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Media => Books => Topic started by: Quetzalcoatl on June 14, 2015, 01:45:34 PM

Title: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 14, 2015, 01:45:34 PM
Among the SGU recommended books (http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/books) you can find The God Delusion and God Is Not Great.

Given that the rogues typically distance their skeptical activism from atheism quite a bit (there is a wall between skepticism and atheism, but it is very porous), I wonder how come that they recommend these books.

I'm not saying they should not recommend these books (quite the contrary), I'm just asking how it squares with that they usually distance themselves from atheism.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 14, 2015, 02:01:22 PM
They don't 'distance' themselves from atheism.  That's just not what the show is about.  You should read some of Dr. Novella's writing on the subject.


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Sawyer on June 14, 2015, 02:25:15 PM
Because whoever made that list just picked a handful of authors that were popular in the skeptical community several years ago, and added a few books from each?

Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 14, 2015, 04:00:29 PM
Maybe they actually recommended books that they liked and found useful?  There's a thought.


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Crash on June 14, 2015, 06:33:32 PM
The Skeptical culture did kind of ignore the elephant in the room for a long time.  Randi hardly ever mentioned religion or belief.   I guess Randi was afraid of alienating over 90% of the population at the time and derailing the skeptical culture when guys like Hal Bidlack were outspoken deists.  Now that everyone has internet and post 9,11, the cat is out of the bag.  IMO you can't really be a skeptic and believe in a deity when there is absolutely no evidence that a deity exists.  It's still a touchy subject and I think the rogues don't go there often but it is implied often enough.  I'd bet my left nut that everyone at SGU is a non believer.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: arthwollipot on June 14, 2015, 08:49:44 PM
You can be skeptical of a lot of different subjects. Randi's The Faith Healers is a book that is skeptical about faith healing. God Is Not Great is a book that is skeptical about religion.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 14, 2015, 08:55:41 PM
You absolutely can be a skeptic and also be a deist.  There is no problem there


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Crash on June 14, 2015, 09:34:11 PM
You absolutely can be a skeptic and also be a deist.  There is no problem there

You are going to have to explain that stretch. There is a huge steaming pile of problem.  Skepticism is defined by the evidence it requires.  Where is the evidence for a deity? Faith?  I am not invoking the Scotsman fallacy by saying that no true skeptic is a deist.  You can try to explain all you want but I can say now that no argument you have will invoke any semblance of reality.  Skepticism is all about reality.  You are not a skeptic.  You may not believe in virgin birth or everlasting life but your blunt statement implies you have yet to swallow the whole enchilada.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 14, 2015, 10:19:20 PM
Hahaha. You think Im a deist?  Think again.  You're just wrong about skepticism and atheism.  There are a large number of good skeptics who are essentially deists.  Just two examples.  Ever hear of Martin Gardner? How about Dr. Pamela Gay?   

I'm absolutely in the camp of skeptics like Randi and Dr. Novella who both say that as long as you don't make reality claims based on your religious beliefs, I have no problem welcoming you into the skeptic camp. 
I'll take someone like Pamela Gay over Bill Maher any day of the week, thank you very much. 


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Andrew Clunn on June 15, 2015, 12:19:46 AM
Maybe they actually recommended books that they liked and found useful?  There's a thought.

No no no.  Clearly there's an... agenda  :P
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Eternally Learning on June 15, 2015, 12:23:12 AM
Maybe they actually recommended books that they liked and found useful?  There's a thought.

No no no.  Clearly there's an... agenda  :P

Perhaps a hidden agenda...  :raise:
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 15, 2015, 12:24:15 AM
Lol.  I needed a smile after that Game of Thones finale.  Thanks you two.


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Caffiene on June 15, 2015, 01:39:33 AM
You absolutely can be a skeptic and also be a deist.  There is no problem there

You are going to have to explain that stretch. There is a huge steaming pile of problem.  Skepticism is defined by the evidence it requires.  Where is the evidence for a deity? Faith?  I am not invoking the Scotsman fallacy by saying that no true skeptic is a deist.  You can try to explain all you want but I can say now that no argument you have will invoke any semblance of reality.  Skepticism is all about reality.  You are not a skeptic.  You may not believe in virgin birth or everlasting life but your blunt statement implies you have yet to swallow the whole enchilada.

