can rightly choose between religious positions on religious grounds whereas Dawkins thinks that you can only distinguish extreme and moderate religions reliably by using non-religious rational and moral reasoning. But it is by no means an easy task to explain the sort of reasoning possible within a faith position to someone who doesn’t know or understand religious faith at all, and the fact that Dawkins doesn’t get it does not make him stupid, or intellectually lazy, or dishonest, or fundamentalist. He is none of those things.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
I ... reject the notion that empirical falsifiability is the be all and end all of determining truth values.

It's not about falsifiability as the be all and end all of anything. The question is one of acknowledging and retaining the field of legitimacy inherent in any particular determination.

For a proposition that cannot by its nature be empirically tested, for example if it relies on "spiritual evidence", any "determination" of its truth value has no non-speculative connection with reality. It's essentially opinion based on interpretation of personal experience, perhaps compounded many times over.

You characterise the scientific method as an error-correction algorithm, but in doing so obscure its critical strength. It is always applied to the physical universe, our common shared reality. It is explicitly designed to exclude opinion. That gives its determinations universal legitimacy because, other things being equal, anyone can check if they're right.

A non-empirically testable truth claim is of a different order, one that requires faith not in a physical reality based system but one based on human opinion. That in my view means such "truths", from the point of view of humanity as a whole, are never determinations. They are things only we as individuals have the legitimacy to conclude.

Richard Dawkins is I think only making this distinction. He just has the desire and the position to object more vocally than most of us about religion that conflates personal convictions with universal truth.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:

quote:
You characterise the scientific method as an error-correction algorithm, but in doing so obscure its critical strength. It is always applied to the physical universe, our common shared reality. It is explicitly designed to exclude opinion. That gives its determinations universal legitimacy because, other things being equal, anyone can check if they're right.

A non-empirically testable truth claim is of a different order, one that requires faith not in a physical reality based system but one based on human opinion. That in my view means such "truths", from the point of view of humanity as a whole, are never determinations. They are things only we as individuals have the legitimacy to conclude.

Richard Dawkins is I think only making this distinction. He just has the desire and the position to object more vocally than most of us about religion that conflates personal convictions with universal truth.

That's an interesting take but it's basically a reiteration of Popper's demarcation between science and metaphysics with (not unreasonable) political consequences (metaphysical beliefs should be a matter of individual conscience).

I think Dawkins' position is rather stronger than this. It is that religion is a positive evil, which derives from the strength of religious memes, which is based on an irrational and arbitrary adoption of a belief system due to social conformity and which issues in suicide bombing and people writing to him in green ink telling him that he's wrong about evolution. (I disagree with him because he ignores the extent to which religion functions as a form of ideological legitimation, because I think the notion of memes is an attempt to conflate evolutionary theory with a very crude form of Anglo-American philosophy and because the notion of 'religion' as a simple and undifferentiated concept is absurdly naive, but I'm sure we've had this discussion.) You seem to read him as a Dave Marshallite - True religion is the quest of the individual for spiritual truth unencumbered by man-made dogmas. I read him as saying Ecrasez l'Infame!.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:

Dawkins is a failure. I'm very happy if he continues his crusade though. As far as I'm concerned, the best he can do is make atheism look like an idiotic option, the worst he can do is to separate Christian chaff from wheat. So his worst is not so bad at all for Christianity. [/QB]

Really? #2 on Amazon and #4 on New York Times Best Selling non-Fiction (10 weeks on the list) is failure? I'd like to hear your definition of success!

And it may be a coincidence but the first congressman came out of the atheist closet.

quote:
"....I have been inundated (with responses) from literally all over the world.''

Of the 500 or so responses Stark has received, all but about 25 them have been supportive. Even those weren't the type of harsh screeds that might be expected on a hot-button topic like religion.

"The negative responses were the most reasoned and reasonable I've ever received,'' he said. "In this instance, the people who have disagreed with me have been polite and reasonable. All in all, this has been a pleasurable experience.''

If you think Dawkins makes atheism look like an idiotic option than you haven't seen what categorically stupid things your boys have been saying over here. Pat Robertson, Fallwell, Haggard, Phelps, for that matter The Pope, all make Dawkins look like a Rocket Scientist, as we say over here.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
But it is by no means an easy task to explain the sort of reasoning possible within a faith position to someone who doesn’t know or understand religious faith at all, and the fact that Dawkins doesn’t get it does not make him stupid, or intellectually lazy, or dishonest, or fundamentalist. He is none of those things.

Yes, but if he had ever bothered to read any theology then he would get it.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I'd like to hear your definition of success!

A good, intellectually rigorous argument displaying all the hallmarks of exceptionally good scholarship?

That is hardly what TGD is.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
I see, you haven't read the book then.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
It's simply ranting drivel, IMO of course.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Dawkins’ objection to “moderate” religion isn’t just about the content of people’s views, it’s an objection to religious faith as a means of forming views at all. If he thinks that Rowan Williams is reasonable, it isn’t because Rowan Williams has moderate views rather than extremist views – it’s because Rowan Williams has good reasons for his views. So the fact (assuming it to be a fact) that most Anglicans agree with their Archbishop does not make those followers reasonable. If they believe the same things, but for worse reasons, then they are unreasonable.

That, if correct, is not what he actually says. His only description of religion which he presumably approves of is that it is "decent" and "understated", "subtle" and "nuanced". Your interpretation may be correct, but it certainly isn't to be found or inferred in his answer. The apparent reason for his tacit approval of Williams or Bonhoeffer appears to be that they are decent and understated, not that they are uniquely posessed with a power to reason.

How can he possibly determine that 3/4 of the world's population have not thought through their faith, anyway? On what evidence does he base the view (if held) that those many billions have not thought through thier own faith position? Quoting extreme examples is no use to him - remember that he has stated that virtually ALL of them are simply ignorant and / or deluded, enitrely unlike Williams (and himself of course). Where is the evidence?

It is no co-incidence that those whom he cites as examples of typical religion are either shouting and judgemental, or extremely violent, and he says that "most believers echo them". Based on his own words (again, months in gestation) I can't see how your interpretation is found. To echo means to repeat.
 
Posted by Stars (# 10804) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
It's simply ranting drivel, IMO of course.

crunch

You realy did walk into that one
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stars:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
It's simply ranting drivel, IMO of course.

crunch

You realy did walk into that one

I've never hearrd or read anything of Dawkins's views on religion that amounted to anything more whatsoever. Personally.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
My definition of success is actually attempting to study something before I rant on it. Your mileage appears to vary.

[Razz]
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
I haven't read The God Delusion either, but I have read an awful lot of quotes from it and seen interviews with Dawkins. Alister McGrath has, IMHO, definitely demonstrated that there is very little geniune scholarship involved in his arguments, and Dawkins' public response to the criticism is risible.

This is totally different from saying that Dawkins is not a genius in his own field. But as Terry Eagleton's almost legendary review of The God Delusion said in the London Review Of Books, "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology". Outside his field of expertese, he literally does not know what he is talking about.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
My definition of success is actually attempting to study something before I rant on it. Your mileage appears to vary.

[Razz]

I am familar with his "work" on religion. It's bullshit from top to bottom. I've read numerous reviews of Dawkins Being Deluded that appear to agree with me.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Which is to say, I have read/watched/listened to just about everything Dorkbreath has to say about religion until very recently, and it is risable. From his pathetic TV programmes, his laughable interviews, his ranting hogwash that the papers for some reason decide to print, his totally ignorant asides on theolgy in other stuff.

As Noiseboy said, the bloke doesn't know what he is talking about. Literally. I haven't got time to read a book that is almost certainly just more ranting masturbation, from which literally every qoute I have read is a pile of bollocks and of which I have yet to read a single positive review.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
You characterise the scientific method as an error-correction algorithm, but in doing so obscure its critical strength. It is always applied to the physical universe, our common shared reality. It is explicitly designed to exclude opinion. That gives its determinations universal legitimacy because, other things being equal, anyone can check if they're right.

Well, no. That's quite wrong. The scientific method is not designed to exclude opinion, it is rather designed to build a consensus opinion through a constant formal exchange of opinions. That it can arrive at a strong majority consensus at all, unlike say politics, has indeed to do with limiting the field of discussion to the "physical universe". Although truth to be told, that limitation is more a guideline - scientists sometimes do go and play with the fairies. And almost nobody can check the conclusions reached these days by most hard sciences. Science sort of "freezes out" into a hierarchical system of knowledge with time. In the beginning amateurs can contribute, but rapidly it becomes less and less accessible except for an educated elite - the scientists. All a layperson generally can do is to believe one scientist or the other.

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
A non-empirically testable truth claim is of a different order, one that requires faith not in a physical reality based system but one based on human opinion. That in my view means such "truths", from the point of view of humanity as a whole, are never determinations.

I would rather say that determinations rely on simplicity. The point of the basically reductionist scientific method and of empirical data collection is to break down some complicated problem into parts which are simple enough to be evaluated by human minds with great consistency. A "scientific proof" is actually just a sequence of steps building up to a final truth, where every single step is considered to be obvious enough to dismiss the select few who disagree as exceedingly stupid. Many questions in many fields resist any such process, for example the question "Which political party is the best?" There is generally no way of breaking any answer down into a sequence that all but the exceedingly stupid will agree with. So we call such answers "opinions". There are non-empirical truths which are simple enough to allow a determination. For example that nothing can be both true and false in the same way at the same time - that is true, and all but the barking mad will have to agree. Or that a human being has a certain intrinsic value that cannot be ignored but for a good reason - that is true, and all but the psychopaths agree. Etc. A question like "Does the Christian God exist?" cannot be broken down into a sequence of undeniable non-empirical truths. So this is an "opinion", or as we say in this case, a "belief". But I think our time is way too pessimistic about the possibility of constructing meaningful sequences out of non-empirical, or both empirical and non-empirical, undeniable truths. I think sequences like Aquinas' five ways of proving the metaphysical God are generally more ignored as a whole than followed with an open mind step by step.
 
Posted by Basket Case (# 1812) on :
 
from mad geo:
quote:
I think Dawkins is speaking globally. He gets that the US has enormous influence and that we are ran by religious freaks at the moment. Not to imply that everyone that is religious is a freak, but that the ones in power in the US are.I completely "get" Dawkins (I think). The problem with being the near-sole-voice in pointint out the flaws of the other side, is that you are immediately rendered into a caricature of yourself.
You can't possibly believe that Dawkins is the "near-sole-voice" in pointing out the flaws of Christians!

My own family contains numerous members who have thought like him for years upon years.
Funnily enough, one of them at a recent nice (up until then) family gathering pounded on the table & walked out in a huff, talking about bad Christians & GW Bush & Jesus Camp & how everyone needs to see it so they can know what people like me (the only Christian in the family) have in store for them.

If Dawkins is a caricature, it's not because he is a lonely, brave voice crying out in the wilderness. It is because he is bigoted & a simplistic thinker (and live-er).
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Dawkins is British, and Britain has been called the most athiestic country in the world. Less than 10% go to church. Athiesm is mainstream here.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
I haven't read The God Delusion either, but I have read an awful lot of quotes from it and seen interviews with Dawkins. Alister McGrath has, IMHO, definitely demonstrated that there is very little geniune scholarship involved in his arguments, and Dawkins' public response to the criticism is risible.

This is totally different from saying that Dawkins is not a genius in his own field. But as Terry Eagleton's almost legendary review of The God Delusion said in the London Review Of Books, "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology". Outside his field of expertese, he literally does not know what he is talking about.

Again, you have not read the book for yourself. It's a very nice soundbite Eagle-ton (ironically) came up with, but it is for the birds.

Eagleton and others here simply see theology as an actual thing worthy of study. My read of his book says that Dawkins dismisses Theology completely out of hand. Completely unworthy as an academic pursuit. It is best summarized by his Flying Spaghetti Monster argument(s). When he throws around the arguments used by theologians rightly or wrongly in their eyes, it is as though he was debating with people that believe in Flying Spaghetti Monsters. To him, it is: what is the point of that debate? He engages with some of their arguments out of sport, as examples of piling absurdity upon absurdity. But even Papio's Libertarian Strawmen would have more credibility that Theologians as Libertarians actually exist.

Dawkins explains his root premises in his book. That theologians and others simply can't believe that he invalidates their entire way of being with a pass of the hand is the funny thing to watch.

"Yes but he's a shite theologian!" is hillarious argument. He simply doesn't CARE. And neither do I, frankly, on his behalf. It's as if theologians are arguing Spaghetti Monsters all the way down. Again, he makes this point nicely in his book, better than I.

If the best arguments of mythology are more mythology, why bother to play their game? It's like watching Dawkins skewer the believers in Athena.

Believer: "Yes, but St. Whoever says that Athena is real!"

Dawkins: "Well, no, clearly Athena is not real and who the heck cares what St Whoever says about that which is not real".

Believer: "Well the epistomoligical raster baiting of Dr. Atrocious says that your argument is specious because he says so!"

Dawkins: "Again, Athena is a myth, so Dr. Atrocious argument is simply false from the get go."

Believer: "But But but...."

And so on. Ad infinitum.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
My read of his book says that Dawkins dismisses Theology completely out of hand. Completely unworthy as an academic pursuit. It is best summarized by his Flying Spaghetti Monster argument(s).

And yet both you and him are suprised when people dismiss his views on theology as unworthy of serious attention. Why?

If I say "Bob believes X" when Bob does not, in fact, believe X then that is my telling a lie about Bob, or at the very least making misleading and false statements about Bobv's beliefs. Why should I then be taken as an authority on what Bob believes?

You clearly disagree with me about who looks absurd when Dawkins argues theology. I don't expect that to change.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
"Yes but he's a shite theologian!" is hillarious argument. He simply doesn't CARE. And neither do I, frankly, on his behalf. It's as if theologians are arguing Spaghetti Monsters all the way down. Again, he makes this point nicely in his book, better than I.

If the best arguments of mythology are more mythology, why bother to play their game? It's like watching Dawkins skewer the believers in Athena.

Believer: "Yes, but St. Whoever says that Athena is real!"

Dawkins: "Well, no, clearly Athena is not real and who the heck cares what St Whoever says about that which is not real".

Believer: "Well the epistomoligical raster baiting of Dr. Atrocious says that your argument is specious because he says so!"

Dawkins: "Again, Athena is a myth, so Dr. Atrocious argument is simply false from the get go."

Believer: "But But but...."

And so on. Ad infinitum.

And many of us simply don't CARE what Dawkins has to say about theology, and never will, because he skewers nobody but himself.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Oh I not only doubt that, I know you care deeply. Why else would you have, what 16 posts to this thread on Dawkins alone.

Methinks you protest too much.

[ 22. May 2007, 17:52: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by OliviaG (# 9881) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
... Any reasonably bright theology undergrad knows that Dawkins arguments about theology are simply wrong. He is wrong about the sort of questions theology asks. He is wrong about the sort of language it employs. He is wrong about where theologians get their ideas. He is wrong about the history of theology. He is wrong about what theology actually is, and most of all he is wrong to assert that religious faith and blind, unquestioning certainty are the same thing. ...

The thing is, to an atheist, all theology is fundamentally based on, to put it bluntly, an imaginary friend. Whether it's the Summa Theologica or a "Jesus is my boyfriend" song. Theology was called the queen of the sciences, but in terms of doing experiments and collecting data, it bears no resemblance to anything else I would describe as science. So a particular theology is intellectually and metaphysically self-consistent? If it's all fiction, it should be easy to make it so - look at J.R.R. Tolkien. I've only read some of Dawkins' biology books, and I'm not defending him - I'm just trying to point out where his antipathy to theology comes from. From that point of view, theology and e.g. astrology are equally (non)valid. OliviaG
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Oh I not only doubt that, I know you care deeply.

I'm merely amused that anyone with any intelligence can still not tell the difference between Dawkins wanking himself off in public and a serious refutation of God. I mean, WTF?

TGD is not one iota more scientific than the worst fucking theology ever written. Not is it any more interesting. [Killing me]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
... Any reasonably bright theology undergrad knows that Dawkins arguments about theology are simply wrong. He is wrong about the sort of questions theology asks. He is wrong about the sort of language it employs. He is wrong about where theologians get their ideas. He is wrong about the history of theology. He is wrong about what theology actually is, and most of all he is wrong to assert that religious faith and blind, unquestioning certainty are the same thing. ...

The thing is, to an atheist, all theology is fundamentally based on, to put it bluntly, an imaginary friend. Whether it's the Summa Theologica or a "Jesus is my boyfriend" song. Theology was called the queen of the sciences, but in terms of doing experiments and collecting data, it bears no resemblance to anything else I would describe as science. So a particular theology is intellectually and metaphysically self-consistent? If it's all fiction, it should be easy to make it so - look at J.R.R. Tolkien. I've only read some of Dawkins' biology books, and I'm not defending him - I'm just trying to point out where his antipathy to theology comes from. From that point of view, theology and e.g. astrology are equally (non)valid. OliviaG
So that means he can criticise something he knows bugger all about and then we should all fall flat on our faces and hail him as the wisest man in the universe? [Killing me]

That is, according to Dawkins himself, and Geo.

Esp when any number of athiests have put a better case forward than Dorkboy is even capable of...
 
Posted by Jengie Jon (# 273) on :
 
OliviaG

What you don't seem to understand is that there are some good atheist theologians. The fact is you do not need to believe the theology to study it and understand it. This is clearly shown in the fact that there exists in academia people who are expert on the Egyptian Cult in the second millenia before the the Christian Era. Theology can and is studied as a history/sociology of ideas and a history/sociology of cultic practise, particularly in many red-brick Universities in the UK.

By the way the statement "There is no such thing as a god" is a theological statement. What you are actually making is the atheist statement that God/gods if they did exist are imaginary friends. I think you will find such as statement is a simplification of peoples belief as much as Marx's statement that "Religion is an opiate of the masses". You'd have great difficulty in persuading a Buddhist that their belief implied "God was an imaginary friend". The problem with atheism is you always have to say what God you don't believe in.

Jengie
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
Mad Geo, please read the following from St Thomas Aquinas concerning argumentation about faith:
quote:
Summa Theologiae Ia q1 a8:
Whether sacred doctrine is a matter of argument?
...
I answer that, As other sciences do not argue in proof of their principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths in these sciences: so this doctrine does not argue in proof of its principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15). However, it is to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another. If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections - if he has any - against faith. Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.

So the problem is not at all that Dawkins believes nothing of the Christian faith. That is understood given that he is an atheist. But if Dawkins claims that his objections to faith are reasonable, then intellectual honesty forces him to listen to the counter-arguments to his reasons. And intellectual honesty furthermore forces him to not only listen to counter-arguments of intellectually weak and misinformed opponents, but rather precisely to the counter-arguments of his brightest and most knowledgeable opponents. He does not have to accept any counter-argument that makes use of an article of faith which he does not share, of course. But he must deal with counter-arguments engaging him on his own terms. And if what he claims about Christianity in some argument is not in fact what Christianity says, then a counter-argument based on that is engaging him on his own terms. The counter-argument is not that Dawkins has to believe what Christianity really says, the counter-argument is that Dawkins cannot critique validly as Christian that which is not. Thus Dawkins must have sufficient knowledge of Christian doctrine, for otherwise he is wide open to such entirely rational counter-arguments which are not depending on faith. If he does not have a clue, then his argument is not reasonable. Instead, it is simply what on these boards is called "crusading". It is not surprising that Dawkins is crusading, since his belief in materialistic scientism is clearly fundamentalist, and fundamentalists love to crusade...
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
My view is that if God exists, then He is almost certainly the God described by traditional Christianity, because this is the only way I can reconcile His existence with human suffering.

I don't how you've arrived at that. As far as traditional Christianity speaks with a single voice on suffering, I've not seen it offer any reconciliation with a loving God that I found convincing.
The Incarnation. OK, not by any means an answer, but a good promise of an answer.

Anyway I'm not asking you to agree with me. I'm just asking you to be more careful about throwing stones in glasshouses. The existence of God is a big claim, Virgin Births and so forth less so. It's as though I claimed there was a giant blue Spode teapot orbiting Pluto, and you said "But that's absurd! Spode never made blue teapots."
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Eagleton and others here simply see theology as an actual thing worthy of study. My read of his book says that Dawkins dismisses Theology completely out of hand. Completely unworthy as an academic pursuit.

But he can't have it both ways. If theology is unworthy of study, then why does he bother to attack specific theological positions at all?

Supposing I said "Belief in fairies is absurd. Firstly, the whole concept of fairyhood is impossible because XYZ. Secondly, fairies can't have two heads because PQR." And a fairy-believer points out that nobody ever claimed fairies do have two heads.

Now, on the one hand the fact that my Secondly was a strawman doesn't in itself invalidate the conclusion drawn from my Firstly; but on the other hand it does make me look a bit of a prat, and therefore undermines my credibility when assessing my Firstly, and hence my conclusion; and it was also a totally unnecessary step if my Firstly was in itself sufficient.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
The counter-argument is not that Dawkins has to believe what Christianity really says, the counter-argument is that Dawkins cannot critique validly as Christian that which is not.

You and Papio both seem to be claiming this. I now call you out to provide examples of this.
I deny that he is claiming things for Christianity that somewhere it doesn't claim for itself and I am over halfway through his book, unlike you. I think you are arguing your specific flavor of Christianity, or your opinion, or both. But there are many versions of Christianity and while yours may not agree with his analysis, there are almost always others

Both of you, with two seperate examples, please. Welcome to Purg.

I can't believe you actually think someone with Saint in front of their name is any source at all in this debate. "Scripture has no science above itself". What a fucking stupid statement on Aquinas part. "Scripture has no science" at all.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Eagleton and others here simply see theology as an actual thing worthy of study. My read of his book says that Dawkins dismisses Theology completely out of hand. Completely unworthy as an academic pursuit.

But he can't have it both ways. If theology is unworthy of study, then why does he bother to attack specific theological positions at all?

Supposing I said "Belief in fairies is absurd. Firstly, the whole concept of fairyhood is impossible because XYZ. Secondly, fairies can't have two heads because PQR." And a fairy-believer points out that nobody ever claimed fairies do have two heads.

Now, on the one hand the fact that my Secondly was a strawman doesn't in itself invalidate the conclusion drawn from my Firstly; but on the other hand it does make me look a bit of a prat, and therefore undermines my credibility when assessing my Firstly, and hence my conclusion; and it was also a totally unnecessary step if my Firstly was in itself sufficient.

Because he is addressing a bunch of people that can't see the forest for their cultural baggage trees. He HAS to address the arguments somewhat. If you have a bunch of people that are building buildings around the faerie mythology, and writing books advocating the faery lifestyle, and scientists that also believe in faeary, well shit, I guess you gotta engage the faery topic, bullshit or not, on SOME level. If for no other reason than to point to the absurdity of their position!

If you wrestle with pigs, you get muddy too.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Both of you, with two seperate examples, please. Welcome to Purg.

I don't really see how examples help in this instance. If I say ``Dawkins says Christians believe X but I do not believe X'' you are always at liberty to reply with ``But 46.2% of Christians do believe X'' or whatever the figure happens to be.

I can't think of any example that you could play this kind of game with.

But, in the end, I'm not really concerned all that much with what other people believe. I'm concerned with what I believe.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Which is the exact argument I would amke to the Dawkins detractors, including IngoB and Papio, in reverse. Thanks for the help. Sincerely. [Smile]
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
The scientific method is not designed to exclude opinion, it is rather designed to build a consensus opinion through a constant formal exchange of opinions. That it can arrive at a strong majority consensus at all, unlike say politics, has indeed to do with limiting the field of discussion to the "physical universe".

Fair point. What I meant was the scientific method is designed to exclude opinion unsupported by empirical evidence.
quote:
I think our time is way too pessimistic about the possibility of constructing meaningful sequences out of non-empirical, or both empirical and non-empirical, undeniable truths.
The question is, who decides when the meaning becomes undeniable.
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
Anyway I'm not asking you to agree with me. I'm just asking you to be more careful about throwing stones in glasshouses. The existence of God is a big claim, Virgin Births and so forth less so. It's as though I claimed there was a giant blue Spode teapot orbiting Pluto, and you said "But that's absurd! Spode never made blue teapots."

You call me a fundamentalist and you're asking me to be careful about stones and glasshouses? If you want to retreat from reason and self-identify as a fundamentalist that's your choice. It's not mine.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Eagleton and others here simply see theology as an actual thing worthy of study. My read of his book says that Dawkins dismisses Theology completely out of hand.

Indeed he does. What makes his position untenable, therefore, is that he asks theological questions, and makes theological statements - but refuses to listen to theological answers. It's like me saying "electrons smell like cheese, and anyone who thinks otherwise is mad", then putting my fingers in my ears when a physicist kindly points out I am talking bollocks.

On the Heaven and Earth show last year, Dawkins and McGrath shared a sofa for a few rare minutes. Dawkins said something to the effect that if we all believed the Bible, we should stone people we didn't like. Before McGrath could splutter, he continued "Now, of course, theologians will mutter 'oh, but we don't believe that any more'. Well my question is this - how do we know which bits to believe and which bits not to believe?" He looked patronisingly incredulous, as if he'd just pointed out the elephant in the room that no-one else had noticed.

This is why his method is so risible. He specifically asked a theological question. It is not enough for him to declare "there is no God" - he blunders right into deepest theology and falls flat on his arse.

Theology is the study of belief - a reasoned examination into what isn't and what might be. He poses questions believing they are bear traps, but he doesn't even open his eyes to see the bears plodding right over them. Despite posing the questions in the first place, he simply isn't interested, just as he isn't interested in psychology, metaphysics or philosophy. He appears to have ended up with the bizarre belief that natural selection answers every form of question or experience that mankind might ever encounter.

He is utterly blind to the parts of the world that do not fit his world view. For example, he has this fantastical notion that the world would be a much better place if religion just vanished and the world was run by benign atheists - as if Pol Pot or Stalin had never existed. He beleives suicide terrorism would not exist, despite Robert Pape's definitive study which all-but proves otherwise. Yet again, he replaces evidence with unsubstantiated dogma - the fundamentalist blind to his own faith.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
That, if correct, is not what he actually says. His only description of religion which he presumably approves of is that it is "decent" and "understated", "subtle" and "nuanced". Your interpretation may be correct, but it certainly isn't to be found or inferred in his answer.

What Dawkins approves and disapproves of in religion is set out in The God Delusion. Which you should read.

If you want to know (and critique) what he means in a short answer-to-question soundbite, you should begin by interpreting that answer in the light of his very clearly expressed views. If you did, you would learn that he agrees with you that mainstream, moderate religion is not the same thing as fanaticism, but does think that they are BOTH products of a dangerous failure of rationality, namely religious faith. Once you know that, the brief quote which you criticise is readily comprehensible in terms that are not plainly wrong or absurd.

quote:
How can he possibly determine that 3/4 of the world's population have not thought through their faith, anyway? [my emphasis]
Because it is his view that faith is inherently irrational. That's the whole point. He doesn't see that faith in anything is any sort of reason for reaching any belief whatever. And thus all people of faith do "echo" Bin Laden, Falwell, Haggard, Thomas Aquinas, me, you, etc... in taking the contrary view that in some cases it is right to form opinions based on faith. His book attacks that position.

I think he is wrong, but also that his ideas are honestly presented, and merit more than a blanket dismissal as 'fundamentalism'.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
I think Dawkins own position is one of "blind faith" just as much as the people he attacks.

I would read TGD but Andrex is probably cheaper. Wake me up when someone writes a book defending athiesm that actually has a clue.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
If you want to know (and critique) what he means in a short answer-to-question soundbite, you should begin by interpreting that answer in the light of his very clearly expressed views. If you did, you would learn that he agrees with you that mainstream, moderate religion is not the same thing as fanaticism, but does think that they are BOTH products of a dangerous failure of rationality, namely religious faith. Once you know that, the brief quote which you criticise is readily comprehensible in terms that are not plainly wrong or absurd.

Surprising though it may seem, this is exactly the views of Dawkins that I already thought he had. And I am £20 richer (which is actually the reason I haven't read the God Delusion - I may get it out of the library for a laugh one day though).

But yet again, it does not fit what he wrote. If all faith is dumb, then why does he apprently praise "subtle, nuanced faith"? By your (and I agree his) standards, any kind of faith is as bad as any other. So once again we land at an absurdity, and an interpretation which cannot be supported by his actual words. Which are nonsense.
 
Posted by OliviaG (# 9881) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
On the Heaven and Earth show last year, Dawkins and McGrath shared a sofa for a few rare minutes. Dawkins said something to the effect that if we all believed the Bible, we should stone people we didn't like. Before McGrath could splutter, he continued "Now, of course, theologians will mutter 'oh, but we don't believe that any more'. Well my question is this - how do we know which bits to believe and which bits not to believe?" He looked patronisingly incredulous, as if he'd just pointed out the elephant in the room that no-one else had noticed.

Elephant? You mean the dead horse, no? Should we accept that all scripture is to be accepted as truth? Or is it this one? biblical inerrancy After nearly 2000 posts on both threads, I think "how do you know which bits to believe?" is a very reasonable question for an outsider to ask. OliviaG
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
Elephant? You mean the dead horse, no? Should we accept that all scripture is to be accepted as truth? Or is it this one? biblical inerrancy After nearly 2000 posts on both threads, I think "how do you know which bits to believe?" is a very reasonable question for an outsider to ask. OliviaG

Indeed - and the answer is theology.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
On the Heaven and Earth show last year, Dawkins and McGrath shared a sofa for a few rare minutes. Dawkins said something to the effect that if we all believed the Bible, we should stone people we didn't like. Before McGrath could splutter, he continued "Now, of course, theologians will mutter 'oh, but we don't believe that any more'. Well my question is this - how do we know which bits to believe and which bits not to believe?" He looked patronisingly incredulous, as if he'd just pointed out the elephant in the room that no-one else had noticed.

Elephant? You mean the dead horse, no? Should we accept that all scripture is to be accepted as truth? Or is it this one? biblical inerrancy After nearly 2000 posts on both threads, I think "how do you know which bits to believe?" is a very reasonable question for an outsider to ask. OliviaG
I saw the same interview. It was his obvious belief that the question had simply not occured to any theologian that is the measure of the man, for me. Berk.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
What Elia and Olivia said.

It cracks me up that RD addresses many of the concerns being stated here clearly in the book, yet the most vociferous protestors are refusing to read it! It’s completely hilarious arguments to someone that has read the book! You are even playing into his arguments with theological arguments that fail the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” test, all the way down. It’s fucking hilarious.

quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Eagleton and others here simply see theology as an actual thing worthy of study. My read of his book says that Dawkins dismisses Theology completely out of hand.

Indeed he does. What makes his position untenable, therefore, is that he asks theological questions, and makes theological statements - but refuses to listen to theological answers. It's like me saying "electrons smell like cheese, and anyone who thinks otherwise is mad", then putting my fingers in my ears when a physicist kindly points out I am talking bollocks.

Except its NOT a physicist answering the bloody question! It’s a bloody Witchdoctor, ooglie-booglie, mad person that believes in Faeries. I am sorry I am trying to be clear as I fucking can be. When you metaphor a Theologian to a Physicist to Dawkins, you are likening an Astrologer to a Professor of Math. And Dawkins has a point. They are not equal inquiries into the state of the universe, IMO either.

If Dawkins put his fingers in his ears when a witch doctor told him that his bone jewelry and rattles will heal cancer I would applaud him!

quote:

On the Heaven and Earth show last year, Dawkins and McGrath shared a sofa for a few rare minutes. Dawkins said something to the effect that if we all believed the Bible, we should stone people we didn't like. Before McGrath could splutter, he continued "Now, of course, theologians will mutter 'oh, but we don't believe that any more'. Well my question is this - how do we know which bits to believe and which bits not to believe?" He looked patronisingly incredulous, as if he'd just pointed out the elephant in the room that no-one else had noticed.

As Olivia said “How do we know which bits to believe” is a very reasonable question. I have asked it repeatedly myself. I was told as a child that the whole bible (minus a few little arbitrarily determined sacrificial bits) was TRUTH. Later I learned to question these things a little. I saw the elephant’s nose. Later than that I saw the foot, the tail, and then Holy Shit! There’s a whole fucking elephant there!

Lot’s of people are being deluded by their particular form of religion, the question is, how do you inform them of the rest of the elephant? Dawkins is doing it his way. I have mine. Maybe you have yours. Different Christian religions or other religions for that matter lay claim to parts of the elephant, why is that? Which one is right? Are ANY of them right?
quote:


This is why his method is so risible. He specifically asked a theological question. It is not enough for him to declare "there is no God" - he blunders right into deepest theology and falls flat on his arse.

Again. Theology is bullshit to Dawkins. See above.
quote:


Theology is the study of belief - a reasoned examination into what isn't and what might be. He poses questions believing they are bear traps, but he doesn't even open his eyes to see the bears plodding right over them. Despite posing the questions in the first place, he simply isn't interested, just as he isn't interested in psychology, metaphysics or philosophy. He appears to have ended up with the bizarre belief that natural selection answers every form of question or experience that mankind might ever encounter.

I agree with your assessment that he thinks natural selection seems to answer most forms of questions he’s asked. I’m not sure I disagree with him. BTW, in the book he addresses Cosmology and presents the non-natural selection arguments as well as the natural selection argument for Cosmology (who knew there was one!).

As for the bears plodding over them. They seem to be unable to grasp that while they are plodding over the trap in question, they have two on each foot. They can answer the theological question at hand only if you allow them the belief that there theology has any point at all. To Dawkins, it doesn’t.
quote:


He is utterly blind to the parts of the world that do not fit his world view. For example, he has this fantastical notion that the world would be a much better place if religion just vanished and the world was run by benign atheists - as if Pol Pot or Stalin had never existed. He beleives suicide terrorism would not exist, despite Robert Pape's definitive study which all-but proves otherwise. Yet again, he replaces evidence with unsubstantiated dogma - the fundamentalist blind to his own faith.

One form of suicide terrorism would cease to exist. And it’s the prevalent current form I might point out.

We are in Iraq, partially because GW thought God wanted it to be so. Think about it.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
It cracks me up that RD addresses many of the concerns being stated here clearly in the book, yet the most vociferous protestors are refusing to read it! It’s completely hilarious arguments to someone that has read the book! You are even playing into his arguments with theological arguments that fail the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” test, all the way down. It’s fucking hilarious.

That about sums it up. I'd not be surprised if this Noiseboy and Papio show ends up linked to from RD's site as a classic example of the kind of sheer mindless daftness that clings to the superficial edges of religion. There's no reasoning with it.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I now call you out to provide examples of this.

I will use your own quote here as my example then. This is clearly not attempting to engage with what Christian theology has to say about God in the OT.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I can't believe you actually think someone with Saint in front of their name is any source at all in this debate.

Whatever is that supposed to mean? Most philosophers, Christian or not, would agree that Aquinas was one of the greatest philosophical minds ever, on par with the likes of Plato and Artistotle. The RCC has declared him a Doctor of the Church, one of only 33 theologians through the millennia whose work is considered to be normative for the by far largest Christian church. But you ignore whatever he may say because he lived a holy life?

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
"Scripture has no science above itself". What a fucking stupid statement on Aquinas part. "Scripture has no science" at all.

"Science" is here the translation of the Latin word scientia (Aquinas of course wrote in mediaeval Latin) and indicates a much more general concept than just modern natural science. It means something like "system of knowledge". In the same manner boxing is still being called the "sweet science". As Christian, Aquinas is of course convinced that there is no higher system of knowledge than God's revelation. You do not need to share that belief to appreciate the point he makes about arguing faith.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
It cracks me up that RD addresses many of the concerns being stated here clearly in the book, yet the most vociferous protestors are refusing to read it! It’s completely hilarious arguments to someone that has read the book! You are even playing into his arguments with theological arguments that fail the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” test, all the way down. It’s fucking hilarious.

That about sums it up. I'd not be surprised if this Noiseboy and Papio show ends up linked to from RD's site as a classic example of the kind of sheer mindless daftness that clings to the superficial edges of religion. There's no reasoning with it.
If Geo is stating the argument of Dawkins book accurately, and I think he probably is, then I have absolutely no interest whatever in reading it, because to ask theological questions and then refuse to listen to theological answers, and then to pretend that this is an honest method because "theology is all bunk" is not valid. It is bullshit and I'm not taken in by it.

If science disproved religion, Dawkins would have a point. It doesn't, so he doesn't.

And I hardly speak as a religious believer. Dawkins grasp of philosophy is utterly risible, and since I don't think theology is just a bunch of people trying to prove that the Bible is valid in the same way or to the same extent as science (mainly, because that isn't what theology is) then my interest in Dawkins rantings remains at zero.

If he links to this then good luck to him. I will neither know nor care.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Again. Theology is bullshit to Dawkins. See above.

So. Fucking. What? [brick wall]

Most of it is bullshit to me as well, that doesn't mean that I can't call Dawkins on his thorough-going dishonesty.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Dave, yesiree. [Biased] [Big Grin]

Yes IngoB, I know that you will keep invoking Flying Spaghetti Monsters and their representatives until the cows come home. That you don't see that IS Dawkins point, is the Point. He mocks that in his books, well done, you make him look prescient. I know, I'm listening to the book (did so today in fact thanks to this I started again).

That Aquinas was of a religious bent is beyond question. Unless of course you question religion, in which case his opinion is equal to that of a particularly brilliant witch doctor.

Interjection to Dave M.: How many times do you think I'll have to say this? And how many ways? [Biased]

And to you Papio old boy (I think that's a complement on your side of the pond IIRC, correct me if I'm wrong).

I swear to Zeus if this was a debate on being Gay I'd be tempted to out you for protesting too much. For a proclaimed non-Christian, you sure can't walk away from this thread defending it. It's downright hillarious watching you flop around like a fish getting worked up defending that which you allegedly don't believe from it's biggest detractor. May want to have that position checked. It seems to be lacking some salt.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Biggest? Maybe.

Most able? Definately fucking not. [Razz]
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Mad Geo, please read the following from St Thomas Aquinas concerning argumentation about faith:
[QUOTE] Summa Theologiae Ia q1 a8:
Whether sacred doctrine is a matter of argument?

Do people really still buy that stuff?

This is assertion by a bloke hundreds of years ago, not evidence of any kind. I saw the post about fingers in ears, well, poor old St Tommy is about that standard: - metaphysics above science? Yeah, right. Classical circular argument:

A - God is truth
B - The bible is the word of god
C - The bible is true
D - God exists
E - see "A"

Most of your own arguments are better than that standard; ever thought about a job in the RCC? You'd make a helluva press secretary (as long as you drop Tommy) The reason Dawkins won't argue that position is because it's a circular argument by assertion, nothing new there.
 
Posted by Luke (# 306) on :
 
There is an interesting debate at Christanity Today between Theologian Douglas Wilson and atheist Christopher Hitchens. The topic was orginally about whether or not Christanity has benefited the world but has evolved into a contest between the core beliefs of Christanity and Atheism. Well worth a look.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
That Aquinas was of a religious bent is beyond question. Unless of course you question religion, in which case his opinion is equal to that of a particularly brilliant witch doctor.

If you think you have a rational argument against witch-medicine, and a particularly brilliant witch-doctor defends against your objections with reasonable arguments, then you have to listen and to take that serious. Otherwise you, not the witch-doctor, are exposed as irrational believer. Nobody owns reason. Everybody can employ it, and the best argument shall win - in the end. It is a free for all, and if you take on the legendary heavyweights of the theology division you better be on your toes and have your guard up. Or your victory is just a dream you are having while lying KOed on the floor...

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
This is assertion by a bloke hundreds of years ago, not evidence of any kind. I saw the post about fingers in ears, well, poor old St Tommy is about that standard: - metaphysics above science? Yeah, right. Classical circular argument:

A - God is truth
B - The bible is the word of god
C - The bible is true
D - God exists
E - see "A"

I'm sorry, but discussions really do not work this way. It is not sufficient to skim for keywords and then invent what one thinks a person should say. That is getting damned close to lying for rhetorical effect. St Thomas Aquinas nowhere makes an argument like the above. In fact, what I've quoted from him says precisely that one cannot argue like the above with a non-believer, that this is pointless! Aquinas is no Heidegger, he's difficult because of a tendency to mathematical precision and an attention to minute detail, he's not difficult because he writes incomprehensibly. I've even highlighted the key sentences in the above. Kindly read them, if possible for comprehension.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
I think Dawkins own position is one of "blind faith" just as much as the people he attacks.

I agree with you that it is blind, but not that it is faith. Dawkins really is blind to things that are self-evident to most believers. He can see no reason whatever for preferring the Christian God to the FSM, and no cognitive difference (insofar as it is a matter of pure faith) between a teenager's religion leading him to become an altar-server, and his religion leading him to become a suicide bomber.

It isn't a willful blindness - he really cannot see that one deity might be be plausible than another, and one set of human responses to belief might be more appropriate in religious terms than another.

His book is well worth a read, because notwithstanding this failure to see, he is an intellectually honest and powerful writer.

quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
If all faith is dumb, then why does he apprently praise "subtle, nuanced faith"?

He doesn't praise it. He says that it is so negligible that it isn't worth worrying about.

The quote means, in effect, that he will concede for the sake of argument that Rowan Williams is exceptional amongst believers in having solid reasons for everything he believes, and that if the churches were stuffed with little Williamses, then Christianity would very different and less objectionable. But since religion everywhere is based on faith, and the absurdities that faith-thinking can lead too (and on a statistical basis, inevitably leads to for some) are best exemplified by people like Haggard, that's where he has focussed his attention.

I don't think that he believes for a moment that Rowan Williams' religion is more intellectually respectable than anyone else's, but he can't be bothered to argue the point, because his target is faith as such, and it makes no difference to his thesis whether one eminent cleric more or less is an exception to the general rule.

If you see where Dawkins is coming from (and for that, you absolutely MUST read the book) it is an unsurprising and unobjectionable quote.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Mad Geo - I think (and this is incredible) that you may be even more of a bigoted extremist than Dawkins himself. Perhaps the clue is in your name? Yet again you repeat the same tired discredited arguments (which, amazing though it may seem to your dizzying intellect, we do understand but disagree with), only your latest attempt is to put the word "fucking" in front of them, in the hope that the nonsense you espouse will suddenly form coherance. Guess what? It fucking doesn't.

McGrath ably demonstrated that when Dawkins uses the word "faith", he (again) literally does not know what he is talking about. He uses a definition which I've only ever heard used otherwise in a joke - the childhood definition of faith (believing something you know isn't true). He talks about faith in terms of belief which flies in the face of evidence - indeed, in the teeth of evidence as he memorably put it. There isn't a theologian - and I hope a person of faith - in the world who would subscribe to this definition.

So the charges of global insanity are about as offensive as saying that black people descend from monkeys. They are supremely ignorant, falling at the first hurdle of comphrehension.

And again, you manage to further twist the words of Dawkins. Where as he himself says if people had Williams' sort of faith the world "would be a better place and I would have written a differnet book". But now it doesn't matter what sort of faith a person has, they are just mental (either considered and mental or just plain old mental). Again, its offensiveness is matched purely by its ignorance.

Perhaps one could appeal to the scores of eminient scientists and intellectuals who disagree with Dawkins? It does no use. Indeed, aware that their intellect must approximately equal his, he tells many of them that they simply do not mean what they say. These people are also mental - they do not know their own minds. His fundemantalism is so extreme that he cannot even enteratin the possibility of other possibilities. He declares with one breath that the universe contains things that may well be "too queer for us to understand", and with the next confindently declares all mysteries at the inevitably mercy of our standard tools of scientific enquiry (whether or not we ever get to answer every question, every question is potentially answerable using these techniques). On what evidence? None, except the hopeless argument that "well, we've learned a lot in the past, so we are bound to eventually learn everything else in the same way" - the same breathtaking logic that causes people lose fortunes on the Stock Exchange.

There is, of course, another view of faith and science that does not see them locked in a battle to the death. It is the mainstream view throughout history, that faith and reason can and should happily co-exist in harmony. But then again, anyone holding this view is mental, so what does the world know, anyway?

And by the way - we are in Iraq because the US neocons needed control of the oil.
 
Posted by Petaflop (# 9804) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:

A - God is truth
B - The bible is the word of god
C - The bible is true
D - God exists
E - see "A"

There are far more important proofs of the existance of God. A friend of mine recently proposed this one:
quote:
If I believe in God, it will irritate Richard Dawkins.
Richard Dawkins deserves to be irritated.
Therefore, God exists.

More like it here:
The God Delusion, part 4: "Who is this Dawkins person anyway".
(See also parts 1-3 and 5).

This is also outstanding:
Source criticism of the God delusion,
demontrating that the book is probably written by at least two people (A, H) plus a redactor (R).
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by IngoB:

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I can't believe you actually think someone with Saint in front of their name is any source at all in this debate.

Whatever is that supposed to mean? Most philosophers, Christian or not, would agree that Aquinas was one of the greatest philosophical minds ever, on par with the likes of Plato and Artistotle. The RCC has declared him a Doctor of the Church, one of only 33 theologians through the millennia whose work is considered to be normative for the by far largest Christian church. But you ignore whatever he may say because he lived a holy life?
[Overused]

It used to be the case that atheists objected to obscurantism. Not any more, it seems.
 
Posted by BroJames (# 9636) on :
 
[SlightTangent]I was pleased to see this.
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Perhaps one could appeal to the scores of eminient scientists and intellectuals who disagree with Dawkins? It does no use. Indeed, aware that their intellect must approximately equal his, he tells many of them that they simply do not mean what they say. These people are also mental - they do not know their own minds. His fundemantalism ... cannot even enteratin the possibility of other possibilities. He declares with one breath that the universe contains things that may well be "too queer for us to understand", and with the next confindently declares all mysteries at the inevitably mercy of our standard tools of scientific enquiry (whether or not we ever get to answer every question, every question is potentially answerable using these techniques). On what evidence? None, except the hopeless argument that "well, we've learned a lot in the past, so we are bound to eventually learn everything else in the same way" - the same breathtaking logic that causes people lose fortunes on the Stock Exchange.[my emphasis]

When Callan said above
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Apropos of the whole fundamentalism thing, I think fundamentalism is about the relationship between believer and text. It is about believing that a given text is literally inerrant.

I wanted to say that it was a rather narrow definition of fundamentalism in its contemporary usage. Noiseboy, I think, comes closer here. The point about fundamentalism is that it makes an a priori exclusion of certain sources of knowledge or kinds of statements.[/Slight tangent]

IMHO it is this that makes Dawkins 'fundamentalist' - he is so committed to a belief about the nature of faith, and to its relation to reason and science that he is unable to hear any argument that says not all faith is like that and there are other possible ways in which faith and science might relate. He gives the impression of being personally threatened by the possibility that there could be some other rational discussion about other than on the inherently circular terms he proposes.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Bro James:

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Apropos of the whole fundamentalism thing, I think fundamentalism is about the relationship between believer and text. It is about believing that a given text is literally inerrant.

I wanted to say that it was a rather narrow definition of fundamentalism in its contemporary usage. Noiseboy, I think, comes closer here. The point about fundamentalism is that it makes an a priori exclusion of certain sources of knowledge or kinds of statements.[/Slight tangent]

IMHO it is this that makes Dawkins 'fundamentalist' - he is so committed to a belief about the nature of faith, and to its relation to reason and science that he is unable to hear any argument that says not all faith is like that and there are other possible ways in which faith and science might relate. He gives the impression of being personally threatened by the possibility that there could be some other rational discussion about other than on the inherently circular terms he proposes.

I like narrow definitions. They are useful and precise. The term fundamentalist should no more be expanded to include everyone whose attitude to knowledge we disapprove of than the term fascist should be expanded to include people who vote Tory, read the Telegraph and believe that Zimbabwe was better off with Ian Smith at the helm. The word 'obscurantist' describes perfectly your objections to Dawkins and I heartily commend it.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Dawkins explains his root premises in his book. That theologians and others simply can't believe that he invalidates their entire way of being with a pass of the hand is the funny thing to watch.

{waves hand}
I can believe it quite easily. I've just waved my hand and invalidated Dawkins' entire way of thinking. I can do it again. {waves hand}

See, I've made Dawkins' way of thinking invalid.

quote:

It's like watching Dawkins skewer the believers in Athena.

Believer: "Yes, but St. Whoever says that Athena is real!"

Dawkins: "Well, no, clearly Athena is not real and who the heck cares what St Whoever says about that which is not real".

Believer: My budgie is Athena, and my budgie is real, therefore Athena is real.

Dawkins: I wasn't talking about your budgie, I was talking about the Greek goddess.

Believer: What do you think the Greek goddess is like?

Dawkins: I don't care what Athena is like. Athena clearly doesn't exist.

Believer: Suppose I claim that Athena is small, green and eats bird seed?

Dawkins: I don't care what Athena is like. Athena doesn't exist.

Believer: Are you denying the existence of Athena, the budgie?

Dawkins: I am denying the existence of Athena the anything. Clearly Athena doesn't exist.

This argument would be laughable were it not so depressing to see some one intelligent using it. Essentially, it is a license to construct straw men.
Whenever someone comes back and says that your argument is a straw man, you can reply:

'I have showed from my straw man that your argument is made of straw, therefore it does not matter that I have constructed a straw man.'