Actually the Scotsman fallacy is exactly what youre invoking.
If you think there is any skeptic out there that doesnt hold some sort of un-evidenced or contra-evidence view I would argue that thought is itself contrary to the evidence cognitive science gives us about the way people think.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 15, 2015, 03:45:07 PM
Maybe they actually recommended books that they liked and found useful?  There's a thought.

No no no.  Clearly there's an... agenda  :P

The agenda is to promote books relevant to skepticism, and quite often they seem to feel that atheism is a different animal. It is in that context I wonder why they recommend those books on their site.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 15, 2015, 04:58:59 PM
Thank you for explaining their agenda for them.


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Friendly Angel on June 15, 2015, 04:59:54 PM
There are a large number of good skeptics who are essentially deists.  Just two examples.  Ever hear of Martin Gardner? How about Dr. Pamela Gay?   

I'm absolutely in the camp of skeptics like Randi and Dr. Novella who both say that as long as you don't make reality claims based on your religious beliefs, I have no problem welcoming you into the skeptic camp. 


Deist isn't an accurate description of Dr. Gay's religious view.

Quote
I am a Christian. I don’t believe in the literal truth of the entire Bible, especially the early chapters of the Old Testament, but I believe in the theological framework that it outlines. All men are sinners. All men can be saved. I personally believe in the salvation of Jesus Christ, 

https://www.starstryder.com/about-me/this-i-believe/
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 15, 2015, 05:01:26 PM
That's absolutely true.  She is a theist.  In other words she has a belief system but I would bet that viewpoint doesn't interfere with any of her scientific naturalism.


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: helvetica on June 15, 2015, 05:40:23 PM
You absolutely can be a skeptic and also be a deist.  There is no problem there

You are going to have to explain that stretch. There is a huge steaming pile of problem.  Skepticism is defined by the evidence it requires.  Where is the evidence for a deity? Faith?  I am not invoking the Scotsman fallacy by saying that no true skeptic is a deist.  You can try to explain all you want but I can say now that no argument you have will invoke any semblance of reality.  Skepticism is all about reality.  You are not a skeptic.  You may not believe in virgin birth or everlasting life but your blunt statement implies you have yet to swallow the whole enchilada.

Actually the Scotsman fallacy is exactly what youre invoking.
If you think there is any skeptic out there that doesnt hold some sort of un-evidenced or contra-evidence view I would argue that thought is itself contrary to the evidence cognitive science gives us about the way people think.

What makes a skeptic so is being able to admit that we have flaws in reasoning and are still capable of irrationality, but being willing to put in some effort to resist our cognitive biases and flaws. In this, I would absolutely agree that one can be deist and be a skeptic. We all have things that turn off our logic switch and for some, faith is an emotional endeavor separate from their skeptical intellect. Applying that skepticism to personal faith takes a certain amount of bravery to face the cognitive dissonance. Some simply haven't gotten there.

EDIT: Also to add, I would think it's smart to keep atheism on the fringes of skepticism, simply to avoid completely turning off listeners. I introduced one man to the SGU who really enjoyed it, until he felt insulted by the SGU (and Star Talk Radio) "making fun" of his religion. While I get that this person just isn't emotionally able to handle criticism over his religion, I can't help but to think if it would be more effective to avoid mentioning religion altogether so that men/women like this can slowly be introduced to skepticism without being forced to feel some cognitive dissonance.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 15, 2015, 05:51:45 PM
Thank you for explaining their agenda for them.


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Well, do you think that those books are just random books on any genre they happen to like?
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Sawyer on June 15, 2015, 06:50:45 PM
Still don't understand what the big mystery here is.  I'm sorry if I'm insulting someone that spent hours and hours assembling that list, but I stick with my original assertion.  Steve, or Jay, or someone else that was working on this website ~8 years ago threw together a list of authors that were very popular in the skeptical community.  These include Sagan, Dawkins, Randi, Shermer, Gould, etc.  I doubt the inclusion of The God Delusion and god Is Not Great was because they are the best books in the SGUniverse, but because they came out shortly after the SGU podcast started.

But carry on with the theist/deist/atheist debate, I'm sure it will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.   :P
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Eternally Learning on June 15, 2015, 07:01:18 PM
Among the SGU recommended books (http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/books) you can find The God Delusion and God Is Not Great.

Given that the rogues typically distance their skeptical activism from atheism quite a bit (there is a wall between skepticism and atheism, but it is very porous), I wonder how come that they recommend these books.

I'm not saying they should not recommend these books (quite the contrary), I'm just asking how it squares with that they usually distance themselves from atheism.

They don't distance themselves, they just don't make it a major point of the show.  In fact, they've laid out quite specifically what their views are multiple times and had segments specifically about how stupid some aspect of religion is ala Joshie Berger's Jewy or Fiction.  I know Steve has specifically said on the show that Hitchens was essentially one of his heroes too.  They do not shy from expressing thoughts on religion, they just don't make it their primary topic of discussion.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 15, 2015, 08:11:07 PM
Sawyer, so like a good skeptic you're making an assertion without evidence???


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: superdave on June 15, 2015, 08:47:44 PM
The SGU makes a small commission on books bought via those links.  If they want to make any money that way, it makes sense for them to include any book that an SGU fan might enjoy. 

Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Sawyer on June 15, 2015, 09:42:40 PM
Sawyer, so like a good skeptic you're making an assertion without evidence???


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Quetz asked why the recommendations do not appear to perfectly parallel the content of the show.  I gave what I consider to be a very plausible explanation.  If anyone has a better explanation (with or without evidence) they are welcome to post it.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that those books were selected ONLY because they were popular, or for any other narrow minded purpose.  They are good books.  I'm sure whoever put together the list really enjoyed them and found them to be a great match for anyone interested in the world of skepticism.  I just think that Quetz's original question is moot when you realize that the content of the list is skewed towards books published around the time the SGU started.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: arthwollipot on June 16, 2015, 06:16:48 AM
I'd go so far as to say that deism is the one form of theism that is not inconsistent with a skeptical view of religion.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Anders on June 17, 2015, 06:29:15 AM
That and apatheism - "I just don't give a fuck".
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Crash on June 17, 2015, 12:37:53 PM
I'd go so far as to say that deism is the one form of theism that is not inconsistent with a skeptical view of religion.

Hold on there.  Deism means you still believe in some cryptic spook.  Deism is consistent with theism but not skepticism. 
  Atheism has been so vilified that the very word invokes knee-jerk outrage among many believers.  I think the baggage that goes with the word is why so many skeptics give religion and deism a pass.  Atheism is a natural progression from skepticism.  Because the word is so off putting many skeptics just let the newcomers discover the complete lack of evidence for a deity on their own.  There probably is a gradient that skeptics follow from doubt about psychics, homeopathy etcetera and eventually to the big elephant in the room which is faith.  In that case you may still be a skeptic but you have yet to overcome the cognitive dissonence that is faith in a deity.  From a biologists' point of veiw, the concept of a deity is superfluous.  The origin of life is just a string of peptides self replicating a few billion years ago and now here we are. No need for the mythic spook anymore.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Ah.hell on June 17, 2015, 02:14:04 PM

 The origin of life is just a string of peptides self replicating a few billion years ago and now here we are. No need for the mythic spook anymore.
Sure, but lack of need is not proof anything. 
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Sawyer on June 17, 2015, 07:06:54 PM
I'd go so far as to say that deism is the one form of theism that is not inconsistent with a skeptical view of religion.

Hold on there.  Deism means you still believe in some cryptic spook.  Deism is consistent with theism but not skepticism. 