Dafyd
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Interjection to Dave M.: How many times do you think I'll have to say this? And how many ways?

None so deaf as those who will not hear. [Roll Eyes]
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Mad Geo - I think (and this is incredible) that you may be even more of a bigoted extremist than Dawkins himself. Perhaps the clue is in your name?

Blimey. That's good from someone who calls himself Noise Boy.
quote:
McGrath ably demonstrated that when Dawkins uses the word "faith", he (again) literally does not know what he is talking about.
If you had an ounce of theological nouse you'd have noticed that McGrath is almost as limited in his perspective Dawkins. That his limitations fit within evangelical Christianity doesn't mean he has any special insight into Dawkins' thinking. As far as I can tell, he just happens to work in the same city and, as ex-principal of a theological college, has taken it on himself to oppose the local atheist.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:

quote:
If you had an ounce of theological nouse you'd have noticed that McGrath is almost as limited in his perspective Dawkins. That his limitations fit within evangelical Christianity doesn't mean he has any special insight into Dawkins' thinking. As far as I can tell, he just happens to work in the same city and, as ex-principal of a theological college, has taken it on himself to oppose the local atheist.
Have you read McGrath's book on Dawkins? [Two face]
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
Maybe instead of saying how wonderful Dawkins is and how we are blinded by our religion from appreciating his brilliance and intellectual honesty, maybe the Dawkins-fans would like to post some of Dawkins' actual arguments so that they can be assessed for logical rigour.

I've twice posted a logical analysis of Dawkins' argument that only religion causes suicide bombing on threads upon which Dave Marshall and Mad Geo were posting. My conclusion was that it was a piece of intellectually dishonest rhetoric. Did either of them take issue with my analysis on either occasion? No.

Every time I have seen a Dawkins argument about religion, it has been based on straw men, circular reasoning, or logical fallacy. I have seen sufficiently many of his arguments that I feel justified in asserting by induction that all of his arguments are so based.
At the moment, Mad Geo seems very pleased with Dawkins' 'My straw man is made of straw, so I don't need to bother with your man' argument. If that's the best Dawkins can do, all we can do is point out that this is an offence against all rational argument.
Dave Marshall's response has been that since some (but not all) religious apologists use bad arguments, Dawkins can use bad arguments too. Again, this is not a rationally acceptable attitude, and that needs to be pointed out too. One is never rationally justified in using irrational arguments.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Have you read McGrath's book on Dawkins?

Absolutely not. [Smile]
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
I'm sorry, but discussions really do not work this way. It is not sufficient to skim for keywords and then invent what one thinks a person should say. That is getting damned close to lying for rhetorical effect. St Thomas Aquinas nowhere makes an argument like the above. In fact, what I've quoted from him says precisely that one cannot argue like the above with a non-believer, that this is pointless! Aquinas is no Heidegger, he's difficult because of a tendency to mathematical precision and an attention to minute detail, he's not difficult because he writes incomprehensibly. I've even highlighted the key sentences in the above. Kindly read them, if possible for comprehension.

I comprehend quite clearly what Tommy said, and have done for some time. I've quoted sections of the summa theologica myself, to fundies.

I'm not trying to argue dishonestly, I just think that the argument of Aquinas only makes any sense if you start from "god exists". The rest of it is simply assertion.

The simple way to tell is to use that stupid bloody FSM and it works just the same. The premise is wrong.

This is a ludicrous argument:

quote:
Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself
Says who?

Here:

quote:
only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation
Or, "you must accept god to believe any of this - after all, divine revelation can only happen through a god.

I honestly just think it's a very poor argument all round.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
You're still misunderstanding Aquinas' argument. Aquinas isn't attempting to convert non-Christians to Christianity at this point. He's attempting to explain to other Christians the extent, given that he believes Christianity is divinely revealed, to which Christianity can be a matter of argument.

His point is that where premises are shared between two people, these shared premises can be used to expound the faith. Where premises are not shared the best one can do is to counter the objections raised by the other person. So, if both parties accept the authority of Scripture one can legitimately cite Scripture to make one's case. If the other party does not then this is a waste of effort. So, for example, I can cite scripture or quote Aquinas if I am arguing with Ingo but there would generally be little point in doing this when arguing with you. Nonetheless, I am still on some level able to meet your objections.

This post is, in a very minor way, an example of what Aquinas is talking about. You disagree with Aquinas (and I) about the existence of divine revelation. Nonetheless I have explained, I hope, that you have missed the point of his argument which is not a proof of the existence of God but an explication of the extent to which faith can be rationally defended. And note that I have done this by rational argument and not by appeals to authorities which you do not acknowledge.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Dave Marshall's response has been that since some (but not all) religious apologists use bad arguments, Dawkins can use bad arguments too. Again, this is not a rationally acceptable attitude, and that needs to be pointed out too. One is never rationally justified in using irrational arguments.

Without going back to the book, the impression it's left me with is that where Dawkins goes irrational is where he doesn't think reason is possible. It seems tied up with his conscious aim to ignore what he sees as the special status afforded to religion, to treat it like any other set of non-scientfic claims.

I can imagine Callan being right with his Voltaire reference; Dawkins is probably raging against a cultural system he feels totally disconnected from and antipatheic to. But as Eliab has pointed out, in his own terms he is not being irrational.

You and others seem to expect, perhaps require, him to argue on your terms. I think he'd see that as capitulation to all he's arguing against. The question for me is whether Dawkins is simply being rude and disrespectful to people of religion by dismissing their entire perspective, or usefully offering an alternative base from which to do metaphysics. I personally don't like the former, but suspect the latter is the more creative and constructive interpretation.
 
Posted by Stars (# 10804) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
If you think you have a rational argument against witch-medicine, and a particularly brilliant witch-doctor defends against your objections with reasonable arguments, then you have to listen and to take that serious. Otherwise you, not the witch-doctor, are exposed as irrational believer. Nobody owns reason. Everybody can employ it, and the best argument shall win - in the end. It is a free for all, and if you take on the legendary heavyweights of the theology division you better be on your toes and have your guard up. Or your victory is just a dream you are having while lying KOed on the floor...


I can’t see these reasonable or even clever arguments

I can see quite a bit of fluff, which amount to arguments for taking scripture as true.
Reading between the lines, Thomas Aquinas’ argument for taking scripture as truth seems to be that theology could not exist without that assumption.

He deals with the distinct and real possibility that scripture may be false with this -

“Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation”

This sidelines and avoids the, obvious to an average nine year old, objection that scripture may simply be untrue, just as anything written on a piece of paper may be untrue. In my view, the principle objection to theology is that its neccesary presuppositions conflict drastically most people’s common sense view of the world.

Incidentally, it seems to me that using tom's ideas, any ‘science’ that is capable of arguing scripture’s veracity, is a ‘higher’ science than theology.

[ 23. May 2007, 11:57: Message edited by: Stars ]
 
Posted by Real Ale Methodist (# 7390) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stars:
He deals with the distinct and real possibility that scripture may be false with this -

“Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation”

This sidelines and avoids the, obvious to an average nine year old, objection that scripture may simply be untrue, just as anything written on a piece of paper may be untrue.

Actually Aquinas DOES answer that point.

He says:
quote:
If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections---if he has any---against faith.
If x does not believe in Divine Revelation you cannot use Divine Revelation to prove the existence of the divine, what many people have pointed out without seemingly realising that they are agreeing with Aquinus in saying so.

You can use DR to discuss the nature of faith. E.G. If someone says that Christians believe in one type of God, a Christian is justified in using the bible to show that he believes in another kind of God. You can't use theology to prove to Dawkins that God exists, but you can use theology to demonstrate that he is setting up a strawman.

This is what appears to have wound people up:
quote:
Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.
But this is not addressed to atheists, this is addressed to the faithful. It is encouraging them essentially saying that, since we are right, we can answer objections. If someone brings a point that appears to contradict our faith it is a "difficulty that can be answered". He doesn't expect this to convince anyone, but to encourage us. I would argue that this is what everyone thinks about their beliefs. If someone presented Dawkins with a reason to doubt Evolutionary Theory I have no doubt that he would treat it as a "difficulty that can be answered". Aquinus isn't advocating a cop-out, "we are right so we don't have to answer objections", he thinks we should engage with objections. Just as answering objections to a theory helps strengthen it, answering objections to faith should help strengthen it.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I don't think there is a survey of Robertson, Falwell, or Haggards (RFH) believers. And I think that you are doing a form of Godwin when you compare even RFH to Osama and I despise RFH as much as the next guy.

Err.. Richard Dawkins compared Osama Bin Laden to RFH. Noiseboy was quoting him directly.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
You and others seem to expect, perhaps require, him to argue on your terms. I think he'd see that as capitulation to all he's arguing against.

I had thought that avoiding circular arguments, avoiding logical fallacies, and avoiding setting up straw men were standards of reason accepted by all positions. I hadn't appreciated that they're peculiar to Nicene Christianity.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Stars (# 10804) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Real Ale Methodist:
quote:
Originally posted by Stars:
He deals with the distinct and real possibility that scripture may be false with this -

“Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation”

This sidelines and avoids the, obvious to an average nine year old, objection that scripture may simply be untrue, just as anything written on a piece of paper may be untrue.


Actually Aquinas DOES answer that point.

He says:
quote:

If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections---if he has any---against faith.

If x does not believe in Divine Revelation you cannot use Divine Revelation to prove the existence of the divine,


Well, I would rephrase the above as "you cannot prove scripture to be divinely inspired" or “you cannot prove there is divine revelation”

Btw, this isn’t answering the objection; so much as agreeing with it.

But your point is taken that my objection is shared by Tom

quote:

what many people have pointed out without seemingly realising that they are agreeing with Aquinus in saying so.

Perhaps, Ingob's blustery presentation gave me the impression that Tom was trying to say something a little less trivial; in this, Tom seems to agree with Mr Dawkins.
 
Posted by Real Ale Methodist (# 7390) on :
 
I presume what IngoB was trying to point out, is that, although Dawkins does not accept Divine Revelation, there are circumstances when DR/Theology are appropriate in a debate with 'Dawkins'(and all other atheists). Specifically it is valid to use theology to deflate(unstuff?) Strawmen.

The distinction is, I can't use DR to prove there is a God.

But if Dawkins says I believe in a certain God, or that religion says a certain thing etc, it is valid to point to the theology and DR that contradict him. This is what Aquinus is saying in my opinion, DR can answer objections to faith.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I had thought that avoiding circular arguments, avoiding logical fallacies, and avoiding setting up straw men were standards of reason accepted by all positions. I hadn't appreciated that they're peculiar to Nicene Christianity.

Even if some of Richard Dawkins arguments are less than rigorous (and I'm not defending him for that), I don't see that's good reason to dismiss what he's trying to do, or to not credit his appreciation of the universe as an authentic expression of human spirituality.

Nicene Christianity seems incapable of a level of self-awareness that will allow the rational, decent parts to avoid either disintegration or being drowned out by fundamentalism. Reacting against people like Dawkins misses their potential as catalysts for radical change. He's addressing the root of a terminal condition; yet it seems his pill is still too bitter to contemplate.

[ 23. May 2007, 14:28: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I don't think there is a survey of Robertson, Falwell, or Haggards (RFH) believers. And I think that you are doing a form of Godwin when you compare even RFH to Osama and I despise RFH as much as the next guy.

Err.. Richard Dawkins compared Osama Bin Laden to RFH. Noiseboy was quoting him directly.

Dafyd

Nice try. The actual quote is

quote:
If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place and I would have written a different book. The melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible. Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini. These are not straw men. The world needs to face them, and my book does so.
He did not compare them, he paired them together as examples of fundementalist thought. I would even say that he did it as to show a spectrum of fundementalist religious thought, not necessarily to say they were all equal, but either way, nice try.

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
You and others seem to expect, perhaps require, him to argue on your terms. I think he'd see that as capitulation to all he's arguing against.

I had thought that avoiding circular arguments, avoiding logical fallacies, and avoiding setting up straw men were standards of reason accepted by all positions. I hadn't appreciated that they're peculiar to Nicene Christianity.
Dafyd

They certainly seem to be on this thread.

quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Mad Geo - I think (and this is incredible) that you may be even more of a bigoted extremist than Dawkins himself. Perhaps the clue is in your name?

As Dave so marvelously pointed out NOISE Boy, backatya. As for me being more extremist, you don't have a clue what my position is, so don't assume it. I am describing Dawkins position as I understand it, repeatedly to numerous people that seem to be coming back with the same ridiculous arguments that support his other positions that they 1) Don't read his positions and 2) Use circular reasoning and logical fallacies, on a good day, to support the unsuportable, ACCORDING TO RD.

Since only a few of us here have apparently even looked at his books, much less read them. I am having to be the sole voice of actual knowledge on the subject apparently which puts me in a rather sole position, with the exception and thanks to Dave M. and the Atheist.
quote:

Yet again you repeat the same tired discredited arguments (which, amazing though it may seem to your dizzying intellect, we do understand but disagree with),

Discredited WHERE? SO far I've seen jack, and actual supporting arguments to Dawkins position on the lack of understanding on the part of belivers regarding his arguments. He's been amazingly brilliantly supported by these absurd positions and approaches so far.

Knock it off with the personal attacks on me btw. RIGHT NOW.
quote:


only your latest attempt is to put the word "fucking" in front of them, in the hope that the nonsense you espouse will suddenly form coherance. Guess what? It fucking doesn't.

I already said I have tried every way I can think of to get it through that various people here are playing to RDs hand. That the irony is lost, isn't on me.
quote:


McGrath ably demonstrated that when Dawkins uses the word "faith", he (again) literally does not know what he is talking about. He uses a definition which I've only ever heard used otherwise in a joke - the childhood definition of faith (believing something you know isn't true). He talks about faith in terms of belief which flies in the face of evidence - indeed, in the teeth of evidence as he memorably put it. There isn't a theologian - and I hope a person of faith - in the world who would subscribe to this definition.

Finally a meaty argument. This may be true. OTOH, RD may be doing what he does and starting from the root level of faith because he discredits anything that is based on that. Or maybe he simply doesn't believe that there is evidence or finds the evidence underwhelming (AS I DO, which I believe is the first position I have stated here that is one of mine and not RDs).
quote:


So the charges of global insanity are about as offensive as saying that black people descend from monkeys. They are supremely ignorant, falling at the first hurdle of comphrehension.

We are all descended from Monkeys (or equivelant) so technically that is accurate, go figure, while being stupidly offensive.

Again, he says that you moderates are enabling the fundementalists. Living in a country where I see this nearly every day on the news, and often from my freak of a president, I call your black monkey analysis bunk.
quote:


And again, you manage to further twist the words of Dawkins.

How would you know? You haven't even read the books. Nice try.
quote:

Where as he himself says if people had Williams' sort of faith the world "would be a better place and I would have written a differnet book". But now it doesn't matter what sort of faith a person has, they are just mental (either considered and mental or just plain old mental). Again, its offensiveness is matched purely by its ignorance.

Again, possibly a valid argument (amazingly). He's got his opinion, you;ve got yours, I've got mine. Mine is probably between his and yours. I see a lot of naive believers out there. Some of them are my relatives. Many of them are here on the Ship. Are they the majority? Or are the the minority? Hard to say.
quote:


Perhaps one could appeal to the scores of eminient scientists and intellectuals who disagree with Dawkins? It does no use.


Has it occured to you that scientists and intellectuals often disagree and that Dawkins (and I for that matter) understand and LIKE this. While he has scores that do, he also has scores that DON'T. And he really isn't writing to them anyway. He is writing to the "scores" of people that are hidden or debating atheists and wants to have them come out of the atheist closet. This seems neither unreasonable to me as they are a persecuted minority over here, nor unlikely at all, nor unreasonable.
quote:

Indeed, aware that their intellect must approximately equal his, he tells many of them that they simply do not mean what they say. These people are also mental - they do not know their own minds. His fundemantalism is so extreme that he cannot even enteratin the possibility of other possibilities. He declares with one breath that the universe contains things that may well be "too queer for us to understand", and with the next confindently declares all mysteries at the inevitably mercy of our standard tools of scientific enquiry (whether or not we ever get to answer every question, every question is potentially answerable using these techniques).

It is potentially answerable using these techniques. Have you missed the last 200+ years somehow?
quote:

On what evidence? None, except the hopeless argument that "well, we've learned a lot in the past, so we are bound to eventually learn everything else in the same way" -

Oh, ye of little faith.
quote:


the same breathtaking logic that causes people lose fortunes on the Stock Exchange.

Wow, no logical leap there.
quote:


There is, of course, another view of faith and science that does not see them locked in a battle to the death. It is the mainstream view throughout history, that faith and reason can and should happily co-exist in harmony. But then again, anyone holding this view is mental, so what does the world know, anyway?

They sure don't seem to be coexisit in harmony in the world at the moment, or the last 100 years, oh wait, make that all of history.....
quote:


And by the way - we are in Iraq because the US neocons needed control of the oil.

Nice try.

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job."-- George W Bush

"This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while." -- George W Bush

"God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."
-- George W Bush

The freaks are in your tent too. May want to do something about them before you criticize others.
 
Posted by Littlelady (# 9616) on :
 
I am curious about Dawkins' reaction to all things relgious. His vitriol is such that I suspect he may be in the closet ...
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
[Killing me]

Wow, if someone is a rabid atheist, he must be gay. There's a new one. If I decide to embrace atheism in the future, be sure to warn my wife.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Littlelady:
I am curious about Dawkins' reaction to all things relgious. His vitriol is such that I suspect he may be in the closet ...

Perhaps an unwise thing to do, but I'll guess you weren't talking about the gay closet.

In which case, assuming ( [Paranoid] ) you meant the religious closet, he's always seemed very open about his appreciation of what usually gets referred to as "the spiritual" or something like. He does, though, insist on not describing it in religious terms, I think because he doesn't want it tainted by association with what he objects to in religion. I can understand that.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Mad Geo on the Death of Darwinism thread:

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
....I have always darkly suspected that a certain type of militant atheist was really a closet believer who was angry with God. I'm not sure if this represents vindication of this theory or not.

It vindicates your theory, for me. I had noticed that tendency in Atheists as well.
I hope Mrs Geo can live with the disappointment. [Biased]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
'I have showed from my straw man that your argument is made of straw, therefore it does not matter that I have constructed a straw man.'

[Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused]

Does Dawkins seriously imagine that him going "goddoesnotexist!goddoesnotexist!goddoesnotexist!goddoesnotexist!goddoesnotexist!" proves anything at all?

Dawkins does not exist! Dawkins does not exist!Dawkins does not exist!Dawkins does not exist!Dawkins does not exist!Dawkins does not exist! [Biased] [Big Grin]

[ 23. May 2007, 18:06: Message edited by: Papio ]
 
Posted by Littlelady (# 9616) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
[Killing me]

Wow, if someone is a rabid atheist, he must be gay. There's a new one. If I decide to embrace atheism in the future, be sure to warn my wife.

Well. Obviously I wasn't talking about being gay! Duh. I was using the term generically, as Mr Marshall so rightly guessed.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Mad Geo:

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I don't think there is a survey of Robertson, Falwell, or Haggards (RFH) believers. And I think that you are doing a form of Godwin when you compare even RFH to Osama and I despise RFH as much as the next guy.

Err.. Richard Dawkins compared Osama Bin Laden to RFH. Noiseboy was quoting him directly.
Nice try. The actual quote is

quote:
If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place and I would have written a different book. The melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible. Most believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini. These are not straw men. The world needs to face them, and my book does so.
He did not compare them, he paired them together as examples of fundementalist thought. I would even say that he did it as to show a spectrum of fundementalist religious thought, not necessarily to say they were all equal, but either way, nice try.
Whilst Mrs Geo is containing her disappointment perhaps you could try reading for comprehension. Dawkins gives a list of fundamentalists who he argues predominate in contemporary religious discourse and whose predominance make it necessary for him to go for the jugular and ignore subtle nuanced religion. That list in full:

Robertson. Falwell. Haggard. Khomeni. Bin Laden. He explicitly identifies the five of them as exemplars as to why his hostility to religion is justified. No distinctions. No attempt to say that the first three are right wing Americans and believers in the unfettered free market and therefore less culpable. No attempt to uncouple the American sheep from the Muslim goats. Just five names. Robertson. Falwell. Haggard. Khomeni. Bin Laden.

To do him justice, whilst I disagree with his assessment as to the extent of subtle, nuanced religion as opposed to that of Robertson, Falwell, Haggard, Khomeni and Bin Laden type religion I think he has a point. The US is a reasonably successful constitutional polity which despite the occasional rigged election and civil war has generally functioned pretty well since its inception. If it had been the Muslims who had first cracked the trick of constitutional government and who were now deeming that the US had a need to 'Easternise' we would probably now be complaining about Bin Laden and Khomeni as irresponsible right wing demagogues whilst reserving our real concern for the tyrant Falwell and the guerilla Robertson. The difference between Robertson, Falwell, Haggard, Khomeni and Bin Laden is the nature of the polity in which they operate (or operated) rather than the nature of the religion they profess. Robertson. Falwell. Haggard. Khomeni. Bin Laden. I agree with Dawkins entirely that they are not straw men and that they need to be fought. The difference is I don't think one has to be an atheist to do that.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Mad Geo - time precludes a proper reply. I was horribly underhand a couple of times in my last post, for which I apologise. Although, to be fair, jumping up and down and saying how hilarious all us thick theists are is not likely to win you vast numbers of warm responses.

(as a side issue, I really must change my name on these forums. It's a hangover from another forum relating to my job...)

One point in the meantime that lept out:

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Has it occured to you that scientists and intellectuals often disagree and that Dawkins (and I for that matter) understand and LIKE this. While he has scores that do, he also has scores that DON'T. And he really isn't writing to them anyway. He is writing to the "scores" of people that are hidden or debating atheists and wants to have them come out of the atheist closet. This seems neither unreasonable to me as they are a persecuted minority over here, nor unlikely at all, nor unreasonable.

Er, no actually (though, as you would say, "nice try"). As you may remember from the book you keep reminding us that you have read and we haven't, his avowed intent is to convert theists - "if this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down". Pretty unambiguous evengelical statement of intent, unless you have another wild interpretation to magic away the obvious meaning of the words?

Furthermore he is on record (again in The Other Bible, The God Delusion), as I have already pointed out, as saying:

quote:
I simply do not believe that [Stephen Jay] Gould could possibly have meant much of what he wrote in Rock Of Ages.
Stephen Jay Gould was a brilliant evolutionary biologist, but his crime was to deduce that his science did not necessarily lead to atheism. This quote is classic Dawkins all the way - he literally cannot comprehend intelligent views that are contrary to his own. Tragically, Stephen Jay Gould does not have the luxury of life with which to correct Dawkins.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
X-post with Noiseboy

Mrs. Geo (the Teutonic Goddess) can rest comfortably in my Kinsey 0 arms. Sorry to disappoint my gay friends!

Little Lady, couldn't resist [Biased] and I genuinely wasn't sure what you were saying exactly.....

Kinda like Callan's read (or mine) of what RD meant by that. I see it as a reasonable continuum of radical religious freaks. His Mileage May Vary. Given some of the nasty rhethoric from the religous right I see in this country on a way too regular basis and having heard it from various other religous entities, I see his point quite well and think it is well made. But no, Robertson isn't Osama, not even Khomeini is Osama. But they sure as hell indirectly empower them. Very indirectly, but it's still there.

RD's point is that moderates believers empower radical believers. That is an unfortunate truth. RD thinks that means you believers should simply go away. I think you believers should vociferouly distance yourself and marginilize them, and no, as a matter of fact I don't think you believers do enough of that. Quite the contrary, in this country Robertson, Falwell and Haggard command enough attention that they get their own TV shows. Don't try to tell me that is marginal. That IS mainstream.

[ 23. May 2007, 19:34: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
NB,

Fair enough, however the "warmth" of the Christian community to atheists and their defenders (me) is certainly palpable. Not.
For the bulk of this thread, I have been merely pointing out the disparities between what Dawkins says, and what people are saying he says. That pisses people off because they hate Dawkins so much (that's certainly clear).

If his avowed intent is to ALSO convert thiests, fine, I don't recall that but I grant you that for now since you have a quote. Can't say as I see that as any different than what any religious types do. Stones in Glass Churches, ironically.

As for Stephen Jay Gould, I hardly think he needs to be alive to "defend" anything. From the one book of his I have read, his work stands on its own. And stands fairly well.

That Dawkins was disappointed with his perspective is more or less within the realm of reasonable disagreement in scientific opinion as I said before. I saw that SJG had been proven wrong anatomically on at least one of his interpretations of a creature in the Burgess Shale a while back. That didn't withstand the test of time (or his death) and he can't defend that either, but I doubt any scientist would blame him for that, while disagreeing completely based on the new evidence.

That is of course, also a fairly conistent thing with Dawkins. He actually thinks that religion and religious types say things about the nature of the Universe (and it/they do) that are scientifically verifiable, or more importantly that fail when scientifically verified. Of course religious types try to dispute that they are, buit the fact of the matter is that many Christians dabble in proving YEC, or miracles, or archaelogy that matches the bible record, and can't or worse, are proved wrong.

[ 23. May 2007, 19:49: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Littlelady (# 9616) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Given some of the nasty rhethoric from the religous right I see in this country on a way too regular basis and having heard it from various other religous entities, I see his point quite well and think it is well made.

Thing is, tho, from the quotes I've seen and heard from Dawkins on things religious he sounds so similar to those he is trashing (just speaking from the other side of the fence). Which sort of undermines his credibility, IMO.

And, of course, leads me to think that he is in the religious closet ... [Razz]
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Noiseboy:

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Has it occured to you that scientists and intellectuals often disagree and that Dawkins (and I for that matter) understand and LIKE this. While he has scores that do, he also has scores that DON'T. And he really isn't writing to them anyway. He is writing to the "scores" of people that are hidden or debating atheists and wants to have them come out of the atheist closet. This seems neither unreasonable to me as they are a persecuted minority over here, nor unlikely at all, nor unreasonable.

Er, no actually (though, as you would say, "nice try"). As you may remember from the book you keep reminding us that you have read and we haven't, his avowed intent is to convert theists - "if this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down". Pretty unambiguous evengelical statement of intent, unless you have another wild interpretation to magic away the obvious meaning of the words?
There was an interesting article posted on the Ship a while back, by an Atheist, which suggested that evangelical atheism was really aimed at galvanising agnostics and "well-I-don't-believe-in-God-but-I-respect-those-who -do" atheists. I must try and find it.

I find it hard to believe that Dawkins really thinks that theists are going to give the whole thing up as a bad job on the grounds of the straw men he puts up. If you want to really undermine someone's faith, I suggest Anthony Kenny's 'What I Believe', which is courteous and deadly. Or Flew's essay on Falsification which is still a classic notwithstanding Flew's regrettable conversion to Deism. Or even Russell's "'Why I Am Not A Christian" (although I think Copelston got the better of the debate). I think these ought to be obligatory reading for Christian ministers. Dawkins, OTOH, ought to stick to what he is very good at.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Article.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originall yposted by Noiseboy:
As you [MG] may remember from the book you keep reminding us that you have read and we haven't, his avowed intent is to convert theists - "if this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down". Pretty unambiguous evengelical statement of intent, unless you have another wild interpretation to magic away the obvious meaning of the words?

You misrepresent Dawkins - again. If I remember correctly, the sentence after the one you quote says something to the effect that "of course that's not going to happen". He doesn't say anything that can reasonably be understood to mean it is his avowed intent is to convert theists.

Again if my memory is not too far out, I think he says his main hope for the book is that it encourages atheists to come out the closet. That's an entirely different and it seems to me valid aim.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
You misrepresent Dawkins - again. If I remember correctly, the sentence after the one you quote says something to the effect that "of course that's not going to happen". He doesn't say anything that can reasonably be understood to mean it is his avowed intent is to convert theists.

Spectacular!!!! Bravo.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
From Callans article:
quote:
"I'm quite keen on the politics of persuading people of the virtues of atheism," Dawkins says, ....."The number of nonreligious people in the US is something nearer to 30 million than 20 million," he says. "That's more than all the Jews in the world put together. I think we're in the same position the gay movement was in a few decades ago. There was a need for people to come out. The more people who came out, the more people had the courage to come out. I think that's the case with atheists. They are more numerous than anybody realizes."

I disagree with this position of his though FWIW:

quote:
"How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents?" Dawkins asks. "It's one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?"
I draw the line at not letting parents raise their kids to believe in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and gods, if they so wish. Not necessarily in that order.

[ 23. May 2007, 20:30: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Littlelady:
And, of course, leads me to think that he is in the religious closet ...

So what do you mean by religious? Like I said, he seems to me openly religious in the sense that many Christians would recognise and identify with what he values. He just refuses to use their concepts and terminology to describe what that means to him.

You think he secretly wants to be a priest or something?
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
I comprehend quite clearly what Tommy said, and have done for some time.

I do not think that you have understood what St Thomas Aquinas was going on about in this case. Callan already re-phrased Aquinas' thoughts above well (just below this post of yours I'm quoting), so I can leave it at that.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
I'm not trying to argue dishonestly, I just think that the argument of Aquinas only makes any sense if you start from "god exists". The rest of it is simply assertion.

I've quite literally no idea what "argument of Aquinas" you are talking about. In my quote, Aquinas is not making an argument about anything. He's simply explaining how a Christian can defend his faith in talking to different sorts of people. And in the case of unbelievers his point is precisely that nothing can be demonstrated to them from revelation, because they don't believe it. One can only refute objections: one can show that the conclusions from revelation are neither logically inconsistent nor demonstrably at odds with known facts about the world.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
This is a ludicrous argument:
quote:
Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself

This is not an argument at all, and it is not meant to be. It's simply making something explicit with which his Christian readers will agree (this is a textbook of theology, after all), in order to set up an analogy to metaphysics. Aquinas has just explained that one cannot maintain a metaphysical argument if the opponent is not granting any of the metaphysical axioms one is using. That's because there's nothing (philosophical) above metaphysics which one could refer to in order to force agreement. Just in the same way, his analogy goes, one cannot argue faith with those who do not have faith - because there's no higher reference point that could force agreement. You either believe or don't, and if you don't, then one cannot prove something about faith to you.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
quote:
only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation
Or, "you must accept god to believe any of this - after all, divine revelation can only happen through a god.
This has nothing to do with what Aquinas is going on about. Aquinas is not talking about what is necessary for belief. He is analyzing what one can argue about given a certain amount of faith. If the opponent has some faith, then one can use that in an argument. For example, Dave Marshall has some faith (he believes in some form of God), but he certainly does not share all my faith. Aquinas says then that I can argue faith usefully with Dave only about that which we both admit in faith. I cannot use stuff I believe in, but Dave doesn't, to argue some faith position to him - he simply won't believe it (unless I trick him with rhetorics, but that's beneath Aquinas). An unbeliever hence cannot be convinced about anything in the faith by argument, says Aquinas. But, he says, that does not quite mean that communication is impossible. One can still show to the unbeliever that one is not making mistakes in one's faith: errors of logic, self-contradiction, being at odds with unequivocal data, etc. (And this I can also do for Dave even where he does not believe what I believe.)

My point is then that Dawkins is right about ignoring theological conclusions for himself. He does not share the faith axioms, so conclusions drawn from them mean nothing to him. However, Dawkins is wrong to ignore such arguments entirely, if he is attacking a faith position. For if the believer can show that his faith position is "error free" - a valid deduction from the faith axioms not at odds with other known facts - then Dawkins critique inevitably reduces to "But I just don't believe that." Which has no more power than the believer saying "I believe that."

So Dawkins must engage with theology, if he claims that his position concerning faith is more than a more or less arbitrary choice he has made. He must demonstrate that mistakes are being made in theology, or he will always be properly defeated by a simple. "But you are wrong, God exists." He knows that, at least subconsciously (presumably he has not read Aquinas). But what he apparently mostly does is to attack caricatures of the weakest theology out there, avoiding anything more challenging. And that is simply intellectually dishonest.

Dawkins is like an adult beating up small children (and running away from adults), so that he can claim that he is the unbeaten champion of hundreds of bouts.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Spectacular!!!! Bravo.

On a roll, are we?
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
.... Dawkins is wrong to ignore such arguments entirely, if he is attacking a faith position. For if the believer can show that his faith position is "error free" - a valid deduction from the faith axioms not at odds with other known facts - then Dawkins critique inevitably reduces to "But I just don't believe that." Which has no more power than the believer saying "I believe that."

So Dawkins must engage with theology, if he claims that his position concerning faith is more than a more or less arbitrary choice he has made. He must demonstrate that mistakes are being made in theology, or he will always be properly defeated by a simple. "But you are wrong, God exists." He knows that, at least subconsciously (presumably he has not read Aquinas). But what he apparently mostly does is to attack caricatures of the weakest theology out there, avoiding anything more challenging. And that is simply intellectually dishonest.

No, he doesn't.

He (Correctly) pointed out the following in the Wired article (read the book, blah blah blah):

quote:
Dawkins rejected all these claims, but the last one – that science could never disprove God – provoked him to sarcasm. "There's an infinite number of things that we can't disprove," he said. "You might say that because science can explain just about everything but not quite, it's wrong to say therefore we don't need God. It is also, I suppose, wrong to say we don't need the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, or fairies at the bottom of the garden. There's an infinite number of things that some people at one time or another have believed in, and an infinite number of things that nobody has believed in. If there's not the slightest reason to believe in any of those things, why bother? The onus is on somebody who says, I want to believe in God, Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, or whatever it is. It is not up to us to disprove it."

Great claims require great proofs, is a maxim that Dawkins seems to ascribe to as it does to debunkers, magicians (the greatest of debunkers), scientists, engineers for that matter, and other people interested in guarding against fallacy.

I don't think it unreasonable that Dawkins won't play your little games, or even Tommy's. Listening to you is like listening to a scientist that can't explain something and puts "Here they be dragons" in where he can't explain it. Only in your case the gods are the dragons, and Dawkins is under no obligation (except to the theists) to engage you on your terms. Hell I don't even want to engage some of you on your terms most of the time, due to the narrow worldview/scope of theology you approach it from.

I continue to find it hillarious that while Noise boy go Dawkins point, you seem to keep arguing "but, but, but, the theology says, and Tommy says, and, and, and...."

There is no "and". Dawkins has defined the terms. If you don't like those terms, than we are done. Don't try to defend big claims with theology. It won't work in a reasoned argument where he got to determine in his book (not yours) what is reasonable.

[ 23. May 2007, 20:59: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Don't try to defend big claims with theology. It won't work in a reasoned argument where he got to determine in his book (not yours) what is reasonable.

I've just said that it won't work. As did Aquinas. Do try to keep up.

If all Dawkins says is "I do not believe in God," then he is indeed cutting off theology at the root. Fine, end of discussion. But then nobody gives a shit about that. What is it to me if Dawkins does not believe in God?

If Dawkins however says "This or that claim involving faith in God is rubbish," then people will start caring. But if the only reason why he says the claim is rubbish is exactly that it involves faith in God, then that completely reduces to the previous case. Hence still nobody gives a shit about that.

Only if Dawkins says "This or that claim involving faith in God is rubbish," and he provides some other reason (faults in logic, self-contradiction, mismatch with external data, immorality, etc.) than just the involvement of faith itself, then people will start caring. So he does that all the time to gain fame and fortune.

But since now some other reason is involved, the believer can insist that this reason is false. And Dawkins cannot ignore this. It is true that the believer still defends an argument from faith. Dawkins is not required to believe it. But he is attacking the argument for some other reason than faith, and he has to defend that. And in general he cannot do so without knowing the details of the argument, because it is not anymore the basis (faith) he is attacking, but somehow the deductions from it.

Hence Dawkins needs to understand theology sufficiently to attack it. Or he could simply say that he does not believe in God. And nobody would give a shit.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Dawkins has defined the terms. If you don't like those terms, than we are done. Don't try to defend big claims with theology. It won't work in a reasoned argument where he got to determine in his book (not yours) what is reasonable.

A reasoned argument is one in which Dawkins gets to determine what is reasonable.

Logical consistency and evidence have nothing to do with it. If Dawkins says it's reasonable then it's reasonable and if Dawkins says that it isn't it isn't.

I hadn't appreciated that before.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Nice misquote. He defined the terms of the reasoned debate in his book. If you want to argue those terms, write your own book.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
His terms are hypocritical, dishonest and lazy. He can charictature the very weakest theology out there when it suits him but when it doesn't he says all theology is bunk?

He has written a book about a subject he admits he knows nothing about? You still don't see the problem with that, do you? I can only assume that you aren't seeing it because you do not wish to. That is the only assumption I can possibly make.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
If all Dawkins says is "I do not believe in God," then he is indeed cutting off theology at the root. Fine, end of discussion. But then nobody gives a shit about that.

Look at that! You got it and in ONE paragraph. You could have stopped there.

But clearly Noise Boy, Papio, Dave Marshall, Dafyd, Luke, EliaB, Petaflop, Callan, et al, and yes IngoB gave a shit!

quote:
What is it to me if Dawkins does not believe in God?

You tell me. You and others have set here for how many days flogging him because he literally questioned your holy grails. Perhaps he is hitting close to home? You want to think that your beliefs are based on reason, well they aren't. There is no reason in "Here there be dragons". You simply say "I believe" and walk away. You don't whip out Tommy for Athena's sake, that just makes your argument look absurd.

Since no one has really identified it that i can tell, here is at least one take (mine) on how to argue with Dawkins:

quote:
"Religion is LIKE Art, Richard. Not Science. Yes, some people think it is Science, but they are delusional. Some people think you can use reasoning to determine whether Art is art, they are also delusional. Art is in the eye of the beholder.

So if you want to argue about whether Art is Art, using science, than you are being absurd. You are trying to use science to tell me if something is Art or not. You're being silly. You can tell me if the paint is red, maybe. You can tell me if the plaster is of a certain hardness. But I will tell YOU if it is Art or not, and you cannot tell me I am wrong. You can give me your opinion, and I will ignore it, or not, but you are not right about whether it is art."

You see how that works?

The problem of course is that you are playing the game on his field. You and Tommy are trying to assume that it is reasoned, or that it is able to proved somehow. It's not. You believe in Faeries. It's at best, art, not a science.

Blessed are those that have NOT seen and yet believe. To continue to believe in what you can't see, is inherently UN-reasoned-able. And apparently will get you into your heaven, so be glad and leave Dawkins to his self-gratifying mastabatory reasoning. You only bring attention to his cause by continuing the debate on his terms.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Nice misquote. He defined the terms of the reasoned debate in his book. If you want to argue those terms, write your own book.

Ok.
Just out of interest:
Atheist A attacks religion in the media.
Religious believer B is not allowed to question those terms on a Christian internet forum.

Now suppose, hypothetically, Religious Believer A criticises media statements of a certain wellknown atheist on a Christian internet forum.
Is atheist B entitled to question A's terms on that internet forum, or is it the case that if B wants to argue the terms of the thread, he should go and found his own internet forum?

Dafyd
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
I'm just pointing out the obvious argument as written in the book. I don't see anyone stopping you, anybeliever, or anyatheist from commenting on it here or anywhere. I think its absurd to attack him when some don't even know how he defined the terms of the debate, but hey, if they want to argue and learn how they are not even addressing what he said, or at least how he defined the terms, I'm here for them.

I'm a giver. [Razz]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
P.S.

If Bigoted Believer C implied PRESUMED Atheist B should leave a Christian Forum, well that would be rude in real time, and I would think Presumed Athiest B would tell Bigoted Believer C where (s)he could fuck off and die. All theoretically, of course, since that's a violation of the 10cs.

The two/three/? people on the forum are conversing in real time. The Atheist A is not here to have that discussion, only his book is. That's a fairly significant matter, since the book or other quotes is all we got, isn't it?

[ 24. May 2007, 00:02: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
You and others have set here for how many days flogging him because he literally questioned your holy grails.

Oh, do try again. I'm sure you can get it right if you try again.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
He must demonstrate that mistakes are being made in theology, or he will always be properly defeated by a simple. "But you are wrong, God exists."

This is the biggie, right here, but I have to side with Geo and Dorkins rather than you and Tommy. I see Aquinas's as the dishonest argument (statement, if you prefer) - it's tantamount to a homeopath saying, "You won't be able to understand this unless you accept the truth of molecular memory first."

I repeat - the same argument can be used to justify Leprechauns and fairies and the FSM. Surely, you'd rate god above that?

I'm currently explaining to an atheist with a PhD in Phil. why the opposite of this won't wash as well. It goes right back to lesson one in preconceived ideas. How can any proposition start with "god exists, therefore..."? That is why Aquinas wouldn't use it in argument against non-believers, because he couldn't make a cognitive argument which begins with "I think, therefore, I think" and finishes with a conclusion of god.

Dismissing Dorkins with one hand, while holding Tommy up with the other isn't a good look. One argument against Dorkins is that he starts with a denial of god to conclude that there's no god, what is the difference between the two? To me, they look identical - in negative image.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
.... So he does that all the time to gain fame and fortune.

This is always the worrying bit; Dorkins does come across as an atheist model Benny Hinn, but without the staged miracles. I could respect a humanist selling millions of books on the delusion of god if the money were given to charity, or used to fund research, but it seems no more moral to write a book dismissing god as it is to make videos purporting to show god's work - in both cases only for the sponduliks.

I'm not saying that's where Dawkins is, just that if I find it hard to see the line, maybe others do too.

quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
[QB]Hence Dawkins needs to understand theology sufficiently to attack it. Or he could simply say that he does not believe in God. And nobody would give a shit.

Here again, I'm not sure you've got it right. He needs to understand your theology to attack yours, but christian theology varies from yours and Father Gregory's right down to Fred Phelps'.

Dawkins is necessarily painting with a broad brush, but you do need to remember that he doesn't have a beef with your kind of christianity, so it's maybe unfair to expect him to construct arguments which you can dismantle.

You know very well that Dawkins can no more pierce your armour than I can, why care what he says about any of it?
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
If all Dawkins says is "I do not believe in God," then he is indeed cutting off theology at the root. Fine, end of discussion. But then nobody gives a shit about that.

Look at that! You got it and in ONE paragraph. You could have stopped there.
And so I would have, but Dawkins didn't stop there. Which is what the rest of my post was about. Did you read it?

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
You and others have set here for how many days flogging him because he literally questioned your holy grails. Perhaps he is hitting close to home?

Presumably not. I would have to read more of him to see if he ever even gets close, but who would want to do that? It's pulp philosophy. And personally, I think Dawkins work is fantastic, he's probably doing Christianity more good than the average cardinal. However, here we argue about the intellectual legitimacy of what he does. There is none.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
You want to think that your beliefs are based on reason, well they aren't. There is no reason in "Here there be dragons". You simply say "I believe" and walk away. You don't whip out Tommy for Athena's sake, that just makes your argument look absurd.

This seems hard to comprehend. I do not claim that the basis of my faith can be seen as true merely by reasoning based on observations of nature. I claim that once one believes in this basis, all further deductions and conclusion are made 1) in a reasonable manner (logical, self-consistent, ...) and 2) without provable contradiction with known facts. This is also Aquinas' claim. So if you deny this basis, then it's game over - but that is boring, precisely because that basis can also not be seen as false merely by reasoning based on observations of nature. But if you attack the deductions and conclusions on other grounds than their basis of faith, then I can show that you are wrong. And it does not matter for that at all that you do not believe.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
The problem of course is that you are playing the game on his field. You and Tommy are trying to assume that it is reasoned, or that it is able to proved somehow. It's not. You believe in Faeries. It's at best, art, not a science.

No, St Thomas Aquinas and I believe in reasonable fairies. That is what you have to understand: there is a state between Santa Claus and physics, a philosophical chimera if you like. If you pretend that it is just like Santa Claus, then your critique simply falls short. You have to work a lot harder than that...

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
To continue to believe in what you can't see, is inherently UN-reasoned-able.

It is not reasoned, but it is not unreasonable. If you get that one, you'll have understood what a reasonable faith like Christianity actually is like.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
I see Aquinas's as the dishonest argument (statement, if you prefer) - it's tantamount to a homeopath saying, "You won't be able to understand this unless you accept the truth of molecular memory first." I repeat - the same argument can be used to justify Leprechauns and fairies and the FSM. Surely, you'd rate god above that?

First, once bloody more, Aquinas is not making an argument here. He's simply stating facts about communication. You will not convince the homeopath, and he won't convince you, right? Aquinas states why that is so: because the homeopath believes in something that you don't, and as long as your arguments are based on that belief, you won't get anywhere. Aquinas is saying that it is pointless to argue like that. Instead you have to attack where reason can grip. Remember how I said that if I shake a bit of water in my empty coffee pot, it should become like super-potent coffee? That's the sort of argument Aquinas says can work: because I'm attacking a reasoned conclusions from the homeopath's faith by showing that it is at odds with the world. The homeopath has to show now why this conclusion is invalid, and if he can't, then I have shown that his faith is unreasonable! This is what one can do, says Aquinas.

Second, no, the Christian God of course does not rate over leprechauns, fairies and the FSM in terms of the necessity of faith. That's why caricatures like the FSM do not grip at all: they argue the obvious, and only naive believers have a problem with that. Where folk tales differ from the Christian God is precisely in the reasoned structure built around the faith core. In the case of Christianity you get something that can coherently explain the universe, and that has not been shown to crash under any reasoned attack. In the case of leprechauns you get nothing much, and it is certainly not pretending to explain the world reasonably. The FSM fails in this regard as well, indeed it is just this emptiness which mockery is trying to cover.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Dismissing Dorkins with one hand, while holding Tommy up with the other isn't a good look.

It's all the rage in Paris...
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
This is the biggie, right here, but I have to side with Geo and Dorkins rather than you and Tommy. I see Aquinas's as the dishonest argument (statement, if you prefer) - it's tantamount to a homeopath saying, "You won't be able to understand this unless you accept the truth of molecular memory first."

With the greatest respect, I think you're completely missing the point that IngoB is making about Aquinas (and Dawkins).

It is always possible to have an argument/discussion on the basis of axioms that all participants share. And -- and this is the important bit -- it is generally possible to argue as if certain axioms were true.

Of course this does not make the axioms true, nor does it make the conclusions so drawn true. But as a purely logical exercise it is perfectly valid.

I can legitimately reason about the consequences that would follow if `molecular memory' were true. That wouldn't make it true, nor lead inevitably to true conclusions. But it's perfectly valid logic.

As a disbeliever in homeopathy I can attack the whole thing at its root by saying ``I don't think there is a molecular memory''. Or I can say ``Even if there is a molecular memory, your conclusion XYZ does not follow logically from that, because ABC...''.

In order to be able to use the first approach, I don't need to know anything at all about homeopathy, and how it is supposed to work. I can legitimately dismiss it at an axiomatic level. And Dorkins can say, legitimately, ``I don't believe there is anything non-material''. That's perfectly fair but, as IngoB says, it's not very interesting, and not enough material for a book.

But to use the second approach (to refuting homeopathy), I have to engage with the subject of homeopathy. I have to know something about how it is claimed to work, and what its proponents believe of it. If I say ``Even if I accept molecular memory, I don't believe that XYZ leads to ABC...'' the homeopathist is entitled to reply ``But we never claimed that XYZ leads to ABC, we think that PQR leads to ABC...'' or whatever.

Then we are having a discussion within the axiomatic framework that supports homeopathy. Even if the homeopathist defeats all my arguments, I am not compelled to believe that homeopathy is true, because I reject the axiomatic framework. But to be intellectually honest I have to be clear that this is what I am doing. It would be dishonest for me to complain that the homeopathist's arguments are logically unsound when my real reason for disagreement is axiomatic.

What's more, I think that to play this kind of game honestly, I should be engaging with the best apologists for homeopathy, not the worst.

And so Dawkins: he is perfectly entitled to say ``Theology is bullshit because I don't believe in any kind of non-material person''. And that's fine. But there's no book in that.

So he finds himself engaging with theology as a subject, which he needs to do in an intellectually honest way. And that means taking on the finest minds, not ignorant dickheads. Even if Dorkins thinks that believers are, in the overwhelming majority, ignorant dickheads, he still has to take on the best arguments for belief, not the worst, to be playing fair.

But he doesn't. Not only does he take on the weakest of opponents, he ascribes to them beliefs which many do not, in fact, hold. If Dawkins thinks that all theology is bullshit, he should say that and shut up. If he would rather take it on as a subject, he should do it fairly. He is not in any sense compelled to accept the axioms of theology (eg., that there is a God) to do this, any more than I am compelled to accept that homeopathy works to have a reasonable discussion about the mechanisms that are said to underly homeopathy.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
And so Dawkins: he is perfectly entitled to say ``Theology is bullshit because I don't believe in any kind of non-material person''. And that's fine. But there's no book in that.

So he finds himself engaging with theology as a subject, which he needs to do in an intellectually honest way. And that means taking on the finest minds, not ignorant dickheads. Even if Dorkins thinks that believers are, in the overwhelming majority, ignorant dickheads, he still has to take on the best arguments for belief, not the worst, to be playing fair.

This seems like the nub of it. Let's say for a moment that I don't believe that physics is real. To prove my point, I find the oddest, maddest physicists in the history of the world, and selectively quote them. I then go on, on that basis, to ridicule every lay person who believes in physics - "They are all deluded! Look at the mad people they follow!"

This is - precisely - the level of debate here. Mad Geo, having conceded that Dawkins' definition of faith is at the very least wanting, you keep betraying your ignorance by using that same definition:

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
You tell me. You and others have set here for how many days flogging him because he literally questioned your holy grails. Perhaps he is hitting close to home? You want to think that your beliefs are based on reason, well they aren't. There is no reason in "Here there be dragons". You simply say "I believe" and walk away. You don't whip out Tommy for Athena's sake, that just makes your argument look absurd.

Do you have any comprehension of how ignorant and offensive you are being here? Yes, I absolutely DO care about the things that Dawkins says, because implicitly he insults my intelligence.

I can't speak for the others on this forum, but I never - NEVER - say "I believe" and walk away. It is unimaginably insulting to suggest I do.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Do you [MG] have any comprehension of how ignorant and offensive you are being here? Yes, I absolutely DO care about the things that Dawkins says, because implicitly he insults my intelligence.

What utter crap. On that basis I could say that your endless repetition of other people's arguments insults the intelligence of everyone reading this thread.

Why should anyone give your sensitivities the time of day when you attack a book you proudly claim you haven't read (because you just know it's not worth reading, because, oh yes, lots of people who disagree with the author tell you so), and dismiss with sarcasm comments pointing out your errors of fact?
quote:
I can't speak for the others on this forum, but I never - NEVER - say "I believe" and walk away. It is unimaginably insulting to suggest I do.
What planet are you on. Haven't you heard of agreeing to disagree?
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originall posted by Mad Geo
You don't whip out Tommy for Athena's sake, that just makes your argument look absurd.

I missed this gem earlier...

In fact, so far as his comments on reasoning, logic, and limits of faith go, what `Tommy' says applies as well to Athena and the FSM as they do to Yahweh.

I wouldn't quote his `Five Ways' in defence of Athena, because there is no suggestion that Athena is the unmoved mover, etc. As I understand it, the universe was already around when Athena & Co. turned up. It's not an absurd argument, merely one that has no relevance to its subject
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
With the greatest respect, I think you're completely missing the point that IngoB is making about Aquinas (and Dawkins). <snip: actual point>

This is just to note that CrookedCucumber has indeed perfectly represented the point I've been trying to make with his explanations above.

[ 24. May 2007, 10:41: Message edited by: IngoB ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Do you [MG] have any comprehension of how ignorant and offensive you are being here? Yes, I absolutely DO care about the things that Dawkins says, because implicitly he insults my intelligence.

What utter crap. On that basis I could say that your endless repetition of other people's arguments insults the intelligence of everyone reading this thread.

Why should anyone give your sensitivities the time of day when you attack a book you proudly claim you haven't read (because you just know it's not worth reading, because, oh yes, lots of people who disagree with the author tell you so), and dismiss with sarcasm comments pointing out your errors of fact?
quote:
I can't speak for the others on this forum, but I never - NEVER - say "I believe" and walk away. It is unimaginably insulting to suggest I do.
What planet are you on. Haven't you heard of agreeing to disagree?

Dave,

I gotta tell you that I am so glad you were here to remind me that I wasn't losing my mind, and that to the greatest irony I have possibly observed on the Ship that Dawkins predicted nearly to the exact detail in the very book that I read and teh detractors here have not, the arguments that they would use. It has happened over and over and over. Makes the man look bloody brilliant and prescient, again ironically. Thanks!

They just can't seem to help to gloss over the "Insert god into argument A HERE" in any argument that is broached. It's utterly fascinating. We/Dawkins say "Yes, your argument is fine, except for the part where you inserted "God" there in argument A, which we/Dawkins don't grant you because it requires Faeries to float about the room.

Everyone detracting,

Dawkins has a point and he has your number. Any argument, any argument at all that requires Faeries to float about the room, can certainly be pointed out as having questionable reasoning if any reason at all. Every argument presented here to date was Faery-ridden.

See my art argument. It really will help in future discussions with non-believers that have been taught by Dawkins to argue with the likes of you. That is not me btw, I have been taught by the likes of you to deal with the likes of you all on my own. [Razz]

P.S. "Reasonable Faeries".

[Killing me]

That's rich.

[ 24. May 2007, 14:47: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
you attack a book you proudly claim you haven't read (because you just know it's not worth reading, because, oh yes, lots of people who disagree with the author tell you so

There is the added fact that Dawkins has never said anything worthwhile about religion, um, ever.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Dawkins has a point and he has your number.

You'll have to forgive me for doubting this very much indeed.

quote:
Every argument presented here to date was Faery-ridden.

Utter bollocks.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Marshall - you are overlooking that Dorkbrain sees no difference of any kind whatever between you and a suicide bomber.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
We/Dawkins say "Yes, your argument is fine, except for the part where you inserted "God" there in argument A, which we/Dawkins don't grant you because it requires Faeries to float about the room.

If that were exactly what you/Dawkins are saying, then I would find myself in complete agreement with you/Dawkins - other than that I believe faeries are indeed floating about the room (metaphorically speaking), and you/Dawkins don't.

Unfortunately, a book containing just this one sentence "Using 'God' in an argument makes that argument wrong, because there is no God." would not sell. So Dawkins is forced to write about one or more of the following:
  1. It follows from known facts that there is no God.
  2. An argument that makes use of God is not correct apart from its use of God.
  3. The conclusions reached from a correct argument that uses God are at odds with known facts.
Unfortunately for Dawkins:
  1. Is untrue. (No conclusive disproof of God is known to mankind.)
  2. Showing this requires knowledge of the (theological) argument.
  3. Showing this requires knowledge of the (theological) argument.
Since Dawkins has basically no clue about theological arguments, and has not found the "magic bullet" argument against God, his book can only contain drivel. And so it apparently does...
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
And so Dawkins: he is perfectly entitled to say ``Theology is bullshit because I don't believe in any kind of non-material person''. And that's fine. But there's no book in that.

So he finds himself engaging with theology as a subject, which he needs to do in an intellectually honest way. And that means taking on the finest minds, not ignorant dickheads. Even if Dorkins thinks that believers are, in the overwhelming majority, ignorant dickheads, he still has to take on the best arguments for belief, not the worst, to be playing fair.

But he doesn't. Not only does he take on the weakest of opponents, he ascribes to them beliefs which many do not, in fact, hold. If Dawkins thinks that all theology is bullshit, he should say that and shut up. If he would rather take it on as a subject, he should do it fairly. He is not in any sense compelled to accept the axioms of theology (eg., that there is a God) to do this, any more than I am compelled to accept that homeopathy works to have a reasonable discussion about the mechanisms that are said to underly homeopathy.

Dawkins said:

quote:
"There's an infinite number of things that we can't disprove," he said. "You might say that because science can explain just about everything but not quite, it's wrong to say therefore we don't need God. It is also, I suppose, wrong to say we don't need the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, or fairies at the bottom of the garden. There's an infinite number of things that some people at one time or another have believed in, and an infinite number of things that nobody has believed in. If there's not the slightest reason to believe in any of those things, why bother? The onus is on somebody who says, I want to believe in God, Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, or whatever it is. It is not up to us to disprove it."

This seems like a completely fair argument to make. It also seems completely fair that anything that follows after that argument is open to being described as absurd, based on the intitial point. He said that in the book. You and others clearly think it isn't fair. He also said that in the book more or less. Apparently there is book in that.

I think we've established that he's not preaching to you. He's preaching to unbelievers, believers that are questioning, and closeted athiests. That he does it in a completely sarcastic and obnoxious way is quite frankly, funny to anyone that is not getting tied into a tizzy of belief.

He whips you up into a frenzy, thus the OP, and then debate starts to happen, he gets invited to TV shows, he becomes a Force, looks more like an expert, and gains validity that he never would have had, had he not been such a lightening rod and his detractors fell for the trap. I truly love to watch you froth.

It's just like the preachers that try to boycott movies, way to go guys, you just sold out the theater on a shite movie.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
There isn't the slightest reason to care about anything that Dawkins says re: religion.

Not only that, but what you qoute from Dorkboy does NOT answer ANY of the objection to him raised on this thread. It doesn't even begin to.

And are we honestly expected to believe that there are hundred of thousands of Athiests who are too gutless to put their head above the parepet? In the land of the free? And that each person who bought his drivel is one of these? [Killing me] [Killing me]

Geo and Marshall - you are becoming ever more hilarious.

[ 24. May 2007, 16:05: Message edited by: Papio ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
So Dawkins is forced to write about one or more of the following:
  1. It follows from known facts that there is no God.
  2. An argument that makes use of God is not correct apart from its use of God.
  3. The conclusions reached from a correct argument that uses God are at odds with known facts.
Unfortunately for Dawkins:
  1. Is untrue. (No conclusive disproof of God is known to mankind.)
  2. Showing this requires knowledge of the (theological) argument.
  3. Showing this requires knowledge of the (theological) argument.
Since Dawkins has basically no clue about theological arguments, and has not found the "magic bullet" argument against God, his book can only contain drivel. And so it apparently does...

Here's the most amazing part of your debate there. Yet again, you have no idea of Dawkins argument. NONE. NYET. Nada. Zero. Nothing. You haven't read it, so you are claiming all sorts of things that he addresses in his book through various ways and your arguments look absurd accordingly. How many times do I have to say it?

Actually I’ll start with Number 1, since Dawkins clearly does and I remember his argument somehwat there.

“No conclusive disproof of God is known to mankind”. IIRC Dawkins argument goes thusly:

Certain things are exceedingly unlikely. Faeries are unlikely. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is unlikely. We certainly can agree on that. Any argument that derives from an exceedingly unlikely thing such as Faery needs to have its core assumption (the Faery) proven by the one making the assertion, FIRST. Great claims require great proofs.

So let’s say that a scientist asserts that since he can’t explain how the Big Bang occurred, and how the universe is set so precisely to make it possible for life to appear. The scientist inserts “Faery” into the gap where he can’t explain it. Well that’s absurd. Faery is a mythological creature, right? We all KNOW that.

Dawkins goes on to discuss the case that any god that creates the universe certainly has to be more complicated than the universe it creates. It had to create all the rules, all the material, all the design, blah, blah, blah. So we are inserting something more complex to explain away complexity that we can’t explain. Say what? And so on. Of course this latter argument also fails the “Great claims require great proofs” and “Faeries are unlikely” argument, BEFORE you even get there.

Now I am not doing justice to Dawkins arguments, I may have even not understood them entirely either, as they do not really matter to me other than as sport. Unlike apparently many people on this thread, I understand that Religion, like art, is not subject to the games that Dawkins is trying to play, but can appreciate his arguments from his perspective. So please do not argue his points with me as I understood them. Buy the book, choke through it, and then come back and shred it here. “Dawkins is an ass because I said so” while not having actually read his arguments is as lame an argument, as any of his. Lamer in fact.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Do you have any idea how absurd "you haven't read this one book so you don't know any of Dawkins arguments!" actaully is? Thought not.

And if you can see flaws in it, why are you defending it so stringently?
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Mad Geo:

quote:
Now I am not doing justice to Dawkins arguments, I may have even not understood them entirely either, as they do not really matter to me other than as sport. Unlike apparently many people on this thread, I understand that Religion, like art, is not subject to the games that Dawkins is trying to play, but can appreciate his arguments from his perspective. So please do not argue his points with me as I understood them. Buy the book, choke through it, and then come back and shred it here. “Dawkins is an ass because I said so” while not having actually read his arguments is as lame an argument, as any of his. Lamer in fact.
What you forget, oh mad one, is that Dawkins regularly contributes articles to the press, the book has been widely excerpted and he recently appeared on a two part TV programme so we do have an idea where he's coming from here. Most of us have read a number of his books which are pretty good as science and rather less good as philosophy of religion. The point is, given his form, quite a few of us are disinclined to part with a tenner of our hard earned cash to pay for a re-boiled version of his articles in the Independent. I propose to get it out of the library when my reading schedule is a little less heavy because I am pretty certain I won't read anything in there that I haven't already encountered in some form or other. So I consider myself qualified to comment on Dawkins' views, but not to give a full review of his latest book which, you'll notice, I haven't done.

The nearest analogy is Nick Cohen's book 'What's Left' which is also based on his newspaper articles, the thesis of which, is that people who opposed the Iraq war are objectively pro-Baathist or pro-Islamofascist, which I have no intention of reading because, again, I don't think there's anything original that he hasn't said time and again in his articles. The obvious difference is that, notwithstanding his views on religion, I rather admire Dawkins as an author. I just think he does more good as a scientific writer than in popularising a rather tired history-of-ideasy bourgeois secularism.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
What you forget, oh mad one, is that Dawkins regularly contributes articles to the press, the book has been widely excerpted and he recently appeared on a two part TV programme so we do have an idea where he's coming from here. Most of us have read a number of his books which are pretty good as science and rather less good as philosophy of religion. The point is, given his form, quite a few of us are disinclined to part with a tenner of our hard earned cash to pay for a re-boiled version of his articles in the Independent.

True, but this has already been pointed out time and time again on this thread.

I also have no intention of reading Cohen's book. Having not been pursuaded at all, and been rather annoyed, by his newspaper articles, I see no reason to read the book and no reason why I have to read the book in order to say that i disagree with it. Similarly for Dawkins.

Mad Geo alledges that anyone who dislikes Dawkins and regards him as guilty of poor scholarship must de facto be a Christian or a member of some other organised religion. I am not, either secretly or openly, a Christian or any other kind of committed theist. I oppose Dawkins because I genuinely believe that his approach is dishonest, self-serving, hypocritical and invald. As well as extremely rude and exceptionally arrogant. I genuinely think that Dawkins gives athiests a bad name, and I genuinely think that he hates all religionist of every stripe (including Dave Marshall) and that he hates agnostics. His arguments rarely rise above insult, charictature and strawmen.

I am afraid that if Dawkins is the world best athiest (not that I believe for a single instant that he is) then that is unfortunate. Dawkins views on religion are so massively ill-concieved that they are very effective propoganda tools for thiests. IE - if Dawkins is the best the athiests can do, I would feel obligated to become a thiest. He weakens his own side, undermines his own position. IMO, of course.

Re: Geo's repeated claim that Dawkins is a lone voice crying out the truth in the wilderness and being persecuted by the religious right (of whom, bizarrely, he appears to think I am a member) is so far from the truth that I do not know whether to laugh or cry. It is both hilarious and tragic that someone's of Geo's intelligence could be duped so easily by Dawkins egotistical propganda campaign.

Believing, or not believing, in God are both fir enough AFAICS. Any attempt to "prove" either position is doomed to failure, and yes, Dawkins has failed.
 
Posted by sanityman (# 11598) on :
 
Mad Geo: I like the art analogy. However, it seems to me that RD is not so much saying "x is not Art" as saying "Art is crap. In fact, there's actually no such thing as art, and anyone who claims to be an art critic is full of crap. I know, because I can see that it's just all paint and plaster, and there's nothing else."

The above statements are all true from a strict reductionist viewpoint, but terribly unhelpful to anyone looking at a painting. Would you agree?

Everyone else: What is it about Dawkins that inspires such an emotional response? I mean, he's opinionated, arrogant and overexposed, but that's hardly unique. As a matter of fact Douglas Adams held very similar views (see the Salmon of Doubt), and I've never seen people getting as angry about that...

- Chris.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
Mad Geo: I like the art analogy. However, it seems to me that RD is not so much saying "x is not Art" as saying "Art is crap. In fact, there's actually no such thing as art, and anyone who claims to be an art critic is full of crap. I know, because I can see that it's just all paint and plaster, and there's nothing else."

The above statements are all true from a strict reductionist viewpoint, but terribly unhelpful to anyone looking at a painting. Would you agree?


Why yes!

You are very appropriately named btw.

As I said in my art analogy: "if you (Dawkins) want to argue about whether Art is Art, using science, than you are being absurd. You are trying to use science to tell me if something is Art or not. You're being silly. You can tell me if the paint is red, maybe. You can tell me if the plaster is of a certain hardness. But I will tell YOU if it is Art or not, and you cannot tell me I am wrong. You can give me your opinion, and I will ignore it, or not, but you are not right about whether it is art."

But the funny thing is that the people here are not engaging him on the "painting is crap" level. They are arguing on the science level, and he kicks their collective asses by getting to define the terms. He can't define the terms if it's art. He can render opinions, and he can be told where to shove them. Art is in the eye of the beholder. Science isn't supposed to be.

The shippies so passionately debating that god exists using reason or science or some other such systematic methodology so want it to be that and not art, that they can't deal with the idea. They want their rationale no matter the cost, Art be damned. Well it's NOT.

Its art, Zeusdammit.
quote:


Everyone else: What is it about Dawkins that inspires such an emotional response? I mean, he's opinionated, arrogant and overexposed, but that's hardly unique. As a matter of fact Douglas Adams held very similar views (see the Salmon of Doubt), and I've never seen people getting as angry about that...

- Chris.

He cites his appreciation for Douglas Adams quite strongly in the book. He misses him.

As is typical with these threads, people hate Dawkins style and they start frothing, and then their rationale often goes out the window. Me sometimes included, because it's hard to argue with "Because I think he's an ass" for long.

This OP started with Froth from the get go.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
My Papio, but you are finding interesting things I didn't say, to say.

Here is what I have said directly about you on this thread, as near as I can tell:

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
And to you Papio old boy (I think that's a complement on your side of the pond IIRC, correct me if I'm wrong).

I swear to Zeus if this was a debate on being Gay I'd be tempted to out you for protesting too much. For a proclaimed non-Christian, you sure can't walk away from this thread defending it. It's downright hillarious watching you flop around like a fish getting worked up defending that which you allegedly don't believe from it's biggest detractor. May want to have that position checked. It seems to be lacking some salt.

If you can find where I called you "religious right" please provide it now. Otherwise feel free to take it back.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
I genuinely think that Dawkins gives athiests a bad name, and I genuinely think that he hates all religionist of every stripe (including Dave Marshall) and that he hates agnostics.

Thing is, why should anyone care what you think? You just say these things over and over, I'm not quite sure why. You're no more convincing now than when you started because you never quote what Dawkins has actually written in context, or what he's actually said that leads you to this perverse hostility.

Everything I've seen and heard from Dawkins makes me think he no more hates religionists or agnostics than I do. He just has no interest in being nice, or in feigning respect for what he doesn't think warrants it.
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
What is it about Dawkins that inspires such an emotional response? I mean, he's opinionated, arrogant and overexposed, but that's hardly unique.

I'm not sure. I suspect it's mostly a personality thing, that people really don't like someone who comes across like he does being successful. But I like Geo's analysis.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
What you forget, oh mad one, is that Dawkins regularly contributes articles to the press, the book has been widely excerpted and he recently appeared on a two part TV programme so we do have an idea where he's coming from here. Most of us have read a number of his books which are pretty good as science and rather less good as philosophy of religion. The point is, given his form, quite a few of us are disinclined to part with a tenner of our hard earned cash to pay for a re-boiled version of his articles in the Independent. I propose to get it out of the library when my reading schedule is a little less heavy because I am pretty certain I won't read anything in there that I haven't already encountered in some form or other. So I consider myself qualified to comment on Dawkins' views, but not to give a full review of his latest book which, you'll notice, I haven't done.

The nearest analogy is Nick Cohen's book 'What's Left' which is also based on his newspaper articles, the thesis of which, is that people who opposed the Iraq war are objectively pro-Baathist or pro-Islamofascist, which I have no intention of reading because, again, I don't think there's anything original that he hasn't said time and again in his articles. The obvious difference is that, notwithstanding his views on religion, I rather admire Dawkins as an author. I just think he does more good as a scientific writer than in popularising a rather tired history-of-ideasy bourgeois secularism.

I am very aware that you all are subjected to probably a more-than-healthy dose of Dawkinsanity on a regular if not daily basis. I feel your pain. [Big Grin]

The problem is that not everyone here apparently has because they are continuing to post arguments that Dawkins address in the book being discussed at hand "The God Delusion". The OP was actually about a book that argues Dawkins positions in TGD.

In a sense TGD is the Magnum Opus regarding his beliefs on god/theology/etc. Soundbites on the tellie or even in magazine/newsprint/etc. I usspect hardly do it justice. This thread has been like watching people comment on the entire bible via the rantings of a few preachers on tv and a magazine article. Hardly a fair and reasonable reading, if one can call it a reading at all.

I often wonder if Dawkins was American how he would be received. I wonder if our culture is more (or less) immunized against the rantings of such on tv? More or less used to a heated debate on whatever. Or at least direct talk/debating techniques like Dawkins uses. I certainly do not find him as obnoxious as clearly as some posters do here. I wonder if he's a misplaced American?

In whatever case, I like having Dawkins around. During the 60s there were feministas running around man-bashing and being assholes. From that a lot of wrongness being done to women was corrected. Everyone moved a little towards feminism while the freaky feminists eventually chilled out (more or less). A cause often requires a polemic to drive the cause, to get people impassioned, and to create new ways of thinking about things.

I live in a country where the Christian Fucking Freaks actually rule the roost. We get their stupid faces all the time from Haggard preaching gays are going to hell while screwing the poolboy. We get Bush calling for Crusades. We get a crossdressing divorcee (Giuliani) running to the right in order to appease the likes of that pseudo-christian fuck James Dobson.

It all makes Dawkins look like the voice of reason on a bad day.
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
I have to say I like having Dawkins around too, and it's interesting the way he's developed. In the Blind Watchmaker (I'm quoting from long term memory here) he wasn't going after the fundies, 'cause he didn't take them seriously, and he was explicitly targetting more sophisticated Christian thinkers. Then maybe a few things happened.

The first is he started waking up to the fact that one of the most influential political groupings behind the man with the finger on the button, accepts the belief that the world will end soon probably trigger by a (nuclear?) conflagration in the Near East. I accept the widespread view that GWB doesn't, but even so . .

Then he started tuning into to Moslem Jerry-Falwell-soundalikes, and then, just maybe he got a tad concerned. Not entirely without reason.

He also probably reasoned that the argument, in the public place, goes to the people who can mix it a bit with the rabble-rousers, and make the same immediate impact on working-class non-religious folk as Falwell does for religious folk. Again, I can see his argument, if you want to win hearts and minds.

All seems fair to me, and what I think is good, is that it puts the pressure on us moderates (who always want moderate moslems to condemn the Taliban) to condemn our own lunatic fringe. But too many christians are like the socialists who should have known better, but kept quiet about Stalin, 'cause he was really on their side. Big mistake.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Here's the most amazing part of your debate there. Yet again, you have no idea of Dawkins argument. NONE. NYET. Nada. Zero. Nothing. You haven't read it, so you are claiming all sorts of things that he addresses in his book through various ways and your arguments look absurd accordingly. How many times do I have to say it? Actually I’ll start with Number 1, since Dawkins clearly does and I remember his argument somehwat there.

As you demonstrate by providing an example, I have indeed correctly derived that: 1) there are only a few types of arguments possible, 2) in this particular case (number 1), the argument cannot be won at all, and 3) hence Dawkins attempting to win the argument ends up writing drivel.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Certain things are exceedingly unlikely. Faeries are unlikely. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is unlikely. We certainly can agree on that. Any argument that derives from an exceedingly unlikely thing such as Faery needs to have its core assumption (the Faery) proven by the one making the assertion, FIRST. Great claims require great proofs.

Unlike fairies, God is not postulated by faith as some being inhabiting this universe. Hence any sort of probabilistic calculation of the likelihood of such a Being fails on principle: we cannot meaningfully compare with any known data, for we only have data about beings inhabiting this universe. I'm not well versed in FSMology, but likely the FSM can be shown to be either self-contradictory or leading to false conclusions about the world. This is not the case for God. Further, God is a solution to the fundamental metaphysical puzzle that anything exists at all. Finally, one can make a decent case that neuroscience and physics cannot derive the human mental experience from the human body (in particular: the brain), even in principle. This suggests that personhood is at least partly non-material. Putting all this together: it makes no sense to talk about a probabilistic likelihood of God's existence, but the existence of God is well motivated by human experience and metaphysics, and does not lead to any contradictions with known facts. Hence to claim that God exists is not extraordinary in any sense.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
So let’s say that a scientist asserts that since he can’t explain how the Big Bang occurred, and how the universe is set so precisely to make it possible for life to appear. The scientist inserts “Faery” into the gap where he can’t explain it. Well that’s absurd. Faery is a mythological creature, right? We all KNOW that.

What is absurd here is not that Someone causes the Big Bang, but rather simply that the limited mythological creature going by the name "fairy" is supposed to have such powers. It is not scientific to postulate a Creator, that's correct. But that is simply a limitation of science: science cannot talk about such things. Nothing much follows from that.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Dawkins goes on to discuss the case that any god that creates the universe certainly has to be more complicated than the universe it creates. It had to create all the rules, all the material, all the design, blah, blah, blah. So we are inserting something more complex to explain away complexity that we can’t explain.

Which just goes to show that Dawkins can be quite clueless even about science and maths. One need only to observe a non-linear system or cellular automaton, and one will quickly find that from simple rules complex phenomena can arise. It is furthermore the experience of physicists that the more phenomena a natural law describes, the more simple - not complex - it gets (in some sense). To put it flippantly, most physicists would expect that one can print a future "Theory of Everything" on a t-shirt. There's also something called "evolution", which is claimed to explain the entire complexity of life in this world based on just random mutation plus natural selection. Truly an astonishing case of producing complexity from simplicity, too bad Dawkins appears unfamiliar with this striking counter-example to his thesis... Our actual experience with the world hence points precisely to the opposite: if there is an ultimate governing principle of all that is, God, then experience suggests that it should be totally simple. Which happens to be what Christian theology claims...

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Buy the book, choke through it, and then come back and shred it here.

So far I have no good reasons to believe that this would be worth my money or time. If Dawkins wants me to shred his arguments, he can make them here.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Unlike fairies, God is not postulated by faith as some being inhabiting this universe. Hence any sort of probabilistic calculation of the likelihood of such a Being fails on principle: we cannot meaningfully compare with any known data, for we only have data about beings inhabiting this universe. I'm not well versed in FSMology, but likely the FSM can be shown to be either self-contradictory or leading to false conclusions about the world. This is not the case for God. Further, God is a solution to the fundamental metaphysical puzzle that anything exists at all. Finally, one can make a decent case that neuroscience and physics cannot derive the human mental experience from the human body (in particular: the brain), even in principle. This suggests that personhood is at least partly non-material. Putting all this together: it makes no sense to talk about a probabilistic likelihood of God's existence, but the existence of God is well motivated by human experience and metaphysics, and does not lead to any contradictions with known facts. Hence to claim that God exists is not extraordinary in any sense.

Since I already said I wouldn't dignify the scientific arguments here since he does a much better job in the book, I will address the following. I will do it in my best understanding of Dawkins position (coupled with my art theory), and will take the liberty of modifying your post to make the point. Apologies for the use of caps to call out the changed sections as shown:

quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Unlike fairies, Santa Claus is not postulated by MY ARTISTIC SENSE as some being inhabiting this universe. Hence any sort of probabilistic calculation of the likelihood of such a Santa Claus fails on principle: we cannot meaningfully compare with any known data, for we only have data about beings inhabiting this universe. I'm not well versed in FSMology, but likely the FSM can be ARM WAVED to be either self-contradictory or leading to false conclusions about the world. This is not the case for Santa Claus. Further, Santa Claus is IN MY OPINION a solution to the fundamental metaphysical FANTASY that anything exists at all. Finally, one can make a decent case that neuroscience and physics cannot derive the human mental experience from the human body (in particular: the brain), even in principle. This suggests that personhood is at least partly non-material. Putting all this together: it makes no sense to talk about a probabilistic likelihood of Santa Claus existence, but the existence of Santa Claus is well motivated by human EMOTIONAL UNRATIONAL experience and METAFANTASY, and does not lead to any contradictions with known facts. Hence to claim that Santa Claus exists is not extraordinary in any sense.

Dawkins aside, the assumptions in you post are legion, including but not limited to the following:


You don't seriously actually believe you can prove anything about god without a great big irrational/illogical Faith component do you? Faith is not based on logical analysis or material evidence, by definition.

If you would simply give up the idea that you have any kind of actual proof, even if derived by metaphysical mental masturbation, and say "I have simply, faith", you win. Dawkins loses.

He cannot argue with art.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Let's say for a moment that I don't believe that physics is real. To prove my point, I find the oddest, maddest physicists in the history of the world, and selectively quote them. I then go on, on that basis, to ridicule every lay person who believes in physics - "They are all deluded! Look at the mad people they follow!"

The difference is that the good physicists could show, on objective criteria, why the stuff they do either works in practice or is plausible in theory. What the bad physicist does (if it's physics at all) consists of such things as experiments that other people can repeat, or mathematics that other people can check - and if it's bad it will fail the test.

With religion, the same thing won't happen unless there is general agreement about what counts as a test of theology - as IngoB, Callan, and Thomas Aquinas have now demonstrated (I hope) to everyone's satisfaction. Such agreement might be possible in some sub-set of religious thought (Catholics can argue from shared premises, evangelicals can dispute what the bible really means...) but not universally.

So when Osama says that God has said that He (given X circumstances) approves the killing of infidels, no one can prove him wrong on religious grounds. The best we can do is observe that God has not said as much to us - or possibly that He has told us something different. And there's no religious test which Osama and we agree on by which we can find out what God really does say.

Dawkins thinks that any faith position ultimately reduces to "God says...". Sometimes what God is alleged to say is reasonable (by a logical or ethical measure) and sometimes it isn't - but illogic and immorality, as a matter of actual fact, are no necessary discouragement to faith positions. "All apostates should be killed" might be challenged on ethical grounds, but a very large number of people will still believe it, regardless of the ethics, if they can be induced as a matter of faith to think that it is a commandment of God.

Which is why Dawkins thinks that faith is an inherently bad way to reach conclusions. It will lead to real-world decisions of utmost gravity being made on criteria which simply cannot be challenged outside the context of particular beliefs, and which (outside that context) appear absurd. He is well aware that most believers do not think that God is telling them to kill anyone - that's not the point. They are still thinking in the same way as those that do - believing things to be true which they would reject if they were not convinced that God had said it.

I don't think he's right. I also don't think it is a weak, dishonest or lazy objection to faith. It seems to me to be a weighty argument deserving of serious consideration.
 
Posted by merechristian (# 6722) on :
 
I haven't read any Dawkins, but from talking to a coworker who read the God Delusion, his main argument seems to be an ad hominem attack on faith, he attacks the actions of the people who are faithful, as opposed to the truth claims of the faith itself. Does any know if he's tackled the transcendental argument for the existence of God? And if he has, what does he say about it?
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Dawkins thinks that any faith position ultimately reduces to "God says...". Sometimes what God is alleged to say is reasonable (by a logical or ethical measure) and sometimes it isn't - but illogic and immorality, as a matter of actual fact, are no necessary discouragement to faith positions. "All apostates should be killed" might be challenged on ethical grounds, but a very large number of people will still believe it, regardless of the ethics, if they can be induced as a matter of faith to think that it is a commandment of God.

Which is why Dawkins thinks that faith is an inherently bad way to reach conclusions. It will lead to real-world decisions of utmost gravity being made on criteria which simply cannot be challenged outside the context of particular beliefs, and which (outside that context) appear absurd. He is well aware that most believers do not think that God is telling them to kill anyone - that's not the point. They are still thinking in the same way as those that do - believing things to be true which they would reject if they were not convinced that God had said it.

I don't think he's right. I also don't think it is a weak, dishonest or lazy objection to faith. It seems to me to be a weighty argument deserving of serious consideration.

Well said.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
With the greatest respect, I think you're completely missing the point that IngoB is making about Aquinas (and Dawkins). <snip: actual point>

This is just to note that CrookedCucumber has indeed perfectly represented the point I've been trying to make with his explanations above.
Nooooo.

I know exactly which tree you're barking up, but it's the wrong one.

Let me try again.

Dawkins' attacks have drawn criticism because he hasn't the theological knowledge to attack it, instead using axiomatic truths - as we know them.

To attack the foundation of the church - faith - Dawkins (or me, or any atheist) would have to accept the revelation of the scripture. Can't be done. To accept the revelation of scripture, he'd have to be a christian.

Checkmate.

[ 24. May 2007, 21:52: Message edited by: The Atheist ]
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
Mad Geo, if you post caricatures of my posts in quote tags, please DO NOT leave the "Originally posted by IngoB" unchanged. A careless reader could now assume that your caricature is what I have written, in particular if your caricature gets itself quoted without the explanation of what you have done. And you have in fact not marked all changed words with Caps: you have replaced "God" with "Santa Claus" throughout.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
Everyone else: What is it about Dawkins that inspires such an emotional response?

I suspect that, on this thread, people are responding to Mad Geo, rather than Dawkins.
 
Posted by sanityman (# 11598) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Why yes!

You are very appropriately named btw.

As I said in my art analogy: "if you (Dawkins) want to argue about whether Art is Art, using science, than you are being absurd. You are trying to use science to tell me if something is Art or not. You're being silly. You can tell me if the paint is red, maybe. You can tell me if the plaster is of a certain hardness. But I will tell YOU if it is Art or not, and you cannot tell me I am wrong. You can give me your opinion, and I will ignore it, or not, but you are not right about whether it is art."

But the funny thing is that the people here are not engaging him on the "painting is crap" level.

Thanks. I think the analogy is helpful, because it's an area of knowledge which most people disagree on a great deal, but most people believe exists. The problem that I see on this thread is that RD would like to disallow the entire field as invalid, which to the theologically-minded comes across a bit like someone trying to deny that language exists when discussing Shakespeare!

I think the problem is one of epistemology: if you think (as RD seems to) that the only valid way of finding out about the universe is by scientific empiricism, then you invalidate (and then loudly rubbish, in his case) everyone else's claim to derive valid knowledge ("truth" if you must) about the universe in different, higher levels and more holistic ways. A bit like claiming that all biology is physics because animals are made up of atoms.

I'm reading John Polkinghorne at the moment on exactly this subject. He manages to be a particle physicst, FRS and an ordained minister, and he has a rather more "nuanced and subtle" approach to the question. In fact, he uses an analogy rather similar to yours [Smile] . His contention is that theology and science are a lot more similar than most people allow: they are both attempting to create meaning and signifcance out of our experiences of the universe.
quote:
[Dawkins] cites his appreciation for Douglas Adams quite strongly in the book. He misses him.
If anyone would like to read one bit of Dawkins' writing to make them think better of him, I heartily recommend his eulogy for Douglas Adams publised the day after his death.

It seems strange that, even if you do shout down all the non-reductionists and materialists in your audience, you still have all the Big Questions™ left, except you just rubbished exactly the ways to knowlege that could help you explore them. Do they all live in some La-La land, trying to make believe that existentialism isn't depressing? If that was all my philosophy of life was, I wouldn't shout as loud.

Just curious.

- Chris.

ETA PS: Ricardus: if only it were just this thread! I'm afraid the invective stated well before Mad Geo weighed in...

[ 24. May 2007, 22:13: Message edited by: sanityman ]
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by merechristian:
I haven't read any Dawkins, but from talking to a coworker who read the God Delusion, his main argument seems to be an ad hominem attack on faith, he attacks the actions of the people who are faithful, as opposed to the truth claims of the faith itself. Does any know if he's tackled the transcendental argument for the existence of God? And if he has, what does he say about it?

First, read the book. It is better than being just an ad hominem attack (I do not deny that it comntains ad hominem points, most but not all of them merited).

I'm not sure what you mean by "the transcendental argument". He goes through several classic "proofs" and dismisses them, in what is probably the least interesting chapter.

His argument for saying that God almost certainly does not exist is based on the human need to explain, and focuses on God as a being providing and requiring explanation. His conclusion is that if you are looking to describe how the universe comes to be as it is, the more plausible explanation is the atheist position (since it can in principle explain everything we know about).

The flaw seems to me to be the assumption that God is a thing with an origin to be explained - almost by definition he isn't in that category. Arguments that prove (as they do) that a complex entity like God does not arise ex nihilo don't touch Christian belief - we never supposed it remotely possible for God to arise in that way.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
IngoB:

Sincere Apologies. Full Stop.

I meant to delete that in the second version(that's why I put in your actual quote first so as to be able to compare the two). If someone quotes from that out of context, let me know and I will personally defend you.

quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
Everyone else: What is it about Dawkins that inspires such an emotional response?

I suspect that, on this thread, people are responding to Mad Geo, rather than Dawkins.
While probably partially true, Dawkins drives his own truck.

I can hardly be responsible when the OP begins with:

quote:
....If ever I was tempted in my darkest hour to believe that Richard Dawkins spoke about some kind of actual reality, then this is definitively the moment where my mind is at rest. The most incredible thing about the quote above is that he has had months to reflect on it. It is so factually baseless, verifiably incorrect and - well, let's call a spade a spade - WRONG, that for the first time I am seriously considering his own mental health, with no hyperbole. This man is a respected scientist, he is at home with data analysis. He cannot be afforded the excuse of ignorance.....

But nice attack nevertheless.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by sanityman:
In fact, he uses an analogy rather similar to yours [Smile] . His contention is that theology and science are a lot more similar than most people allow: they are both attempting to create meaning and signifcance out of our experiences of the universe.

Really! I am curious how his analogy differs from mine?

I might respectfully disagree with him that science and religion are all that in common. Of course, not having read the book, I will refrain from doing anything other than commenting "I might".
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Dawkins aside, the assumptions in [IngoB's] post are legion...

Not that I can see. The only fault I'd find with that post, and then I'd be pushing it, is where Ingo concludes "Which happens to be what Christian theology claims...".

That's an accurate statement, but it leaves out the little matter of Christian theology also insisting on a load of other stuff that certainly cannot be defended in the same way. I'd agree that at least some of that other stuff can reasonably be considered away with the fairies, but he wasn't using it.

As far as that post went, apart from the Christian bit, I'd be surprised if Dawkins would object.

[cross-posted with Mad Geo's apology]

[ 24. May 2007, 22:47: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Santa Claus is outside the universe. Says who?

In the case of God (rather than Santa Claus): the religion I care to defend, and Dawkins cares most to attack, says so.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I hereby posit that Faerie are outside the known universe too (Santa Claus lives at the North Pole of course, so I had to switch back to the Faeries). By your “logic” Faerie therefore actually exist.

No, by my logic you cannot then construct a probabilistic likelihood for the existence of this "extra-fairy".

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Science hasn’t figured out how gravity works either. This suggest that gravity is at least partly non-material. It must be produced by faeries.

Certainly no contradiction with known facts results if one claims (in a careful manner) that gravity is produced by fairies. This claim will have to compete with other claims for our belief though. The Christian claims about God certainly lead to a much more coherent and interesting worldview. What do you believe produces gravity, by the way? And please don't answer "mass" or something like that, that's not the level at which I'm asking the question. That gravity is proportional to mass is a natural law, but what produces this proportionality? God? Fairies? Randomness?

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
“Human experience” tells me that if I take a little bit of a certain mushroom, I can actually see Faeries and possibly even god. Doesn’t mean it’s so.

Indeed. But I was not talking about any special mental state, e.g., "talking to God". I was talking about the completely normal mental life we all experience all the time - that can be argued to be at odds with known neuroscience and physics.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
“does not lead to any contradictions with known facts” Rubbish squared. All manner of claims are made for god that contradict with known facts. Creation, Miracles, Virgin Births, Walking on water, etc. etc. The entire bible or any other religious text of your choosing contradicts with known facts.

Miracles do not contradict natural law, they affirm it: exceptions prove the rule. A miracle is a miracle because the ordinary working of nature does not produce it. You cannot use a rule to prove that there are no exceptions to it: that is an assumption about the rule, not the rule itself. A singular event in history which is claimed to be a miracle cannot be dismissed by pointing out that it does not follow the natural law derived from repeated observations. That's like saying that black cannot exist because it is not white. The bible is a complicated text. A literalistic reading of it may lead to contradictions, but that only shows that one has to do better than that.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
You don't seriously actually believe you can prove anything about god without a great big irrational/illogical Faith component do you? Faith is not based on logical analysis or material evidence, by definition.

The faith component of my religion is neither irrational nor illogical. It is simply not something I can reason from knowledge. If you tell me that you are a geologists by training, I can choose to believe you, even though I have no external evidence for that. It is neither irrational not illogical to assume that Mad Geo is a geologist, it is simply something I believe but do not know. And conclusions I draw from that, like that you should know something about minerals, can be entirely reasonable. Just as it is for my Christian faith.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
If you would simply give up the idea that you have any kind of actual proof, even if derived by metaphysical mental masturbation, and say "I have simply, faith", you win. Dawkins loses.

Dawkins does not lose in this scenario, he simply cannot win. But Dawkins refuses to admit that he cannot win. That's why we slag him here.

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Sometimes what God is alleged to say is reasonable (by a logical or ethical measure) and sometimes it isn't - but illogic and immorality, as a matter of actual fact, are no necessary discouragement to faith positions.

Unfortunately for Dawkins, his main target happens to be just that one religion which has claimed that what God says cannot possibly be illogical or immoral, and that we as humans can validly judge the logic and morality of what is claimed about God. See B16's Regensburg address...

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Dawkins' attacks have drawn criticism because he hasn't the theological knowledge to attack it, instead using axiomatic truths - as we know them. To attack the foundation of the church - faith - Dawkins (or me, or any atheist) would have to accept the revelation of the scripture.

WTF? To attack the foundation of faith, Dawkins simply has to say "I do not believe." That's all there is to that. Dawkins' attacks have drawn criticism because he doesn't leave it at that, but pretends that he has some other argument X, so that X will make any reasonable person say "I do not believe." Which is simply not the case.

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
His argument for saying that God almost certainly does not exist is based on the human need to explain

Thus he simply uses Bulverism, but as C.S. Lewis explains:
quote:
Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is “wishful thinking.” You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not. If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. If you find my arithmetic wrong, then it may be relevant to explain psychologically how I came to be so bad at my arithmetic, and the doctrine of the concealed wish will become relevant - but only after you have yourself done the sum and discovered me to be wrong on purely arithmetical grounds. It is the same with all thinking and all systems of thought. If you try to find out which are tainted by speculating about the wishes of the thinkers, you are merely making a fool of yourself. You must find out on purely logical grounds which of them do, in fact, break down as arguments. Afterwards, if you like, go on and discover the psychological causes of the error.

In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method [Note: This essay was written in 1941.] is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it “Bulverism.” Some day I am going the write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father - who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third - “Oh, you say that because you are a man.” “At that moment,” E. Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.” That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.


 
Posted by PeteB (# 2357) on :
 
Sanityman asked:
quote:
Everyone else: What is it about Dawkins that inspires such an emotional response?
I would not dream - dream I everso would not - of claiming to speak for 'everyone else' on this list: however, as an individual with a Dawkins lodged up his nostril might I volunteer my quibbles:

1) He has a closed mind and a following even more extreme, vocal and aggressive than he. They have a platform, credibility and influence with the powerful in the media. This is dangerous.
2) Like your goodself Sanityman I dislike his reductionist approach and take your analogy. It's like trying to discuss music with someone who dismisses all talk of the music as music as emotional nonsense and insists on talking about dimensions of instruments relative velocities of sounds in air and so on. Absolutely correct. Totally irrelevant.
3) He repeatedly and stridently insists that religion is uniquely responsible for evil. This is wrong (IMHO). It distracts from and excuses the real cause of evil - human beings. Again this is dangerous.
4) If Cristina Odona's reporting is accurate, he has finally flipped and, waving his arms about and shouting, stepped backwards off the planet.

Briefly, RD began a conversation:

"You are on a deserted beach with a rifle, an elephant and a baby. This is the last elephant on earth and it is charging the baby. Do you shoot the elephant, knowing the species would become extinct?"

Like the well brought-up Catholic girl she is, CO paused only for a brief prayer for accuracy before dropping the elephant dead with a single icy stare. RD is horrified, blood draining from his face and quivering with horror he proclaims:

" ... man, beast, they [are] all the same ... and the priority must be to protect the endangered species.

The only possible mitigating circumstances are that the context was a dinner-party - so it's possible he was suffering from ethyl dementia.


CO's article here

Man's a bounder Sir.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
I think when you start assessing people by what's written about them in the gossip columns, you've probably lost the plot. But you wouldn't be alone.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
I have never seen anyone try to head off Dawkins by using an "art" argument, or comparable (somebody let me know if this was tried on Dawkins). I have only seen the same bored arguments that are being used here, arguments which I see ass absurd. Like postulating that some metaphysical or existential hoo-ha equals any kind of logical or reason based answer.

Your religion IS unreasonable. Wear it. It's unreasonable to believe in that which you can't see, measure, hear, touch, know. It's unreasonable to turn the other cheek. It's unreasonable to love thy enemy. To argue otherwise is absurd.

Many people do not give a flying fuck about the matephysical and intellectual pathetic arguments that are put out defending the indefensible (faith). Just as many probably don't give a flying fuck about Dawkins putting out his rebuttal to the pathetic arguments supporting faith. But the two together create a controversy of absurdity. Christians losing their minds, and Dawkins mocking them for trying to intellectually defend the indefensible.

I challenge you to try to use any argument you have put here without some self-referential part to god. Don't bother looking, every time you rebut one of my points so far, the dragon eats its tail.

Everything you have said assumes something about god. No belief No argument.

As Eliab so eloquently put it:

quote:

Dawkins thinks that any faith position ultimately reduces to "God says...". Sometimes what God is alleged to say is reasonable (by a logical or ethical measure) and sometimes it isn't - but illogic and immorality, as a matter of actual fact, are no necessary discouragement to faith positions. "All apostates should be killed" might be challenged on ethical grounds, but a very large number of people will still believe it, regardless of the ethics, if they can be induced as a matter of faith to think that it is a commandment of God.

Which is why Dawkins thinks that faith is an inherently bad way to reach conclusions. It will lead to real-world decisions of utmost gravity being made on criteria which simply cannot be challenged outside the context of particular beliefs, and which (outside that context) appear absurd. He is well aware that most believers do not think that God is telling them to kill anyone - that's not the point. They are still thinking in the same way as those that do - believing things to be true which they would reject if they were not convinced that God had said it.

I don't think he's right. I also don't think it is a weak, dishonest or lazy objection to faith. It seems to me to be a weighty argument deserving of serious consideration.


 
Posted by aunt jane (# 10139) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
The trouble is that the "fundy" churches have no structure as such. It's very easy to count Catholic and Anglican churches and know that they are the same as the one down the road, but how can I tell the difference between the Elim Christian Church, the International Baptist Church and the Evangelical Church of Christ?



 
Posted by aunt jane (# 10139) on :
 
why do you need to "tell the difference" between these churches? What sort of differences are you looking for? What sort do you believe Dawkins would look for?
 
Posted by David (# 3) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PeteB:

"You are on a deserted beach with a rifle, an elephant and a baby. This is the last elephant on earth and it is charging the baby. Do you shoot the elephant, knowing the species would become extinct?"

Like the well brought-up Catholic girl she is, CO paused only for a brief prayer for accuracy before dropping the elephant dead with a single icy stare. RD is horrified, blood draining from his face and quivering with horror he proclaims:

" ... man, beast, they [are] all the same ... and the priority must be to protect the endangered species.


If there's only one elephant left then it's already extinct.

Duh.
 
Posted by sanityman (# 11598) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Your religion IS unreasonable. Wear it. It's unreasonable to believe in that which you can't see, measure, hear, touch, know. It's unreasonable to turn the other cheek. It's unreasonable to love thy enemy. To argue otherwise is absurd.

Ok, here's the problem.
Reason can be a lot of different things, and using the word in ways which exclude several commonly-used meanings is a fertile ground for misunderstanding.

Listening to music is not illogical. Asking philosophical or metaphysical questions is not irrational. Dealing with reality on the high level that our minds operate rather than reducing everything to cosmic clockwork is not invalid merely because it moves beyond strict empiricism (which, as Pokinghorne points out, ignores the role that creativity and human imagination have in the scientific process!).

So saying that art is "unreasonable" imho misses the point. People who like music or art haven't taken leave of their senses.

- Chris.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Oh I don't know, I am an artist and I think a lot of my art completely unreasonable. But I digress.
 
Posted by Og: Thread Killer (# 3200) on :
 
In a world where logic and consistancy are preferred, I'd rather be an emotional learner that hears people like Dawkins, then says, "Interesting if, unoriginal, opinion, but I believe in spite of what you say. Now, how do we make sure people we both dislike don't get access to nucleur bombs, Richard?"

If Mr. Dawkins thinks I can't be involved in reducing the chances of that happening because I believe in God, then what good are his writings?

I thought the point was to save the world, not simply save a cheerleader who might save the world.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
I don't know what on Earth posessed me to start this thread appealing to reason and logic. We are talking about fundamentalism here, which pretty much by definition cannot comprehend any attack, no matter how reasonable.