Hold on there once again.  I am unaware of any specific aspect of skepticism, science, or methodological naturalism that requires one to abandon deism.  The fact that deism is unstructured and unsatisfying for most people explains why so few skeptics would bother with it for very long (most former religious types treat it as a stepping stone to atheism), but that does not mean it is logically prohibited.

Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Anders on June 18, 2015, 10:47:15 AM
There's no better evidence for a deist God than there is for anyone else.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Ah.hell on June 18, 2015, 10:52:13 AM
There's no better evidence for a deist God than there is for anyone else.
There isn't as much controverting evidence though.  A non-interventionist god is much more likely than an interventionist god just because of the lack of interventions in recent years decades millennia.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 18, 2015, 02:17:43 PM

 The origin of life is just a string of peptides self replicating a few billion years ago and now here we are. No need for the mythic spook anymore.
Sure, but lack of need is not proof anything.

Special pleading.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Sawyer on June 18, 2015, 05:39:21 PM

 The origin of life is just a string of peptides self replicating a few billion years ago and now here we are. No need for the mythic spook anymore.
Sure, but lack of need is not proof anything.

Special pleading.

I think we're having two completely different conversations here.  You guys seem to be starting from "is there a compelling reason for someone that is a skeptic to  consider deism?" (not really) or perhaps "do religious people perpetually move the goalposts to vaguer definitions of God in order to avoid scientific critique?"  (of course they do).  I think everyone here is on the same page regarding these questions.

I was trying to answer the question "is there a fundamental requirement for a scientist/skeptic to completely eschew a deist god in order to maintain a logically coherent worldview?"  That question has been asked by scientists, philosophers, historians of science, logicians etc. for hundreds of years, and I'm pretty sure most of them end up at a big fat "NO".  I do not consider myself a deist and feel odd defending them, but I'm pretty sure you guys are just plain getting this wrong.  We used to have some threads on the forums discussing this issue but they may no longer exist.

I've already broken my vow to not get involved in an off-topic question, but I'm going to try to leave it at that.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Ah.hell on June 18, 2015, 06:23:14 PM

 The origin of life is just a string of peptides self replicating a few billion years ago and now here we are. No need for the mythic spook anymore.
Sure, but lack of need is not proof anything.

Special pleading.
I think he was using the argument from final consequences, not special pleading. 
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: arthwollipot on June 18, 2015, 10:28:26 PM
I'd go so far as to say that deism is the one form of theism that is not inconsistent with a skeptical view of religion.

Hold on there.  Deism means you still believe in some cryptic spook.  Deism is consistent with theism but not skepticism.

Deism is the belief in a non-interventionist god. By definition there cannot be evidence for such a god. Since skepticism is all about examining the evidence, deism cannot be incompatible with it.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Anders on June 19, 2015, 07:14:50 AM
I'd go so far as to say that deism is the one form of theism that is not inconsistent with a skeptical view of religion.

Hold on there.  Deism means you still believe in some cryptic spook.  Deism is consistent with theism but not skepticism.

Deism is the belief in a non-interventionist god. By definition there cannot be evidence for such a god. Since skepticism is all about examining the evidence, deism cannot be incompatible with it.

Skepticism is about what Hume said:  "A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence." If there is no evidence, there's no reason to believe it. Otherwise you'd have to believe in a million non-interventionist things or make a special case for the God. This is the "invisible dragon" idiocy all over again.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 19, 2015, 07:59:19 AM
I guarantee you believe contradictory things for which you have no evidence.  Believing that their is a deist type god that doesn't intervene isn't a problem.  It BECOMES a problem when you start using that belief to make claims about how the world works. 


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Anders on June 19, 2015, 09:52:11 AM
I guarantee you believe contradictory things for which you have no evidence.

Extremely likely. But why add to the pile? It's like saying "I guarantee you have cancer cells in your body, so drinking creosote shouldn't worry you".

Believing that their is a deist type god that doesn't intervene isn't a problem.  It BECOMES a problem when you start using that belief to make claims about how the world works.