I started by postulating that Dawkins' original quote was factually innacurate. We have had various attempts by his fundamentalist followers to suggest that, actually, what he said isn't what he meant. Variously he thinks "subtle, nuanced" faith is no better than the unsubtle violent sort, or that he was only talking about eminent theologians, not oridinary men and women. I can see neither of these interpretations satisfactorially explaining the words he used - at the very least he is an appalling communicator.

A lot of the subsequent discussion has centred around faith. None of the fundamentalist supporters here have engaged this issue, central to the collapse of Dawkins' argument. I would slighly take issue with IngoB here, in that in our gravity analogy, what was postulated was a caricature of the "God of the Gaps" argument, which is hardly a robust defence of God. That said, I think there is something useful to be found in God of the Gaps, but it is a rather different point.

The problem with God of the Gaps, as is well known, is that the gaps get filled. ID is a classic stupid argument, which has no intellectual, scientific or theological merit. However, there is a broader truth that emerges from this subject. The history of science reveals not that the gaps keep getting filled while the expanse of knowlege keeps getting smaller. Instead, the gaps get filled... and new, bigger gaps emerge.

Newtonian physics was supposed to explain pretty much everything, with a few gaps here and there, sure, but God was certainly no longer needed to push planets and stars about. But as physics developed, entire new concepts appeared, themselves leading to other new concepts - electromagnetism, radiation, genetics, quantum mechanics, chaos and so on.

The current position of physics is that we are further away from a complete, classical definition of the universe and reality than ever before. Current popular theories postulate infinite numbers of universes and multiple dimensions, while we still cannot begin to understand 94% of the matter in the ordinary universe we do have. Quantum Mechanics is still a myriad of impossibilities.

Does God live here? Who knows. Maybe he lives somewhere that these sciences will lead us to in another 10,000 years. Maybe he is nowhere. What is absolutely crystal clear, and beyond debate, is that our human knowledge of our universe is extremely limited, and we cannot say with any degree of certainty what REALLY is going on. Dawkins may have his pet theories, but they are not accepted by the wider scientific community. None are.

Stephen Jay Gould (not a theist as I understand it) could see this obvious point, and was in Dawkins' exact same field (a point thus far conveniantly ignored by the Dawkins-worshippers, since it is an extremely inconvenient one). Or how about Francis Collins? Paul Davis? John Polkinghorne?

Maybe these names are too small-fry. How about Einstein, Schroedinger, Planck, Heisenberg, De Broglie, Jeans, Pauli or Eddington? Each of these, probably the greatest physicists of the 20th Century, had a mystical world view (an excellent compendium on their writings on the subject is Quantum Questions .

Ah, but I can hear the uncontained mirth of Mad Geo even from here. "The imbecile!" he cries. "He's done it again! Dawkins has answered THIS EXACT point! Einstein did not believe in a personal God, but just a reverence and awe for nature".

Indeed. This unambiguous quote from Einstein backs it up:

quote:
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
But again, Dawkins ignores evidence to fit his pre-determined theories. Here is one rather unambiguous quote from Albert Eisntein to illustrate that Dawkins paints a very selctive picture:

quote:
The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.
Or:

quote:
I do not think that it is necessarily the case that science and religion are natural opposites. In fact, I think that there is a very close connection between the two. Further, I think that science without religion is lame and, conversely, that religion without science is blind. Both are important and should work hand-in-hand.
But this is far too inconvenient for Dawkins to bother mentioning. Indeed, I'm sure Einstein did not know his own mind, and was blinded by temporary insanity when he said such things.

Or... just possibly... maybe... are things just a tiny bit more complicated that Dawkins presents? Maybe the 8 greatest physicists of the 20th Century have a point after all? Believing in what we call a personal God versus a faith like Budhism is another matter altogether. But the evidence suggests that there are big questions out there that science simply cannot answer. And Dawkins paint Budhism and Christianity with the same brush anyway - they are both infantile religions based on fairy tales.

This is why Dawkins (and his fundamentalist followers here) make me angry. They sweep away all this in favour of their own nice simple fairy tale - that faith is a childish insanity, and people with faith are childishly insane. Evidence is swept away in favour of loud, offensive rhetoric. Intellectual equals (and betters) are ignored or surpressed. It is not science, it is fundamentalism.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
I don't know what on Earth posessed me to start this thread appealing to reason and logic.

No, I'm not sure either. It seems you think the Ship needs you to tell us how things are on a narrow range of topics you think you can get away with sounding knowledgable on.

You don't raise a question, contribute whatever knowledge and opinions you have, and see where the discussion goes. You don't seem much interested in learning or exchanging ideas. It seems you only start threads after you have made up your mind, then get all upset when, shock horror, not everyone agrees with you.

That in itself would be OK; you'd have been a little naive and, I think for most people, it would have been a useful learning experience. For you though, it quickly becomes an outrageous liberty. You switch from apparently reasonable contributor mode to a rather nasty, self-righteous tabloid style attack-the-person style, deliberately setting out not to counter arguments with evidence but to needle, to wind up, and to denigrate those who disgree with you.

There are no fundamentalist Dawkins supporters on this thread. You know that (and if you don't then you really are more stupid than I thought) but, what the hell, they disagree with you so you'll have a go at being hurtful back.

What makes me laugh here (sorry, but you annoy me too) is that in blathering on about what you see as Dawkins' lack of coherence you demonstrate your lack of awareness of your own limitations. I'm no Einstein, the gaps in my knowledge are vast, but what I have learnt is the result of listening to people and thinking about what they say.

Apart from the God of the Gaps bit, everything in your last post has already been countered by people who in various ways have shown they know more about the subject than you do. So why start all over again with this little rant? Dawkins has been done to death already. Some of us value his contribution to the debate, some react vitriolically to the mere mention of his name. But if you read the thread again for comprehension, you'll see that literally no-one agrees with most of what you're complaining about.

Let it go. If people want to pick up on stuff and keep the thread alive, all well and good. But keep acting like you're some kind of Ship thread-master poking half-dead discussions to artificially keep them alive does not look a useful or contructive way to carry on.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
To attack the foundation of the church - faith - Dawkins (or me, or any atheist) would have to accept the revelation of the scripture. Can't be done. To accept the revelation of scripture, he'd have to be a christian.

What you seem to be saying is that you (or Dawkins) is unable to argue about hypothetical situations. I don't have be an atheist to be able to argue that conclusions atheists might draw are incorrect.

For example, an atheist might argue that, because there is no god there is no objective standard of morality. And I might reply that even if there were no god there is still an objective standard of morality because XYZ...

I don't have to accept any tenet of atheism to engage with atheistic arguments. I merely have to be capable of considering the logical conclusions of what, to me, are hypothetical situations.

For all I know, you might be unable to do that. But I'm pretty damned sure that Dawkins can, if he wants to.

And what does `attacking faith' mean, anyway?

You could argue that it is a bad idea to base your life choices on propositions that are not physically observable. I happen to disagree (because I think we all do this all the time, even atheists), but I don't see that you have to accept the revelation of scripture to argue the point.

Or are you attacking `faith' in the sense of `loyalty' or `commitment'? For sure you could argue that one should make a strong commitment to something on the basis of scant evidence; but, again, I don't see why you need to accept anything about scripture to do that.
 
Posted by Stars (# 10804) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:


Indeed. This unambiguous quote from Einstein backs it up:

quote:
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
But again, Dawkins ignores evidence to fit his pre-determined theories. Here is one rather unambiguous quote from Albert Eisntein to illustrate that Dawkins paints a very selctive picture:

quote:
The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.
Or:

quote:
I do not think that it is necessarily the case that science and religion are natural opposites. In fact, I think that there is a very close connection between the two. Further, I think that science without religion is lame and, conversely, that religion without science is blind. Both are important and should work hand-in-hand.
But this is far too inconvenient for Dawkins to bother mentioning. Indeed, I'm sure Einstein did not know his own mind, and was blinded by temporary insanity when he said such things.

Or... just possibly... maybe... are things just a tiny bit more complicated that Dawkins presents?





Or..just possibly, things are a bit more complicated than even you are allowing for. I think I understand what Einstein is saying, because it is (often) more or less my position.

I would describe myself as an atheist, because i have no religious belief
 
Posted by Petaflop (# 9804) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
What you seem to be saying is that you (or Dawkins) is unable to argue about hypothetical situations. I don't have be an atheist to be able to argue that conclusions atheists might draw are incorrect.

It's worse than that. If you can't argue from a hypothetical position, then you have lost one of the most powerful tools in logic or mathematics, i.e. where you accept a premise and then reason within the terms of that premise until you reach a contradition, thus proving (if the intermediate reasoning is valid), that the premise was untenable.

So we could make 3 propositions about a framework such as Christianity or Atheism:
1. Christianity is tenable and true
2. Christianity is tenable but false
3. Christianity is untenable

Distinguishing between 1 and 2 requires data (which may or may not be observable), whereas 3 can be tested given just a definition of the framework. (Unfortunately there are a number of sets to be tested, since Christians can't agree).

But if you can prove 3, then distinguishing between 1 and 2 become irrelevent.

[ 25. May 2007, 12:28: Message edited by: Petaflop ]
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
quote:
As a disbeliever in homeopathy I can attack the whole thing at its root by saying ``I don't think there is a molecular memory''.
And you would then, through the use of 'double-blind' testing (as has been done a number of times), demonstrate conclusively that homeopathic remedies are of no value what-so-ever.
quote:
Or I can say ``Even if there is a molecular memory, your conclusion XYZ does not follow logically from that, because ABC...''.
I don't understand your point: You make as though to accept a premise which you know to be a nonsense, in order to demonstrate within their framework, the flaws of the argument they present. But if their argument is logically feasible within that flawed framework, what is the point? What can you achieve?
And that is the problem with the analogy: It is possible to show that homeopathy is a load of cobblers because a demonstrable physical effect is part of its mantra; prove that there is no effect and its foundation collapes.

The existense of God is more elusive.

I'm also bemused about complaints about Dawkin's ignorance of theology.
Which theology?
Members here speak as though there is a singular interpretation; a science that deserves careful scrutiny.
From my observations there are a myriad of interpretations, all claiming exclusive legitimacy - how is one to choose?
And why would one bother?
Dawkins is criticized for focussing on extremists - but their views are equally as legitimate as that of the most reasonable liberal.

And that is what scares us

S-E
 
Posted by Petaflop (# 9804) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
I don't understand your point: You make as though to accept a premise which you know to be a nonsense, in order to demonstrate within their framework, the flaws of the argument they present. But if their argument is logically feasible within that flawed framework, what is the point? What can you achieve?

The point is that it may be possible to refute their position without even having to consult the data. If you can prove that the position is internally inconsistent, then you save yourself the effort of doing the experiment.

Now depending on the difficulty of the experiment and the proof, one approach may be easier than the other. Since experimental evidence for or against the existance of God is tricky to provide, the traditional approach has been to look for inconsistencies within the particular framework of reasoning - and to do so requires the premises of that framework to be accepted as givens for the purposes of the argument.

Having said that, my previous post was wrong. We need to consider 4 cases:
1. Christianity is tenable but false
2. Christianity is tenable and true
3. Christianity is untenable but false
4. Christianity is untenable and true
Number 4 looks dumb, but I was ignoring the possibility that reason is not a valid tool for the determination of truth. Reason could be a flawed product of the way our minds work. Not a very useful hypothesis of course.

[ 25. May 2007, 13:29: Message edited by: Petaflop ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Noiseboy.

In the book, Dawkins actually (interestingly) gave Buddhism a gloss over as being closer to a philosophical system.

As a Zen Buddhist, I thought that was rather generous of him, while probably being completely wrong.

But again don't let the book get in the way of a good rant. Carry on.

[ 25. May 2007, 14:34: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Am I right in thinking that you can be a Zen Buddhist without believing in any supernatural entities whatsoever?
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Am I right in thinking that you can be a Zen Buddhist without believing in any supernatural entities whatsoever?

So I have been told.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Am I right in thinking that you can be a Zen Buddhist without believing in any supernatural entities whatsoever?

That is correct. OTOH, Dawkins oversimplified and admits he knows little of Buddhism. Not surprising since he has to do battle with the entirity of Christianity first.

[ 25. May 2007, 15:14: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
(Tangent - Callan - your in-box is full to overflowing)
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Not any more. Yours is though!
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Dave Marshall - where to begin on such a vicious character assination?

1. I have started a few threads on subjects I have very firm views on. This is one, climate change another. This, you inflate to all threads, which is untrue. Both this and the climate change thread are admittedly linked by my incredulity that anyone can seriously defend a certain position. Many others have not been.

2. My contention at the beginning of this thread is that Dawkins has abandonded reason and is a fundamentalist atheist. This is certainly not a novel idea - McGrath's last book was subtitled "Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine". You may personally consider that view to be stupid, but as I have pointed out several times, the evidence suggests there are good grounds for it. It follows that Dawkins' followers on this thread would come into the same category.

3. I am certainly not alone in my views on this thread. Re-read it if you don't believe me - more than once, people have specifically agreed with points I have made. Your behaviour here reminds me of nothing more than bullying on this point (I know - what planet am I on, eh?) Just because yourself and MadGeo loudly pat each other on the back does not mean that your views are universal and mine are those of a lone madman.

4. Where have I ever claimed superior knowledge? My one beef on this thread has been with those who claim exactly this in the form of fundamentalist atheism. If asked, I will be equally withering regarding any form of fundamentalist theism. I am equal opportunities against fundamentalism. Beyond agreeing that faith and science are not mutually exclusive, I don't think I've even suggested what my own personal views are anyway (although some have presumed them). As it happens, I would be staggered if I wasn't wrong regarding much of what I believe when it comes to faith. Pretty much my only certainty is that scientific certainty on this subject does not exist.

If you don't like my writing style, fune. But if you want to personally slag me off further, please do it in hell, where you will have the place to yourself.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Noiseboy.

In the book, Dawkins actually (interestingly) gave Buddhism a gloss over as being closer to a philosophical system.

As a Zen Buddhist, I thought that was rather generous of him, while probably being completely wrong.

But again don't let the book get in the way of a good rant. Carry on.

So is Budhism exempt from his diatribes against religion? If so, Dawkins appears to be reinventing the word "religion" (much like he reinvented the word "faith" perhaps).

OK, Dave Marshall has delightfully accused me of pig-headedness, so how about this. Could it be that Dawkins and Anti-Dawkins are simply talking over each others heads because their use of basic terminology is fundamentally different? When Dawkins says "religion", does he really mean "religion with personal god(s)?" When he says "faith" does he mean "blind faith?" And likewise when us theists use terms in a metaphorical sense, does he assume them to be taken literally? This could go a long way to explaining the antagonism and offence.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I hereby posit that Faerie are outside the known universe too (Santa Claus lives at the North Pole of course, so I had to switch back to the Faeries). By your “logic” Faerie therefore actually exist.

No, by my logic you cannot then construct a probabilistic likelihood for the existence of this "extra-fairy".

The problem with the fairy, Santa Claus, Flying Spaghetti Monster analogy is that if you assign the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or whatever) properties sufficiently similar to God's for the analogy to work, all you've done is to show that the letter string 'Flying Spaghetti Monster' can be redefined to refer to God.

On the other hand, if you keep the analogy sufficiently distinct from God for it to do any work, you've probably added in sufficient qualities in the analogy for it to break down.

For example, we have reason to believe that giant heaps of spaghetti don't have any arbitrary quality that we might wish to assign to them. (If you're positing the existence of alien life forms similar to spaghetti on some other planet, then the rational thing in the absence of evidence is to be agnostic.)
On the other hand, if you're positing that it's not literal visible tangible spaghetti with no thought processes but metaphorical spaghetti - well, I can't at the moment think of a situation in which I would want to liken God to a plate of spaghetti, but should the situation arise there would be no objection to doing so.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
So is Budhism exempt from his diatribes against religion? If so, Dawkins appears to be reinventing the word "religion" (much like he reinvented the word "faith" perhaps).

Buddhism (or at least the Sanbo Kyodan version I practice) is a rather different species than say, Christianity, Islam, etc. It's like comparing apples and ostriches. Apparently Dawkins gets that much.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Thing is, why should anyone care what you think? You just say these things over and over, I'm not quite sure why. You're no more convincing now than when you started because you never quote what Dawkins has actually written in context, or what he's actually said that leads you to this perverse hostility.

Thing is, I've never seen anyone else say that they agree with you about what Dawkins is saying.

Oh yes, and don't think I didn't realise that that was a personal attack to go with all the other personal attacks which you have launched against me on this thread and everyone else who doesn't share your high view of Dawkins.

[ 25. May 2007, 17:55: Message edited by: Papio ]
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Buddhism (or at least the Sanbo Kyodan version I practice) is a rather different species than say, Christianity, Islam, etc. It's like comparing apples and ostriches. Apparently Dawkins gets that much.

Fine, avoid the question. Again.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
If the objection is to belief in supernatural entities then clearly Zen Buddhism and parts of Taoism are exempt. If the objection is to fanaticism and cruelty I can think of better examples than, say the Methodist Church of Great Britain and worse examples than, say, the oh, so secular Republic of North Korea. (No idea where ZB and Taoism score on that index. Given the popularity of Zen in pre-1945 Japan I suspect there may be a case to answer, in the latter instance I don't think there is much to complain about.)

Does Dawkins anywhere criticise the concept of the nation-state, btw? Because that has generated rather more violence in the last couple of centuries than a great many religions.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Dave Marshall - where to begin on such a vicious character assination?

Um, no. Or at least, it wasn't meant that way. Just being fed up with you calling anyone who disagrees with you a fundamentalist.
quote:
1. I have started a few threads on subjects I have very firm views on. This is one, climate change another. This, you inflate to all threads, which is untrue. Both this and the climate change thread are admittedly linked by my incredulity that anyone can seriously defend a certain position. Many others have not been.
Those are the only two threads you've started that I can find. If you post links to a few of the others I'll have a look and certainly apologise if I've been unfair.
quote:
2. My contention at the beginning of this thread is that Dawkins has abandonded reason and is a fundamentalist atheist. This is certainly not a novel idea - McGrath's last book was subtitled "Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine". You may personally consider that view to be stupid, but as I have pointed out several times, the evidence suggests there are good grounds for it. It follows that Dawkins' followers on this thread would come into the same category.
So let me get this right. You think that Dawkins has abandoned reason and is a fundamentalist atheist. Your evidence is that a theologian who's attacked Dawkins has included "atheistic fundamentalism" in the title of his book. Therefore anyone on this thread who disagrees with you about Dawkins is his follower and therefore also a fundamentalist atheist?
quote:
3. I am certainly not alone in my views on this thread. Re-read it if you don't believe me - more than once, people have specifically agreed with points I have made. Your behaviour here reminds me of nothing more than bullying on this point (I know - what planet am I on, eh?) Just because yourself and MadGeo loudly pat each other on the back does not mean that your views are universal and mine are those of a lone madman.
I didn't say no-one agreed with you. I was talking about how you respond when they don't. Interesting that you raise the question of bullying. I wonder how that works on a discussion board, and who might be responsible.
quote:
4. Where have I ever claimed superior knowledge?
Where have I said that you did? If you mean my comment about limitations, it was in the context of lack of coherent reasoning. You can have all the knowledge you like, if you can't reason it's of little use.
quote:
My one beef on this thread has been with those who claim exactly this in the form of fundamentalist atheism.
There's atheists on here, but none that I'd think are fundamentalist. Calling me a fundamentalist atheist because I disagree with you about Dawkins does not make me an atheist, fundamentalist, or any combination. You start with a false assertion (anyone defending Dawkins is a fundamentalist atheist), you end up with logical contradiction (theism (my faith) equals atheism).
quote:
If asked, I will be equally withering regarding any form of fundamentalist theism. I am equal opportunities against fundamentalism.
Well, we agree about something.
quote:
Beyond agreeing that faith and science are not mutually exclusive, I don't think I've even suggested what my own personal views are anyway (although some have presumed them).
I agree. I think your God of the Gaps thoughts were the first I've seen you let out. I'd have come back to you on that (out of interest) if you weren't making unfounded accusations and generally throwing your weight around.
quote:
As it happens, I would be staggered if I wasn't wrong regarding much of what I believe when it comes to faith. Pretty much my only certainty is that scientific certainty on this subject does not exist.
So would you be happy for me to repeatedly call you a fundamentalist on that basis? Because that would parallel what you've been doing to me and others on this thread.
quote:
If you don't like my writing style, fune. But if you want to personally slag me off further, please do it in hell, where you will have the place to yourself.
Stop pronouncing on who is and is not a fundamentalist, give up acting like you're the thread director, who knows where it will lead.
quote:
Could it be that Dawkins and Anti-Dawkins are simply talking over each others heads because their use of basic terminology is fundamentally different? When Dawkins says "religion", does he really mean "religion with personal god(s)?" When he says "faith" does he mean "blind faith?" And likewise when us theists use terms in a metaphorical sense, does he assume them to be taken literally? This could go a long way to explaining the antagonism and offence.
Yes, I think that's close to what's happening. The problem seems to be that neither side seems much interested in considering the implications.
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Thing is, I've never seen anyone else say that they agree with you about what Dawkins is saying.

Well, you could always read the book, have look at the links I posted back up the thread, find out for yourself...
quote:
Oh yes, and don't think I didn't realise that that was a personal attack to go with all the other personal attacks which you have launched against me on this thread and everyone else who doesn't share your high view of Dawkins.
Seems to go with the territory in Purg these days. What personal attacks do you think I've launched, BTW?
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Fine, avoid the question. Again.

Actually wasn't. A little busy today and I'll try to get back to you.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Those are the only two threads you've started that I can find. If you post links to a few of the others I'll have a look and certainly apologise if I've been unfair.

Try "is that really a green george bush I see before me", "guilt is great", "is forgiveness the answer for iraq" for starters.

quote:
So let me get this right. You think that Dawkins has abandoned reason and is a fundamentalist atheist. Your evidence is that a theologian who's attacked Dawkins has included "atheistic fundamentalism" in the title of his book. Therefore anyone on this thread who disagrees with you about Dawkins is his follower and therefore also a fundamentalist atheist?
Oh FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!!!

Dave, if this really is the limit of your attempts at constructive debate, then there is absolutely no point in carrying on. As I CLEARLY said, throughout this thread I have shown evidence which Dawkins has disregarded in favour of a pre-existing theory (changing evidence to fit the theory). I can't be bothered to spend another hour collating it for you. McGrath has also shown plenty more. It also follows that if people similarly chose to ignore evidence rather than counter it, they are using the same technique as Dawkins.

quote:
So would you be happy for me to repeatedly call you a fundamentalist on that basis? Because that would parallel what you've been doing to me and others on this thread.
Dave, that really is pathetic. On the same level as acusing someone who says "I don't like racist people" as being racist. Cos, you know, there's a group of people they don't like.

If the fundamentalist atheist thing really bothers you, then engage with it. Is someone not a fundamentalist if they believe fundamentalist things but don't like the term? The charge is that Dawkins ignores evidence that does not fit his pre-determined theory. These include (but are not limited to:)

All religion is evil
Science necessarily leads to atheism
Faith is contrary to reason

Each of these three points has been, to my mind, comprehensively debunked, and a large number of atheists (NOTE - NOT FUNDAMENTALIST!!!!) would agree. Dawkins goes above and beyond reason into the realm of the fundamentalist.

quote:
give up acting like you're the thread director, who knows where it will lead.
Pot, kettle, black.

quote:
The problem seems to be that neither side seems much interested in considering the implications.
OK, is this a more productive starting point? My problem on this issue, then, is that Dawkins choses to redifine terms that are well understood, without saying he is doing so. Faith is the biggie. All the while he redefines it as "blind faith", he gets nowhere. If he is serious, he needs to make quite explicit that there is a form of belief that cannot be proven by reason, but is wholly compatible with reason. He can call it what he likes, the rest of us can call if faith as it is classically understood (as opposed to blind faith, of course). If you can find him saying this in The God Delusion, I'll eat so much humble pie I'll up a belt size.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
The charge is that Dawkins ignores evidence that does not fit his pre-determined theory. These include (but are not limited to:)

All religion is evil
Science necessarily leads to atheism
Faith is contrary to reason

Of those, only the third point has anything like it in the God Delusion.

Dawkins clearly thinks religion generally to be bad (and pretty universally defenceless against evil) - but not that all religion absolutely is evil. He thinks everyone should be atheists (he thinks atheism true, after all) and that science is a help to this, but there's nothing necessary about the journey from science to atheism.

quote:
My problem on this issue, then, is that Dawkins choses to redifine terms that are well understood, without saying he is doing so.
Well I agree with you that Dawkins often uses particular definitions, but if you READ THE BOOK you would see that he makes this quite clear.

quote:
Faith is the biggie. All the while he redefines it as "blind faith", he gets nowhere. If he is serious, he needs to make quite explicit that there is a form of belief that cannot be proven by reason, but is wholly compatible with reason. He can call it what he likes, the rest of us can call if faith as it is classically understood (as opposed to blind faith, of course)..
It depends what you mean by "compatible with reason". Dawkins would agree that it is possible to reason from religious premises. He would also agree that some tenets of religious faith (such as the existence of God) cannot be conclusively disproved by reason. The most he suggests is that:

1) the existence of God is objectively unlikely by the criteria we accept as valid for assessing the likelihood of anything else.

2) subjective reasons for having religious faith are not sufficient to found any degree of rational conviction.

He has, I think, a rather narrow and idiosyncratic definition of faith, but not a wholly unrealistic one. Obviously I disagree with him that there are no sufficient reasons for having such a faith (because I believe in God) but that doesn't make him a fundamentalist. He isn't a fundamentalist in the slightest, but a serious thinker and honest opponent of religious faith.

It is, I think, a significant point that those people on this thread who are saying that there is intellectual meat in TGD are united not by any similarity of faith or opinion, but by the fact that they have actually read it - and those who are the most vocal detractors have not.
 
Posted by Foxymoron (# 10343) on :
 
Some more Einstein quotes which I feel are relevant. Most of these are from www.einstein&religion.com.

Einstein's beliefs are constantly misrepresented, not least by atheists. Einstein was properly a Deist, and a great admirer of Spinoza's brand of pantheism. He did not believe in a personal God i.e. who has any interest in us at all. Nevertheless he did believe in God as an almighty transcendent being upholding all of existence.


quote:

The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.

Albert Einstein
in Goldman, p. vii

quote:

In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human understanding, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.

quoted in Jammer, Max, 'Einstein and Religion' (Princeton University Press, 1999)

quote:

I was barked at by numerous dogs who are earning their food guarding ignorance and superstition for the benefit of those who profit from it. Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional "opium of the people"—cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims.

Einstein to an unidentified adressee, Aug.7, 1941. Einstein Archive, reel 54-927, quoted in Jammer, Max, 'Einstein and Religion' (Princeton University Press, 1999)

quote:

The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive. However, I am also not a "Freethinker" in the usual sense of the word because I find that this is in the main an attitude nourished exclusively by an opposition against naive superstition. My feeling is insofar religious as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insuffiency of the human mind to understand deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as "laws of nature." It is this consciousness and humility I miss in the Freethinker mentality.

Letter to A. Chapple, Australia, February 23, 1954; Einstein Archive 59-405; also quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein on Peace P. 510

quote:

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God...

18 April 1955 (Simpson's Contemporary Quotations, Houghton Mifflin, 1988).

See also 'Subtle are Einstein's thoughts' at http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/18/9/2/1
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Try "is that really a green george bush I see before me", "guilt is great", "is forgiveness the answer for iraq" for starters.

I looked at two of the other threads you've started (now in Oblivion - none are currently accessible via the search index). In one you showed a light touch, the other (Chris Brian and the NOS) similar to this.
quote:
As I CLEARLY said, throughout this thread I have shown evidence which Dawkins has disregarded in favour of a pre-existing theory (changing evidence to fit the theory).
You have clearly said that. You have equally clearly not done that. Some people consider the difference signficant.
quote:
McGrath has also shown plenty more.
So you say. Not having been impressed by the extracts from McGrath that I have seen, I don't find that at all convincing.
quote:
It also follows that if people similarly chose to ignore evidence rather than counter it, they are using the same technique as Dawkins.
Well, yes, I suppose it would - if people here were ignoring evidence. The people I'm thinking of, me for example, would consider evidence if you provided some. Depending on how convincing it was, they might counter it. But you only appear to have your personal opinion and second-hand comments, which, as some of us have noted, is contradicted by what we've heard and read directly from Richard Dawkins.
quote:
Is someone not a fundamentalist if they believe fundamentalist things but don't like the term? The charge is that Dawkins ignores evidence that does not fit his pre-determined theory.
No, the charge is that you repeatably called me and others here fundamentalist atheists when we're not. In my case because I'm convinced God is real. Nothing to do with not liking labels, or what Dawkins does or does not do.
quote:
My problem on this issue, then, is that Dawkins choses to redifine terms that are well understood, without saying he is doing so. Faith is the biggie. All the while he redefines it as "blind faith", he gets nowhere. If he is serious, he needs to make quite explicit that there is a form of belief that cannot be proven by reason, but is wholly compatible with reason.
He doesn't do that in the book, but then neither does Nicene Christianity. I do, but he doesn't know I exist. And he'd hardly include it in a book he hopes will inspire atheists anyway.

But equally, he says very little that is not basically correct. What he gets 'wrong', in the sense of misrepresenting religious faith, he does by taking religious faith at face value. I see no dishonesty in that.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
It is, I think, a significant point that those people on this thread who are saying that there is intellectual meat in TGD are united not by any similarity of faith or opinion, but by the fact that they have actually read it - and those who are the most vocal detractors have not.

On the one hand:
this is a fair point.
On the other hand:
1) I have read Dawkins' thoughts on religion in the newspapers and in his early books, and they don't inspire me to expect anything insightful in the new book.
2) Two out of three atheist reviewers of TGD whom I respect have rubbished the book; the review from the third didn't actually make me think that the book was any good.
3) The admirers of the book on this thread haven't given many illustrations of the arguments in the book; those they have seem to me to entirely miss the point that they're trying to refute.
(MadGeo has said that the arguments he read were very convincing, but he can't remember how they work well enough to reproduce them. That's evidence of sophistry: sophistry only works if you use the original rhetoric. If you've understood a logical argument, you can reproduce it.)
4) I have seen one extract from the book, which struck me as intellectually dishonest.
It's the passage regarding the suicide bombers in London, which ends up saying that 'only religion can inspire such atrocities'.

Now I don't want to waste my time reading Dawkins if I'm right about the arguments I've seen and they are typical of the book. And I don't want to give money to someone who would take any children I may have away from me if he had his way.

Does my reasoning seem fair to you?
(I mean Dawkins himself says that he wouldn't bother to read a book by a professed defender of fairies or a theologian - it's hardly unfair to extend the same courtesy to him.)

But I believe I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, if I'm presented with evidence to change my view.

1) Can you defend the argument regarding suicide bombers? The charges against it are:
a) he doesn't mention that the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka are atheists and until recently had contributed the majority of the world's suicide bombers. If he doesn't know that, he hasn't done his research.
b) the conclusion he should reach from the premises he gives is: 'only religion and love for one's family have the power to inspire such atrocities.'
c) he does nothing to justify the word 'only'.

If you're willing to summarise any other passage of argument from the book that you think is cogent and relevant to religion that might also motivate me to change my opinion.

Can I say fairer than that?

Dafyd
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
It is, I think, a significant point that those people on this thread who are saying that there is intellectual meat in TGD are united not by any similarity of faith or opinion, but by the fact that they have actually read it - and those who are the most vocal detractors have not.

It is significant. But I'm not sure the causality runs the way you (apparently) think it does. Rather, people who have assessed what Dawkins has said in various other places and found it wanting, believe it is not worth their while to read his book. Whereas those who have agreed with his stated opinions in these various other places have decided to read the book. It is significant that those people who have read the book and are most vociferously defending Dawkins are just those people you might have expected to do so before the conversation was mooted. And, of course, vice versa. With some notable exceptions.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
What you seem to be saying is that you (or Dawkins) is unable to argue about hypothetical situations. I don't have be an atheist to be able to argue that conclusions atheists might draw are incorrect.

Not sure where you get that from. What I'm pointing out is that while god can be attacked, faith in it can't be - faith is inviolable from outside attacks. The object of the faith might be attacked; that's why goalposts change.

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I don't have to accept any tenet of atheism to engage with atheistic arguments. I merely have to be capable of considering the logical conclusions of what, to me, are hypothetical situations.

Well, since there are no tenets to atheism, I agree that you don't have to accept any. You'd find it very difficult to achieve a hypothetical position against atheism, while you could manage it against atheists. Atheism isn't a belief system in any way.

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
You could argue that it is a bad idea to base your life choices on propositions that are not physically observable. I happen to disagree (because I think we all do this all the time, even atheists), but I don't see that you have to accept the revelation of scripture to argue the point.

Again, I don't think atheists could be said to base their lives on anything. Not believing fairytales isn't a lifestyle choice. The only thing atheists do as a result of atheism is not attend church. Plenty of christians don't either.
 
Posted by Bonaventura (# 1066) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Well, since there are no tenets to atheism, I agree that you don't have to accept any. You'd find it very difficult to achieve a hypothetical position against atheism, while you could manage it against atheists. Atheism isn't a belief system in any way.

I would be inclined to agree in that atheism only describes a component of a larger world view; Theravada buddhists are also atheists, because that philosophy has no place for a divine agent. In addition, history can provide us with examples of many superstitious atheists who would not fit the ideals of rationalism that Dawkins et al. espouses. Atheism is in other words not a self-contained system.

Atheism is a relative term, like the term conservative. It does'nt really tell us a great deal divorced from the context it appears in. In the late Roman empire Christians were labeled as atheists because they refused to take part in the civic cult of the empire, to perform public religious duties and take part in the festivals of the Roman city. They were atheists because they denied the the sacred power of the state.

This brand of atheism does not bear much resemblance to modern western atheism, but it does demonstrate the atheism must be understood as a part of a historical context in order to be comprehensible. Modern atheist discourse is also shaped by what it seeks to attack, that is western theism.

What I suspect here is that most here use the term atheist to mean a naturalist, and naturalism certainly holds tenets and is a world view.
I am certainly aware that naturalists might indeed be agnostics or even deists, but the vocal atheists of today criticise Christianity from a naturalistic angle rather than, say the perspective of Theravada Buddhism.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Dave Marshall - Dafyd made such an excellent last post it answers most of the things I wanted to say far better than I would do (and I'm quite sure you'd agree on that!)

The suicide bomber argument is a very good one (and I have read Robert Pape's study on this phenomena which I found extremely convincing). Add these to the examples I cited in my last post that haven't been answered yet.

Foxymorn - cheers for those Einstein quotes, very interesting.

Eliab - Dawkins' documentary last year was called Religion - The Root Of All Evil. Does the God Delusion (published a few months later) deviate from that stance? Also I am struggling with the idea that if atheism is true (a statement of fact) why science would not lead to it? On what other grounds is it true?

?????
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Dafyd made such an excellent last post it answers most of the things I wanted to say far better than I would do (and I'm quite sure you'd agree on that!)

If you mean that Dafyd's post doesn't thank a poster on my behalf as if he were conducting the discussion, then yes, we agree. Beyond that, no.
quote:
The suicide bomber argument is a very good one
I was going to leave Dafyd's post for Eliab as it was a response to him. But seeing you've not replied to my points yourself, see below.
quote:
Add these to the examples I cited in my last post that haven't been answered yet.
What examples that haven't been answered? (perhaps re-read Eliab's post?)
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
1) I have read Dawkins' thoughts on religion in the newspapers and in his early books, and they don't inspire me to expect anything insightful in the new book.

So you have a reason not to read The God Delusion.
quote:
2) Two out of three atheist reviewers of TGD whom I respect have rubbished the book; the review from the third didn't actually make me think that the book was any good.
More reasons not to read the book.
quote:
3) The admirers of the book on this thread haven't given many illustrations of the arguments in the book; those they have seem to me to entirely miss the point that they're trying to refute.
I guess another reason not to read the book. With added swipe at admirers of the book. Of course, without saying which posters you mean it's impossible for them to counter or even point out, should they want to, that they're not in fact admirers of the book.
quote:
(MadGeo has said that the arguments he read were very convincing, but he can't remember how they work well enough to reproduce them. That's evidence of sophistry: sophistry only works if you use the original rhetoric. If you've understood a logical argument, you can reproduce it.)
You clearly read differently to me. When time is short I read to follow the thread of an argument. If the logic doesn't break down I may well not stop to absorb the detailed working but still recall that the logic did not break down. Your "evidence of sophistry" sounds to me like, er, a rhetorical use of sophistry.
quote:
4) I have seen one extract from the book, which struck me as intellectually dishonest.
It's the passage regarding the suicide bombers in London, which ends up saying that 'only religion can inspire such atrocities'...

If the copy I read was not now back at the library, I would cite the whole passage. As I don't have that option, I'll simply suggest that when read in context, the phrase you quote will be part of a longer argument in which Dawkins paints a picture of religion as he sees it.

If you object to Dawkins using this technique, I assume you also object to any sermon that begins with an exaggerated statement of what the preacher is going to speak against.
quote:
Now I don't want to waste my time reading Dawkins if I'm right about the arguments I've seen and they are typical of the book. And I don't want to give money to someone who would take any children I may have away from me if he had his way.
Interesting progression. You've noted some valid reasons for not reading a book. Now, out of the blue, the author wants to take away your children.
quote:
Does my reasoning seem fair to you?

Um, yes, apart from 4) and that last bit.
quote:
Can you defend the argument regarding suicide bombers? The charges against it are:
a) he doesn't mention that the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka are atheists and until recently had contributed the majority of the world's suicide bombers. If he doesn't know that, he hasn't done his research.
b) the conclusion he should reach from the premises he gives is: 'only religion and love for one's family have the power to inspire such atrocities.'
c) he does nothing to justify the word 'only'.

Defend it in what terms?I'm not bothered if anyone reads the book. I didn't have time to read every chapter, even if I'd wanted to. But I think opponents miss out if they ignore something like this. The video clip linked from that feature I think illustrates why so many church people don't like him: he dogmatically refuses to respect what they hold dear. The clip should do it for catholics; I'm sure he'd be equally dismissive of, say, the evangelical need for conversion. Yet when pushed not that hard by a journalist, he seems completely open about his belief in what I'd say is the universally defensible reality of God. He just objects to what I guess he might call the sophistry of religion.
 
Posted by mirrizin (# 11014) on :
 
quote:
Originally Posted by Bonaventura:
Atheism is a relative term, like the term conservative. It does'nt really tell us a great deal divorced from the context it appears in. In the late Roman empire Christians were labeled as atheists because they refused to take part in the civic cult of the empire, to perform public religious duties and take part in the festivals of the Roman city. They were atheists because they denied the the sacred power of the state.

This brand of atheism does not bear much resemblance to modern western atheism, but it does demonstrate the atheism must be understood as a part of a historical context in order to be comprehensible. Modern atheist discourse is also shaped by what it seeks to attack, that is western theism.

Actually, I think it's very relevant, and though I never thought of it that way, that many modern atheists (ok, the ones I argue with on craigslist) are in fact most deeply and profoundly offended by the tendency of some Christian sects to make Christianity into a "state religion." They're much more concerned with the views of George W Bush than they are with the views of Bishop Spong, for instance. What offends them most deeply is that we Christians seem to insist upon being a "Christian nation" and that some of us take offense at the phrase "secular society," or that we try to force our religious opinions on creation via the government-run public school system.

In these ways, I think many modern atheists are very much like the early Christians you describe. I've been told, in these exact words, that the only difference between an atheist and a Christian is one God. We are atheists to millions of the gods that came before. Why stop at this one?

Thanks for the post. I think I have some new insight into the issue now.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Yet when pushed not that hard by a journalist, he seems completely open about his belief in what I'd say is the universally defensible reality of God. He just objects to what I guess he might call the sophistry of religion.

This is interesting. Can you elaborate?
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:


quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Noiseboy.

In the book, Dawkins actually (interestingly) gave Buddhism a gloss over as being closer to a philosophical system.

As a Zen Buddhist, I thought that was rather generous of him, while probably being completely wrong.

But again don't let the book get in the way of a good rant. Carry on.

So is Budhism exempt from his diatribes against religion? If so, Dawkins appears to be reinventing the word "religion" (much like he reinvented the word "faith" perhaps).

OK, Dave Marshall has delightfully accused me of pig-headedness, so how about this. Could it be that Dawkins and Anti-Dawkins are simply talking over each others heads because their use of basic terminology is fundamentally different? When Dawkins says "religion", does he really mean "religion with personal god(s)?" When he says "faith" does he mean "blind faith?" And likewise when us theists use terms in a metaphorical sense, does he assume them to be taken literally? This could go a long way to explaining the antagonism and offence.

All I know is, as I sadi before Dawkins gave Buddhism a pass more or less by pointing out semi-correctly that Buddhism (or at least some forms of it) are more like a philosophy than a religion. So on the one hand you are correct that he seems to be defining "Religion" in interesting ways. Of course, as I have pointed out, I am not sure I disagree with him as a Sanbo Kyodan Zen Buddhist that doen't believe in a personal god, and not sure frankly if I believe in anything but ourselves as "gods" really, that he is off the mark when he removes Buddism from the "religious" catagory. Buddhism as western-defined religion is at best a loose fit.

I actually watched a interview of dawkins yesterday where a student asked him "Do you see a difference between reasoned faith and blind faith"

Hi hillarious answer:
"No". (May have had to be there)

I do not see the distinction either btw. I think that lots of religious people like to delude themselves into thinking that their faith is reasoned, we have certainly seen it here. But that is not possible IMO. At some point, if you drill down into a debate on anything faith-related you will come to something that requires an intuition/gut-feeling/emotion/human-based something intangible that is for all intents "blind". God is a faery/FSM/Pink Unicorn/etc. Full stop. To believe anything that is said about god, you have to leap that there is one at all. Everything that follows is based on that blind leap, and is therefore also blind faith. Anything.

I am not sure I understood what you even meant "theists use terms In a metaphorical sense". After having been thoroughly deeply steeped in a Christian religion, I sometimes don't know where Christians stop metaphor and begin facts. I'm not sure anyone can, including you. Sure you could pick your flavor of Christianity and there would be three other forms that would render it metaphor, or not. Hard to address that.

The antagonism and offense is completely irrational. On both sides. It comes (IMO) from trying to define in logical terms that which is not. This also applies to Dawkins arguments as an atheist. Both of you are arguing over intangibles, you are arguing over ART, and to watch you both get so worked up is hillarious to those of us that have been through the territory and see the map is wrong. Yes, even I have gotten pissed (once) in this thread due to personal attacks and I see your map is wrong.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
[/quote][/qb]
quote:


quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Eliab:
[qb] It is, I think, a significant point that those people on this thread who are saying that there is intellectual meat in TGD are united not by any similarity of faith or opinion, but by the fact that they have actually read it - and those who are the most vocal detractors have not.

On the one hand:
this is a fair point.
On the other hand:
1) I have read Dawkins' thoughts on religion in the newspapers and in his early books, and they don't inspire me to expect anything insightful in the new book.


This one is the biggest mistake I can imagine on anyones opinion on anything. His opinion is not a soundbitee on the evening news, when he has rendered his opinion in 300 or whatever pages. There's just no way that the soundbite can be accurate. This is like assuming there's no city telephone book because you have one phone number.

He bases a shitload of ideas on a very few premises. Those premises are seldom stated in public but a rife in the book. Without the premise, the argument that follows sounds hollow.
quote:

2) Two out of three atheist reviewers of TGD whom I respect have rubbished the book; the review from the third didn't actually make me think that the book was any good.

Again, respected or not, why not form your own opinion based on facts, not someones stories about the facts. Ever play the telephone game? Getting your opinions from someones elses opinions without reading the background is well, dangerous.
quote:


3) The admirers of the book on this thread haven't given many illustrations of the arguments in the book; those they have seem to me to entirely miss the point that they're trying to refute.
(MadGeo has said that the arguments he read were very convincing, but he can't remember how they work well enough to reproduce them. That's evidence of sophistry: sophistry only works if you use the original rhetoric. If you've understood a logical argument, you can reproduce it.)

LOL

How about it's evidence I remember what I like and dump what I cant remember? Or I have a crap memory for some things. Or I can always go back to the book for data (although in this case it's audio) plus I haven't finished it. I almost went and bought a hard copy just so I could quote the errata on the thread. I may yet.

Yeah, waht Dave Marshall said about sophistry, too. [Smile]
quote:


4) I have seen one extract from the book, which struck me as intellectually dishonest.
It's the passage regarding the suicide bombers in London, which ends up saying that 'only religion can inspire such atrocities'.

Now I don't want to waste my time reading Dawkins if I'm right about the arguments I've seen and they are typical of the book. And I don't want to give money to someone who would take any children I may have away from me if he had his way.

Library, anyone?
quote:


Does my reasoning seem fair to you?
(I mean Dawkins himself says that he wouldn't bother to read a book by a professed defender of fairies or a theologian - it's hardly unfair to extend the same courtesy to him.)

But I believe I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, if I'm presented with evidence to change my view.

1) Can you defend the argument regarding suicide bombers? The charges against it are:
a) he doesn't mention that the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka are atheists and until recently had contributed the majority of the world's suicide bombers. If he doesn't know that, he hasn't done his research.
b) the conclusion he should reach from the premises he gives is: 'only religion and love for one's family have the power to inspire such atrocities.'
c) he does nothing to justify the word 'only'.

If you're willing to summarise any other passage of argument from the book that you think is cogent and relevant to religion that might also motivate me to change my opinion.

Can I say fairer than that?

Dafyd

I'll get the hardcover book on Monday so I can quote. I can't take it anymore. [Biased]
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
If the objection is to belief in supernatural entities then clearly Zen Buddhism and parts of Taoism are exempt.

Rebirths due to samsaric karma (choice in the case of bodhisattvas) after every biological death till paranirvana surely is supernatural by our usual standards of "natural"? Even if one throws centuries of "literal rebirth" tradition in the bin (including centuries of Zen tradition), and re-interprets all this as mere metaphor for mental changes, one is still stuck with the question whether enlightenment itself is not "supernatural". After all, one needs to shed attachment to the five skandhas, and the five skandhas are precisely what we would call (human) nature in the West. Even if "samsara is nirvana", it is far from clear that waking up to this is a natural process by the Western concept of nature. And it is the Western concept we are judging Christianity by, so for a valid comparison we should also apply it to Eastern religions.

And one has to realize that this concern for purely "natural" Zen Buddhism is rather Western anyway. One cannot read Mahayana sutras without encountering a Tathagata whose cosmic deeds make Christ's miracles look like child's play. And the Zen tradition has festivities like O-bon, which is basically the equivalent of having a mass said to get your loved ones out of purgatory. And once one starts talking about the practices of Asian laypeople, rather than monks, one surely finds at least as much superstitious contamination as one may find in Christianity. The sanitization of the traditional Zen Buddhism in the West, which includes the monk-ification of the laity and the re-interpretation of anything that could be deemed "supernatural" as mental metaphor, is quite fascinating. IMHO it remains to be seen whether the shunyata baby has been thrown out with the supernatural bathwater...
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonaventura:
I would be inclined to agree in that atheism only describes a component of a larger world view; Theravada buddhists are also atheists, because that philosophy has no place for a divine agent. In addition, history can provide us with examples of many superstitious atheists who would not fit the ideals of rationalism that Dawkins et al. espouses. Atheism is in other words not a self-contained system.

Correct. Buddhists, astrologers, psychics can be and are atheists. My avatar bloke is probably the most supertitious atheist of all time - although I'd argue he was more anti-theist than atheist.

Defining people through atheism is the same as difining people through their hair colour. (Although jury's still out on blondes!)

quote:
Originally posted by Bonaventura:
I am certainly aware that naturalists might indeed be agnostics or even deists, but the vocal atheists of today criticise Christianity from a naturalistic angle rather than, say the perspective of Theravada Buddhism.

Not to mention that penalties are somewhat less severe for taking the piss out of Jesus as opposed to say,..... Mohammed.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
IMHO it remains to be seen whether the shunyata baby has been thrown out with the supernatural bathwater...

Magnificent post. Fuck, you're a smart bloke!
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
quote:
Originally posted by Bonaventura:
Atheism is in other words not a self-contained system.

Correct. Buddhists, astrologers, psychics can be and are atheists.
I'm not sure that one follows from the other. It seems to me that there is one simple question 'Does a "God" exist?' to which there are three possible principle reactions: 'Yes' (theist), refusal of a clear answer (agnostic), and 'No' (atheist). But one reaction is not inherently more open than the other, even the agnostic reaction isn't really more open.

Sure, there are many ways of being an atheist. But there are many ways of being a theist, too. There's Deism, Christianity, Hinduism, may ways of Polytheism, ... And even if one focuses on Christianity, there are many, many ways of being a Christian, from fundamentalist to Sea of Faith, from Quaker to High Church Anglican, etc.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
1) I have read Dawkins' thoughts on religion in the newspapers and in his early books, and they don't inspire me to expect anything insightful in the new book.


This one is the biggest mistake I can imagine on anyones opinion on anything. His opinion is not a soundbitee on the evening news, when he has rendered his opinion in 300 or whatever pages. There's just no way that the soundbite can be accurate. This is like assuming there's no city telephone book because you have one phone number.

He bases a shitload of ideas on a very few premises. Those premises are seldom stated in public but a rife in the book. Without the premise, the argument that follows sounds hollow.

It seems a bit remiss not to state your premises in the course of a newspaper article (a bit longer than a soundbite) - don't you think?
Especially if there are so few of them.

By the way, did you read the whole of Summa Theologica before commenting on the quote from Aquinas that IngoB posted earlier in this thread?

quote:
[QB]I'll get the hardcover book on Monday so I can quote.
Thanks. That's appreciated.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
1) Can you defend the argument regarding suicide bombers? The charges against it are:
a) he doesn't mention that the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka are atheists and until recently had contributed the majority of the world's suicide bombers. If he doesn't know that, he hasn't done his research.
b) the conclusion he should reach from the premises he gives is: 'only religion and love for one's family have the power to inspire such atrocities.'
c) he does nothing to justify the word 'only'.

The passage you cite seems to be from page 303 (of the hardback). It is talking about a specific incident – the 7/7 London bombs – used precisely because it is not a typical example of a suicide attack. The point is that the bombers had no expectation of any advantage for their families, or any advancement of their cause. The sole motivation for it – if we take Muslim suicide bombers at their word – is a religiously inspired love of martyrdom for its own sake, in expectation of purely spiritual reward.

Thus:

a) While Dawkins does not explicitly say that the Tamil Tigers are atheist, they are mentioned as a contrast to the London bombers twice (page 303 and page 306). The first contrast is that unlike the London bombers Tamil suicide bombers can expect their families to be admired and supported because of their sacrifice. The second contrast is that the Tamil bombers have extremist motivations based on national/ethnic views, not religious views – it explicitly makes the point that religion is not the only source of extremism (though Dawkins thinks it an especially effective source).

b) If the question was “What can make someone a suicide bomber?” then this is his conclusion, more or less (though he includes love of country or ethnic group as other possible motivators). However that isn’t the question that is answered by “only religion”. That question is “When suicide bombing makes no tactical sense, will ruin your family, outrage the morals of your society, harm your cause, increase the vilification of your community, and gain no advantage for you or anyone you love in this world – what could possibly still make someone sane yearn to martyr themselves in this way?”. The answer, “religion”, is simply correct. The London bombings – the specific case in point – are simply inexplicable outside a religious world-view.

c) The example is specifically chosen as one with no earthly motivation – a Palestinian suicide bombing, for example, would not have serve. Dawkins is not expressing a view on what generally motivates suicidal attacks – and where he deals with the point briefly on page 306, he gives the Japanese kamikazes and Tamil Tigers as non-religiously motivated counterexamples. He is saying that when all earthly motivations are absent, religion can still be a powerful force for such atrocities. You have read him as saying “only religion can motivate someone to be a suicide bomber”. He’s not saying that at all.

quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Eliab - Dawkins' documentary last year was called Religion - The Root Of All Evil. Does the God Delusion (published a few months later) deviate from that stance?

Yes. But the relevant passage is deeply buried on page 1 of the Preface, so you can be excused for missing it.

(The Root of All Evil? [note the question mark] was not Dawkins’ own title, he disliked it, and does not think that the implicit “yes” would be true).

quote:
Also I am struggling with the idea that if atheism is true (a statement of fact) why science would not lead to it? On what other grounds is it true?
If so, what’s your objection to Dawkins saying it?

He certainly thinks that science removes grounds for religious belief. Indeed, he has said he would have found it hard to be an atheist (and impossible to be an intellectually satisfied atheist) before 1859. And he thinks that science provides in truth the comfort, satisfaction and sense of awe that religion promises. And he thinks that proper scientific scepticism, properly applied to the God hypothesis, will give the answer that it is very unlikely to be true. I am not aware that he ever says that science “necessarily” leads to atheism (which was your point) and he is clearly well aware that in actual fact (though comparatively rarely) a good scientist may be a religious believer.
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
My apology if if I've overlooked a link to this interview in this thread but it's worth a read:

quote:
Again, I lob in the words “transcendent” and “numinous”, which I believe sum up what he is trying to describe. God, in other words. “I suspect they don’t mean anything at all,” he says. But being a good scientist, he leaps from the sofa for a dictionary. He reads: “Numinous: divine, spiritual, revealing or indicating the presence of a divinity, awe-inspiring.” A moment’s pause. Then: “I’ll go along with awe-inspiring. Also, aesthetically appealing, uplifting. I’ll go along with aesthetically appealing and uplifting. Those aspects of it, yes. Let’s look for transcendent.”

He finds a definition to do with lying beyond the ordinary range of perception. “That’s probably all OK and I could go along with that. Going beyond the range and grasp of the presently experienced. Maybe transcendent would be a good word to adopt.”

So there we are. Dawkins sums up our conversation: “I don’t think you and I disagree on anything very much but as a colleague of mine said, it’s just that you say it wrong.”

But his crusade will not be stopped, even if it can be proved that he and half the bishops of the Christian Church believe the same thing. “I do think that intelligent, sophisticated theologians are almost totally irrelevant to the phenomenon of religion in the world today. Regrettable as that may be.” Why so? “Because they’re outnumbered by vast hordes of religious idiots.”


 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
And one has to realize that this concern for purely "natural" Zen Buddhism is rather Western anyway. One cannot read Mahayana sutras without encountering a Tathagata whose cosmic deeds make Christ's miracles look like child's play. And the Zen tradition has festivities like O-bon, which is basically the equivalent of having a mass said to get your loved ones out of purgatory. And once one starts talking about the practices of Asian laypeople, rather than monks, one surely finds at least as much superstitious contamination as one may find in Christianity. The sanitization of the traditional Zen Buddhism in the West, which includes the monk-ification of the laity and the re-interpretation of anything that could be deemed "supernatural" as mental metaphor, is quite fascinating. IMHO it remains to be seen whether the shunyata baby has been thrown out with the supernatural bathwater...

This analysis is rubbish sitting on a pile of trash.

"Purely natural zen buddhism is rather western anyway" has to be the worst analysis on a thread of same anyway, including my "Worst of". Way to throw out an entire sect (Zen) with bathwater you pissed in.

Since I can talk about my particular school of zen with some experience, we do not say any kind of mass over anything. We sit facing a wall and count our breaths, and if you can find some pseudotheological babble to work out of that I'll be entertained to point out where your argument is full of crap. I have it on good authority (My Teacher) that I am not an atheist, but neither am I a theist. So if you can find a Mass in all that, than you must be practicing some kind of mass that I doubt catholicism would be happy to find out about.

Whatever sect of Buddhism you were ostensibly practicing was way more "religious" than any Zen I have heard about or experienced, so maybe you should specify the one you know (As I did) and stay away form the ones you clearly don't. Every time you talk about it, you arguments sound ignorant.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
The trouble with these threads is that they take so long to read and even longer to reply to. Dave Marshall, I am well aware that I am missing some specific replies (and almost certainly you too Elaib and Mad Geo) but time precludes at the moment.

In the five minutes I have, a couple of points that lept out:

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I actually watched a interview of dawkins yesterday where a student asked him "Do you see a difference between reasoned faith and blind faith"

Hi hillarious answer:
"No". (May have had to be there)

I do not see the distinction either btw. I think that lots of religious people like to delude themselves into thinking that their faith is reasoned, we have certainly seen it here. But that is not possible IMO. At some point, if you drill down into a debate on anything faith-related you will come to something that requires an intuition/gut-feeling/emotion/human-based something intangible that is for all intents "blind". God is a faery/FSM/Pink Unicorn/etc. Full stop. To believe anything that is said about god, you have to leap that there is one at all. Everything that follows is based on that blind leap, and is therefore also blind faith. Anything.

I am not sure I understood what you even meant "theists use terms In a metaphorical sense". After having been thoroughly deeply steeped in a Christian religion, I sometimes don't know where Christians stop metaphor and begin facts. I'm not sure anyone can, including you. Sure you could pick your flavor of Christianity and there would be three other forms that would render it metaphor, or not. Hard to address that.

Well, that certainly answers my question re faith and blind faith! Also, your expansion on it is illuminating. "Blind Faith" means your favourite faeries FSM stuff - believe whatever you like no matter what the evidence. "Faith" means something totally different. I have a very simple picture of reason on the one hand, and truth on the other, with reason always trying to arrive at truth. For all of us (IMH0) faith is what fills the void in between. It may be made up of intution, hunches and guesswork deductions in all sorts of combintations. It may well be full of unknows and questions (especially for the agnostic). This I'm sure is TOO simple a definition, but I have to go to work and time precludes!

There is also the point about metaphor, which I think is very important. An obvious simple example is creation - whether or not you or I believe in the Biblical account, it's very hard to defend its interpretation being literal. It is a myth - a metaphor to make a wider point. But I was more thinking about even wider implications. Dawkins seems to imagine that monotheists imagnine God to be "some sort of chap" (in Terry Eagleton's marvellous phrass) - probably the Simpsonsesque caracature with a white beard sitting on a cloud. Add in his son Jesus literrally sitting at his right hand. I consider myself a theist, but I think there is a 0% chance of the above picture being literally accurate. Pictures of father / son etc are just that - pictures to make anthropomorphic sense of the imponderable. Personally I also think Budhism may better describe things in a more literal sense, though since it too is a metaphor I'm not sure it is a more helpful approach.

Arrrgh, gotta go to work.

But the final main point is the Dawkins quote kindly supplied by 206, which I did find incredibly illuminating. My reading of it is that under all the rhetoric, we are not nearly so far apart as it seems. But Dawkins is very keen on then a) continuing to use terms which he must know are widely understood to mean totally different things and b) making sweeping assumptions about the vast majority of people in the world.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Noiseboy:

quote:
Eliab - Dawkins' documentary last year was called Religion - The Root Of All Evil. Does the God Delusion (published a few months later) deviate from that stance? Also I am struggling with the idea that if atheism is true (a statement of fact) why science would not lead to it? On what other grounds is it true?
Forced on him by his editors, apparently.

OK, I concede. I saw a copy of the book going cheap, so I'll spin through it in the next couple of days or so. So far I've had a look at the preface to the paperback edition (which is an extended version of the Times Article in the OP) and the Preface. So far he's complained about religion, among other things, causing the destruction of ancient statues - well, I suppose that mentioning the Bamyan Buddhas by name might have undermined the rhetorical effect. He also complains about the lack of influence that atheists have on US public life despite the fact that there are probably more atheists than Orthodox Jews and goes on to say "Unlike Jews who are the notoriously one of the most effective political lobbies in the United States today atheists and agnostics have zero influence". You know, I'd really rephrase that, Professor, if you are referring to groups like AIPAC. More later as I get further though I cannot forbear to mention the passage I came across as I was flipping through it in a shop. Apparently, bringing one's child up as a Catholic may be more damaging than having your child tampered with by a Catholic priest.

[ 27. May 2007, 14:46: Message edited by: Callan ]
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Yet when pushed not that hard by a journalist, he seems completely open about his belief in what I'd say is the universally defensible reality of God. He just objects to what I guess he might call the sophistry of religion.

This is interesting. Can you elaborate?
If you mean the universally defensible reality of God, I'm not sure I can directly. It may be something you either get or you don't. Dawkins seems to get it, as does Mad Geo, as do many Christians. The problem is we get it through different 'carriers' and are prone to confusing what is the reality with how we appreciate it. We especially seem to confuse the reality with the carrier we first detect it through.

The carrier might be religion, but it might also be art, or science, or philosophy, whatever gives meaning to our life. For me it's a metaphysical theory, a way of imagining how the universe is being created. The reality though is not something in anyone's mind, not an interpretation of history or any religious observance. It's the fact that the universe is. If God is real, space and time are the evidence. If not, there can be no real God, only idols for which empty claims are made.

The universally defensible reality of God is the fact of the universe and what can be shown to follow from that. The sophistry I suggested Dawkins might refer to would be religious claims that God is or requires anything else.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Thanks Callan, that just makes me want to read the book so much more... [Big Grin] [Biased]

Actually, I will pick up a copy if I see on for a couple of squid in a charity shop. I could use a laugh.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Apparently, bringing one's child up as a Catholic may be more damaging than having your child tampered with by a Catholic priest.

Without wanting to detract from the trauma of physical child abuse, I'd have thought there are enough guilt-ridden Catholics about to suggest he may not be far wrong.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Apparently, bringing one's child up as a Catholic may be more damaging than having your child tampered with by a Catholic priest.

Without wanting to detract from the trauma of physical child abuse, I'd have thought there are enough guilt-ridden Catholics about to suggest he may not be far wrong.
Yes, taking your child to church sure is the same as repeatedly raping them, is it not? So anyone who has ever taken their child to church (that'll be most shipmates with kids then, I assume) might as well have sexually molested their children?

I see. Exaggerate much?

[ 27. May 2007, 15:23: Message edited by: Papio ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
The trouble with these threads is that they take so long to read and even longer to reply to. Dave Marshall, I am well aware that I am missing some specific replies (and almost certainly you too Elaib and Mad Geo) but time precludes at the moment.

I certainly wouldn't know anything about that! [Smile]
quote:

In the five minutes I have, a couple of points that lept out:

Well, that certainly answers my question re faith and blind faith!
Also, your expansion on it is illuminating.

Glad to finally be of service. [Biased]
quote:

"Blind Faith" means your favourite faeries FSM stuff - believe whatever you like no matter what the evidence. "Faith" means something totally different.

Not sure I agree, and that comes out of 2x years of trying to tease out the difference myself. I want to emphasize that I do not see "blind faith" as the perjorative that you might. Too me blind faith is a blessing. My mom has blind faith and regularly uses it when she can't explain something using reason. I get that. There's nothing "wrong" there. Becuase IMO, Dawkins perspective is right. All faith is based somewhere on a blind faith.
quote:

I have a very simple picture of reason on the one hand, and truth on the other, with reason always trying to arrive at truth. For all of us (IMH0) faith is what fills the void in between. It may be made up of intution, hunches and guesswork deductions in all sorts of combintations. It may well be full of unknows and questions (especially for the agnostic). This I'm sure is TOO simple a definition, but I have to go to work and time precludes!

I think you stated it well. "Faith is what fills the voids." that is not reason-able. A scientist such as Dawkins trys to fill the voids with data and theories and then tries to prove them. They have filled many god-voids over the years and many more will fall in our lifetimes. Some may not, but the scientist should naturally be suspicious of attempts to fill voids with "Here there be dragons". It's just not a reasonable step to take, unless you are religous and look at the void filling as an Art.
quote:


There is also the point about metaphor, which I think is very important. An obvious simple example is creation - whether or not you or I believe in the Biblical account, it's very hard to defend its interpretation being literal. It is a myth - a metaphor to make a wider point.

Yes, you and I agree it is a myth. It is unquestionable. Except an insane number of Americans (which Dawkins also is addressing if not in entirity) think, nay, know otherwise!

This shows that while you are personallly taking offense at Dawkins, he may not be really talking to you, although I admit he takes you out with the insane american fundie bathwater. He deals with the wackjobs Christians all the time.

Lastly I like Dawkins look at the bible and interpretations of same and keep seeing myth pop up. Creation is a clear cut example, as is Job, but what about the rest? Virgin births? Walking on water? Parting of Red Sea? Isreal wandering around forever and leaving no tracks at all? Where does "truth" begin and "myth" end. You can give me your opinion, I have mine, but I guarantee for every opinon you have there is someone, probably 10 someones that think your myth is "real" "truth", and would freak out on you and Dawkins at even suggesting it was a myth. I think it is more myth than fact. Thus my opinons on art and it being mostly blind faith. Jesus Existed, wandered around for a while, was tried, and died plus about 4 other facts. Everything else if up for debate.

quote:

But I was more thinking about even wider implications. Dawkins seems to imagine that monotheists imagnine God to be "some sort of chap" (in Terry Eagleton's marvellous phrass) - probably the Simpsonsesque caracature with a white beard sitting on a cloud.

I would wager that most Christians (closer to all than to none) believe that God is a chap. A big chap maybe, an awesome chap, but a chap. We anthropomorphise our cats and dogs for Zeus sake, you actually think we exmpt god?
quote:

Add in his son Jesus literrally sitting at his right hand. I consider myself a theist, but I think there is a 0% chance of the above picture being literally accurate. Pictures of father / son etc are just that - pictures to make anthropomorphic sense of the imponderable. Personally I also think Budhism may better describe things in a more literal sense, though since it too is a metaphor I'm not sure it is a more helpful approach.

Zen Buddhism deasl in the here and now. That's very literal.
quote:


Arrrgh, gotta go to work.

But the final main point is the Dawkins quote kindly supplied by 206, which I did find incredibly illuminating. My reading of it is that under all the rhetoric, we are not nearly so far apart as it seems. But Dawkins is very keen on then a) continuing to use terms which he must know are widely understood to mean totally different things and b) making sweeping assumptions about the vast majority of people in the world.

Dawkins may be making sweeping generilzaitons, but that doesn't mean he deosn't have a point or three. [Biased]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Apparently, bringing one's child up as a Catholic may be more damaging than having your child tampered with by a Catholic priest.

Without wanting to detract from the trauma of physical child abuse, I'd have thought there are enough guilt-ridden Catholics about to suggest he may not be far wrong.
Yes, taking your child to church sure is the same as repeatedly raping them, is it not? So anyone who has ever taken their child to church (that'll be most shipmates with kids then, I assume) might as well have sexually molested their children?

I see. Exaggerate much?

I do apologise. I see Dawkins hasn't said that it is the same thing. He has said that rasing your kids to believ in God is worse. [Mad]

I do wonder what people who suffered sexual abuse as children might think about that? (rhetorical question).
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Since I can talk about my particular school of zen with some experience, we do not say any kind of mass over anything. We sit facing a wall and count our breaths, and if you can find some pseudotheological babble to work out of that I'll be entertained to point out where your argument is full of crap.

Read for comprehension. I did not say that you or indeed Japanese Zen Buddhists are saying mass (although you've obviously never experienced a full-blown Zen ritual, oh well...). I was talking about the intent behind the O-Bon festivities. Since your "Zen master" is a Western Catholic priest, it doesn't particularly surprise me that you've never even heard of O-Bon. But you could at least look it up on Wikipedia or something.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Whatever sect of Buddhism you were ostensibly practicing was way more "religious" than any Zen I have heard about or experienced, so maybe you should specify the one you know (As I did) and stay away form the ones you clearly don't. Every time you talk about it, you arguments sound ignorant.

I was practicing in an official Australian Zendo of the Sotoshu, the biggest Zen sect in Japan and the world, which has carried on the tradition of Dogen Zenji (and Keizan Zenji) for almost eight hundred years. My former teacher, a Japanese, was trained as monk in Japan at Eheiji, was assistant to and is Dharma heir of the former Abbot of Zuioji and Vice-Abbot of Eheiji, Ikko Narasaki Roshi. (Eheiji is one of the two head temples of Sotoshu, and its abbot is basically the head adminstrator of the entire sect.) My former teacher led a training monastery for foreign (non-Japanese) monks in Shogoji, was Practice Director at Zuigakuin Temple, etc. I think I've had a fairly authentic taste of the original Bendoho (way), Soto style. I was once part of the local Shika Ryo, i.e., I introduced basics of Zen practice to first timers. I did not get enlightened, but I sure have done enough time on a zafu to have an opinion.

Of course, your "Three Jewel" Zen tradition is slightly over 50 years old, and has become quite popular in the West, notably in America, thanks to the popular American teachers Kapleau Roshi and Aitken Roshi. Kapleau Roshi is actually quite good, re-read what he has to say about bompu zazen in his Three Pillars. (I assume you have at least read the most important book of one of the most important figures of your sect, haven't you?)
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
My "priest" is also an authorized Zen teacher. I don't have to justify anything to you. But then I am not badmouthing your flavor of zen either.
 
Posted by Ricardus (# 8757) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Yet when pushed not that hard by a journalist, he seems completely open about his belief in what I'd say is the universally defensible reality of God. He just objects to what I guess he might call the sophistry of religion.

This is interesting. Can you elaborate?
If you mean the universally defensible reality of God, I'm not sure I can directly. It may be something you either get or you don't. Dawkins seems to get it, as does Mad Geo, as do many Christians. The problem is we get it through different 'carriers' and are prone to confusing what is the reality with how we appreciate it. We especially seem to confuse the reality with the carrier we first detect it through.

The carrier might be religion, but it might also be art, or science, or philosophy, whatever gives meaning to our life. For me it's a metaphysical theory, a way of imagining how the universe is being created.

I was actually trying to ask for your evidence that Dawkins is open about his belief in a "universally defensible reality of God", though your reply is also interesting.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
I see Dawkins hasn't said that it is the same thing. He has said that rasing your kids to believ in God is worse.

Yeah, but if you read the book you'd know that by God he means his caricature of God. The one that's a dead ringer for the fundamentalist God, and is uncomfortably close to the one that an awful lot of non-fundamentalist Christians appear to believe in.

You think a life-time in fear of eternal damnation because of what and how you were taught from a young age by the Church is not something worth objecting to?
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
My "priest" is also an authorized Zen teacher.

Inka shomei in the Yasutani Roshi line, that is?

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
But then I am not badmouthing your flavor of zen either.

Good to know that 'way more "religious" than any Zen I have heard about or experienced', with which you characterized the Zen I was 'ostensibly practicing', was meant in an entirely neutral fashion. What I said about your sect is true, and the only value judgment I explicitly made was that Kapleau Roshi (RIP) was quite good. Let me ask you again, did you actually ever read anything by either Aitken Roshi or Kapleau Roshi?
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
I was actually trying to ask for your evidence that Dawkins is open about his belief in a "universally defensible reality of God", though your reply is also interesting.

I was thinking mainly of the interview that 206 quotes near the top of this page. But it's been there, and I've always thought carefully included, in most over what I've heard and read directly from him (as opposed to filtered through the comments of his detractors).

[ 27. May 2007, 17:03: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
a) While Dawkins does not explicitly say that the Tamil Tigers are atheist, they are mentioned as a contrast to the London bombers twice (page 303 and page 306).

The first page was the one I was thinking of.
I will grant you this one.

quote:
b) If the question was “What can make someone a suicide bomber?” then this is his conclusion, more or less (though he includes love of country or ethnic group as other possible motivators). However that isn’t the question that is answered by “only religion”. That question is “When suicide bombing makes no tactical sense, will ruin your family, outrage the morals of your society, harm your cause, increase the vilification of your community, and gain no advantage for you or anyone you love in this world – what could possibly still make someone sane yearn to martyr themselves in this way?”. The answer, “religion”, is simply correct. The London bombings – the specific case in point – are simply inexplicable outside a religious world-view.
Yes, but if you analyse that statement logically, what it comes out as is:
'if someone has no other motivation to be a suicide bomber but religion, then the only motivation they have is religion.' And that is a tautology.
It is exactly parallel to the claim that if suicide bombing runs contrary to someone's religion, the moral sense of their society, and ruin your family, then the only possible motivation is some political cause.

If the specific point is that nobody does anything with no real prospects for tactical success except for religious motivations, then that's not true. People vote for the Green Party; they go on protest marches against the Iraq War; they let loose bombs in Spain for Basque independence; they invade Lebanon or Iraq; they trespass onto American airbases to sabotage jets; they go on shooting sprees on American campuses; and so on. With hindsight the London bombings had no tactical success[1]; but given the reaction to the Spanish government to the Madrid bombing it wasn't completely unrealistic to suppose that they might affect UK policy.

Dafyd

[1] Unless you count provoking an overreaction by the UK authorities, further undermining their claims to moral superiority and building up antagonism to the UK authorities among young Muslims - which one might do.

[ 27. May 2007, 17:15: Message edited by: Dafyd ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
My "priest" is also an authorized Zen teacher.

Inka shomei in the Yasutani Roshi line, that is?

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
But then I am not badmouthing your flavor of zen either.

Good to know that 'way more "religious" than any Zen I have heard about or experienced', with which you characterized the Zen I was 'ostensibly practicing', was meant in an entirely neutral fashion. What I said about your sect is true, and the only value judgment I explicitly made was that Kapleau Roshi (RIP) was quite good. Let me ask you again, did you actually ever read anything by either Aitken Roshi or Kapleau Roshi?

[Killing me]

Again, I do not have to answer anything to you. No need. Your posts speak for themselves. What you said about my "sect" was so fallacious I have no further need to address it here. I do not have the bias against your (current) chosen religion that you have disaplyed of mine repeatedly here on the ship. Your ignorance is only exceeded by your arrogance.

Feel free to drop it and ignore any posts of mine here. I will do likewise for yours.
 
Posted by Basket Case (# 1812) on :
 
from Mad Geo:
quote:
The antagonism and offense is completely irrational. On both sides. It comes (IMO) from trying to define in logical terms that which is not.
I agree with you here, though I think Dawkins is a narrow-minded, arrogant academic.
Here's why: When someone believes in God, the God who sent his son to redeem us and show us the way (I think every Christian religion would agree on those tenets) but then
thinks it is "unreasonable" to believe in modern miracles (such as well-documented Fatima),& thus rejects them out of hand, I wonder what they really believe in. I realize it may just be different personality types, but in this case, ISTM that their elevation of their own reason above their own faith might be more of a hindrance than a help to them (IMHO only, and I mean that sincerely and deeply)
 
Posted by J. J. Ramsey (# 1174) on :
 
I have read TGD and am not so impressed with it overall. He gets a lot right but mars his credibility by doing idiotic stuff like arguing against the Trinity with a false statement followed by a statement which is either false or badly written, followed by another false statement bolstered by a fallacious appeal to Thomas Jefferson's authority. I've blogged on this at length, FWIW.

In general, I'd say that Dawkins bears two hallmarks of the ideologue: he demonizes his opposition (e.g. "dyed-in-the-wool faithheads"), and he gets sloppy with his arguments.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Basket Case:
from Mad Geo:
quote:
The antagonism and offense is completely irrational. On both sides. It comes (IMO) from trying to define in logical terms that which is not.
I agree with you here, though I think Dawkins is a narrow-minded, arrogant academic.
Here's why: When someone believes in God, the God who sent his son to redeem us and show us the way (I think every Christian religion would agree on those tenets) but then
thinks it is "unreasonable" to believe in modern miracles (such as well-documented Fatima),& thus rejects them out of hand, I wonder what they really believe in. I realize it may just be different personality types, but in this case, ISTM that their elevation of their own reason above their own faith might be more of a hindrance than a help to them (IMHO only, and I mean that sincerely and deeply)

I have seen miracles myself. Penn and Teller do them all the time.

One does not elevate reason over faith. Reason is superior to faith as a means to "truth". One requires proof, the other requires leaps. Of course if you were to redo your argument to say "Faith is like art, I prefer them to reason", well then I would not be able to argue with you and might have to agree, in fact. There are times I prefer art to reason, but I try hard (not always succeding) to not delude myslef, I am choosing to elevate art over both.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
You think a life-time in fear of eternal damnation because of what and how you were taught from a young age by the Church is not something worth objecting to?

No. I simply think that trying to portray taking children to church as worse then sexual abuse is idiotic in the utmost extreme.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Apparently, bringing one's child up as a Catholic may be more damaging than having your child tampered with by a Catholic priest.

Without wanting to detract from the trauma of physical child abuse, I'd have thought there are enough guilt-ridden Catholics about to suggest he may not be far wrong.
Yes, taking your child to church sure is the same as repeatedly raping them, is it not? So anyone who has ever taken their child to church (that'll be most shipmates with kids then, I assume) might as well have sexually molested their children?

I see. Exaggerate much?

Now you're on it!

This is where Dawkins really shreds his original spelling and becomes Dorkins. What a load of crap. I would certainly argue that bringing children up to believe that to commit sin is to invite an eternity in hell, or cancer in this life, is akin to child abuse, but those people are - fortunately - still in the severe minority.

There is good evidence for a few repressed Catholics around, but it's a bullshit argument to suggest it's happening nowadays. Catholic schools are a far cry from those of the 1950s and the evidence of current NZ Catholic schools is overwhelmingly positive. (Bugger them!)

I think it's a dishonest argument.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
I would certainly argue that bringing children up to believe that to commit sin is to invite an eternity in hell, or cancer in this life, is akin to child abuse, but those people are - fortunately - still in the severe minority.

This was the kind of thing I was thinking of.

I don't doubt the Church has moved on now. The fact remains though that all the old stuff, the mortal sins, the need to involve the Church in getting them fixed, etc etc, is still in place.

But you're right. It wasn't a fair comparison. Neither I suspect was Callan's original comment without it's context.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
Nobody seems to have a problem with parents teaching their children to look out for cars before crossing a road, or teaching them to obey traffic lights and pay attention to street signs. Because if they do not do that, there's a decent chance that the child will get run over by a car and be maimed or die. This does cause occasional guilt in adults who have just crossed a street in spite of a red light, and surely there are some pathological cases which cannot set a foot out of the house for fear of getting run over. Yet teaching the traffic rules generally is seen as a duty of parents, not as something terrible they do to their children.

Parents teaching children about (mortal) sin are just the same, except they are concerned with the eternal welfare of their children. Unless one can prove that there is no heaven and hell, then that would be like teaching traffic rules while living in the wilderness. But one cannot show that, and hence all this critique really boils down disbelief. It is not freedom if parents tell their children to play on the road however they please. It's gross negligence. Similarly it is not freedom if parents tell their children that sin has no consequence - if judgment, heaven and hell, is reality.

Surely mistakes have been made in the past concerning how to teach God's "traffic rules". An overemphasis on the punitive aspects is not healthy, but I'm not sure that it was Catholics who were most guilty of that. In fact, God's "traffic rules" say that one can get run over by a car any number of times, and always be restored to perfect health again by the Physican, but only for a limited time. Once that time is up, whether one is dead or alive, that's what one is going to be for eternity. The cat has nine lives, but not ten...
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:

quote:
But you're right. It wasn't a fair comparison. Neither I suspect was Callan's original comment without it's context.
Ooh, I thought this was a fight to the death between those of us who have read the book and those of us who can't be bothered. Anyway, if you can think of a context that would justify such a remark do let me know. The only one I can think of is that it is a justified criticism. Which you've just conceded isn't the case.

I'm currently enjoying a lamentably bad examination of the Five Ways. This is shaping up to be the worst book I have read since Dembski's "Intelligent Design - A Bridge Between Science And Theology".
 
Posted by Bonaventura (# 1066) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
I'm not sure that one follows from the other. It seems to me that there is one simple question 'Does a "God" exist?' to which there are three possible principle reactions: 'Yes' (theist), refusal of a clear answer (agnostic), and 'No' (atheist). But one reaction is not inherently more open than the other, even the agnostic reaction isn't really more open.

I not sure it is as straightforward as that, since atheism is not a self-contained system it becomes imperative to know which God is being rejected and why. The God some atheists reject, I reject as well. The atheist and theist have to agree on the meaning behind the proposition "God exists", in order to sort out whether the theist is affirming what the atheist is denying. There has to be some sort of conceptual ground-clearing here.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Parents teaching children about (mortal) sin are just the same, except they are concerned with the eternal welfare of their children. Unless one can prove that there is no heaven and hell, then that would be like teaching traffic rules while living in the wilderness. But one cannot show that, and hence all this critique really boils down disbelief. It is not freedom if parents tell their children to play on the road however they please. It's gross negligence. Similarly it is not freedom if parents tell their children that sin has no consequence - if judgment, heaven and hell, is reality.

No, this line of thinking reduces to absurdity. If you only have to show that beliefs are not false, you have no (logical) basis for not teaching your children to bow to the FSM on the way to school out of respect for the spirit of pasta.

Sin, judgement, heaven and hell have no more universally defensible reality than anything else that has no empirical base. A parent who does not at the appropriate stage in the child's development distinguish between what is personal belief and what can (and cannot) be known for sure is the one who IMO (and I think Dawkins') is grossly negligent.
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
I'm currently enjoying a lamentably bad examination of the Five Ways. This is shaping up to be the worst book I have read since Dembski's "Intelligent Design - A Bridge Between Science And Theology".

I don't think anyone has suggested The God Delusion is a literary work of art. The question seems to be whether the book as whole misrepresents religion.

My reading is that from the point of view of a religious outsider, it does not. And expecting Dawkins to write from any other point of view seems unreasonable. Taken like that, whatever the book's literary limitations (and I appreciate you'll be more sensistive to these than me), I suggest it can provide the church with insights it rarely if ever sees, let alone has to consider, in its own internally-generated thinking.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
If you only have to show that beliefs are not false, you have no (logical) basis for not teaching your children to bow to the FSM on the way to school out of respect for the spirit of pasta.

quote:
I don't think anyone has suggested The God Delusion is a literary work of art.
Actually I think we're all willing to concede that it's very well written. In fact, I think our worry is that Dawkins is a rather better writer than he is a logician. Wherever there is a hole in the argument, there comes a patch of fine writing denouncing irrationality and the hole is covered over.

I fail to see why you think Dawkins' strictures against the Flying Spaghetti Monster fail to apply to your belief in the 'universally defensible reality of God'. If, as you say the universally defensible reality of God is only an assumption - and you could equally well assume another way - what makes it any more defensible that the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Nicene Creed? Nothing.

The difference is that as a believer in the Nicene Creed I can be honest about my historical roots, and I can point to areas in which my beliefs have been genuinely fruitful in generating innovations in ethics, philosophical anthropology, and in building the groundwork for the scientific method.
From the point of view of an atheist outsider, your belief really just is as indefensible as the FSM.

Dafyd
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
No, this line of thinking reduces to absurdity. If you only have to show that beliefs are not false, you have no (logical) basis for not teaching your children to bow to the FSM on the way to school out of respect for the spirit of pasta.

I call this absurdity "freedom of religion". I'm not aware of anyone developing the FSM from dimwit mockery to a full-blown religion which includes worship and morals. But if someone does, then neither you nor the state have any right to stop that person from teaching their children to bow to the spirit of pasta. The state has a right to limit religion where it represents a clear and present danger to the state and its governance. The state may have a right to limit the expression of religion in the public sphere, where that disrupts public order - although here the situation is getting far from clear (e.g., does the state have the right to force Muslim girls to attend co-ed sports lessons at school?). Finally, the state may interfere even with family life if the well-being and life of one of its citizens is clearly threatened - but here the danger must be so undeniable that the gross violation of privacy is justifiable (e.g., religious honor killings, refusal of life-saving blood transfusions, etc.). Other than that it's the state's job to protect the freedoms of its citizenry, not to take them away.

It is an obvious right of parents that they can teach their children their point of view of the world, including their religious views. Through public education and mass media the state and private individuals, respectively, have already take over a big chunk of that. To tighten thought control further would make an Orwellian police state inevitable. But in fact it's tactically very stupid of atheists to demand that the state should interfere with religious education at home. Religions like Christianity do not get weakened by persecution, they are never stronger and faster growing than when they are under serious external threat. What weakens Christianity is rather indifferent religious laissez-faire.

If you think children should be raised without religion, then there's a very simple way of achieving that: have children and raise them without religion.

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Sin, judgement, heaven and hell have no more universally defensible reality than anything else that has no empirical base. A parent who does not at the appropriate stage in the child's development distinguish between what is personal belief and what can (and cannot) be known for sure is the one who IMO (and I think Dawkins') is grossly negligent.

Dawkins (and perhaps you too?) is lacking a fundamental mental category: believing for sure. It is understandable that with such a mental handicap faith becomes difficult to grasp. It cannot be a requirement for religious parents to privilege their knowledge over their faith, for that would imply a doubt about the certainty of their beliefs which they simply do not have if they have faith. What is a requirement, as correctly worked out after centuries of struggle, is to make a distinction between knowledge and faith concerning what can be expected of other people. I can expect other people to know what I know, or at least to learn what I know once that becomes important, but I cannot expect other people to believe what I believe for sure. This is precisely why there must be freedom of religion. Hence parents are not required to teach their children that some belief is doubtful because it is not knowledge, rather they are required to teach their children that others can disagree with this belief without being insane or deceitful.

Of course, at some point children turn into "other people" as far as these things go. Legally, they do so latest at 18 years of age in most Western countries. Practically, parental control over the point of view of their children usually starts slipping by 12-14 years of age. I would actually welcome a law that says that as far as religion is concerned, full adult rights are attained at the age of 14 years (*). That is, from this age onward parents would not be able to force religious education and worship on their children. (Given the many means of pressure parents still have over 14 year olds, this law may in many cases be difficult to enforce. But at least the legal intent is clear.) But prior to that I think parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit concerning religion.

(*) I think that adulthood is "biologically" supposed to start around that age, and that many problems with teenagers arise because they are artificially kept in childhood. I do not know how to change in general the educational, social and economical constraints that require a prolonged childhood, but I see no good reason for that in religion.
 
Posted by leo (# 1458) on :
 
For the sake of clarification, Religious education is a compulsory part of the curriculum in British schools up to the age of 18 unless the parents, not the children, opt out.

However, RE in Britain is education ABOUT religion, not nurture into it.

Therefore, I don't think people should have any more right to opt out of RE than they do of History, Science etc.

[ 28. May 2007, 13:57: Message edited by: leo ]
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
For the sake of even further clarification, when I wrote of being able to reject further religious education at 14 years of age, I primarily meant RE by the parents at home (or RE through the direct agency of the parents, e.g., through sending their child to Sunday school). As far as RE at public schools is "indoctrination" (for the want of a better word), I would obviously also have the same law apply. Whether RE at public schools in the sense of learning about religion is necessary, and necessary as a separate course from for example history or philosophy, is a different question.
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Dawkins (and perhaps you too?) is lacking a fundamental mental category: believing for sure. It is understandable that with such a mental handicap faith becomes difficult to grasp.

I'm not comprehending you: would you explain exactly what 'believing for sure' means, and how its lack is a mental handicap?
 
Posted by leo (# 1458) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
For the sake of even further clarification, when I wrote of being able to reject further religious education at 14 years of age, I primarily meant RE by the parents at home (or RE through the direct agency of the parents, e.g., through sending their child to Sunday school). As far as RE at public schools is "indoctrination" (for the want of a better word), I would obviously also have the same law apply. Whether RE at public schools in the sense of learning about religion is necessary, and necessary as a separate course from for example history or philosophy, is a different question.

RE is necessary in its own right, taught by theology/RS graduates and not subsumed under history - but this will become a tangent.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by 206:
I'm not comprehending you: would you explain exactly what 'believing for sure' means, and how its lack is a mental handicap?

It means assigning certainty to a particular mental concept or mental state by an act of will, in spite of not being able to determine this certainty sufficiently from known data by reason. This certainty is expressed through the concrete thoughts, words, and actions that flow from it - a serene emotional state is however not always implied. The act of will generally comes about through trusting information given by someone else.

For example: Your brother has gone missing for months. A good friend of yours reports that he has seen your brother destitute in Novosibirsk. Your friend is sure, he has never lied to you, and you know that he recently traveled to Siberia, but of course this is not sufficient to determine that your brother is indeed in Novosibirsk. You have very limited funds, so going to Novosibirsk will mean no other rescue mission for the foreseeable future. If you travel to Novosibirsk nevertheless, you demonstrate by your action that through an act of will you have attained faith ("belief for sure") that your brother is in Siberia needing your help, and that you did so on the strength of the word of your friend.

The difference to knowing that your brother is in Novosibirsk is not really clear cut, but most people would agree that if you recognized your brother clearly in a recent TV documentary on beggars in Novosibirsk, then your trip to Siberia would be based on knowledge instead of faith. As it stands however, your trip is not inescapably reasoned for. Given your tight finances, Mr Spock would probably advise to stay home and await further information. However, I'm sure that you feel the strong pull of hope in this case, and also perhaps have a sense that having faith here is more than just not unreasonable, it even seems reasonable in a strange way: "Sometimes one has to take a chance."

And herein lies the mental handicap of those who find faith generally difficult or impossible. Sometimes one has to take a chance and act wholeheartedly as if something were true, or one will be reduced as a human being. Mere ratiocination is not sufficient to deal with life well, in particular where situations become complex and relationships are concerned.

Three final points: First, certain Christian groups tend to make serenity the only hallmark of faith. This is going too far, it turns faith from an objective state entirely into a subjective feeling. If you sit in that airplane to Novosibirsk wrecked with worries and doubts, you still took that airplane. Second, faith is of course not in the least a guarantee of truth. You may arrive in Novosibirsk and find that your brother is not there. Faith can also be foolish, obviously misplaced. If a known conman is trying to sell you tickets to Novosibirsk claiming that your brother may have been seen there by someone, it would be foolish to have faith. Third, clearly none of this demonstrates that one must have faith in God. But I think it does demonstrate that we are not simply a computer evaluating hard evidence, and that it is not actually a humane ideal to resemble one as closely as possible. That I have faith in Christ may turn out to be a mistake in the end, but then I will regret the mistake, not that I dared to have faith.
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
And herein lies the mental handicap of those who find faith generally difficult or impossible. Sometimes one has to take a chance and act wholeheartedly as if something were true, or one will be reduced as a human being.
And somehow Dawkins (and perhaps Dave Marshall) doesn't do this?
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by 206:
quote:
And herein lies the mental handicap of those who find faith generally difficult or impossible. Sometimes one has to take a chance and act wholeheartedly as if something were true, or one will be reduced as a human being.
And somehow Dawkins (and perhaps Dave Marshall) doesn't do this?
Dave can answer for himself. I think likely that some people have more "talent for faith" than others, just as with all other human features. And I think it is quite possible that Dawkins is a the extreme "untalented for faith" end of spectrum, it would explain a lot (and excuse him to a large extent). Replace "talented for faith" by "gullible" and "untalented for faith" by "sceptical" to see that it is far from clear where the "optimum" concerning faith is. It seems very unlikely though that Dawkins would lead the life he is leading if he had no faith in anything, he certainly does not appear to be socially dysfunctional enough.

So what to make of his critique of religious faith? Why is it OK for Dawkins to have faith that his wife is not sleeping with other men behind his back, a faith he hopefully has, but it is not OK for me to have faith in God? Dawkins does not have unequivocal empirical data or scientific proof that his wife is always true to him, I assume. Dawkins uses some knowledge, experience and observations about his wife to make sure that his hope for fidelity is not absurd - and then he makes the leap of faith necessary to keep his marriage going, in spite of not being able to determine this strictly by reason. I would claim much the same about my faith in God, though admittedly how I secure my hope against foolishness is more abstract (metaphysics, contemplation, ...).

Is Dawkins thus a hypocrite? Or is he simply too blinkered to see how much he depends on faith himself? Or is he in fact handicapped in the faith department and cannot move his mind to faith in anything but the simplest things? I do not know.
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
Or is he simply too blinkered to see how much he depends on faith himself?
IMO that's as far as you can go.

And on my good days I think we all are equally blinkered.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I fail to see why you think Dawkins' strictures against the Flying Spaghetti Monster fail to apply to your belief in the 'universally defensible reality of God'. If, as you say the universally defensible reality of God is only an assumption - and you could equally well assume another way - what makes it any more defensible that the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Nicene Creed? Nothing.

You confuse a choice of explanation - created or accidental universe, God or no God - with theories about the nature of the creator God if that is our choice. The universal defensible reality of God - the fact of the universe and what can be shown to follow - is the limit of what we can reasonably claim is inferred by choosing the created explanation.

You're right in one respect: there is no difference between the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Nicene Creed in terms of their basis in physical reality.
quote:
as a believer in the Nicene Creed I can be honest about my historical roots, and I can point to areas in which my beliefs have been genuinely fruitful in generating innovations in ethics, philosophical anthropology, and in building the groundwork for the scientific method.
I don't see how believing in the Nicene Creed makes you honest about anything. The evidence for your beliefs being fruitful in the way you suggest is all theory, the evidence circumstantial at best. As a philosopher or an historian you may well be able to construct in your mind a personal map of reality that includes the claims of the Nicene Creed as fact. To adapt your signature, that doesn't make it so.

We have no alternative about created or not: it has to be a faith choice. Describing and acknowledging as such the universally defensible reality of God requires no additional faith, only recognition. Nicene Christianity, well, that requires faith in people, just like the ones who make up the Church today.
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
I'm not aware of anyone developing the FSM from dimwit mockery to a full-blown religion which includes worship and morals. But if someone does, then neither you nor the state have any right to stop that person from teaching their children to bow to the spirit of pasta.

I totally agree. I echoed your use of 'grossly negligent' for symmetry in my reply, not to suggest any state action. Apologies for missing the context in your post.
quote:
Dawkins (and perhaps you too?) is lacking a fundamental mental category: believing for sure. It is understandable that with such a mental handicap faith becomes difficult to grasp.
No need to be offensive. I could equally suggest that your refusal to acknowledge the artificial nature of your particular believing for sure category indicates some kind of mental deficiency.

The reality is that believing for sure is normally reserved for cases where the evidence has been shown or shown itself to be reliable over time. You make a special case for evidence you receive from the Church because, well, the Church says it's a special case. There's not a shred of anything hard and empirical, but it has to be reliable, the Church knows it's been revealed by God because, er, the Church says so. And no-one can prove it's false. Any more than the Church can prove it's true.

I could go on, but you've chosen to believe the Church. I think history suggests that's not a wise choice. But I won't accuse you of being mentally deficient for making it.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Nobody seems to have a problem with parents teaching their children to look out for cars before crossing a road, or teaching them to obey traffic lights and pay attention to street signs. Because if they do not do that, there's a decent chance that the child will get run over by a car and be maimed or die. This does cause occasional guilt in adults who have just crossed a street in spite of a red light, and surely there are some pathological cases which cannot set a foot out of the house for fear of getting run over. Yet teaching the traffic rules generally is seen as a duty of parents, not as something terrible they do to their children.

Parents teaching children about (mortal) sin are just the same, except they are concerned with the eternal welfare of their children. Unless one can prove that there is no heaven and hell, then that would be like teaching traffic rules while living in the wilderness.

Wow. You're a hard case, mate. On one hand, I was blown away by one of your posts the other day, then you come out with this, which is sheer and utter bullshit.

No sane person would argue that there is potential for a child to die on the road. There is no similarity at all. That is a proven and factual situation - child gets hit by Hummer doing 100 km/h = dead kid. If and what happens after death, is at this stage, at the very, very best, unproven.

Even worse, christians could hardly be said to agree on what actually happens after death. From eternal hellfire to universal joy, what do you teach them? God's going to be pissed right off if he's a universalist and you go around teaching your kids that wanking will make you go to hell!

Plus, I have this strange sense of deva vu that you're the bloke who belaboured me with not going to hell because ignorance is allowed. Saulus, I think he was...

There is no reason, scriptural, commonsense or rational, to ram whatever version of "truth" is being rammed. Let 'em be kids.
 
Posted by pimple (# 10635) on :
 
I think IngoB's heart is in the right place with regard to teaching children to live safely. At what age would he accept that children are able to make up their own minds about (a) crossing the road and (b) being a Christian?

Obviously, the risks of jay-walking don't decrease as children get older. But they do learn to make their own risk assessments and act on them. Being careful about crossing roads, drinking alcohol, experimenting with sex and so on will be interpreted in a number of ways - some more or less valid than others.

But how do they learn to make their own judgment about eternal salvation? They will, if you have taught them well in other matters, trust your judgment for some time. But if they want to test it, would that necessarily be an evil thing? If not, ho would they actually do that?

[ 28. May 2007, 22:36: Message edited by: pimple ]
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
We have no alternative about created or not: it has to be a faith choice. Describing and acknowledging as such the universally defensible reality of God requires no additional faith, only recognition.

Dawkins says that there is no such thing as a faith choice: either you stick to the evidence or you go beyond the evidence with faith. And if I had to choose between you and Dawkins, I'd have to choose Dawkins. Because if the choice is as you describe it, the intellectually honest thing is to do without God.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Dawkins says that there is no such thing as a faith choice: either you stick to the evidence or you go beyond the evidence with faith.

Then in that respect, as far as I can tell without any context, Dawkins, with IngoB, is wrong.

Ingo's 'believing for sure', which seems to be what you're talking about, in a typical faith position (say 'Jesus is God') does not imply some binary split in behaviour between those who believe and those who don't. It's an abstract expression of allegiance some of you like to hang your hats on.

That belief only becomes 'for sure' in the practical decisions you make that to some degree depend on it. With that variable degree of influence comes the impossibility of knowing whether your notional faith position is actually reflected in any particular choice. Or are the visible, measurable things, holding the orthodox line in public or whatever, all that count towards 'for sure'?
quote:
if I had to choose between you and Dawkins, I'd have to choose Dawkins. Because if the choice is as you describe it, the intellectually honest thing is to do without God.
Huh. I'm afraid you're less than convincing as a good judge of what is or is not intellectually honest.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
That is a proven and factual situation - child gets hit by Hummer doing 100 km/h = dead kid. If and what happens after death, is at this stage, at the very, very best, unproven.