It's not a great problem, I agree with that. Of the theisms, deism is certainly the least objectionable. But it's still not good skepticism.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: DaveTheReader on June 21, 2015, 09:02:30 AM
You absolutely can be a skeptic and also be a deist.  There is no problem there


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You are saying that you can believe things without evidence and be a skeptic?
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 21, 2015, 03:19:28 PM
You absolutely can be a skeptic and also be a deist.  There is no problem there


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You are saying that you can believe things without evidence and be a skeptic?
Yes. It's called cognitive dissonance, and humans possess it.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 21, 2015, 05:10:03 PM

You absolutely can be a skeptic and also be a deist.  There is no problem there


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You believe 100 things before you get out of bed each day without evidence

You are saying that you can believe things without evidence and be a skeptic?


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: DaveTheReader on June 21, 2015, 06:31:22 PM
The problem is that the means of acquiring knowledge is incompatible.

Religion involves revealed truth and authority. You don't question authority.

Science means question everything. Observation, form a theory, make a testable hypothesis, test the hypothesis and see what happens. If the test fails, either modify the theory or drop the theory and come up with a new one.

If someone could prove Einstein's relativity wrong or Darwin's theory of natural selection wrong, they would win a Nobel Prize and go down in the history books.
If you prove religion wrong, up until a few hundred years ago, you could be killed for heresy. Now, you are just ignored or shunned.

Those are incompatible ways of acquiring knowledge about the world. To think they are compatible is just wishful thinking.

The SGU is worried about the negative consequences of being too honest with these loving Christians. Along with religious belief, you typically also find intolerance.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: DaveTheReader on June 21, 2015, 06:51:35 PM

You believe 100 things before you get out of bed each day without evidence

There are useful fictions. These are things that you are not absolutely sure about, but have so far not been able to falsify. For instance, the Earth will rotate such that the side of the Earth where you are, will experience what is called 'daylight'. These useful fictions help us make it through the day, rather than having to think through each one, each day. Another useful fiction is gravity. No one has yet proven what gravity is. Einstein's space/time theory is just a mathematical theory. It has so far, not been proven wrong, and so, it is useful.

If something has happened 24,000 times, without fail, I am going to give it a provisional acceptance; it is a useful fiction. I have never seen anyone die and come back to life. I have never seen anyone raise the dead etc. These are all fails, which do not qualify as useful fictions.

A god who became man.
Born of a virgin on December 25 (very popular).
Performed miracles.
Raised the dead.
Died and rose from the dead after 3 days (also popular).
These are all fictions, unprovable, and, not useful. Whether Jesus existed or was born of a virgin makes no difference in my day-to-day life.
BTW, these properties are common to the gods at the time that Christianity was invented. The Jesus story is just a re-telling of stories common at the time. They changed the names and locations, and borrowed freely from a number of gods. There is no reason to think that all of these other gods are false, while the Christian god is true.

Whether or not gravity exists, makes a big difference in my day-to-day life. GPS makes a difference in my day-to-day existence, as well as many other scientific bits of knowledge. GPS uses Einstein's theories for fine adjustments.

Science is useful, religion is not.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 21, 2015, 09:23:49 PM
You argue against religions and how they demand revealed knowledge.  To my knowledge NO DEIST believe in revealed knowledge. In fact that's the major distinction between a deist and a theist. 

All of what your argue against are NOT the positions that deists take. 




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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: arthwollipot on June 22, 2015, 02:16:50 AM
Seems to me a lot of skeptics who are also atheists don't actually understand deism. But a lot of them don't understand any kind of religion, so I guess that's par for the course.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 22, 2015, 05:01:35 AM
I personally am not even particularly perturbed when actual theists want to join the movement, myself. Do we contradict ourselves? We must, for we contain multitudes.
Title: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Belgarath on June 22, 2015, 07:39:55 AM
I don't mind either, however I think there is significant difference between the claims of a deist and a theist.  Theists make claims about reality that are demonstrably wrong. Deists do not.  Essentially the deist claim is that they believe a 'god' pressed go on the physical laws of the universe and left.  This being does not intervene and does not provide guidance to people peering into hats for revealed knowledge. 