Actually, it is certain. Just not by criteria which you accept as relevant, which however does not worry me one bit. You still believe that because I'm not stupid, I somehow must inhabit your world view. But I do not, at least anymore. Get over the culture shock already... But perhaps the analogy was not so helpful, because it made you - once more - reduce life to mere evidence. The point was rather about teaching one's children what one thinks is right and good.

Let's use a different analogy to consider what good evidence does. Assume you are the nuclear technician on a US submarine. In a storm your submarine gets smashed to bits on a reef and you, the only survivor, get washed upon the shore of an island where you are saved by a stoneage people. When you come to, to your horror you discover that this tribe is using the nuclear fuel elements from the sub as light and heat source. They absolutely love the stuff, the radioactive glow is in every hut. What are you going to do? You know that by the time they will get symptoms serious enough to convince them to abandon this "gift from the gods", they will already be dying of radiation poisoning. But you have no means of forcing them to accept what you know. Even if they get a headache or a skin lesion or need to throw up, they blame it on bad food or evil spirits. They do not want to believe that it comes from their fantastic new light and heat source. In desperation, you finally fire your signal pistol to demonstrate that you have some knowledge and power they do not have. Indeed, a few then listen to you talking about the rules from the HQ about radiation safety and abandon the radioactive warmth and light and follow you away from the village. But most don't, and eventually perish.

A dozen generations later, you are now a strong believer in the Technician, Son of the HQ. Animals and the elements have wiped out all traces of those who died of radioactivity back then. But some enterprising warriors have gone to the forbidden zone and found the fuel elements, still glowing almost as strong as before. Now they brought them back to their huts, where they are cherished once more for the light and warmth they bring. It's all just like in the story of the Technician, you tell them. Can't they see that it violates the rules of the HQ? But they laugh at you, for what evidence have you got but old stories? You don't even have a signal pistol to impress them. Now you take your son and tell him that this is what the Technician has warned about, and that you must flee the village for the jungle. Clearly, this is a strange form of child abuse, for are you not depriving your child of the light and warmth of the fuel elements, not to speak of the company of the others? And all that because of old stories with not a shred of evidence in sight. Now what?

Evidence is great, if one can get it. But there's no guarantee that in this life, we are given sufficient evidence to make perfectly informed choices about all things that are important. Unfortunately, kids are sponges concerning social behavior, they soak up what's around them. If you go for a strict "hands off" approach, they will source their behavioral norm elsewhere. So if you do believe that sins can harm their eternal destiny, then as a responsible parent you have little choice but telling them in due time. How one should do so is a different question. And I'm fairly certain that I won't be shouting about eternal damnation a lot. Perhaps I will tell a little story about radioactivity when it is time. How well I'll fare with that we will see, but I do feel that it is my duty to try.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Even worse, christians could hardly be said to agree on what actually happens after death. From eternal hellfire to universal joy, what do you teach them? God's going to be pissed right off if he's a universalist and you go around teaching your kids that wanking will make you go to hell!

I'm always puzzled by this argument that everything must be wrong because some things are contradicting each other... It's a non sequitur and my experience in science tells me otherwise: most likely then one thing is right, and what contradicts it is wrong. I'm certain God will judge me with justice and mercy, even if I teach falsely about something of such tremendous importance as wanking...

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Plus, I have this strange sense of deva vu that you're the bloke who belaboured me with not going to hell because ignorance is allowed.

I have no idea whether you'll go to hell or not. I hope not. But I believe that your atheism does not automatically doom you to hell.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
There is no reason, scriptural, commonsense or rational, to ram whatever version of "truth" is being rammed. Let 'em be kids.

There's no such thing as "just being kids", Monsieur Rousseau. Humans never just are, that's their greatness and their tragedy.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Unfortunately, kids are sponges concerning social behavior, they soak up what's around them. If you go for a strict "hands off" approach, they will source their behavioral norm elsewhere.

Well, your analogy's still exactly the same, because you've got a 100% death rate in one instance and a scenario based upon your faith on the other. As a scientist, you should know all about science and metaphysics and why never the twain may meet. I know you're certain of the outcome, but you're only as right as I am - within the confines of our own minds; what we think may influence others, but we can't think for them.

Just regarding the piece I quoted, now you're conflating behaviour with spirituality and the two needn't be linked at all. I'd much rather kids were taught their moralistic viewpoint from a "Do unto others... [before they do you [Biased] ]" approach, without any recourse to supernatural beings. Far better for kids to have morals because they're right than because a god might get uptight about it.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Well, your analogy's still exactly the same, because you've got a 100% death rate in one instance and a scenario based upon your faith on the other. As a scientist, you should know all about science and metaphysics and why never the twain may meet.

First, science and metaphysics not only can, but must meet - that's why it's called metaphysics. Second, my belief in heaven and hell is not metaphysical. Metaphysics has some limited overlap with natural theology, but it cannot go that far. Third, I have never seen myself any traffic accident involving a child (lucky me). So the similarity is even stronger: in both cases my teaching is based on theory, not on experience. It is just that one theory has a faith component, the other has not.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
I know you're certain of the outcome, but you're only as right as I am - within the confines of our own minds; what we think may influence others, but we can't think for them.

No. Either you are right, or I am, or neither of us. But two contradictory statements about the same thing at the same time cannot both be true. Just because I, or you, speak the truth does not necessarily mean that every reasonable listener will agree.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
I'd much rather kids were taught their moralistic viewpoint from a "Do unto others... [before they do you [Biased] ]" approach, without any recourse to supernatural beings. Far better for kids to have morals because they're right than because a god might get uptight about it.

You say either/or, I say both/and. Further, there are topics where "Golden Rule" morals just do not say anything, but religious morals do. For example, is IVF moral?
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
Then in that respect, as far as I can tell without any context, Dawkins, with IngoB, is wrong.

There's a quotation from Dawkins on the subject earlier in the thread.

quote:
Huh. I'm afraid you're less than convincing as a good judge of what is or is not intellectually honest.
Discussing these things with you would be much more fruitful if you didn't throw in remarks like that from time to time.

Hmm... I think I did use some language about your position (like 'wacky') which I shouldn't have used. Could you consider whether that language is really stronger than the language you regularly feel free to use about creedal Christianity?

Dafyd
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
No. Either you are right, or I am, or neither of us. But two contradictory statements about the same thing at the same time cannot both be true. Just because I, or you, speak the truth does not necessarily mean that every reasonable listener will agree.

Yep, that was my point.

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
You say either/or, I say both/and. Further, there are topics where "Golden Rule" morals just do not say anything, but religious morals do. For example, is IVF moral?

Sure it is. The golden rule certainly applies there - science allows childless couples (and women) to have children. People generally want to have children and I wouldn't want to deny someone the opportunity. Why should those couples miss out on all the fun? The dirty nappies, puddles of puke, all-night watches over sick ones, bad school reports & suspensions, fights, head lice... it's only fair that people who would otherwise escape this torture should share it with the rest of us!
 
Posted by Dinghy Sailor (# 8507) on :
 
In the case of IVF, The Atheist, you're only applying the Golden Rule to the adults involved. If you consider the embryos which get destroyed to be humans too, you've got to apply the golden rule to them, and hence not kill them. What is the right course of action now?
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:

quote:
I don't think anyone has suggested The God Delusion is a literary work of art. The question seems to be whether the book as whole misrepresents religion.

My reading is that from the point of view of a religious outsider, it does not. And expecting Dawkins to write from any other point of view seems unreasonable. Taken like that, whatever the book's literary limitations (and I appreciate you'll be more sensistive to these than me), I suggest it can provide the church with insights it rarely if ever sees, let alone has to consider, in its own internally-generated thinking.

Okay, I've finished it. Nowhere near as bad as Dembski, I'm pleased to report. Something of a curate's egg of a book. Most of his protests against fundamentalism are justified. He is incapable of writing badly on the science involved. So probably worth the fiver I forked out for it.

On the other hand the book is characterised by a number of quite bizarre assertions. For example Dawkins subscribes to the Whig view of history - the history of humanity is the history of progress. The waves flow back and forth but the tide is definitely receeding in the long term. Hitler was evil, but Hitler would not have stood out in the time of Genghis Khan or Caligula, so progress really does happen. The only adequate response to this is Peter Atkins response to Richard Swinburne.

There is something rather Seigneurial about Dawkins' outlook. He has a certain grudging respect for the Church of England - a mixture of class affinity and the knowledge that C of E bishops will always sign petitions against Peter Vardy - but Catholics and Muslims are "these people" and he quotes, approvingly, Nicholas Humphrey as saying that parents ought not to be allowed to teach their children certain beliefs. Dawkins havers on the extent to which groups will be subject to having their children re-educated by the state but things look bleak for the Amish, the Hasidim and Gypsies and given that being raised Catholic is tantamount to child abuse I'd advise Catholics not to be complacent in the (admittedly unlikely) event of Dawkins ever being invited by HM the Queen to form a government of national unity.

The book is written for an American market. American atheists do, admittedly, get a toughish time and this ought to be less tough but it is somewhat ironic watching someone who has become rich and famous for his public espousal of atheism claim to be part of a persecuted minority. Dawkins complains that Orthodox Jews are generally likely to marry people who believe the same things as them. This complaint might have more force if Dawkins were married to a Strict and Particular Baptist.

No book by Richard Dawkins would be complete without the continuation of the many academic feuds he maintains. Steven Jay Gould, we are told, could not possibly have believed what he wrote in 'Rock of Ages'. Gould, being conveniently dead, can hardly respond to this. Michael Ruse, who claimed that Dawkins' position undermines the fight against creationism is compared to Neville Chamberlain. (It is worth observing that Dawkins was one of the participants in the Grauniad's hare-brained scheme to influence the 2004 US election by having various members of the left-liberal commentariat write to the electorate in Ohio which gives a good indicator of Dawkins' gifts as a political strategist.)

On the whole existence of God thing Dawkins is really rather disappointing. He insists that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis and then, rather grumpily, concedes Alister McGrath's point that the existence of God cannot be falsified. But the whole point of a scientific hypothesis is that it can be falsified. Ergo, belief in God is not a scientific hypothesis. Dawkins draws a number of analogies - with the celestial teapot and the FSM but of course these are not exact analogies. The existence of a tea pot in orbit round the sun near Mars is, in principle, falsifiable but in practice too trivial to be taken seriously. He claims that one cannot falsify the existence of the FSM which is rather odd because it is well known that the FSM was invented by a determinate person for a joke.

Ultimately we are pushed back on to the old "why is there something rather than nothing?" argument. Dawkins' position is that eventually science will crack this, making metaphysics redundant, what one might call the blank cheque argument. This is, of course, possible but whether it is probable or likely can, I think, be doubted without too much credulity. Dawkins holds that the answer cannot be 'God' because we then have to explain where God came from and God, were he to exist, would be incredibly complex. He's rather cross with the theologians who maintain that God is a) simple and b) necessary but doesn't, I think, demonstrate conclusively that a hypothetical God couldn't be both of those things.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
There's a quotation from Dawkins on the subject earlier in the thread.

That doesn't help me decide whether in it's original context your quote reflects what Dawkins actually said.
quote:
Discussing these things with you would be much more fruitful if you didn't throw in remarks like that from time to time.
You've yet to provide evidence for any of your claims that Dawkins' opposition to religion is unfair or intellectually dishonest.

In your last but one post you're reduced to acknowledging TGD as very well written but claim Dawkins covers up holes in his logic with fine writing, without giving any example of him doing so or any clue as to what you're referring to. And you infer my position is not intellectually honest.

You've ignored the points in my last post but one, except for an appeal to Dawkins for support against it. And an implication that it reflects an intellectually dishonest position. No attempt to explain why the answer in my last post is not a good one.

Who's actually avoiding fruitful discussion here?
quote:
Hmm... I think I did use some language about your position (like 'wacky') which I shouldn't have used. Could you consider whether that language is really stronger than the language you regularly feel free to use about creedal Christianity?
No, I'm fairly sure you've not called my position 'wacky'. Until now, of course.

I am regularly very careful not to give unnecessary offence. Richard Dawkins doesn't see value in that, so when pointing out the flaws and vindictive nature of some of the attacks on him here it's hard to avoid reference to his less than flattering comparisons between credal Christianity and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

If you restricted expressing your disaffection for Dawkins to pointing out errors in what he's actually said in context, I wouldn't have reason to refer to his more colourful illustrations.

If you wanted to suggest reasons for the position outlined in my last two posts being less than intellectually honest, I'd welcome the opportunity to think further about it.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
The golden rule certainly applies there - science allows childless couples (and women) to have children. People generally want to have children and I wouldn't want to deny someone the opportunity.

That's not the issue. Nobody is doubting that the end (having children) is good, or at least can be. The question is whether the means used to attain that end are morally good. It's clearly not moral to use bad means for a good end (e.g., rape is an evil means for the good end of having offspring). But how to judge the immorality of the means? Is it all just a matter of the consensus of the moral agents? Or is there such a thing as an "objective" morality? Golden Rule arguments run into trouble with systemic evil. For example, take genital mutilation, where many older women who were mutilated themselves are actually keen to carry on the tradition. They do unto their girls what has been done unto them, and if you asked them if they are following the Golden Rule, they are likely to affirm that. Yet we sense that a moral evil is being committed. What is the reference point from which we tell these women that they are being misled into propagating evil? And how do we know that we are not in a similar position concerning other moral issues? Usually everybody participating in an IVF procedure is a consenting adult, but is that really sufficient to determine that it is a morally good (or at least neutral) act?
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
Callan,

I think that's a pretty fair summary.

Comments thereon:

quote:
On the other hand the book is characterised by a number of quite bizarre assertions. For example Dawkins subscribes to the Whig view of history - the history of humanity is the history of progress.
Agreed - and I think this is a logical flaw. As CS Lewis points out somewhere, to have the idea of progress you need to have the idea of some fixed standard by which progress is measured. Otherwise it is merely change. Dawkins doesn't merely observe as a neutral anthropologist that our society is more tolerant and liberal than past societies in (for example) condemning racism and homophobia, he thinks that this is a genuine advance. Which would imply that there is an objective morality that stands outside society. It may well be that an atheist viewpoint can accommodate a transcendent morality that remains true whatever people universally happen to think, but he doesn't explain why he seems to hold this.

quote:
Dawkins havers on the extent to which groups will be subject to having their children re-educated by the state but things look bleak for the Amish, the Hasidim and Gypsies and given that being raised Catholic is tantamount to child abuse I'd advise Catholics not to be complacent in the (admittedly unlikely) event of Dawkins ever being invited by HM the Queen to form a government of national unity.
He does explicitly disavow any intention to do more against believers than argue with them - and equally explicitly deplores the historical taking-into-care / kidnapping of a Jewish child to ‘protect' him from a Jewish religious upbringing, so I'd feel fairly safe under his personal premiership. He supports scientific (and secular) education as being the fundamental right of every child - I don't think he supports witch-hunts.

However the logical consequence of viewing religous upbringing as abusive is that it should be treated as any other form of abuse. And we, as a society, do take children away from abusive parents. I would be absolutely terrified of the second generation of Dawkinsian government - a bad man acting on his principles would be as much a monster as a bad man acting on ‘Christian' principles.

quote:
No book by Richard Dawkins would be complete without the continuation of the many academic feuds he maintains. Steven Jay Gould, we are told, could not possibly have believed what he wrote in 'Rock of Ages'. Gould, being conveniently dead, can hardly respond to this.
I thought this point of Dawkins' harsh, but fair. Gould's real point in RoA is that religion asks questions upon which science has no grounds for commenting - they are outside the scientific magisterium altogether. But he does address this AS IF he were conceding that religion does in fact have an effective mechanism for answering such questions comparable to the scientific mechanism for answering scientific questions, that is, not only are the fields of enquiry distinct but equally vital (as Gould clearly thought) but that the established disciplines for conducting that enquiry are equally developed and useful in their respective fields.

As a sympathetic reader of Gould - I'm inclined to doubt that he really believed what he could be taken as saying. I think he saw "how to get to heaven" as a religious question for religious enquiry and irrelevent to science - but not that "religion" as conventionally defined had any inside track on providing an answer. Dawkins calling him on it is fair (and Gould's lack of capacity to communicate what we may hope he now knows doesn't stop it being fair - the NOMA idea isn't raised for the purpose of a snide side-shot, but because it is a solid idea that Dawkins feels the need to address in developing his thesis).

quote:
He insists that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis and then, rather grumpily, concedes Alister McGrath's point that the existence of God cannot be falsified. But the whole point of a scientific hypothesis is that it can be falsified.
I'm not sure that Dawkins would necessarily concede that falsifiability is absolutely determinative of whether a hypothesis is scientific. I think (judging by his other writings) that he uses ‘scientific hypothesis' to mean a factual claim about the real world that is either true or false - not any particular philosphy-of-science definition. In any case, the converse of the God hypothesis is something he thinks falsifiable (in that God could prove his own existence - although I'm not sure he's right about that), and it would be curious if proposition A is scientific but not-A is not.

quote:
He's rather cross with the theologians who maintain that God is [...] simple
I can't blame him for that. I'm a Christian and I don't understand what is meant by calling God "simple", so I don't wonder that an atheist sees it as an absurd claim.

What I think it means is that God isn't divisible - that we might for convenience talk about God's justice as if it were opposed to God's compassion, but we should not think of bits of God's character being separable from and acting independently of the divine nature. All of God is involved in everything God does. There isn't an all-powerful being who happens to be all-benevolent and all-wise: there is God, who is described in this way, but is essentially and indivisibly himself.

If I'm right, what theologians mean by simply is rather close to what, in another context, might be conveyed by "irreducibly complex" (and no refutation of Dawkins' main point). If I'm wrong, then I think I'm agnostic about the whole simplicity-of-God idea - and it certainly strikes me as counter-intuitive and probably wrong for any usual definition of ‘simple'.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
No, I'm fairly sure you've not called my position 'wacky'. Until now, of course.

I find I edited the word out. What I was going to say was that to an outside observer your position was just as wacky as creedal Christianity.

quote:
I am regularly very careful not to give unnecessary offence.
I am glad to learn that.

quote:
If you wanted to suggest reasons for the position outlined in my last two posts being less than intellectually honest, I'd welcome the opportunity to think further about it.
I said that, if you accept the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument, then it applies equally to your position as to creedal Christianity - and therefore if Dawkins is right about the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument then your position is just as intellectually dishonest as creedal Christianity.

I leave you to work out whether I think Dawkins is right about the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument.

The point about a logical argument, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument, is that if it is valid it is valid regardless of context. (For that matter, I was responding to your use of it in the context in which you were using it. If that's not Dawkins' context, you could say so.)
You keep saying that the church needs to learn from Dawkins, but you also say that Dawkins' arguments don't in any way apply to your position. If you have nothing to learn, why isn't it valid for the people you're addressing to reject Dawkins in exactly the same way?

Now you said why you thought it didn't apply; I don't think the reasons you gave are adequate but I don't see any point in trying to convince you of the fact. Sorry to deprive you of my opinions - but as you're dismissive of them you're not losing out. I try to avoid getting heated in discussions, as it seems we both are getting.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
Before bowing out I should apologise for anything I said while heated that was offensive.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
What I think it means is that God isn't divisible - that we might for convenience talk about God's justice as if it were opposed to God's compassion, but we should not think of bits of God's character being separable from and acting independently of the divine nature.

The claim is that God isn't composed of any smaller parts, since anything composed of smaller parts wouldn't be an ultimate explanation.
Dawkins thinks that anything of this kind couldn't take the role of God, but his objection is based purely on complex and simple things of which we have direct acquaintance.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I said that, if you accept the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument, then it applies equally to your position as to creedal Christianity - and therefore if Dawkins is right about the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument then your position is just as intellectually dishonest as creedal Christianity.

OK, I can't see how I could reasonably have got this meaning from what you posted before, but I think I can reply without over-heating.

Dawkins' FSM criticism does not apply equally to my position for two reasons:

1) I make no claim to know, to 'believe for sure', without empirical evidence. The faith element, my choosing to act as if God is real, is a result of my personal experience and what sense I make of it. It's non-empirical evidence that is not directly available to anyone else, so I don't use it as grounds for expecting anyone else to make the same choices.

2) This universally defensible reality of God idea is not some alternative to the Jesus story, it's simply a label that it occurred to me connects the hypothetical creator with the physical universe described by science. It introduces no new information to a scientific world view, but articulates a connection to what might lie beyond, something Dawkins seems happy to acknowledge.
quote:
You keep saying that the church needs to learn from Dawkins, but you also say that Dawkins' arguments don't in any way apply to your position. If you have nothing to learn, why isn't it valid for the people you're addressing to reject Dawkins in exactly the same way?
What the church could learn is the inadequacy of its official statements of belief in the light of Dawkins' critique. That doesn't imply I have nothing to learn from him. The difference is that his criticisms don't invalidate the basis of my faith; I have simply seen value in theorising about metaphysical questions it seems Dawkins only considers when pushed.

The church on the other hand defines itself by what Dawkins calls belief in belief, what I think of as faith in people. This is an essential component in our personal decision-making, but has no unarguable legitimacy in any community or wider institution. It inevitably leads to arguments with no universal solution, distractions from the work of and real value in the church, without providing any explanatory benefit that is not vulnerable to the likes of Dawkins.
quote:
I don't think the reasons you gave are adequate but I don't see any point in trying to convince you of the fact. Sorry to deprive you of my opinions - but as you're dismissive of them you're not losing out. I try to avoid getting heated in discussions, as it seems we both are getting.
I've not dismissed any opinion of yours until you've indicated it's not been up for discussion. I don't mind a little heat, but I understand if you have other priorities.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:

quote:
Dawkins' FSM criticism does not apply equally to my position for two reasons:

1) I make no claim to know, to 'believe for sure', without empirical evidence. The faith element, my choosing to act as if God is real, is a result of my personal experience and what sense I make of it. It's non-empirical evidence that is not directly available to anyone else, so I don't use it as grounds for expecting anyone else to make the same choices.

2) This universally defensible reality of God idea is not some alternative to the Jesus story, it's simply a label that it occurred to me connects the hypothetical creator with the physical universe described by science. It introduces no new information to a scientific world view, but articulates a connection to what might lie beyond, something Dawkins seems happy to acknowledge.

Surely the FSM argument (in Dawkins' hands) is that the existence of God can in no way be disproved but that there are no better grounds for holding it than for holding the FSM. So I don't think Dawkins is happy to acknowledge a beyond and I think he would take the view that you (and I) by holding what he would describe as 'moderate religion' legitimise the beliefs of those who hold 'extreme religion'.

Sorry mate, according to Dawkins neither you nor I have any basis for our views and we're providing ideological legitimation for Osama bin Laden.

[ 29. May 2007, 19:33: Message edited by: Callan ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
So, Callan, should I read it?
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Well, I wouldn't refuse to read it under all circumstances but if you've got a limited book budget I wouldn't read it in preference to something you actually want to read, IYSWIM.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
I am now 3 days behind, and I'll be honest, deeply confused (having read the posts). 206's Dawkins quote at the top of page 6 baffles me completely. RD seems to be quite happy to accept a reasonable faith on the basis of what he says, but then:

quote:
“I do think that intelligent, sophisticated theologians are almost totally irrelevant to the phenomenon of religion in the world today. Regrettable as that may be.” Why so? “Because they’re outnumbered by vast hordes of religious idiots.”
So this brings us back to the OP - does anyone have any evidence, anywhere, that this is true? On what basis does Dawkins conclude that the overwhelming majority of people in the world are idiots, incabable of comprehending something as basic as 6 day creation not being literally true? One might quote the alarming statistic about how many Americans believe in YEC (although I undestand there are problems with that particular survey), but even this hardly comes close to representing an "overwhelming majority" of all religious people. I have yet to see any evidence that Dawkins isn't working on his own hunches when it comes to this matter and, as has already been pointed out, actually ignored contrary evidence.

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
"Faith is what fills the voids." that is not reason-able. A scientist such as Dawkins trys to fill the voids with data and theories and then tries to prove them. They have filled many god-voids over the years and many more will fall in our lifetimes. Some may not, but the scientist should naturally be suspicious of attempts to fill voids with "Here there be dragons". It's just not a reasonable step to take, unless you are religous and look at the void filling as an Art.

This may be getting close to the real nub of it. My view (as already stated) is that the void actually keeps expanding. As compared with 100 years ago, we have to wrestle with quantum theory and the possibility of infinite numbers of universes and / or another 7 dimensions to play about with. We have to face the fact that we do not have a clue regarding 94% of the matter in the universe.

And yet I passionately believe in science and the scientific method. I rather suspect that Dawkins likes to believe that a theist like me simply crosses his or her arms and is content with saying "it is all a mystery, and we'll call that mystery God". I think central to Dawkins' charge against religion is a misunderstanding regarding what religion (or much of it, anyway) actually claims.

Noiseboy's final thought (for today!) - I have been reading Karen Armstrong's excellent A History Of God, which has put me right on more than a fair few things. I was staggered to learn about the origin of Islam, and how The Prophet's original intent was to reunite the seeker with their original God. He never intended to start a new religion, but would exhort the Jew to become a more devout Jew, or the Christian to be a more devout Christian. And of course Jesus remained a devout Jew in his lifetime, and did not form his own church. I am still reflecting on all this, not least because it is the antidote to the fundamentalist view (including that, I still believe, of Dawkins). How could The Prophet reconcile the contradictory teachings in the different faiths, unless the teachings themselves were metaphors?

It does not follow that there is no literal truth in any religious story, far from it. But the history of the origins of religion demonstrates that literal, dogmatic interpretations are not what the religious leaders had in mind. And I think the evidence shows that a good number of religious people in the world still subscribe to this.

[ 29. May 2007, 20:15: Message edited by: Noiseboy ]
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Remember that, for Dawkins, Roman Catholics and Muslims (and probably Orthodox Jews and, indeed, Christians although this isn't explicitly stated) all count as 'religious idiots'. Sensible theologians seem to be confined to the C of E which, you will agree, in the scheme of things is rather limited.

This has less to do with statistical analysis and more to do with which denomination provides the greatest number of Public School and Oxbridge chaplains. It's an atheist spin on nineteenth century crown-and-altar Toryism. If you're not C of E you're below the salt, dear boy. This is a man, after all, who when he wants a synonym for a third world country with superstitious practices, falls back on 'Bongoland'. Not content with being the poor man's Bertrand Russell he's also aiming for the gig of being the poor man's Alan Clark.

[Extra comma. Because I'm worth it!]

[ 29. May 2007, 20:25: Message edited by: Callan ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
"Faith is what fills the voids." that is not reason-able. A scientist such as Dawkins trys to fill the voids with data and theories and then tries to prove them. They have filled many god-voids over the years and many more will fall in our lifetimes. Some may not, but the scientist should naturally be suspicious of attempts to fill voids with "Here there be dragons". It's just not a reasonable step to take, unless you are religous and look at the void filling as an Art.

This may be getting close to the real nub of it. My view (as already stated) is that the void actually keeps expanding. As compared with 100 years ago, we have to wrestle with quantum theory and the possibility of infinite numbers of universes and / or another 7 dimensions to play about with. We have to face the fact that we do not have a clue regarding 94% of the matter in the universe.


Yes, but we actually know about quantum theory, which is a form of answer in and of itself. And I do not agree that we "do not have a clue" about that. We have another 100 years to get a clue and answer more questions. Then another 100. Religion had thousands of years to attempt to answer it's questions. Give science a little time, dude. It's not much to ask.

quote:

And yet I passionately believe in science and the scientific method. I rather suspect that Dawkins likes to believe that a theist like me simply crosses his or her arms and is content with saying "it is all a mystery, and we'll call that mystery God". I think central to Dawkins' charge against religion is a misunderstanding regarding what religion (or much of it, anyway) actually claims.

Noiseboy's final thought (for today!) - I have been reading Karen Armstrong's excellent A History Of God, which has put me right on more than a fair few things. I was staggered to learn about the origin of Islam, and how The Prophet's original intent was to reunite the seeker with their original God. He never intended to start a new religion, but would exhort the Jew to become a more devout Jew, or the Christian to be a more devout Christian. And of course Jesus remained a devout Jew in his lifetime, and did not form his own church. I am still reflecting on all this, not least because it is the antidote to the fundamentalist view (including that, I still believe, of Dawkins). How could The Prophet reconcile the contradictory teachings in the different faiths, unless the teachings themselves were metaphors?

It does not follow that there is no literal truth in any religious story, far from it. But the history of the origins of religion demonstrates that literal, dogmatic interpretations are not what the religious leaders had in mind. And I think the evidence shows that a good number of religious people in the world still subscribe to this.

The problem with metaphors, is that they are metaphors. Just look at the way metaphors are abused here on the Ship. Someone states "Here's a metaphor X". Response "Metaphor X is crap because of Y". Someone replies "Yes, because it's a METAPHOR" and so on.

Invariably people will twist the metaphor to fit their version of god, or of faith, or whatever. It's why people such as Dawkins can skewer it as "truth". What kind of "truth" is a metaphor? A very slippery one. It has a grain in it somewhere, but good luck finding it with humans involved.

As Callan pointed out in his book review, Dawkins apparently wrote this for an American audience predominantly. There is almost no question that Literalists/Fundies are either 1) the norm here or 2) so powerful (i.e. Bush) that they are proportionally loud. Either way, I can't tell if it's my culture plus all the wackjobs in the middle east, plus the knowledge of South American religousity I have, all sums up to a serious Fundie streak in the world that Dawkins is (rightly) screaming at, and defying, while calling for the atheists to come out of the closet.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Remember that, for Dawkins, Roman Catholics and Muslims (and probably Orthodox Jews and, indeed, Christians although this isn't explicitly stated) all count as 'religious idiots'. Sensible theologians seem to be confined to the C of E which, you will agree, in the scheme of things is rather limited.

This has less to do with statistical analysis and more to do with which denomination provides the greatest number of Public School and Oxbridge chaplains. It's an atheist spin on nineteenth century crown-and-altar Toryism. If you're not C of E you're below the salt, dear boy. This is a man, after all, who when he wants a synonym for a third world country with superstitious practices, falls back on 'Bongoland'. Not content with being the poor man's Bertrand Russell he's also aiming for the gig of being the poor man's Alan Clark.

That, on the other hand, is not even remotely a fair summary of anything in TGD (or any other works by Dawkins that I have read).
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Surely the FSM argument (in Dawkins' hands) is that the existence of God can in no way be disproved but that there are no better grounds for holding it than for holding the FSM.

I thought you'd read that book a bit quick. What Dawkins means by God is the fundamentalist caricature. I thought the whole of chapter 1 was describing (with a bit of help from Einstein and others) what he refuses to name but that is very close to what I, and perhaps you, mean by God.
quote:
I don't think Dawkins is happy to acknowledge a beyond
Have another look at what he said in this much linked to interview not too long ago:
quote:
[Dawkins] reads [from a dictionary]: “Numinous: divine, spiritual, revealing or indicating the presence of a divinity, awe-inspiring.” A moment’s pause. Then: “I’ll go along with awe-inspiring. Also, aesthetically appealing, uplifting. I’ll go along with aesthetically appealing and uplifting. Those aspects of it, yes. Let’s look for transcendent.”

He finds a definition to do with lying beyond the ordinary range of perception. “That’s probably all OK and I could go along with that. Going beyond the range and grasp of the presently experienced. Maybe transcendent would be a good word to adopt.”

Sounds like beyond to me.
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
And how do we know that we are not in a similar position concerning other moral issues? Usually everybody participating in an IVF procedure is a consenting adult, but is that really sufficient to determine that it is a morally good (or at least neutral) act?

I don't see any moral issue at all with IVF. To me, it's no different from any other couple who decide to have children. We're simply using medical technology to assist, exactly as we do with a variety of procedures which were likely to be fatal in earlier times.
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Surely the FSM argument (in Dawkins' hands) is that the existence of God can in no way be disproved but that there are no better grounds for holding it than for holding the FSM.

I thought you'd read that book a bit quick. What Dawkins means by God is the fundamentalist caricature. I thought the whole of chapter 1 was describing (with a bit of help from Einstein and others) what he refuses to name but that is very close to what I, and perhaps you, mean by God.
Umm, no. Chapter one distinguishes between pantheism (sexed up atheism to use Dawkins' term, what Einstein believed), deism (watered down theism, God lights blue touch paper and retires immediately) and theism (God continues to take an interest in His creation). Dawkins makes it clear that all of them are unsatisfactory but that pantheism and deism are preferable to theism. The title of the book is "The God Delusion", after all, and not "My Search For The Unnameable".

Originally posted by Eliab:

quote:
That, on the other hand, is not even remotely a fair summary of anything in TGD (or any other works by Dawkins that I have read).
Sorry Bongolese, not Bongoland (p319). Still, if that isn't a coded Clarkism then what the hell is?

Dawkins, it might be added, rarely discusses religion as a social phenomenon. The brutality of Afghan political life, for example, might have something to do with the brutality of the various wars which have been waged there since the Soviet invasion in 1978. Dawkins never considers these sorts of possibilities. Religion is not "the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions". It is what "these people" do. Are you really saying that you managed to read the God Delusion without ever noting the occasional condescending tone in Dawkins' voice?
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
I don't see any moral issue at all with IVF.

I do not want to get into a tangent on IVF, but it serves as an example for the general moral problem: you do not see an issue, I do. Who is right? Who will be the judge, and what will this be judged by? Appeal to moral consensus doesn't work if there is no consensus, and might does not make right. You judge IVF moral because it does not violate the Golden Rule concerning the adults involved. I think the Golden Rule is not the only law of morals, and judge IVF immoral because it severs the connection between marriage, sex, and procreation. Dinghy Sailor thinks the Golden Rule is actually being violated concerning the destroyed embryos, hence it's immoral. Now what? Who is the moral authority we are going to appeal to? The majority opinion of the masses? History suggests that this can be a very bad idea...
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
206's Dawkins quote at the top of page 6 baffles me completely.

It's only baffling if you buy into the anti-Dawkins rhetoric. It confirms for me what I've suspected since I first took an interest, and is consistent with the odd paragraph or comment he always seems to include in his output but that his opponents like to overlook.
quote:
On what basis does Dawkins conclude that the overwhelming majority of people in the world are idiots
I think this is where he's deliberately careless with his use of language for effect. I imagine by religious idiots he means people, in all other respects as intelligent or whatever as anyone else, who when it comes to religion behave like idiots. Reason goes out the window. Reading the Ship, I often find it hard not to agree with him.
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Chapter one distinguishes between pantheism (sexed up atheism to use Dawkins' term, what Einstein believed), deism (watered down theism, God lights blue touch paper and retires immediately) and theism (God continues to take an interest in His creation).

These simplistic classifications were the first weakness I picked up in the book. He only provides himself with these options, so he lumps Einstein in with pantheism. My reading of Einstein, which seems very close to Dawkins' own understanding in the interview, seems not at all pantheistic. He's using the wrong label; what Einstein and he actually describe is very close to what I think of as an appreciation of God.
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Who is the moral authority we are going to appeal to? The majority opinion of the masses? History suggests that this can be a very bad idea...

I think there probably is an objective morality, but no moral way of enforcing it. If it depends on belief in God as creator, and I suspect it does, we can't legitimately appeal to it when talking to non-believers. So in practice we have no alternative but to rely on negotiated agreement and try to learn from history what works. And what doesn't.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
That, on the other hand, is not even remotely a fair summary of anything in TGD (or any other works by Dawkins that I have read).
Sorry Bongolese, not Bongoland (p319). Still, if that isn't a coded Clarkism then what the hell is?
What 'Bongolese' is, is a silly, made-up word used in the context of giving a made-up example of something that would be a silly thing to say.

What I thought was unfair in your post was the suggestion (that is to say, cheapshot) that Dawkins is some sort of nineteenth century Tory who considers non-CofE believers "below the salt" - with no more apparent basis than his (supposed) relative comfortableness with and affection for the Church of England, because there's absolutely nothing in any of his books to suggest that this is in the slightest bit true.

As I'm quite sure that I have more affection for the Anglican church than Richard Dawkins does, and I'm willing to bet that you do as well, both of us could be mocked as nineteenth century Tories with equal (in)justice on precisely the same grounds.

Anyway, I thought we'd agreed that he was a Whig?

quote:
Are you really saying that you managed to read the God Delusion without ever noting the occasional condescending tone in Dawkins' voice?
I'm a lawyer. Condescension is part of my normal discourse. Why should I object to it in others?

In fact, I don't think Dawkins' intent is condescending, even if his rhetoric occasionally suggests it. He thinks that I (as a religious believer) am absurdly wrong, but has sufficient respect for me to think that it matters that I am so wrong, and that I am at least capable of being open to persuasion about where I am wrong. I don't think that is a condescending approach at all.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Can't pass this one up.

quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Who is the moral authority we are going to appeal to? The majority opinion of the masses? History suggests that this can be a very bad idea...

History suggests its a worse idea to let a extreme minority opinion dictate morality.

Emphasis on the word "dictate".
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Compare and contrast:

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
It's only baffling if you buy into the anti-Dawkins rhetoric.

And

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
I think this is where he's deliberately careless with his use of language for effect.

There. Right there is the problem. With one hand, you dismiss considered criticism of Dawkins as "rhetoric". When we try and pin down what, underneath the bluster, he actually means then, it turns out he is actually deliberately careless with his language.

Remind me - what was "rhetoric" again?

Again, no-one has supplied any evidence to suggest that Dawkins' sweeping rejection of the overwhelming majority of the faith of religious people in the world is based on anything more than a hunch (personally I think it is closer to a chip on his shoulder, actually). I think most of us on this forum would clap and cheer if Dawkins wrote a book vilifying fundamentalism in all its forms and praising the more common non-fundamentalist expressions of faith - I know I would. The world has far too much fundamentalism, and it is dangerous and nasty. But this is not what Dawkins does - he claims faith is irrational and God is a delusion. He cannot explain why colleagues disagree with him (many of whom have written careful explanations regarding faith and religion), beyond saying (in last year's Newsnight interview) that they must compartmentalise their faith from the normal part of their brains. Or that they don't know their own minds and don't mean what they say. Many times I have asked of people "yeah, but doesn't he really mean fundamentalism?" And back comes the answer - "No. He doesn't".

If none of the Dawkins supporters can actually supply evidence that he is not working on prejudice and hunches, I'll get round to eating that humble pie. But at the moment (purely from my perspective, Mr Marshall, lest you take offence) Dawkins' arguments have fallen, and the charges against him that started the thread very much stand.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
With one hand, you dismiss considered criticism of Dawkins as "rhetoric".

No, I've disagreed with your criticism, and said why.
quote:
When we try and pin down what, underneath the bluster, he actually means then, it turns out he is actually deliberately careless with his language.
Who do you mean, we? I hadn't noticed anyone appointing you to speak for them...

If you look at the context, what I suggested was deliberate carelessness was a throw-away comment, perhaps said with a smile to the journalist he'd been talking to for an hour, at the end of the interview that's been linked to. Different situation, different context to the book.
quote:
no-one has supplied any evidence to suggest that Dawkins' sweeping rejection of the overwhelming majority of the faith of religious people in the world is based on anything more than a hunch
Er, wait, hasn't he written a book explaining that in some detail? Some people have read that, plus the links to the interview. What exactly are you thinking is missing? How could you get more accurate information about what Richard Dawkins thinks without doing a PhD on him?
quote:
I think most of us on this forum would clap and cheer if Dawkins wrote a book vilifying fundamentalism in all its forms and praising the more common non-fundamentalist expressions of faith - I know I would.
Who would clap and cheer? Are you a cheerleader now?
quote:
But this is not what Dawkins does - he claims faith is irrational and God is a delusion.
Without reading the book, you don't know how he defines 'faith' or 'God'. It is confusing, but there's no way round it if want to know what he means.
quote:
He cannot explain why colleagues disagree with him (many of whom have written careful explanations regarding faith and religion)
Er, why should he be able to? He might work with people who think for themselves and don't always tell him when or why they disagree.
quote:
Many times I have asked of people "yeah, but doesn't he really mean fundamentalism?" And back comes the answer - "No. He doesn't".
And you assess Dawkins on the basis of what they think, rather than make up your own mind based on, oh, I don't know, what Dawkins says himself?
quote:
I'll get round to eating that humble pie.
Get eating.
quote:
But at the moment (purely from my perspective, Mr Marshall, lest you take offence) Dawkins' arguments have fallen, and the charges against him that started the thread very much stand.
A final piece of bullshit to top a pile of crap. It's OK, you don't need to make special mention that you're only speaking for you. Most people never seem to imagine they're speaking for anyone else. I should probably have left your post to speak for itself, but there you go. I won't be replying to you again.

[ 30. May 2007, 18:10: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
What a charming reply, Dave. Despite repeatedly asking - specifically - if Dawkins has any evidence that the views of the overwhelming majority of religious people are idiots, you chose to respond with a "go and read the book". Which, given that a lot of people on this thread have read the book and no-one has supplied any evidence on this particular point, I think I can safely take as a "no" then.

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
If you look at the context, what I suggested was deliberate carelessness was a throw-away comment, perhaps said with a smile to the journalist he'd been talking to for an hour, at the end of the interview that's been linked to. Different situation, different context to the book

Er... but this is exactly the same point that he made in the Times article which started this thread, and (crucially) is also his new introduction to the paperback edition. Which was my original point - those words were carefully considered. And ARE in the book.

I think the rudeness of your last post speaks for itself, and the cheerleader comment had my jaw on the floor. Although it is not particularly edifying, I will confess I shan't miss any more of your character assasinations and, er, bizarre lashings out. And (not that I think it needs stating, but just in case) I never think I'm speaking for anyone but me, but since you have it in your head that I do, I made the reference in the last post.

I hope that other posters who are admirers of Dawkins do have a go at answering the questions though, since they are sincerely asked.
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
I hope that other posters who are admirers of Dawkins do have a go at answering the questions though, since they are sincerely asked.
I admire Dawkins because he's a 'player' who managed to devise for himself a public platform and IMO he makes some points theists should consider.

Unfortunately, ISTM, in this 'media age' hyperbole is nearly a necessity in order to get attention and Dawkins understands that well; perhaps too well.

I'm not sure we'd be discussing him if he wasn't willing to make outlandish statements. From his standpoint: what's a guy to do?
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by 206:
I admire Dawkins because he's a 'player' who managed to devise for himself a public platform and IMO he makes some points theists should consider.

Unfortunately, ISTM, in this 'media age' hyperbole is nearly a necessity in order to get attention and Dawkins understands that well; perhaps too well.

I'm not sure we'd be discussing him if he wasn't willing to make outlandish statements. From his standpoint: what's a guy to do?

A dilemma, perhaps. But by making outlandish statements of course he undermines his scientific reputation. Would a (much more justifiable) attack on fundamentalism have been SO bad? It could certainly be supported from science, and it would no doubt generate headlines without compromising his reputation.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Despite repeatedly asking - specifically - if Dawkins has any evidence that the views of the overwhelming majority of religious people are idiots, you chose to respond with a "go and read the book".

I know you'll be disappointed, but not replying doesn't mean I won't be correcting errors and misrepresentations.

In this case, the "go read the book" suggestion was a response to you asking for evidence that "Dawkins' sweeping rejection of the overwhelming majority of the faith of religious people in the world is based on anything more than a hunch".

Nothing to worry about though.
quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
If you look at the context, what I suggested was deliberate carelessness was a throw-away comment, perhaps said with a smile to the journalist he'd been talking to for an hour, at the end of the interview that's been linked to. Different situation, different context to the book

Er... but this is exactly the same point that he made in the Times article which started this thread, and (crucially) is also his new introduction to the paperback edition. Which was my original point - those words were carefully considered. And ARE in the book.
Again, not something to worry about, but there's no mention of religious idiots in The Times article. Dawkins says "the melancholy truth is that decent, understated religion is numerically negligible" (discussed earlier I think) but not what you say he's said. Why am I not surprised?
quote:
Although it is not particularly edifying, I will confess I shan't miss any more of your character assasinations and, er, bizarre lashings out.
I don't know quite how to put this, but I've only reflected what's been in your posts. If you think that's said anything about your character, maybe it's not me that's responsible. I've said nothing bizarre; it's only been the blatant half-truths and untruths that litter your posts that have had me offering a view on their lack of usefulness.
quote:
I never think I'm speaking for anyone but me, but since you have it in your head that I do, I made the reference in the last post.

[Killing me] Hmm. Now that is bizarre.
quote:
I hope that other posters who are admirers of Dawkins do have a go at answering the questions though, since they are sincerely asked.
I'll just note after that message that what with your attempt to dredge up dirt on what was for many people an uncomfortable episode (Chris Brain and the NOS), your anti-Martin Durkin crusade with the Climate Change thread, and your continuing efforts at fermenting hostility here towards Richard Dawkins (after people who have read the book and interview have articulated a fairly clear picture of his actual position), I'm a little unsure what you mean by sincere.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
It's no big surprise that by and large people who have read the book agree with Dawkins; who else would read the blasted thing except people who are predisposed to agree with him in the first place? People who have read what he has said in various other forums (fora?) and found it wanting are unlikely to run out and buy or borrow the book. With enough good things to read out there, who wants to read what promises to be dreck?

Thus, continual harping on the "everybody who has read it says blah blah blah" angle grows most tedious given this fact.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Yeah it was only number 4 on the New York Times best seller list for 16 weeks. Apparently there are enough athiests to drive a book to number 4.

Yeah, right.

We don't care if you don't want to read it. But to not read it and then weigh in as if you know what it says is the stupid part.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
Are you saying everybody who bought it had heard him on other forums and decided he was a windbag, and still went and bought it anyway? That was my claim, not that only atheists read it. Reading for meaning: it's not just for theists anymore.

At any rate I was referring to the people on this thread, not to the great unwashed. Let's try not to drag in irrelevant statistics.

[ 30. May 2007, 23:21: Message edited by: MouseThief ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Yeah it was only number 4 on the New York Times best seller list for 16 weeks. Apparently there are enough athiests to drive a book to number 4.

Yeah, right.

Of course there fucking are.

Although I suspect a lot of the people who bought it were theists wanting a laugh.

[ 31. May 2007, 00:46: Message edited by: Papio ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
weigh in as if you know what it says is the stupid part.

We know what he has said in his approximatel;y 545421757541451753415671375 newspaper articles on the fucking subject. Why would the book be different?

Oh, and athiests are a persecuted and tiny minority? [Killing me] [Killing me] [Killing me]
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Oh, and athiests are a persecuted and tiny minority? [Killing me] [Killing me] [Killing me]

I think you might be missing the situation in USA. It's been well established that they are unpopular and untrustworthy in the eyes of the general population. That in itself is a form of persecution: saying someone is untrustworthy because he/she's an atheist.

They are unquestionably a tiny minority in USA.

Gallup Poll results
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
I do not want to get into a tangent on IVF, but it serves as an example for the general moral problem: you do not see an issue, I do. Who is right? Who will be the judge, and what will this be judged by? Appeal to moral consensus doesn't work if there is no consensus, and might does not make right.

Ok, I agree with not derailing this - even though the Dawkins aspect is becoming a little repetitive - but this is why we have ethics committees. Someone definitely has to decide these questions and I agree that seeking a consensus is hopeless. Pity is for your crowd that the vast majority of medical doctors are on my team.

Unlucky; you've had 1900-odd years of doing the morality bit, it's our turn now! [Smile] Objective morality from a subjective perspective - atheists are great!
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Objective morality from a subjective perspective - atheists are great!

Didn't work for Kant, and with all due respect, he's a zillion times smarter than any atheists I've ever met.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Oh, and athiests are a persecuted and tiny minority? [Killing me] [Killing me] [Killing me]

I think you might be missing the situation in USA. It's been well established that they are unpopular and untrustworthy in the eyes of the general population. That in itself is a form of persecution: saying someone is untrustworthy because he/she's an atheist.

They are unquestionably a tiny minority in USA.

Gallup Poll results

From the article:

quote:
Catholic
95
4

Black
94
5

Jewish
92
7

A woman
88
11

Hispanic
87
12

Mormon
72
24

Married for the third time
67
30

72 years of age
57
42

A homosexual
55
43

An atheist
45
53



It would be interesting to see comparable figure for the UK. Personally, not a single one of those things would make either a positive or a negative difference in how I voted. Likewise, I couldn't really care less whether the person is a Christian or not. I don't personally vote for an individual anyway. I'll vote the party who in my estimation have the most sensible policies...

On the actual point that you were refuting, I'll concede defeat. However, athiests are so numerous in the UK that I find it hard to imagine a situation in which they hardly exist. Maybe I should travel more.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Sorry, just realised that it may look as though I question the Christianity of Catholics, there...

I don't and I wasn't. Just to clear that up.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
Yes atheists are despised in America by roughly the same slice of the population as actually fits the description Dawkins has given of religious people. Sadly for his rhetoric, but thankfully for the sake of atheists in the USA, that number is not nearly so large as some people would have you believe.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
but this is why we have ethics committees. Someone definitely has to decide these questions and I agree that seeking a consensus is hopeless.

Oh, goody. Morals by committee. It's our finest and brightest who love sitting on committees. Whatever could go wrong... [Roll Eyes]

quote:
Originally posted by The Atheist:
Unlucky; you've had 1900-odd years of doing the morality bit, it's our turn now! [Smile] Objective morality from a subjective perspective - atheists are great!

Great at what? Self-contradictory slogans? The ethics committees at universities and medical centers are practical affairs. Mostly it's about limiting harm to what is necessary, informed consent, etc. And about obeying a thousand rules and regulations... Ethics committees are not much engaged in advancing philosophical ethics, actually. Which brings us to the point: whether for example IVF is immoral or not in our system ends up as the question whether it is deemed illegal or not. And that question is eventually put to parliament, at least if enough people feel concerned. So if you feel confident that politicians on the lookout for re-election are good guardians of morals, then everything is fine.

And the "us vs. them" crap doesn't really cut it for an atheist humanist, as I thought you were. Disagreement in a few points today doesn't change the fact that historically Western humanism derives from Christian morals, and that it still agrees to 95% with its source. It's a different issue if you are possessed by the utilitarian demon, like Peter Singer. Then indeed it's moral Mad Max time.
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Disagreement in a few points today doesn't change the fact that historically Western humanism derives from Christian morals,
Bollocks!

Morals arose indepedently in societies all round the world, as a result of Natural Selection, and hence demonstrate a remarkable similarity: ie Marriage ceremonies; strictures against killing; notions of ownership (communal or individual) with proscribed penalties for transgressions; initiation into adulthood; etc.,etc,etc..... with consequent mythologies to support the various behavioural expectations.

I don't recall any passage in the Bible saying Thou Shall Not Own Slaves - although I am aware of a number of passages in support; not to mention persecution of homosexuals and the oppression of women. Our modern morality has come about despite Christianity - not because of it !

S-E

[ 31. May 2007, 09:19: Message edited by: Socratic-enigma ]
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
I think you'd struggle to demonstrate that the Enlightenment had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity.
 
Posted by Divine Outlaw Dwarf (# 2252) on :
 
IngoB, do you believe that human beings can truly know the (natural) good quite apart from divine revelation? That seems a fairly Catholic sort of thought, and I'm not clear that the position you are arguing on this thread sits very comfortably with it.
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Originally posted by Callan:
quote:
I think you'd struggle to demonstrate that the Enlightenment had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity.
No
I wouldn't.

If you read much of Galileo's writings, it is evident that he may well have been non-religious had he lived in a more civilized time (when they didn't burn atheists); His discoveries are clearly motivated by curiosity and a sense of wonder - not by any desire to proclaim the majesty of God; Locke may have utilised a religious motif to germinate his concept of rights, but Rousseau arrived at a similar conclusion by simple observation of the natural world and conjecture on its implications; It is completely irrelevant to the work of David Hume; and whatever Christian acknowledgement certain notable characters might make, their contributions may well be said to be despite this, than because of it.

Christianity's greatest contribution to the Enlightenment was to splinter as a result of squabbling over doctrine which somewhat mitigated its power and influence.

S-E
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:

quote:
If you read much of Galileo's writings, it is evident that he may well have been non-religious had he lived in a more civilized time (when they didn't burn atheists); His discoveries are clearly motivated by curiosity and a sense of wonder - not by any desire to proclaim the majesty of God; Locke may have utilised a religious motif to germinate his concept of rights, but Rousseau arrived at a similar conclusion by simple observation of the natural world and conjecture on its implications; It is completely irrelevant to the work of David Hume; and whatever Christian acknowledgement certain notable characters might make, their contributions may well be said to be despite this, than because of it.
That might be true of Galileo, but it wouldn't be true of Newton. Rousseau's 'Confession of a Savoyard Preacher' owes rather a lot to Pascal and to the fideism of his native Geneva. And I'll see your David Hume and raise you an Immanuel Kant.

More generally, a lot of Enlightenment doctrines started off being put forward by Christians and were then taken up and radicalised by Deists and sceptics. It doesn't really disprove Christian influence to say that non-Christians found non-Christian arguments for an idea already promulgated by Christians.
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
I don't recall any passage in the Bible saying Thou Shall Not Own Slaves - although I am aware of a number of passages in support; not to mention persecution of homosexuals and the oppression of women. Our modern morality has come about despite Christianity - not because of it !

Right ... because there was no significant Christian involvement in the movements for the emancipation of slaves or the rights of women, was there?

[ 31. May 2007, 10:04: Message edited by: Trudy Scrumptious ]
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
I don't recall any passage in the Bible saying Thou Shall Not Own Slaves - although I am aware of a number of passages in support; not to mention persecution of homosexuals and the oppression of women. Our modern morality has come about despite Christianity - not because of it !

If you assumed that Christian thought is limited to transcribing passages from the Bible, then that would be a valid argument.

As Christian thought isn't actually limited to doing that, it is less so.
There is a history that can be told about the development of concepts such as universal charity, human rights, the importance of the individual person, the importance of everyday life as opposed to elite leisure pursuits - a history which would feature Augustine, Aquinas, Vitoria and de las Casas, Grotius, the early Puritan preachers, and Locke.

Dafyd

(For the curious, I am thinking here of Charles Taylor's Sources of the Self.)
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Originally posted by Callan:
quote:
That might be true of Galileo, but it wouldn't be true of Newton.
Ah, the Christian's favorite... So how go the endeavours in discovering the philosopher's stone???
There is little (if any) reference to God in Newton's 'Principia Philosophiae', and one's personal foibles have often not been an encumberance to significant discoveries.
OK, I was being a little facetious earlier (comments such as 'Everything we are is because of Christianity' or some such always get up my goat!); but you've now started an interesting tangent.

Just what were the significant and positive outcomes from the 'Enlightenment Period'

Physics? Chemistry? Modern Economics? The goal of Universal Education? Democracy?

And just what do any of these have to do with Christianity?

Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
quote:
Right ... because there was no significant Christian involvement in the movements for the emancipation of slaves or the rights of women, was there?
And that significant Christian involvement came about because of discussion between people despite what was written in the Bible - which sort of leads to:

"Do you need the Bible at all?"


S-E
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Locke may have utilised a religious motif to germinate his concept of rights, but Rousseau arrived at a similar conclusion by simple observation of the natural world and conjecture on its implications; It is completely irrelevant to the work of David Hume; and whatever Christian acknowledgement certain notable characters might make, their contributions may well be said to be despite this, than because of it.

Most of these thinkers, it is true, set out their work as if they were arguing from simple observation of the natural world and human behaviour. Any intelligent undergraduate philosopher will be able to point out where they read into the natural world features of the morality that they already believe.
They claim to be deriving their morality from first principles and observation, but their first principles and observation are heavily interpreted by their intellectual history. Thus Locke's natural man looks like a puritan freeholder; Hume's like a member of the English landed gentry. Rousseau's is somewhat more alien, it's true. So is Hobbes.

Of these figures, Locke is intentionally closest to the Christian tradition, and he is also closest to modern liberalism. Hobbes obviously isn't a liberal; neither is Hume (who is quite happy with the progress of humanity to his current society, but whose principles are inimical to any further reform). Rousseau's ideas have been notoriously influential on totalitarian governments from the French Revolution onward.

Bentham owes his deepest assumptions about human nature to Locke, although he correctly points out that Locke's claims about natural rights are nonsense on a purely natural level; but Mill, although himself an atheist, explicitly acknowledged a debt to Coleridge, a Christian. (Coleridge obviously owes something to Shaftesbury, who I think was a deist, but Shaftesbury's intellectual ancestors are Christian again. Shaftesbury's ideas are completely alien to any earlier society.)

Dafyd
 
Posted by The Atheist (# 12067) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
And the "us vs. them" crap doesn't really cut it for an atheist humanist, as I thought you were. Disagreement in a few points today doesn't change the fact that historically Western humanism derives from Christian morals, and that it still agrees to 95% with its source.

Just as christianity gets its own morals from judaism... Not to mention, as Socratic has, that morality has arisen in many places without Jesus' input.

Actually, I kinda hoped the smiley would give it away that I was making a jest about atheist morality - I belabour the point often enough that atheists don't have an anything.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Morals arose indepedently in societies all round the world, as a result of Natural Selection, and hence demonstrate a remarkable similarity: ie Marriage ceremonies; strictures against killing; notions of ownership (communal or individual) with proscribed penalties for transgressions; initiation into adulthood; etc.,etc,etc..... with consequent mythologies to support the various behavioural expectations.

You're speaking of a remarkable similarity, but all the examples you cite show such a degree of generalization and abstraction that it's very hard to see that you're providing any support for any substantial point.
I mean "ownership (communal or individual)" - the variations within that idea are enormous. A village in feudal Europe, a plantation (and slave) owner in the American South pre-civil war, a modern corporation, the ruler of an ancient mesopotamian city-state: in all cases some person or group of people claim some sort of right to
determine what is done with some area of real estate, it is true. But to say that they all operate with our modern notion of property rights is just not the case.

I assume you're expecting somebody to take you up on the implication that in most Western societies we have initiation into adulthood. At what age does this take place?

Dafyd
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Davyd

Of course, all of one's views are molded through the prism of our cultural context; and only a fool would reject another's opinion because of their religious persuasion: But I am struck by a thought -

If some of the major contributors to the Enlightenment happen to be Christians - does it necessarily follow that the Enlightenment came about because of Christianity?

And surely the greatest protector of individual rights is a healthy democracy (with all its limitations), as , at least technically, no-one is above the Law.

And that is a derivation from Ancient Greece is it not?

quote:
At what age does this take place?
Did you miss out on a 21st???

(Just please dont start on the Age of consent/voting/driver's licence etc.,etc. the derivation is clearly cultural going back to a time of formal initiation into adulthood)

S-E

PS
TA said:
quote:
I belabour the point often enough that atheists don't have an anything.
I resent that! I definitely have an something...
(I just haven't worked out what it is yet!)
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
....Oh, and athiests are a persecuted and tiny minority?

Gosh it's nice to actually have facts to support your assertions....

quote:
"Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, homosexuals and other groups as "sharing their vision of American society." Americans are also least willing to let their children marry atheists."

And since you are not American, let me spell it out for you. Homosexuals are often treated like dogshit in America, you wouldn't believe what some fucking idiots say about immigrants nowadays, and Muslims are imprisoned in America just on a whim.

Of course, the EU has its own bigotry, but atheists are treated worse than a broke-dick dog over here.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Divine Outlaw Dwarf:
IngoB, do you believe that human beings can truly know the (natural) good quite apart from divine revelation? That seems a fairly Catholic sort of thought, and I'm not clear that the position you are arguing on this thread sits very comfortably with it.

Yes, I do think human beings can know the natural moral law. But that does not mean it's easy in all or even most cases to find, understand, and apply it. I think the degree of difficulty involved can be quite comparable to knowing the natural physical law. Except that we invest a considerable part of the total resources of society (both financial and human) into investigating the natural physical law, and very little into investigating the natural moral law. With regards to the latter, we mostly make it up as we go along.

There is a tendency to believe that natural moral law implies that people only need to give a moral question some calm and serious thought, and zing, they all arrive at the same correct answer. In reality, for anything but the most trivial moral questions one can only hope that people with considerable life experience and comprehensive training in logics and philosophy can work out a strong consensus opinion in an open discourse with plenty of trial and error. That is, one can only hope for a situation analogous to natural science.

Natural moral law simply means that there is an objective morality, and that humans can find, understand, and apply it. It does not mean that we have it at our ready disposal.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
If some of the major contributors to the Enlightenment happen to be Christians - does it necessarily follow that the Enlightenment came about because of Christianity?

No, it doesn't. If however they were invoking ideas derived from the variants of Christian theology they were familiar with, or recognisably close to those ideas, when they expounded those ideas then there is a strong presumption in favour of the claim.
I think most people would assent to the claim that Maxwell would not have discovered his laws without the example of Newton; the claim is not much weaker.

quote:

And surely the greatest protector of individual rights is a healthy democracy (with all its limitations), as , at least technically, no-one is above the Law.

And that is a derivation from Ancient Greece is it not?

I would think that someone called Socratic-Enigma would appreciate the difficulty in considering the Athenian democracy a protector of human rights.

Technically Athens was an oligarchy, as was the Venetian republic. People tend not to refer to it in the Renaissance or early Enlightenment in support of democratic ideas - the most prestigious Athenian authors (Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, the playwrights) saw democracy as the foolish led by the dishonest by sophistry. Thucydides' account had a great influence on Hobbes.
(I'm not sure at what point people started to look back and say 'Athens was a democracy and so is the UK; Athens was wonderful therefore we must be too...' I'd guess the Victorians.)
The Roman republic was probably more influential; nevertheless, my understanding is that an examination of the writings of the period finds that the universal brotherhood of all men[sic] as children of one heavenly father ('when Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman') was at least as influential as the example of ancient Rome or the Italian republics.

quote:
Did you miss out on a 21st???
It was not terribly different from my 20th and my 18th and my 16th and my... My family neither cut me loose nor awarded me any new privileges or responsibilities.
My sister was out of the country on her 21st and never had any major celebration.

quote:
[QB]
(Just please dont start on the Age of consent/voting/driver's licence etc.,etc. the derivation is clearly cultural going back to a time of formal initiation into adulthood)
/QB]

Why shouldn't I start on those? Someone at 20 has pretty much got all the appurtenances of adulthood - and will continue to do so even if they never celebrate their 21st.
The 21st is exactly what you say: a cultural fossil[1]. It's not a sign of an independent universal derived from natural selection.
You might be better off saying that all societies (of certain types) mark what they consider significant rites of passage. Even then, there are a lot of exceptions. And I would think that the natural selection explanations tend to towards Just So stories.

Dafyd

[1] I don't know the history though. I think it's a trace of the legal age at which a man could inherit property (in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) which has since been moved down again. In Elizabethan England, adulthood (for men) was considered to start at 15. I'm not aware of any formal ceremonies to celebrate it though. If medieval or Renaissance Europe had such a ceremony it would have been confirmation - which to my knowledge was not considered to have any secular relevance.

[ 31. May 2007, 13:15: Message edited by: Dafyd ]
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Dave, I wonder if we speak the same language. Clearly neither one of us remotely understands the other. Certainly you have misprepresented me, and I am very bored and pissed off with it. I have also formally abandoned hope on getting any answers to my questions from yourself, as they are just met with more abuse.

If you wish to continue in any constructive manner at all, please do PM me.
 
Posted by Divine Outlaw Dwarf (# 2252) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:

Natural moral law simply means that there is an objective morality, and that humans can find, understand, and apply it. It does not mean that we have it at our ready disposal.

I agree with that.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
....Oh, and athiests are a persecuted and tiny minority?

Gosh it's nice to actually have facts to support your assertions....
Interesting that you equate "least trusted" with "persecuted". What other words do you use in ways completely different from other folks?
 
Posted by Makepiece (# 10454) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Davyd

Of course, all of one's views are molded through the prism of our cultural context; and only a fool would reject another's opinion because of their religious persuasion: But I am struck by a thought -

If some of the major contributors to the Enlightenment happen to be Christians - does it necessarily follow that the Enlightenment came about because of Christianity?

And surely the greatest protector of individual rights is a healthy democracy (with all its limitations), as , at least technically, no-one is above the Law.

And that is a derivation from Ancient Greece is it not?

quote:
At what age does this take place?
Did you miss out on a 21st???

(Just please dont start on the Age of consent/voting/driver's licence etc.,etc. the derivation is clearly cultural going back to a time of formal initiation into adulthood)

S-E

PS
TA said:
quote:
I belabour the point often enough that atheists don't have an anything.
I resent that! I definitely have an something...
(I just haven't worked out what it is yet!)

Don't you think it's strange though that the enlightenment followed on naturally from the reformation? Protestants promoted freedom of belief because they valued genuine belief. It was grace that had the freedom to accomodate other beliefs. Liberal democracy (including it's imperfections) clearly has it's roots in the reformation; the first of such countries had protestant roots. OK I know France is a tricky one but lets face in spite of the OTT revolution democracy struggled in France (including Napoleon and Vichy).
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Gee, MT, I didn't see that one coming. [Roll Eyes] You're getting very predictable in your old age.

If you can't do the math and see that "least trusted" doesn't equate to "persecuted" in the real world, then you probably have other failings.

Why do you think Dawkins et al is writing this? It's because athiests are abused if they out themselves. The various attitudes such as "not willing to marry my daugher" and so on demonstrate it. He's trying to get atheists to come out of the closet.

But since you are a member of the persecuting class, I wouldn't expect you to really understand, so go ahead and think what you want.

[ 31. May 2007, 21:01: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
Yes, I'm so evil and wicked to atheists. Buy, rent, lease, beg, borrow, or steal a grip.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
PS only probably? I definitely have many, many other failings. And am man enough to admit it. [Razz]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Oh we know your failings.

The question is not whether you are man enough to admit it, but are man enough to correct it?

[Razz]
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Certainly you have misprepresented me, and I am very bored and pissed off with it.

I don't believe I have misrepresented you at all. If you think differently, show where and how and I will apologise publicly. No need for PMs.

[ 31. May 2007, 21:38: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
MadGeo, I think MouseThief has a pretty valid question (not to jump in on the fun you two have baiting each other). Outside of a static "thought experiment" type survey where people are asked "Whom do you trust least?" what evidence do you have that atheists are actually persecuted in real life. I can see how a lot of religious (probably most of them nominally religious) Americans might feel that atheists are "not trustworthy" if put on the spot and asked about it -- i.e. they don't like the idea of atheists. But does that translate into actually treating the atheists they encounter every day any differently? Are there a lot of examples of atheists being fired from jobs or not allowed to buy homes in a neighbourhood simply because of their unbeliefs?

I don't want to distrust these widely-quoted statistics, and the US may indeed be a bizarrely different place from Canada, but having lived much of my life in an environment where atheism was considered pretty normal and active religious belief greeted with a tolerant/bemused smile ("isn't it funny how many people really believe that stuff?" is the sort of comment I'm used to hearing in connection with religious faith) ... it's hard for me to believe that even if those attitudes DO exist, they translate into real "persecution" for a lot of atheists.
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
quote:
Right ... because there was no significant Christian involvement in the movements for the emancipation of slaves or the rights of women, was there?
And that significant Christian involvement came about because of discussion between people despite what was written in the Bible - which sort of leads to:

"Do you need the Bible at all?"

Or, you might argue, that it came about because of Christians applying the principles of Scripture and the spirit of Jesus' life and teaching, rather than adhering to a slavish literalism about the specific rules and regulations given to govern particular communities several thousand years ago.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
It is indeed subtle. No one is being lynched, no one is probably losing pay, but then almost no one will admit it either.

quote:
"I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots." - Bush, the Greater
An athiest would have gone to prison.

The texas Bill of Rights allows people to be excluded from holding office on religious grounds

Yikes

A long list.

More

Discrimination Lawsuit won.

Funny, but not

Many offices require an oath to God. No dice.


The long story short is like any faction that is persecuted, not everyone comes forward to admit what they are. Athiests do not have a color to descriminate against, or wear funny hats that identify them. It is easy to hide. It is also not easy to buck a society that is so Christian. And yes, we are very different from Canada in that regard.

Atheists are often on the high end of intelligence (not that theists aren't btw). It is not surprising that they also can fool people into leaving them alone. However, it doesn't make it pleasant.

Speaking as a Buddhist, I wrestle with who I can tell, or not, daily. Even here on the Ship there are assholes that will attack you for being different, and assholes that think they know better. Atheists have it worse I suspect.

Just look at the way Dawkins is handled. Granted he attracts it towards himself, but I can't help but wonder if he were rabidly defending Christinaity if he would get pilloried as much.
 
Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Just look at the way Dawkins is handled. Granted he attracts it towards himself, but I can't help but wonder if he were rabidly defending Christinaity if he would get pilloried as much.

He wouldn't sell anywhere near as many books.

Though I have to report that I just bought a remaindered copy of the Devil's Chaplain book for two quid.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Maybe not in UK, over here we have "Left Behind" and "The Purpose Driven Life" pounding the Best Seller lists, etc.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Maybe not in UK, over here we have "Left Behind" and "The Purpose Driven Life" pounding the Best Seller lists, etc.

Bought, I don't doubt, by exactly the same people that pushed Dawkins into the bestseller list.

And please. A Christian nation? It is to laugh. Post-Christian maybe. A lot of people say they "believe in God" but how much difference does it make in most people's lives? It hardly makes any difference in most Christians' lives.

And quoting Bush to prove atheists have it hard is just a little silly. If anybody ever did take him seriously (and sadly many did) those days are over. Only the die-hard fundies still back him, and they're a rather small (if vocal) minority.

And you can't rely on the news to show you the religious timbre of the nation. What gets on the news are the nutjobs, because sensationalism sells. The vast majority of quiet, respectable, normal people from any group -- Christians, gays, Buddhists, you name it -- never get into the news. Except maybe on NPR.

I have five kids. I can rank them in how much I trust them. The one I trust the least, however, I do not persecute, nor does this lack of trust equate into persecution.

And I wonder how much of it is just plain old ignorance. Most people in this country are still settling into the idea that gays aren't all crazies that spend endless nights having meaningless sex in bathhouses, but are by and large an awful lot like you and me. This has taken a long time, and sadly has done a lot of damage to a lot of people. But people are coming around. It would have been impossible to have a show like Will and Grace in the 1970s, for instance.

I think maybe a lot of the negative feelings people have toward atheists is of the same sort. It's not that they know what atheists are like and reject them. It's that they don't know what atheists are like. They probably imagine people with no sense of morals or ethics, or people (however paradoxical it is) who are satanic, or something like that. What they still don't realize is that atheists are a lot like you and me. There are probably a few on your street; they hold jobs and kiss their wives and play baseball with their kids, etc. etc. As this ignorance is overcome, the distrust and dislike will also be overcome.

And then comes Dawkins. I can't think of anything that could do more damage to the cause of improving the public's image of atheists. It makes one think he really is a fundamentalist Christian who is masquerading as an atheist just to make people hate atheists more, or at the very least not hate them less. The man is a walking billboard that screams out, "ATHEISTS SUCK".

[ 01. June 2007, 03:27: Message edited by: MouseThief ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
MT,

Are you tossing back a few over there? The people that would by Left Behind and PTL wouldn't touch Dawkins with a ten foot pole. And vice versa.

As for a Christian nation, well if you're right, could you please notify the assholes trying to roll back abortion, sex, gays rights, etc, etc. and simultaneously put the 10 Commandments in every room, and stop medical treatments like HPV and stem cell research?

Thanks, apparently all those heathens you think are out there, didn't get the memo.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
Sorry. There are some noisy fundamentalists trying to do X, Y, and Z is not equal to this is a Christian country. Maybe next time, ol' pal.
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
As for a Christian nation, well if you're right, could you please notify the assholes trying to roll back abortion, sex, gays rights, etc, etc. and simultaneously put the 10 Commandments in every room, and stop medical treatments like HPV and stem cell research?

If abortion, sex (before marriage? what?), gay rights, HPV, stem cell research, etc. were atheist agendas, opposed by all Christians - then the fact that the US of A is currently allowing all these things would show that atheists are in power and Christians are suppressed.

It's funny how your rhetorics bite you in the butt. For you've also claimed that atheists are numerically a small minority. So if they determine US politics, as you claim, then in fact atheists are currently dictators in the US, lording it over the Christian masses...
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
I think (as Mad Geo) has pointed out, there is an awful lot of evidence to support that ascertation that hostility and suspicion are targetted at atheists in the US. I suspect a good deal of this is wrapped up in resudiual cold war / communist bashing? You know the thing - Communists are Not Like Us and are Atheists, ergo Atheists are Not Like Us?

Several people have suggested that this is a primary motivation for The God Delusion, to be a "coming out of the closet" rallying call for all those with atheist tendancies. This theory would certainly make sense. But if (as a quite a few of us here seem to think along with McGrath et al) that in order to generate the PR, Dawkins has had to inflate the arguments beyond science and logic into rhetoric, will this move ultimately undermine the atheist cause?
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Maybe not in UK, over here we have "Left Behind" and "The Purpose Driven Life" pounding the Best Seller lists, etc.

New York Times Bestseller List, Hardcover Non-Fiction, for June 1, 2007:

1. GOD IS NOT GREAT, by Christopher Hitchens.
2. EINSTEIN, by Walter Isaacson
3. ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
4. * PLATO AND A PLATYPUS WALK INTO A BAR, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
5. A LONG WAY GONE, by Ishmael Beah

Clearly evangelical Christians have a stranglehold on book publishing and purchase in the US. [Roll Eyes]
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Divine Outlaw Dwarf:
quote:

quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:

Natural moral law simply means that there is an objective morality, and that humans can find, understand, and apply it. It does not mean that we have it at our ready disposal.

I agree with that.
I don't.

As morality is a function of Natural Selection, the behaviour which is beneficial or deleterious for survival will alter depending on the circumstance. One might argue that technically there is a possible objective morality for this point in time, but that is largely irrelevant, particularly if it is accompanied by an inability to modify or abandon these aspects when the situation changes.

quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Don't you think it's strange though that the enlightenment followed on naturally from the reformation? Protestants promoted freedom of belief because they valued genuine belief. It was grace that had the freedom to accomodate other beliefs. Liberal democracy (including it's imperfections) clearly has it's roots in the reformation; the first of such countries had protestant roots. OK I know France is a tricky one but lets face in spite of the OTT revolution democracy struggled in France (including Napoleon and Vichy).

I did actually mention this in an earlier post (albiet somewhat tongue in cheek [Biased] ):
quote:
Christianity's greatest contribution to the Enlightenment was to splinter as a result of squabbling over doctrine which somewhat mitigated its power and influence.
I don't know about naturally, but that it did is something for which we can all be grateful. IMO, the greatest contributor to the Enlightenment was Mister Gutenberg (and in our sphere, Mister Caxton), who enabled the transfer of information, which had hitherto largely been in the realm of a few monks. Not forgetting of course, the enlightened Charles II and his establishment of the 'Royal Society'.

quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
Or, you might argue, that it came about because of Christians applying the principles of Scripture and the spirit of Jesus' life and teaching, rather than adhering to a slavish literalism about the specific rules and regulations given to govern particular communities several thousand years ago.

But the fact that it took 1800 years would suggest that their Christian faith was either incidental or irrelevant and that it was cultural and societal changes which drove the participants: Indeed the Religious Institutions were often slothful in their adherence to changed circumstance: "When did women first have the opportunity to become priests?"

Davyd

I never claimed that Ancient Athens was a 'healthy' democracy (although it largely avoided absolute dictatorships during its 'golden age', even tossing out distinguished statesmen such as Themistocles and Pericles.)

I do not dispute that Christianity has had some influence in our regard for the individual - but to argue that it would not have occured otherwise is mere speculation.

S-E

PS

quote:
4. * PLATO AND A PLATYPUS WALK INTO A BAR, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
This is obviously the fiction section, as no self-respecting Australian Platypus would ever walk into a bar with a 'trumped-up, self-promoting, pompous ass', like Plato [Biased]

[ 01. June 2007, 10:20: Message edited by: Socratic-enigma ]
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
As morality is a function of Natural Selection, the behaviour which is beneficial or deleterious for survival will alter depending on the circumstance. (snip)

I do not dispute that Christianity has had some influence in our regard for the individual - but to argue that it would not have occured otherwise is mere speculation.

I'm conflating your quotes to ask: isn't your assumption the theory of Natural Selection is largely responsible for morality speculation qualitatively the same as Christians assuming their religious revelation is responsible?
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by 206:
I'm conflating your quotes to ask: isn't your assumption the theory of Natural Selection is largely responsible for morality speculation qualitatively the same as Christians assuming their religious revelation is responsible?

A fair question, but no, it is simply implicit within the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

A community which adopted incest as de rigueur would have a far higher rate of genetic abnormalities, ultimately resulting in its demise; hence (as I mentioned earlier) sanctions against incest, adultery, theft, killing (in most circumstances) are common across cultures throughout the world; arising independently, and supported by various mythologies, created primarily for that purpose.

A good starting point is: 'The Biology of Moral Systems'(1986) by Richard Alexander.

S-E
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
quote:
Originally posted by 206:
I'm conflating your quotes to ask: isn't your assumption the theory of Natural Selection is largely responsible for morality speculation qualitatively the same as Christians assuming their religious revelation is responsible?

A fair question, but no, it is simply implicit within the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

When talking about causal factors for morality I see no evidence the theory of Natural Selection is proven a 'truer' explanation than the theory of some 'supernatural moral law' so I guess we'll agree to disagree.

But IMO both theories have merit.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Maybe not in UK, over here we have "Left Behind" and "The Purpose Driven Life" pounding the Best Seller lists, etc.

New York Times Bestseller List, Hardcover Non-Fiction, for June 1, 2007:

1. GOD IS NOT GREAT, by Christopher Hitchens.
2. EINSTEIN, by Walter Isaacson
3. ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
4. * PLATO AND A PLATYPUS WALK INTO A BAR, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
5. A LONG WAY GONE, by Ishmael Beah

Clearly evangelical Christians have a stranglehold on book publishing and purchase in the US. [Roll Eyes]

Sheesh. I didn't say TODAY for Zeus sake. What a cheater.

Look at this:

quote:
<LaHayes>.... current novels, the Left Behind series, co-authored with Jerry B. Jenkins, are the all-time best-selling Christian fiction series. Five books in the series—The Indwelling, The Mark, Desecration, The Remnant, and Armageddon—debuted at number one on the best-seller lists for The New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and The Wall Street Journal, with Desecration attaining the status of top-selling hardcover book for 2001. Series sales have exceeded 57 million copies, including Left Behind: The Kids series and audio products. The highly anticipated twelfth book, Glorious Appearing, released in Spring 2004.
57 million (and that's probably old news). Pulllllease.

From Wikipedia:
quote:
The Purpose Driven Life (2002) is a devotional book written by Christian author Rick Warren and published by Zondervan. The book has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for advice books for 174 weeks (as of May 2006). The book offers readers a 40-day personal spiritual journey, and presents what Warren says are God's five purposes for human life on Earth[1]. As of November 2005, The Purpose Driven Life has been translated into 56 languages and was the bestselling book in the world for 2003, 2004, and 2005. It has been a controversial book among the Christian community.

......The book has sold over 24 million copies (as of October, 2006)[3].......

.....After hostage Ashley Smith read Chapter 32 to her captor Brian Nichols (who shot four people in Atlanta on March 11, 2005), the book hit number one on several religion and advice best-seller lists - including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Publishers Weekly......

Spare me the rhetorical tactics. Christianity has plenty of press here.

quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
[QB] If abortion, sex (before marriage? what?), gay rights, HPV, stem cell research, etc. were atheist agendas, opposed by all Christians - then the fact that the US of A is currently allowing all these things would show that atheists are in power and Christians are suppressed.

Pssst. IngoB.

Christian denominations don't all think like you do. And it was Deists that set the rules up that allow those things currently, not atheists.

Oh, and that is a temporary condition, the Bush "Christian" Regime's damage to liberty (a.k.a. relgious tyranny) isn't done yet.

Oh, and did I mention your agenda is NOT the sole Christian worldview?

Yours happens to agree with the fascist Christian wackjobs in control of the U.S. right now, so don't get too cocky.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Several people have suggested that this is a primary motivation for The God Delusion, to be a "coming out of the closet" rallying call for all those with atheist tendancies. This theory would certainly make sense.

Well, that’s certainly one aim. But it isn’t (and should not be judged as) a rallying call for increased tolerance. Dawkins is attacking the whole concept of faith – in all of its forms. He thinks it is a bad and dangerous way of thinking and wishes to eradicate it from human minds.

The reason he didn’t simply write a book attacking fundamentalism is because fundamentalism as such isn’t his target. He uses fundamentalism as an example of why faith is not merely a harmless delusion, but that isn’t at the heart of his argument. He attacks faith because he thinks it is a delusion, and because he cares about truth. It isn’t an answer to Dawkins that he fails to present a balanced view of religion to weigh up the pros and cons, because that isn’t at all what he is trying to do, and it isn’t what he claims to be doing. The whole section on morality is an answer to an objection, not the main point of the argument, answering the point that religion is valuable because it makes us good. Dawkins shows that it need not do so, but the core of his argument is that religious faith, however inspiring, comforting, culturally valuable or socially useful it may be, is wrong because it is in all probability untrue. His points about that deserve serious thought.

The point bears repeating – Dawkins isn’t trying to describe religion and use a negative view of it to say that it should not be believed. He is answering the supposed question “Shouldn’t we (or at least some people) believe it anyway, if it helps them to be good?” His answer is first “Of course people shouldn’t believe things that aren’t true, and it’s patronising and dishonest to suggest they should on any pretext” and second “And in any case, religion makes a lot of people bad – inevitably so because uncritical belief will always be vulnerable to evil”. Your point, that he could simply have attacked fundamentalism as bad, doesn’t address the argument he is actually making. As you would have had a chance of knowing, had you read the book.

quote:
But if (as a quite a few of us here seem to think along with McGrath et al) that in order to generate the PR, Dawkins has had to inflate the arguments beyond science and logic into rhetoric, will this move ultimately undermine the atheist cause?
A false distinction. Rhetoric is concerned with the expression and association of ideas and the effect of that on a reader or hearer. It isn’t a dirty word, and it does not imply poor logic or science. You can have good logic and bad rhetoric, bad logic and good rhetoric, both good, or both bad.

TGD is a book of rhetoric, and it is good in places, bad in others. Dawkins’ talent for writing is, IMAO, exceptional, and he is at his best when explaining difficult ideas or making a positive, passionate case, and at his worst when writing purely as a controversialist. An example, already cited on the thread, is the link he makes between child abuse and religious education. As science and logic, it is quite sound. What he writes about child abuse (conventionally so called) is measured, sensible and moral. What he condemns about religious education is (on his premises, which I don’t personally accept, of course) defensible. But the explicit comparison, with the conclusion that (some) religious education is worse than (some) child abuse, is shockingly bad rhetoric. Child abuse is so emotive and appalling a topic that it cannot reasonably be used in the hope of adding clarity to the argument, it will inevitably create barriers to understanding and sympathy with a significant part of the readership.

quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
As morality is a function of Natural Selection, the behaviour which is beneficial or deleterious for survival will alter depending on the circumstance. One might argue that technically there is a possible objective morality for this point in time, but that is largely irrelevant, particularly if it is accompanied by an inability to modify or abandon these aspects when the situation changes.

The most reproductively successful human being in all of history (thanks to IngoB for the example) was probably Genghis Khan. If morality is simply a matter of natural selection, and varies depending on what natural selection from time to time requires, then it follows that the Khan was also the most moral person ever to have lived.

I think I’d rather stick with a system that allows me to think on the contrary that he was a bit of an arsehole.

Actually, Richard Dawkins is very good on challenging the association between biologically good and morally right (see The Selfish Gene and everything since). He thinks that there is a Darwinian explanation for the existence of morality, but not a Darwinian justification for the content of morality. He thinks that Genghis Khan was an arsehole too, and no amount of Asian demographics proving Genghis’ fecundity would persuade him otherwise.
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
MadGeo, Christianity has plenty of press, of course. I never said it didn't. Your statement about bestselling books seemed to imply that conservative Christianity has such a stranglehold on US culture that a book like Dawkins' would never sell well in the US. I posted the NYT Bestseller list with "God is Not Great" at the #1 position to suggest that while, yes, there is a strong voice for conservative Chrsitianity in the US, atheists and agnostics are not some tiny persecuted minority who lack a voice and are afraid to speak out.

If you ask me the one thing conservative Christians and atheists have in common (other than an excess of certainty about things that are inherently uncertain) is that both groups like to think of themselves as a persecuted minority when in fact they are nothing of the kind. I have heard so damn much whining from people in both these groups about how they are persecuted, hated, afraid to speak out about their beliefs. They obviously can't both be right. Except that they probably both are, in the sense that people are speaking out of their own personal realities and I'm sure individuals in both groups have had experiences that have made them feel marginalized (and in the rarified atmosphere of peace and freedom we in the West enjoy today, "marginalized" has to stand in for "persecuted" since there's so little real persecution going on).

The fact is that both atheists AND conservative Christians are large, vocal, powerful and influential segments of American society. Their influence tends to move in different circles, that's all. Obviously the people who put God is Not Great on top of the Bestseller list are not the same people who bought 57 million copies of the Left Behind books. And if you're a member of one group, and you live or work where you're surrounded by the other, yeah, you may feel a little put-upon. But the fact is both groups exist, and neither is a tiny voiceless minority, and neither has any serious claim to persecution. Both sides need to get over themselves. Christians at least have the justification that their sacred text tells them they're supposed to be persecuted, so perhaps that's why they go scrounging for instances of mild prejudice that they can dress up as persecution. I don't know what the atheists' excuse for the persecution complex is -- just the urge to grab the moral high ground, I guess.

[ 01. June 2007, 22:24: Message edited by: Trudy Scrumptious ]
 
Posted by Choirboy (# 9659) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
I have heard so damn much whining from people in both these groups about how they are persecuted, hated, afraid to speak out about their beliefs.

[Killing me] [Killing me] [Killing me]

A delicious contradiction....
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Perhaps when I start seeing polls that Christians are more hated in America than Muslims or Homosexuals and people want to keep them from marrying their daughters I'll accept that Atheists are mainstream.

Until then.....good luck with that whole line of reasoning.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
If my daughter were bringing home a potential husband, the questions I would ask would not be "is he an atheist?" or "is he a Christian?" but rather "how does he treat his mother?" and "does he have a job?"
 
Posted by mirrizin (# 11014) on :
 
I'd agree with you, Mad Geo, but I've also walked in social circles where you're almost made to feel ashamed of being religious. I mean, it's not overt or anything...but there's this weird notion that if you're a Christian you must be one of those people...

Not that I'd call that persecution by a long shot, but there's enough negativity going around on both sides to give each argument a a few shreds of justification.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief:
If my daughter were bringing home a potential husband, the questions I would ask would not be "is he an atheist?" or "is he a Christian?" but rather "how does he treat his mother?" and "does he have a job?"

I'd just tell him I have a shotgun, 40 acres, and a shovel. Apparently you are more trusting. [Biased]

Mirrizin, it is not that I can't find bigotry on both sides, hell, some supposed Christians bug the shit outta me at the moment. It's again that one side is not polling lower than Muslims and Homosexuals on the hatred scales.

That simply HAS to be relevant in these discussions.
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
What's relevant in polls is who made up the poll, how they worded the questions, and who they asked. There is no such thing as an unbiased poll.

I think it would be pretty easy to design a poll and target a particular American audience that would end up resulting in a finding that churchgoing Christians are believed to be less intelligent than any other group in America. I don't see atheists being depicted as stupid, obnoxious and worthy of mockery in mainstream American entertainment, for example, to the degree that conservative Christians are. There is no safer target for satire in America than a conservative Christian; no one you can more safely portray on TV or in a movie as an uneducated bigot, than a conservative Christian. Positive depictions of people of faith (especially conservative Christian faith) in the American media and entertainment industry are so rare we have had short-lived threads here with people scratching their heads to come up with examples.

Again, I'm not saying this is evidence that Christians are persecuted and atheists aren't. I'm saying both groups have a certain bias against each other and it's demonstrated in different areas of American society. None of this equals persecution.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
None of THIS equals persecution?

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
It is indeed subtle. No one is being lynched, no one is probably losing pay, but then almost no one will admit it either.

quote:
"I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots." - Bush, the Greater
An athiest would have gone to prison.

The texas Bill of Rights allows people to be excluded from holding office on religious grounds

Yikes

A long list.

More

Discrimination Lawsuit won.

Funny, but not

Many offices require an oath to God. No dice.


The long story short is like any faction that is persecuted, not everyone comes forward to admit what they are. Athiests do not have a color to descriminate against, or wear funny hats that identify them. It is easy to hide. It is also not easy to buck a society that is so Christian. And yes, we are very different from Canada in that regard.

Atheists are often on the high end of intelligence (not that theists aren't btw). It is not surprising that they also can fool people into leaving them alone. However, it doesn't make it pleasant.

Speaking as a Buddhist, I wrestle with who I can tell, or not, daily. Even here on the Ship there are assholes that will attack you for being different, and assholes that think they know better. Atheists have it worse I suspect.

Just look at the way Dawkins is handled. Granted he attracts it towards himself, but I can't help but wonder if he were rabidly defending Christinaity if he would get pilloried as much.

What ever.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
What's relevant in polls is who made up the poll, how they worded the questions, and who they asked. There is no such thing as an unbiased poll.

Feel free to read the University Study.

Seems rather well done to me.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
Wow, so much to quote in that article:

quote:
The core point of this article can be stated concisely. Atheists are at the top of the list of groups that Americans find problematic in both public and private life, and the gap between acceptance of atheists and acceptance of other racial and religious minorities is large and persistent. It is
striking that the rejection of atheists is so much more common than rejection of other stigmatized groups. For example, while rejection of Muslims may have spiked in post-9/11 America,
rejection of atheists was higher.



[ 02. June 2007, 01:23: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
You're really sure you want to use the word "persecution"? I think the appropriate word is "discrimination." And it certainly cuts both ways.

You say that as a Buddhist you wrestle daily with whom to tell. As a Christian, I do too. Big deal. So not everybody accepts and loves us with open arms. It's a hell of a long way from being burned at the stake, which has been done both to Christians, and by Christians to others. Now that's persecution.

I never said the study wasn't good, by the way. I said it wasn't unbiased, because there's no such thing, and another study would be able to get a different result, depending on how they worded the question and who they asked.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
You're really sure you want to use the word "persecution"? I think the appropriate word is "discrimination." And it certainly cuts both ways.....

....I never said the study wasn't good, by the way. I said it wasn't unbiased, because there's no such thing, and another study would be able to get a different result, depending on how they worded the question and who they asked.

Since when is discrimination not a form of persecution? Just because atheists are a quiet discriminated bunch, do you really think that's okie dokie with you?

And your postmodern view of significant research projects by Universities that you happen to also disagree with is fascinating. [Biased]

I am beginning to wonder that if the worm was on the other side of the bottle, and you were the actual discriminated minority, if you would be so cavalier about all this.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
So okay atheists are treated like scum of the earth by every single non-atheist American. Fine. Answer my earlier question: does Dawkins making a perfect prick of himself in the name of atheism help this situation any?
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Eliab, cheers for the last post. A few matters arising...

By your analysis, we seem to have arrived back at the notion that all faith is a delusion as a matter if not of scientific fact, then of scientific extreme probablility. I know this is old ground on this thread, and there was a lot of floating around the concept of "subtle, nuanced" faith but (as I say, if you are correct) then talk of what sort of a faith a person has is irrelevent, isn't it? Faith is delusional and potentially dangerous, end of story.

Now, if Dawkins is using the term "faith" to encompass all religious and spiritual belief, then we are also in trouble in distinguishing what Dawkins terms the philosophy stuff like Budhism (and cross-fertilisation here with the other thread on this). MadGeo has made a valiant defence of his Zen Budhism and appealed to evidence to back up his claims, but I'd be surprised if he claimed there was scientific proof for his brand of ZB. A good deal (reasonably, in my view) comes from the personal experience of the effect it has had on his friend. It may be a different sort of faith from faith in a monotheistic God, but it is nevertheless a faith. So I quickly arrive at an impasse - on the one hand ALL faith is delusional and potentially dangerous, but on the other SOME kinds of faith seem to be OK if we can classify them as a way of life or philosophy? Is the Budhist faith then, NOT a religious faith so therefore falls outside the remit of what he classifies as dangerous? If so, what is the criteria for judging when a faith is religious and / or dangerous? Is Hinduism a religious faith? (all honest questions, BTW)

I agree with your analysis on rhetoric, but the questions above imply that Dawkins may be employing an awful lot of rhetoric on some very basic terms, in fact SO basic that they could make the whole book seem meaningless. I think this is a central point that McGrath makes.

Again the subject is raised on how we should all read the book, and no doubt we'd all have a lot more information and understanding about Dawkins position if we did. But as others have pointed out, I am yet to be convinced in all the interviews and extended quotes / extracts that he is making a coherant case. Indeed, there needs to be an act of faith on the part of those of us Dawkins' doubters that all our questions might somehow be answered. For my own part, I think on the evidence so far Dawkins has caused more heat than light on this debate and quite unecessarily, so I am aversed to giving him any money. When my bulging pile-of-books-to-read has become smaller, I may well give the library a go, though.
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Dawkins is attacking the whole concept of faith – in all of its forms. He thinks it is a bad and dangerous way of thinking and wishes to eradicate it from human minds.

The reason he didn’t simply write a book attacking fundamentalism is because fundamentalism as such isn’t his target. He uses fundamentalism as an example of why faith is not merely a harmless delusion, but that isn’t at the heart of his argument. He attacks faith because he thinks it is a delusion, and because he cares about truth. It isn’t an answer to Dawkins that he fails to present a balanced view of religion to weigh up the pros and cons, because that isn’t at all what he is trying to do, and it isn’t what he claims to be doing. The whole section on morality is an answer to an objection, not the main point of the argument, answering the point that religion is valuable because it makes us good. Dawkins shows that it need not do so, but the core of his argument is that religious faith, however inspiring, comforting, culturally valuable or socially useful it may be, is wrong because it is in all probability untrue. His points about that deserve serious thought.

The point bears repeating – Dawkins isn’t trying to describe religion and use a negative view of it to say that it should not be believed. He is answering the supposed question “Shouldn’t we (or at least some people) believe it anyway, if it helps them to be good?” His answer is first “Of course people shouldn’t believe things that aren’t true, and it’s patronising and dishonest to suggest they should on any pretext” and second “And in any case, religion makes a lot of people bad – inevitably so because uncritical belief will always be vulnerable to evil”. Your point, that he could simply have attacked fundamentalism as bad, doesn’t address the argument he is actually making. As you would have had a chance of knowing, had you read the book.

Which is I think, a reasonable summary of Dawkins' position.

In 'The Selfish Gene', Dawkins compared religion to a virus, which, whils't I understand that many of you find this offensive, is I believe, a useful analogy.

1. Just as a virus would not survive without a host, religion would not survive (and indeed many have not) without its human progenitors/promoters.

2. Viruses utilise a variety of mechanisms for dispersal, as does religion with evangelism, colonization, conquest and sanctions (covert or overt) agains't those who do not comply.

3. Many viruses have benign symptoms in many of their carriers, with only a minority suffering an extreme reaction.
And this may be the crux of Dawkins' argument.

In the 70s many of us believed religion would simply die out; that it was incompatible with a modern scientific world view.
Yet when I returned to University in the 90s, I was amazed at how many young people were members of a Charismatic/ Pentacostal/ Evangelical or Orthodox community; and rejected Evolution:This was in complete contrast to my experience 20 years earlier.

In 'The Root of All Evil', Dawkins asserted that if one did not accept the existence of Adam, and his fall, then the death of Jesus had little meaning. The 'God' to whom I was introduced, through John Robinson's,'Honest to God', may have made the concept more palatable to one trying to accomodate the concept with a modern world view - but it bears little relationship to the God of the Bible. And I think it provided little comfort to those who sought out religion primarily for that purpose.
Hence, the resurgence of a more literal interpretation of the Bible. And it is a position equally as legitimate as any promulgated by the most liberal, open-minded among you.
Because it is completely arbitary.

There is no mechanism to evaluate or determine the accuracy of any claim. So, an acceptance of the most seemingly benign claim is also an advocacy of the most radical.

S-E
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
By your [Eliab's] analysis, we seem to have arrived back at the notion that all faith is a delusion as a matter if not of scientific fact, then of scientific extreme probablility.

No, Dawkins specifically excludes what he calls Einsteinian religion. Eliab's point was that Dawkins attacks 'faith' that relies on what is not true.
quote:
I know this is old ground on this thread, and there was a lot of floating around the concept of "subtle, nuanced" faith but (as I say, if you are correct) then talk of what sort of a faith a person has is irrelevent, isn't it? Faith is delusional and potentially dangerous, end of story.
This only makes sense if you ignore what has already been discussed and not refuted. It's unhelpful rhetoric.
quote:
Now, if Dawkins is using the term "faith" to encompass all religious and spiritual belief
Yes, but we have shown he isn't (chapter 1), so you're perpetuating a straw man argument.
quote:
MadGeo has made a valiant defence of his Zen Budhism and appealed to evidence to back up his claims, but I'd be surprised if he claimed there was scientific proof for his brand of ZB.
Since MG has clearly spelled out a number of times that he knows there's no scientific proof for his religion, it should hardly be a surprise.
quote:
I quickly arrive at an impasse - on the one hand ALL faith is delusional and potentially dangerous, but on the other SOME kinds of faith seem to be OK if we can classify them as a way of life or philosophy? Is the Budhist faith then, NOT a religious faith so therefore falls outside the remit of what he classifies as dangerous? If so, what is the criteria for judging when a faith is religious and / or dangerous? Is Hinduism a religious faith? (all honest questions, BTW)
Honest questions? I'm not sure what that means, but they seem irrelevent to this particular discussion.
quote:
I agree with your analysis on rhetoric, but the questions above imply that Dawkins may be employing an awful lot of rhetoric on some very basic terms, in fact SO basic that they could make the whole book seem meaningless.
If you read Eliab's post, you'd notice that he explains why the fact that something is rhetoric says nothing about whether it's meaningful. Your whole point is, er, meaningless.
quote:
Again the subject is raised on how we should all read the book, and no doubt we'd all have a lot more information and understanding about Dawkins position if we did. But as others have pointed out, I am yet to be convinced in all the interviews and extended quotes / extracts that he is making a coherant case.
I am yet to be convinced that you know what a coherent case is.
quote:
Indeed, there needs to be an act of faith on the part of those of us Dawkins' doubters that all our questions might somehow be answered.
All your questions have been answered in the only way they could be without you reading the book or talking to Dawkins.
quote:
For my own part, I think on the evidence so far Dawkins has caused more heat than light on this debate and quite unecessarily, so I am aversed to giving him any money.
This is disingenuous in the extreme. A significant part of any heat and light on this thread is largely a result of your blind prejudice (you ignore evidence contrary to your pre-decided conclusion) and your inability to follow reasoned argument.
quote:
When my bulging pile-of-books-to-read has become smaller, I may well give the library a go, though.
I would have thought that for anyone with honest questions, that would have been the place to start.

[ 02. June 2007, 10:16: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Dave Marshall, Noiseboy, Mad Geo & MouseThief.

Ok, I'm probably way out of line here; but could we possibly focus on 'the light' and leave out the heat.
You are all people whose opinions I value (and I am quite willing to admit that I may be totally misguided in my own views) and remember there are always kudos to those who ignore any (perceived) slight and are gracious in their replys.

Please feel free to attack me at will.

S-E

[ 02. June 2007, 10:29: Message edited by: Socratic-enigma ]
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
Mad Geo, it's really cool how even while studying geology you managed to get a PhD in Completely Missing the Point of What People Are Saying. I'll try again (it's possible I may also have a PhD in Not Making My Point Very Clearly).

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Since when is discrimination not a form of persecution? Just because atheists are a quiet discriminated bunch, do you really think that's okie dokie with you?

No! No! Discrimination is A BAD THING. It's very, very bad. It is bad that in many areas of American life, atheists are discriminated against. It's bad that in many areas of American life, Christians are discriminated against. Discrimination is bad and we should Stop Doing It to each other. BUT...

it is NOT the same as persecution. Calling it that, belittles the real experience of those who have been and are being persecuted, everyone from Christian martyrs to Jews in Hitler's Germany to women burned for being witches. Persecution (as I understand it) involves danger to life, personal safety, or personal property, and the loss of basic human rights because of your beliefs, race, etc. Discrimination may be a step on the road to persecution but it is not the same thing. Most anyone in America today who claims they are being "persecuted" is, AFAICS, self-aggrandizing and feeding their own martyrdom complex. There are plenty of people in both the Christian and the atheist camps who are happy to do that, but as I've said before, I think they are both deluded. Yes, both groups have experienced some discrimination ... and THAT'S BAD. But it's not the same thing as being afraid someone's going to break your door down in the middle of the night and haul you off to a secret firing squad, so let's not pretend it is.


quote:
And your postmodern view of significant research projects by Universities that you happen to also disagree with is fascinating. [Biased]
It's not "my" postmodern view, it's the view of any educated person, and it's not my view of research I happen to disagree with; it's my view of all research. It's biased. You can't produce unbiased research, especially on something like people's opinions. If the study was claiming something that supported an argument I happened to agree with, I would of course quote it in support of my argument, and I'd be right to do so. But I would expect you (or someone else) to quickly come back with a rejoinder that the study was biased and only measured certain things with certain people, and that a different study might produce a different result. Do you honestly believe that in an survey of people's opinions and attitudes, it doesn't matter how you phrase the question, who you ask, or who is doing the asking???

I'm not saying the study is invalid. I'm saying it provides one view on a very complex question, and different studies might well produce very different results.

quote:
I am beginning to wonder that if the worm was on the other side of the bottle, and you were the actual discriminated minority, if you would be so cavalier about all this.
This is where I'm getting [brick wall] with you. I have said repeatedly that the worm IS on the other side of the bottle. It's on both sides. Christians, especially evangelical Christians, can rightly claim to be discriminated against (why do you think places like the former Southern Missionary College are now called Southern Adventist University or whatever they're calling it? Because graduates got tired of the little smirk on prospective employers' faces when they saw the name of the school they graduated from, and comments like, "Oh, you went to a BIBLE college...heh, heh...."). JUST AS ATHEISTS CAN RIGHTLY MAKE THE SAME CLAIM. And no, discrimination is not a good thing. But it's NOT one-side, it's not all directed against atheists, and it doesn't equal persecution.

Do you not agree that atheists (and perhaps agnostics, to make up numbers by adding the only group of truly intellectually honest people in the world) have a significant voice in American media, arts, literature and entertainment? Is their worldview under-represented in these areas? Do they never use those platforms to express negative views of Christians???

I will say again that I think the claims of conservative Christians to be "persecuted" are just as weak and pathetic. If you google for examples of Christian persecution in America today you will find lots of ridiculous claims by people who have been discriminated against (A BAD THING) and are trying to claim as a result of this that they are suffering persecution and have had all their human rights violated. I'd like to put them all on a bus to Afghanistan. The persecuted atheists can go with them and they can fight it out on the way.

Bottom line: A country in which "Left Behind" sells 57 million copies is not a country in which Christians are persecuted. A country in wihch the number one non-fiction best-seller is a book called "God is Not Great," is NOT a country in which atheists are experiencing persecution.

[ 02. June 2007, 11:37: Message edited by: Trudy Scrumptious ]
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
...(and perhaps agnostics, to make up numbers by adding the only group of truly intellectually honest people in the world)...

Whoof!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, you can't place such a massive generalisation out there without explanation! [Biased]

S-E
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Serious question for U.S. people.

Am I right in believing that there are lots of people out there who think that Ayn 'you are too intelligent to believe in Gott' Rand is the best thing since sliced custard? And if so, how does this square with the whole atheists as despised minority scenario?
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Dave Marshall, Noiseboy, Mad Geo & MouseThief.

Ok, I'm probably way out of line here; but could we possibly focus on 'the light' and leave out the heat.
You are all people whose opinions I value (and I am quite willing to admit that I may be totally misguided in my own views) and remember there are always kudos to those who ignore any (perceived)slight and are gracious in their replys.

I'd like to ignore Noiseboy's posts (I assume that's what you're referring to). The problem is that without a response that would leave the impression, on a thread I've participated in, on a subject I care about, on a site with a certain credibility, that his views are a) coherent (ie. he's made valid points), and b) right (ie. there's no better explanation).

If Noiseboy wants to post opinions, invite comment, then ignore or react to any disagreement or criticism, he could start a blog. His main interest seems to be climate change, so he could call it Climate Noise or something, with a category Dawkins Noise, and he could share his thoughts and questions till the cows come home. He could put a link in his signature here, so anyone who was interested could respond as easily as they can here.

Instead, he continues to use the Ship to post on threads where his name is in the 'Look at me, Mummy' column as if they were his personal blogs. While he continues to do that, on this thread anyway, part of my contribution will be to highlight (if someone hasn't already or a host says otherwise) what in my view he says that is wrong or unhelpful. I appreciate that can make for tedious reading, and I'll quite understand if you want to skip over my posts as a result.

[ 02. June 2007, 13:59: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Dave Marshall, Noiseboy, Mad Geo & MouseThief.

Ok, I'm probably way out of line here; but could we possibly focus on 'the light' and leave out the heat.
You are all people whose opinions I value (and I am quite willing to admit that I may be totally misguided in my own views) and remember there are always kudos to those who ignore any (perceived) slight and are gracious in their replys.

Please feel free to attack me at will.

S-E

I swear to my checking account (Trudy's apparently tired of my Zeus) that I am trying to stay cool here, I really am. Maybe doing a piss poor job at it, I'll try harder. Thanks.

quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
Mad Geo, it's really cool how even while studying geology you managed to get a PhD in Completely Missing the Point of What People Are Saying. I'll try again (it's possible I may also have a PhD in Not Making My Point Very Clearly).

quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
Since when is discrimination not a form of persecution? Just because atheists are a quiet discriminated bunch, do you really think that's okie dokie with you?

No! No! Discrimination is A BAD THING. It's very, very bad. It is bad that in many areas of American life, atheists are discriminated against. It's bad that in many areas of American life, Christians are discriminated against. Discrimination is bad and we should Stop Doing It to each other. BUT...

it is NOT the same as persecution. Calling it that, belittles the real experience of those who have been and are being persecuted, everyone from Christian martyrs to Jews in Hitler's Germany to women burned for being witches. Persecution (as I understand it) involves danger to life, personal safety, or personal property, and the loss of basic human rights because of your beliefs, race, etc. Discrimination may be a step on the road to persecution but it is not the same thing. Most anyone in America today who claims they are being "persecuted" is, AFAICS, self-aggrandizing and feeding their own martyrdom complex. There are plenty of people in both the Christian and the atheist camps who are happy to do that, but as I've said before, I think they are both deluded. Yes, both groups have experienced some discrimination ... and THAT'S BAD. But it's not the same thing as being afraid someone's going to break your door down in the middle of the night and haul you off to a secret firing squad, so let's not pretend it is.

I see your point (now). I personally think that persecution is a much bigger word than nazi death camps and Darfur.

I take "rights" very very seriously and yes they are an abstraction of sorts, but they are very real to me. So let's take it down from death camps to say signs over water coolers that say "White's only". Then let's take it down from there to a justice system that if a jury found out you were an atheist would be more likely to find you guilty becuse clearly you couldn't possibly be a moral person and be an theist. And let's take it to believing in a very hard line between church and state and then having a bunch of righteous pricks (and I do mean righteous) shoving their view of "what's right" down your gullet on the evening news every night and using their view to screw with things you believe in like the Freedom to Choose, and evolution, etc.

Can you see how one might start to feel persecuted?

If Christians weren't the majority, I might feel sorry for them, but they are. Up until very recently they had the most powerful lobby in their midst (The Religous Right) with the possible exception of the AARP. They owned the presidency lock stock and gun barrel.

I know it's not death camps, but then I think you are limiting the word "persecuted" a little too much.

As the frog said "It's not easy being green".
quote:


quote:
And your postmodern view of significant research projects by Universities that you happen to also disagree with is fascinating. [Biased]
It's not "my" postmodern view, it's the view of any educated person, and it's not my view of research I happen to disagree with; it's my view of all research. It's biased. You can't produce unbiased research, especially on something like people's opinions. If the study was claiming something that supported an argument I happened to agree with, I would of course quote it in support of my argument, and I'd be right to do so. But I would expect you (or someone else) to quickly come back with a rejoinder that the study was biased and only measured certain things with certain people, and that a different study might produce a different result. Do you honestly believe that in an survey of people's opinions and attitudes, it doesn't matter how you phrase the question, who you ask, or who is doing the asking???

I'm not saying the study is invalid. I'm saying it provides one view on a very complex question, and different studies might well produce very different results.


I guess I would have preferred rather than a general attack on the study from a semi-obvious position that studies can be biased, that people provide their own study. I can only provide the study(s) I have. I have doen so. The "Well all studies are biased" defense came off a little ummm, errrrr, trite? Not sure if that's the word I want, no offense intended.

I probably should have called you out to provide your own study that refutes mine. This is purg and all. [Biased]

quote:


quote:
I am beginning to wonder that if the worm was on the other side of the bottle, and you were the actual discriminated minority, if you would be so cavalier about all this.
This is where I'm getting [brick wall] with you. I have said repeatedly that the worm IS on the other side of the bottle. It's on both sides. Christians, especially evangelical Christians, can rightly claim to be discriminated against (why do you think places like the former Southern Missionary College are now called Southern Adventist University or whatever they're calling it? Because graduates got tired of the little smirk on prospective employers' faces when they saw the name of the school they graduated from, and comments like, "Oh, you went to a BIBLE college...heh, heh...."). JUST AS ATHEISTS CAN RIGHTLY MAKE THE SAME CLAIM. And no, discrimination is not a good thing. But it's NOT one-side, it's not all directed against atheists, and it doesn't equal persecution.

I've worked for two employers that would have hired you on the spot for having gone to a bible college. According to the survey, nearly no one would hire you if you went to Southern Atheist College.

I am not sure that an employer cares so much about whether you were a Christian in your scenario, as that you may not have gotten as full an education as someone that didn't have to study 16 units of theology. ANd I don't think that is an unreasonable bias necessarily. If I had someone come in and had 16 units more of geology over 16 unit of theology, I might take that into account if everything else was equal. Of course, almost never is everything else equal in hiring.

But to get to your point, I honestly do not think that Christians suffer much bias here. I really don't. If they do, the gains they get in politics alone more than offset the losses. Just my opinion. If it makes you mad, I apologize but I can't help it when GW is cramming his religion down my throat for 7 years. I pay attention to such things.
quote:


Do you not agree that atheists (and perhaps agnostics, to make up numbers by adding the only group of truly intellectually honest people in the world) have a significant voice in American media, arts, literature and entertainment? Is their worldview under-represented in these areas? Do they never use those platforms to express negative views of Christians???

Complex question. Honestly, I cannot recall seeing direct Christian bashing going on in the media (do you have examples of this?). I recall seeing things that Christians value being thrown in their face like an unusual amount of homosexual characters on tv, sexuality, etc.

To be perfectly honest, I think the media is seriously heavy with Jews, if anything. Just an observation from being around Hollywood. Maybe they are atheist/agnostic Jews, but I honestly don't know.

I would point out that anything Fox is Rupert Murdoch and he is a friend of the Christian Right cubed. It's not as though Christians do not have their media. Heck, even Adventists have their own tv shows.

quote:


I will say again that I think the claims of conservative Christians to be "persecuted" are just as weak and pathetic. If you google for examples of Christian persecution in America today you will find lots of ridiculous claims by people who have been discriminated against (A BAD THING) and are trying to claim as a result of this that they are suffering persecution and have had all their human rights violated. I'd like to put them all on a bus to Afghanistan. The persecuted atheists can go with them and they can fight it out on the way.

Bottom line: A country in which "Left Behind" sells 57 million copies is not a country in which Christians are persecuted. A country in wihch the number one non-fiction best-seller is a book called "God is Not Great," is NOT a country in which atheists are experiencing persecution.

We may have to agree to disagree. I do not see "persecution" as being limited to Afghans and Death Camps. Richard Dawkins clearly is calling for athiests to come out of the closet. Why are they in the closet in the first place is a serious question. We are possibly on the cusp of atheists coming out of the closet, I do not recall this many books on atheism hitting the mainstream in my lifetime, do you? The closest thing was probably the broohaha over Salmo Rushdie and that was "Satanic", not atheist IIRC.
Perhaps this discussion will be moot in the next ten minutes as all athiests take over the government and knock the Christian Right ass over teapot.

Yeah right. [Biased]

quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Serious question for U.S. people.

Am I right in believing that there are lots of people out there who think that Ayn 'you are too intelligent to believe in Gott' Rand is the best thing since sliced custard? And if so, how does this square with the whole atheists as despised minority scenario?

I run in some pretty well-read circles, and I know exactly two people that call themselves Objectivists (Ayn Rand's "group"). I have only ever met two people in my whole life that were objectivists. I have met a lot of people that think she was full of shit.

Of the two objectivists I know, one doesn't think it is possible for her ideas to work in the real world but sees them as sort of an "ideal".

The only way I can imagine estimating the number of possible objectivists in the US is to assume that they would show up as Libertarians when they registered to vote and that is around 10% of the country, tops. And not all of them would have even heard of Ayn.

Atheists comprise around 7% of the US population IIRC. Again IIRC, even those that are not avid churchgoers in America like to view themselves as "Christian" because that is the prevailing worldview and they want to be part of the club, even if they don't go to church.
 
Posted by Dave W. (# 8765) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Serious question for U.S. people.

Am I right in believing that there are lots of people out there who think that Ayn 'you are too intelligent to believe in Gott' Rand is the best thing since sliced custard?

That is not my impression. For example, if you'd accept MIT as a place likely to provide some of the most fertile ground for her philosophy, I'd note that while there is an Objectivist Club, it seems they haven't updated their website since late 2005. By contrast, this list of campus religious organizations suggests that Randians may be substantially outnumbered (though to be sure, I don't know the membership numbers, and there is an Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists group in there.)
quote:
And if so, how does this square with the whole atheists as despised minority scenario?

Of the few people I've talked to who have described one of her novels as among their favorite books, the main attraction seems to be the overwhelming emphasis on individuality and self-reliance, and the rejection of communitarian and socialist constraints on the individual. I think they saw this as an effective "leave me alone" conservative/libertarian polemic, and not fundamentally reliant on atheism (which, to my hazy recollection, didn't feature prominently in either Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead.)
 
Posted by Trudy Scrumptious (# 5647) on :
 
Socratic-Enigma, I think agnosticism is the most truly intellectually honest position because it's saying "I don't know" about something that we truly, genuinely, can't know. I choose to believe there's a god, but I don't KNOW it. I think an atheist also makes a choice to believe there's no god, but the atheist doesn't know for sure either. It's an unknowable. I think it's fine to move beyond not-knowing, agnosticism, to choose to believe or not believe, but at the bottom of my belief I would still have to admit that I don't know, which makes me say that every truly honest person is really an agnostic.
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Dave Marshall - your posts I formally now ignore for my own sanity. You have rejected every opportunity now to engage in helpful debate, doing so simply wastes my time and makes me angry. Needless to say, I don't have this problem with anyone else on this thread, wheras I know others have suggested that dealing with you is, er, difficult. Something for you to reflect on, perhaps, however unlikely that prospect is.

quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
In 'The Selfish Gene', Dawkins compared religion to a virus, which, whils't I understand that many of you find this offensive, is I believe, a useful analogy.

Not very useful, IMHO. McGrath tackles this head on in Dawkins' God, and references it with this in The Dawkins Delusion:

quote:
Alister McGrath - The Dawkins Delusion:
So are all ideas viruses of the mind? Dawkins draws an absolute distinction between rational, scientific and evidence-based ideas, and spurious, irrational notions - such as religious beliefs. The latter, not the former, count as mental viruses. But who decides what is `rational' and `scientific'? Dawkins does not see this as a problem, believing that he can easily categorize such ideas, separating the sheep from the goats.

Except it all turns out to be horribly complicated, losing the simplicity and elegance that marks a great idea. For instance, every world view - religious or secular - ends up falling into the category of `belief systems; precisely because it cannot be proved. That is simply the nature of world views, and everyone knows it. It prevents nobody from holding a world view in the first place, and doing so with complete intellectual integrity in the second. In the end, Dawkins' idea simply implodes, falling victim to his own subjective judgement of what is rational and true. It's not an idea that is taken seriously within the scientific community, and can safely be disregarded.

I was severely and quite properly critical of this pseudoscientific idea in Dawkins' God, noting that it lacked any basis in evidence, and seemed to depend on Dawkins' highly subjective personal judgement as to what was `rational' or not. This discredited idea now seems to have a purely walk-on part in the narrative of The God Delusion, which alludes to a 1993 article in which Dawkins wrote about God as a `virus of the mind:" It's clearly about to be written out of the plot altogether, and not before time. It's passing will not be mourned.

Which I think sums it up pretty well.

quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
In 'The Root of All Evil', Dawkins asserted that if one did not accept the existence of Adam, and his fall, then the death of Jesus had little meaning. The 'God' to whom I was introduced, through John Robinson's,'Honest to God', may have made the concept more palatable to one trying to accomodate the concept with a modern world view - but it bears little relationship to the God of the Bible. And I think it provided little comfort to those who sought out religion primarily for that purpose.
Hence, the resurgence of a more literal interpretation of the Bible. And it is a position equally as legitimate as any promulgated by the most liberal, open-minded among you.
Because it is completely arbitary.

I disagree. A fundamentalist view of tbe Bible (of whatever hue a particular person favours), I would argue is very likely to be contrary to science. A literal Adam and Eve is a perfect example. A more "subtle, nuanced" faith is likely not to be in conflict with science, or reason.

I can't see anything arbitary about how one evaluates The Bible, or anything for that matter. It can be done well, badly, in a scholarly manner, in a reflective manner, in blind stupdidity.

quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
There is no mechanism to evaluate or determine the accuracy of any claim. So, an acceptance of the most seemingly benign claim is also an advocacy of the most radical.

Theology? Reason?

I don't for a millisecond buy the argument that reasonable faith is somehow appeasement of Osama Bin Laden et al. By exactly the same logic all socialism is appeasment of Stalin or all sex is appeasement of rape.

[ 02. June 2007, 16:31: Message edited by: Noiseboy ]
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
You have rejected every opportunity now to engage in helpful debate

With apologies to Socratic-enigma, I have rejected no such opportunity. You on the other hand, have not IIRC replied to a single criticism of mine, at least not recently. If you post anti-Dawkins propaganda, it seems unreasonable to not expect some come-back.

But I've no complaint about the rest of the post. I disagree with you, but I'll leave that for S-e as it's a reply to him/her.
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Trudy,
Thank you for your explanation: Given your regard for the position, I wonder why you remain a Christian? Because you wan't to? Do you have a choice?

quote:
I think an atheist also makes a choice to believe there's no god, but the atheist doesn't know for sure either.
Actually, I don't know anything for sure. But as someone who sees little (if any) evidence for free will I cannot agree that I chose this position. In my late teens I seriously endeavoured to become a Christian, but whatever my emotional response, intellectually I found it to be ultimately paradoxical.

Neither can I share your regard for Agnosticism; failing to make a decision probably reflects a desire to believe, despite one's intellectual misgivings - or perhaps an unwillingness to fully accept the evidence (whichever way one perceives this) and simply avoids the question; by 'sitting on the fence'.

quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Not very useful, IMHO.

Noiseboy,
I believe this is the first time we have engaged directly on these boards; and I must say, I have some sympathy for Dave Marshall's view. I made 3 (what I consider legitimate) points on why I believed the comparison between a virus and religion, a worthwhile analogy - yet you fail to address this, either in your reply, or in your quotation from McGrath.

I first read McGrath about 13 years ago when writing an essay on community; as a writer he is a very accomplished stylist, but his arguments are poor (or non-existent) as is demonstrated in the passage you have presented.

quote:
Alister McGrath - The Dawkins Delusion:
So are all ideas viruses of the mind?

No, they're not.

Individual genes can be beneficial,deleterious or simply benign with regard to survival: Similarly ideas fall into the same categories - those which are beneficial are retained, and those which are deleterious are selected out.
(as a child I mistakenly had a Lamarkian view of evolution, which was abandoned when I gained a greater understanding of biology)

Viruses are different. They are the result (so it is conjectured) of break-away genetic material which has developed a protein sheath and the ability to transmit directly from one organism to another. Hence, whils't they may have been derived from an organism, they(viruses) no longer participate directly in that organism's genetic evolution (although of course they participate indirectly if they prove fatal for, or produce infertility in some of their hosts).
Correspondingly, religion is an example of ideas which have coalesced into a concept which is only concerned with its own survival - not with the well-being or otherwise of its transmitting agents (us).
quote:
Alister McGrath - The Dawkins Delusion:
It's clearly about to be written out of the plot altogether, and not before time. It's passing will not be mourned.

Because he says it is??!! I often accuse myself of hubris - but this is breath-taking!

All I ask is: Demonstrate why the analogy is illegitimate (as it very possibly is); don't simply regurgitate the unsupported pronouncements from another.
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
I disagree. A fundamentalist view of tbe Bible (of whatever hue a particular person favours), I would argue is very likely to be contrary to science. A literal Adam and Eve is a perfect example. A more "subtle, nuanced" faith is likely not to be in conflict with science, or reason.

I can't see anything arbitary about how one evaluates The Bible, or anything for that matter. It can be done well, badly, in a scholarly manner, in a reflective manner, in blind stupdidity.

Which doesn't answer the question: I will repeat -
quote:
In 'The Root of All Evil', Dawkins asserted that if one did not accept the existence of Adam, and his fall, then the death of Jesus had little meaning.
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
Theology? Reason?

There are a number of tomes written on the nature of dragons (concerned among other things, with the argument over whether the wings were extraneous; or outgrowths of the forearms - a' la bats) and innumerable publications on UFOs; examining their origins, construction, activities...(not to mention their occupants).

The amount of 'intellectual' material is irrelevant if the founding premise is unsupported; and it is incumbent upon the promulgators of such a position to demonstrate that such a foundation is extant, not merely speculative.

And what does reason have to do with faith? I thought that was the argument of many here, such as IngoB (and I apologise if I have misrepresented his position) that faith is beyond reason; hence the 'leap of faith'.

quote:
By exactly the same logic all socialism is appeasment of Stalin or all sex is appeasement of rape.
Logic? Is this even worthy of a response?

quote:
Again the subject is raised on how we should all read the book... so I am aversed to giving him any money.
I have some sympathy with you here; I too have been unwilling to part with 35 of my hard earned dollars in order to further contribute to Mr. Dawkins' riches - however I would suggest that to facilitate our further participation in these discussions we should both 'bite the bullet' and obtain a copy.


quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
I disagree with you, but I'll leave that for S-e as it's a reply to him/her.

(Initally considers a 'smart' remark, but then recalls that on those occasions of ... minor conflict with the hosts/admins it has primarily been with those of the......)

Dave,

I am flattered that my sex is apparently indeterminate from my meanderings; although I would have thought that from the clumsiness and general ineptitude (not to mention pomposity and hubris) of my posts, that I am obviously male. I can but hope to aspire to something of the eloquence and erudite argument which distinguishes our female compatriots. [Smile]

(edited to remove the wink)
S-E

[ 03. June 2007, 02:25: Message edited by: Socratic-enigma ]
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Socratic-Enigma:

quote:
There are a number of tomes written on the nature of dragons (concerned among other things, with the argument over whether the wings were extraneous; or outgrowths of the forearms - a' la bats) and innumerable publications on UFOs; examining their origins, construction, activities...(not to mention their occupants).
I don't actually think this is a very good argument. I think, for example, that Scientology is a racket but if I claim that Scientiologists go round sacrificing pigeons to the spirit of L. Ron Hubbard, I can't very well claim that it doesn't matter that I am talking bollocks because they believe all that weird stuff about the Emperor Xenu. Scientologists don't sacrifice pigeons to L. Ron Hubbard (at least, AFAIK) and a Scientologist would be perfectly justified in calling me on the question.

In the same way, you can say that you don't believe in Faeries, that belief in faeries is ridiculous and that there is absolutely no need for you to engage with the ideas of us faerie believers. The trouble is that this will lessen the impact of your argument. If I believe that faeries are the aboriginal inhabitants of these Islands driven underground by invading Celts then all your banging on about the impossibility of one inch high humanoids with gossamer wings dancing in circles on the sward is in vain, because that is not what I am talking about.

The bottom line is that if you are attempting to refute a belief system you have to understand it first and when you are called on the construction of straw men, it is handwaving just to say "well all your beliefs are bollocks so why should I try and understand them". The technical term is obscurantism and in the days of old when atheists were bold and good and brave and noble, they tended to get exercised about that sort of thing. That they seem not to care any more strikes me as being a somewhat depressing development.
 
Posted by Ancient Mariner (# 4) on :
 
I trust regular contributors to this thread will enjoy our new, daily updating feature - Dawkin Hell - on the SoF home page.

[Devil]
 
Posted by Noiseboy (# 11982) on :
 
Socratic enigma - hello. I don't think it is entirely fair to say I have ignored your arguments, far from it (thought for brevity I admit I only quoted one). All three related to ways in which a virus was allegdly similar how religion operated, and nothing was referenced except religion (ie no other world view). McGrath's quote dealt (I thought) with this head on and, if I may return the accusation, you did not address his point in how one can differentiate a religious idea/virus from a non-religious one. It doesn't seem fair to disregard the man as having no substance, and yet fail to address the substance of what he says.

quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Viruses are different. They are the result (so it is conjectured) of break-away genetic material which has developed a protein sheath and the ability to transmit directly from one organism to another. Hence, whils't they may have been derived from an organism, they(viruses) no longer participate directly in that organism's genetic evolution (although of course they participate indirectly if they prove fatal for, or produce infertility in some of their hosts).
Correspondingly, religion is an example of ideas which have coalesced into a concept which is only concerned with its own survival - not with the well-being or otherwise of its transmitting agents (us).

So if one accepts this idea, religion is one example - what are others? How would you answer McGrath's important question as to what grounds one picks to differentiate? This, incidentally, is one way of demonstrating that the idea is indadequate - it's frame of reference is impossible to pin down.

But there are other ways too. You say that viruses may be benign for some people, but it's never good. So to be LIKE a virus, religion must never be good. Now you and Dawkins may say this is true, but this needs to be demonstrated by more than bad examples - this needs something massively all-encompasing. Maybe very occasionally a virus might have a positive side-effect I guess, but I would argue that the positive effect that people claim religion has had over the thousands of years for billions of people (along with positive examples such as Wilberforce & Martin Luther King) is a considerably bigger deal. Yes, even allowing for the apalling atrocities done in its name.

Also extremely important, it seems to me, is that Dawkins did not mention the virus analogy (except for a passing reference) in what is surely his definitive book on attacking religion - The God Delusion. If McGrath is wrong and the virus issue IS addressed in TGD, then this should be pointed out. But if his ascartation is correct, it does beg the question - if the idea of the mind virus is so important in how religion operates, why does the man who brought it to our attention no longer do so? If ever this was going to be highlighted, it would be where it is most directly relevent, in The God Delusion (the idea of a virus causing a delusion would be totally spot on). McGrath's point seemed fair and pertinent to me.

quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
And what does reason have to do with faith? I thought that was the argument of many here, such as IngoB (and I apologise if I have misrepresented his position) that faith is beyond reason; hence the 'leap of faith'.

I think this is sooooooo critical. My view is that although faith itself is not of reason, there is no reason (!) that it should be contrary to reason. Faith that IS demonstrably contrary to reason ("I believe my television set is made entirely of cheese") is surely different to faith that does not conflict with reason ("I believe that there is intelligent life on other planets").

You suggested that there are no grounds to evaluate one interpretation of, in this example, the Bible from another, but this cannot be true - some interpretations will be contrary to reason and / or science (as I would argue literal 6-day creation would be). If I read the verse "Jesus wept", I could interpret that to mean that at Lazerus' graveside, Jesus decided to peel an onion and chop it up, which explains his teary eyes without wondering why he cried when he was about to raise someone from death (according to the story). I'd imagine that I would have a minority view of one on this. Would my opinion be valid? To a point yes, as it could not be disproved, but there would be overwhelming evidence to suggest I was wrong. This silly example is surely a microcosm of the whole debate? Reason and theology are the tools used to evaluate the Bible (yes, along with a bit of divine inspiration if you believe in that sort of thing).

So although you ridicule my Stalin / rape arguments, I can't see a problem with them - IF you take the view that there are grounds for evaluating matters of faith. I and many others think that, for example, it would be wrong to believe that suicide bombing could be justified from The Bible, and would appeal to theology and reason to back this up. I would strongly resent that because I have what I hope is a reasonable faith, it somehow appeases Osama Bin Laden or Jerry Falwell, any more that the Stalin / rape examples.
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
The technical term is obscurantism and in the days of old when atheists were bold and good and brave and noble, they tended to get exercised about that sort of thing. That they seem not to care any more strikes me as being a somewhat depressing development.

What do you think is the reason for the change?
 
Posted by Callan (# 525) on :
 
I think it is partly because when the atheists I tend to admire were around - people like Bertrand Russell - you genuinely could get in trouble for being an atheist (Russell was forced to stand down from a post at a US University after an absolutely shocking smear campaign by the Catholic Church) and so it was important to be superior in the level of argumentation used because it was the only edge you had.

The thing that used to bother me about atheism is that atheists, by and large, were clever people of broad culture whereas an awful lot of Christians wrote an awful lot of drivel. My, admittedly rather subjective, impression is that the drivel gap has closed slightly in recent years.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Mariner:
I trust regular contributors to this thread will enjoy our new, daily updating feature - Dawkin Hell - on the SoF home page.

Good to see Ship of Fools officially recognising Richard Dawkins' contribution to Christian unrest. [Smile]
 
Posted by JimT (# 142) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Mariner:
I trust regular contributors to this thread will enjoy our new, daily updating feature - Dawkin Hell - on the SoF home page.

Good to see Ship of Fools officially recognising Richard Dawkins' contribution to Christian unrest. [Smile]
Here here. The Dawkins site pointed me to a couple of George Carlin routines that had me...

[Killing me]
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
By your analysis, we seem to have arrived back at the notion that all faith is a delusion as a matter if not of scientific fact, then of scientific extreme probablility. I know this is old ground on this thread, and there was a lot of floating around the concept of "subtle, nuanced" faith but (as I say, if you are correct) then talk of what sort of a faith a person has is irrelevent, isn't it? Faith is delusional and potentially dangerous, end of story.

On Dawkins definition of faith (not the only one in use, of course), yes, that's more or less right. Faith is believing without evidence, thus an inherently poor way of forming opinions.

quote:
Now, if Dawkins is using the term "faith" to encompass all religious and spiritual belief, then we are also in trouble in distinguishing what Dawkins terms the philosophy stuff like Budhism (and cross-fertilisation here with the other thread on this). MadGeo has made a valiant defence of his Zen Budhism and appealed to evidence to back up his claims, but I'd be surprised if he claimed there was scientific proof for his brand of ZB. A good deal (reasonably, in my view) comes from the personal experience of the effect it has had on his friend. It may be a different sort of faith from faith in a monotheistic God, but it is nevertheless a faith. So I quickly arrive at an impasse - on the one hand ALL faith is delusional and potentially dangerous, but on the other SOME kinds of faith seem to be OK if we can classify them as a way of life or philosophy?
Dawkins phrase is that there is "something to be said" for treating Buddhism (and other ‘religions') as "ethical systems or philosophies of life". I don't think he is necessarily affirming their value by that, or saying that it puts them beyond critique, but it may remove them from the scope of the particular point he is arguing. In as much as Buddhism makes truth claims about the universe without evidence, it is ‘faith' in Dawkins' terms, if it doesn't, then it isn't.

Obviously the ethical and philosophical principles in Buddhism can still be debated, and might be wrong, but they need not be ‘faith' if there is some objective ground for holding them. Supernatural claims in Buddhism would be ruled out (in Dawkins' view) because the only reason for believing them - faith - is no good reason at all.

quote:
Is the Budhist faith then, NOT a religious faith so therefore falls outside the remit of what he classifies as dangerous? If so, what is the criteria for judging when a faith is religious and / or dangerous? Is Hinduism a religious faith? (all honest questions, BTW)
You're using "faith" as meaning "system of belief", I think. Which is a fair usage, but not what Dawkins means. Faith, to him, is where a factual claim is made and accepted without rational and evidential basis. "Abortion is wrong" is not necessarily faith. "God says that abortion is wrong" is faith. "Buddhist ethics tend to reduce human suffering" is not faith. "Reading these sacred texts will give you spiritual benefit" is faith.

The sort of religion that is not being argued against in TGD is one that is entirely free of the element of believing something to be true simply on trust. It would be possible to be "religious" without that element, for example, to tell the Christian story as an ethical illustration about hope, forgiveness and love, without the slightest implication that any of the supernatural parts of it could possibly have happened. It would rule out miracles, God as creator or designer of the universe, any real communication (eiher way) in prayer, and any form of revelation. That sort of religion Dawkins thinks is numerically insignificant compared to the 'faith' sort - and he's right.

He does, I think, accept that there is in most believers a mixture of the thoughtful and rational, and the faith elements of religion. So when a liberal bishop says "We should teach evolution in schools, you don't have to believe in the virgin birth, and it's ok to be gay" Dawkins would approve - because those things can all be defended on non-supernatural and non-faith grounds. When the same bishop say "But it really does matter, and it really is true, that Jesus died and is risen", then that's a faith claim, and it is exactly the sort of thing that Dawkins is arguing against. He thinks not only are faith claims no guide whatever to finding what is true, but also that once the legitimacy of faith claims is granted, there is no ready way to deny the legitimacy of the faith claims of the violent fundamentalist - you can't (as a matter of practice) use rational or ethical standard to distinguish faith claims, because a faith claim, once believed, trumps ethics and reason.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
Eliab, I think you are drawing the reins too tight. I don't know if Dawkins draws them similarly tight, or if you are going beyond what he said.

It's not that religious people believe things "without evidence." It's that their evidence isn't sufficiently "scientific." Think of Mad Geo's enlightened acquaintance -- that, to him, is evidence of the efficacy of Buddhist meditation. But he admits (if I read him right) that it's not a scientific proof (if that's the right word) of the efficacy of Buddhist meditation.

Similarly as a Christian I believe there is evidence for many if not most if not all of the things that make up my "Christian belief package" (if you will). I also believe that other people of good will can look at exactly the same evidence and draw different conclusions. I would be the first to admit that there is nothing like scientific rigor to the evidence I cite -- which is in large part why others can look at it and come to different conclusions. So it's not that I don't have evidence, unless you re-define evidence in a Humpty-Dumpty way. It's that it's not scientific evidence.
 
Posted by Johnny S (# 12581) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief:
It's not that religious people believe things "without evidence." It's that their evidence isn't sufficiently "scientific."

I think that is a key distinction to make MouseThief.

If we use a courtroom analogy then we make decisions based on 'evidence'. That evidence may involve empirical scientific observations (normally what we call forensic science) but we also look to other forms of evidence like 'eye witness testimony' etc.

We frequently make important decisions in life based on this collective sense of 'evidence'. Dawkins is aware of this but sometimes presses too strongly to say that we should only make decisions on 'scientific evidence' - which is just not possible... if our legal system only made judgments based on 'scientific evidence' it would soon collapse!!

Hence I prefer the word 'evidence' to 'proof' - the former has a wider, but more realistic, scope.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief:
....It's not that religious people believe things "without evidence." It's that their evidence isn't sufficiently "scientific." Think of Mad Geo's enlightened acquaintance -- that, to him, is evidence of the efficacy of Buddhist meditation. But he admits (if I read him right) that it's not a scientific proof (if that's the right word) of the efficacy of Buddhist meditation.

Similarly as a Christian I believe there is evidence for many if not most if not all of the things that make up my "Christian belief package" (if you will). I also believe that other people of good will can look at exactly the same evidence and draw different conclusions. I would be the first to admit that there is nothing like scientific rigor to the evidence I cite -- which is in large part why others can look at it and come to different conclusions. So it's not that I don't have evidence, unless you re-define evidence in a Humpty-Dumpty way. It's that it's not scientific evidence.

Well said. I can actually point at some scientific evidence (neurotheology) that something is going on with my enlightened friends, but what that actually is is certainly still up for grabs.

I would add that the evidence for faith is intuitive, nonobjective, often emotional, downright artistic. As "evidence" it's not much.
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
Noiseboy,
Thanks for your courteous reply, and the extended explanation.

quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
A more "subtle, nuanced" faith is likely not to be in conflict with science, or reason.

Do you believe that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (as you alluded)? And that he himself arose after being three days a corpse? Is this consistent with a scientific view?
You may not believe that the Universe was created in six days; or that God 'stopped' the Sun for a day - but are either of those beliefs any less legitimate (in the face of science) than resurrection?

quote:
Also extremely important, it seems to me, is that Dawkins did not mention the virus analogy (except for a passing reference) in what is surely his definitive book on attacking religion - The God Delusion. If McGrath is wrong and the virus issue IS addressed in TGD, then this should be pointed out. But if his ascartation is correct, it does beg the question - if the idea of the mind virus is so important in how religion operates, why does the man who brought it to our attention no longer do so?
I am loathe to accept the word of an avowed critic's (dare I suggest biased) opinion, especially when neither of us has read the book in question: But here is part of an interview given after publication of 'The God Delusion':
quote:

(Question)So why do we insist on believing in God?

Richard Dawkins:
From a biological point of view, there are lots of different theories about why we have this extraordinary predisposition to believe in supernatural things. One suggestion is that the child mind is, for very good Darwinian reasons, susceptible to infection the same way a computer is. In order to be useful, a computer has to be programmable, to obey whatever it's told to do. That automatically makes it vulnerable to computer viruses, which are programs that say, "Spread me, copy me, pass me on." Once a viral program gets started, there is nothing to stop it.
Similarly, the child brain is preprogrammed by natural selection to obey and believe what parents and other adults tell it. In general, it's a good thing that child brains should be susceptible to being taught what to do and what to believe by adults. But this necessarily carries the down side that bad ideas, useless ideas, waste of time ideas like rain dances and other religious customs, will also be passed down the generations. The child brain is very susceptible to this kind of infection. And it also spreads sideways by cross infection when a charismatic preacher goes around infecting new minds that were previously uninfected.
(from an interview on 'Salon.com', April 30, 2005)

the full interview is at:
http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/04/30/dawkins/index.html

You asked what other examples there were of cultural viruses?

Racism perhaps?

Sexism?

Remember, I didn't say religion was a virus, merely that I thought it a useful (or at least interesting) analogy. And whatever Dawkins' view, it is now part of the vernacular: 'Religion as a virus' googles over 13,000 hits.

quote:
Originally posted by Noiseboy:
You say that viruses may be benign for some people, but it's never good. So to be LIKE a virus, religion must never be good.

'Never good?' Doctor Edward Jenner developed his smallpox vaccine after observing that milkmaids who had experienced cowpox, were immune from the far more destructive virus (or at least had only mild symptoms)
So one might suggest that religion could innoculate one from the worse virus of racism? But I wouldn't wan't to push the analogy too far.
Then again if we keep pushing we might find that it's more than just...

I apologise for not answering all your points. If this thread continues and I have more time (and if you're still interested) I will endeavour to do so.

quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief:
Similarly as a Christian I believe there is evidence for many if not most if not all of the things that make up my "Christian belief package" (if you will). I also believe that other people of good will can look at exactly the same evidence and draw different conclusions. I would be the first to admit that there is nothing like scientific rigor to the evidence I cite -- which is in large part why others can look at it and come to different conclusions. So it's not that I don't have evidence, unless you re-define evidence in a Humpty-Dumpty way. It's that it's not scientific evidence.

I take your point MouseThief - but it's more than that. Many of the beliefs (six day creation; Sun standing still; resurrection etc.) are contrary to the scientific evidence.

The passage from McGrath which Noiseboy posted really only applied to a pre-scientific age - where competing belief systems were subject to natural selection as the only guide to their validity and accuracy in correlating human behaviour to the prevailing conditions. Science has the competition built in, adapts far more quickly and has answered many questions except perhaps...

the search for meaning

S-E
 
Posted by 206 (# 206) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Do you believe that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (as you alluded)? And that he himself arose after being three days a corpse? Is this consistent with a scientific view?

You addressed this to Noiseboy but I'll give it a go: Jesus certainly could have raised Lazarus, and there's not inconsiderable evidence he himself was raised.

But to the larger question: neither of those alleged miracles are in any way contrary to 'science'.

ISTM science can never preclude 'supernatural' exceptions to what it calls 'laws of nature' (which are really only 'repeated instances of what we observe in nature', not 'laws').

IMO only a misunderstanding of what 'science' is will allow someone to use it as an argument against 'miracles'. The 'scientific method' just doesn't go there; what does go there is a bias that assumes 'science' is the be all and end all.

Science is a useful thing, but it can only do so much.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I would add that the evidence for faith is intuitive, nonobjective, often emotional, downright artistic. As "evidence" it's not much.

There isn't "evidence" for "faith" as faith is something I have, not something I believe in. There is evidence for Christianity, and it is not intuitive, nonobjective, emotional, or artistic. It's mostly historical and to a lesser extent sociological and psychological.

Nice try.
 
Posted by Johnny S (# 12581) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
Do you believe that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (as you alluded)? And that he himself arose after being three days a corpse? Is this consistent with a scientific view?
You may not believe that the Universe was created in six days; or that God 'stopped' the Sun for a day - but are either of those beliefs any less legitimate (in the face of science) than resurrection?

...I take your point MouseThief - but it's more than that. Many of the beliefs (six day creation; Sun standing still; resurrection etc.) are contrary to the scientific evidence.

As MouseThief says a lot of the evidence for Christianity is rational and not just intuitive.

However, I'm not sure what you mean by the above 'contradict' the scientific evidence. I would agree with you on the six day creation issue but not on the other two.

I think you are confused how science works. Scientific progress is made when someone comes across 'anomalous' data that doesn't fit expected models. Further investigation either reinforces the original theory OR leads to a new one that includes what we first thought 'impossible' - a good example would be Marie-Curie suggesting that elements 'change' into other elements due to radioactivity ... she was scorned as an 'alchemist' at first!

Thomas Kuhn wrote a lot about paradigm shifts within science.

Scientifically speaking, the resurrection is impossible according to current theories... it is an anomalous datum. However, good science would investigate it to see whether we are mistaken about the resurrection or about our current theories.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:
I take your point MouseThief - but it's more than that. Many of the beliefs (six day creation; Sun standing still; resurrection etc.) are contrary to the scientific evidence.

We have scientific evidence that Jesus wasn't resurrected? Do tell.

You mean that in general, and all other things being equal, dead people stay dead. Leave out resuscitation; there weren't defibrillators in first century Palestine. Yes I know that. That's why it was A MIRACLE. When God sticks Her finger in the stream, all other things aren't equal. Science can only say what happens when the stream isn't interfered with from outside. It can't say when it can or can't be thus interfered with, nor can it say there is or isn't anything outside. That's not what it does. It describes and predicts the motions of the stream.
 
Posted by Eliab (# 9153) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief:
Eliab, I think you are drawing the reins too tight. I don't know if Dawkins draws them similarly tight, or if you are going beyond what he said.

Dawkins on his intended targets:

“I am not attacking any particular God or gods. I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented” (p36 of the hardback).

The reason he has this approach is that he is not just having a go at dangerous manifestations of religion (‘fundamentalism’) but at what he sees as a poor way of thinking (‘faith’).

quote:
as a Christian I believe there is evidence for many if not most if not all of the things that make up my "Christian belief package" (if you will). I also believe that other people of good will can look at exactly the same evidence and draw different conclusions. I would be the first to admit that there is nothing like scientific rigor to the evidence I cite -- which is in large part why others can look at it and come to different conclusions. So it's not that I don't have evidence, unless you re-define evidence in a Humpty-Dumpty way. It's that it's not scientific evidence.
I agree with you – I think belief in Christianity is sufficiently well-supported by evidence that it can rationally be believed without absurdity or delusion, but not so well supported as to be compelling. I think that’s been the case from the beginning – and I can speculate about why it has to be so.

I’m in the unusual position on this thread of defending as intellectually sound and honest a writer whom I admire greatly, but also utterly disagree with on almost all the points he makes. I’m not saying that Dawkins is right – I’m a Christian (of the mainstream, supernaturalist, credulous-of-miracles, believing-in-prayer sort who could not claim to hold whatever Dawkins thinks of as subtle nuanced religion) and I don’t think that I am deluded or an uncritical thinker simply because I have faith.

I do think that TGD mounts a strong challenge to religious thinking generally, and that it merits serious thought. If nothing else, it is an extremely articulate expression of how a very intelligent person who cares passionate for truth, but who simply doesn’t see what we see when he looks at religion, responds to a religious world-view, and it is a valuable book for that reason alone.
 
Posted by MouseThief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I do think that TGD mounts a strong challenge to religious thinking generally, and that it merits serious thought. If nothing else, it is an extremely articulate expression of how a very intelligent person who cares passionate for truth, but who simply doesn’t see what we see when he looks at religion, responds to a religious world-view, and it is a valuable book for that reason alone.

See, this is the first thing anybody has said on any Dawkins thread that makes me even slightly tempted to read the book. If his advocates could be as softspoken as you, Eliab, it would do a world of good. Or not, since Dawkins' point isn't doing good, but stirring controversy, and softspoken people don't stir controversy.
 
Posted by Mad Geo (# 2939) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief:
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Geo:
I would add that the evidence for faith is intuitive, nonobjective, often emotional, downright artistic. As "evidence" it's not much.

There isn't "evidence" for "faith" as faith is something I have, not something I believe in. There is evidence for Christianity, and it is not intuitive, nonobjective, emotional, or artistic. It's mostly historical and to a lesser extent sociological and psychological.

Nice try.

Have/belive is semantics in this case.

Evidence for Christianity includes miracle stories, outright historical fallacies, semi-arbitrary nonobjective tossings of various "historical" books over the side and inclusions of others by political appointees, and emotional/nonobjective appeals to reason that there is a god in the first place, etc. etc.

Backatcha. [Biased]

[ 06. June 2007, 14:21: Message edited by: Mad Geo ]
 
Posted by Socratic-enigma (# 12074) on :
 
MouseThief

Quid pro quo (re my post on 'Do Atheists visit...)

quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief:
There isn't "evidence" for "faith" as faith is something I have, not something I believe in.

I have thought about this over the past few days. Could you please expand? Do you mean that it is part of your make-up, such as that you are human, male etc.? Does it infer that you are free from doubt?

I am interested.

S-E
 


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