If a person believes something that does not in any way interfere with their understanding of the world, it doesn't really matter.  The moment they make a claim about the world based on their 'faith' in such a being, every skeptic has the right to question that claim. 


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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: katlahr on June 22, 2015, 12:14:29 PM
I actually enjoyed reading God Is Not Great - for the purpose of gaining and understanding of history. I was able to look past the author's heavy opinions for the mere learning experience. Perhaps thats the beauty of reading...

-Kat
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 22, 2015, 01:18:14 PM
That's actually a good point. In The Ancestors Tale as well, there were some stupid, ill thought out opinions, but there was lots of other great stuff about natural history in there that made the book still palatable. And Hitchens is if anything about five times worse than Dawkins in that regard.

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Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 23, 2015, 06:19:56 PM
Seems to me a lot of skeptics who are also atheists don't actually understand deism. But a lot of them don't understand any kind of religion, so I guess that's par for the course.

Don't American surveys show atheists to be more knowledgeable about religion than religious people?
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Johnny Slick on June 23, 2015, 06:20:56 PM
Your statement is not inconsistent with Belg's.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: amysrevenge on June 24, 2015, 09:38:31 AM
Seems to me a lot of skeptics who are also atheists don't actually understand deism. But a lot of them don't understand any kind of religion, so I guess that's par for the course.

Don't American surveys show atheists to be more knowledgeable about religion than religious people?

Knowledgeable about factoids and tidbits and trivia, sure.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Friendly Angel on June 24, 2015, 11:16:21 AM
Seems to me a lot of skeptics who are also atheists don't actually understand deism. But a lot of them don't understand any kind of religion, so I guess that's par for the course.

Don't American surveys show atheists to be more knowledgeable about religion than religious people?

Knowledgeable about factoids and tidbits and trivia, sure.

That 10-question survey that went around a while ago was factoids, sure.  It was looking to show that people didn't know much about religions other than their own, and it kind of did but that's arguable.  What would a more involved (less trivial) survey look like and how do you think the results would be different?  (open question, not directed exclusively to A'sR)
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: amysrevenge on June 24, 2015, 11:21:54 AM
I think that atheists overemphasize how important factoids, tidbits, and trivia should be to the average religious person.  An average religious person not understanding a detail that is technically important to the nuts and bolts of theology is a GOTCHA that proves some kind of point to this atheist, but the average religious person will just shake their head and go on with their lives not caring for even a second about that missing detail.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Friendly Angel on June 24, 2015, 12:04:51 PM
I think that atheists overemphasize how important factoids, tidbits, and trivia should be to the average religious person.  An average religious person not understanding a detail that is technically important to the nuts and bolts of theology is a GOTCHA that proves some kind of point to this atheist, but the average religious person will just shake their head and go on with their lives not caring for even a second about that missing detail.

OK, so the questions are:  1.  how important is it that people understand the important parts of the world's religions? and 2.  what are the important parts of the world's religions?  oh yeah, and 3.  is there any value in ranking groups of people by their own religious views on how much they understand the world's religions?
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Sawyer on June 24, 2015, 12:15:33 PM
Seems to me a lot of skeptics who are also atheists don't actually understand deism. But a lot of them don't understand any kind of religion, so I guess that's par for the course.

Don't American surveys show atheists to be more knowledgeable about religion than religious people?

Knowledgeable about factoids and tidbits and trivia, sure.

That 10-question survey that went around a while ago was factoids, sure.  It was looking to show that people didn't know much about religions other than their own, and it kind of did but that's arguable.  What would a more involved (less trivial) survey look like and how do you think the results would be different?  (open question, not directed exclusively to A'sR)

I don't know if there's a way to encapsulate really probing questions on the nature/history/philosophy of religion into a short survey.  For that matter, I don't think these questions can even be fully explored in a 300 page book - which leads us back to the OP question on the skeptical value of New Atheist books.  Whether the authors intended it or not, they seem to have fed into an idea that atheists with a cursory knowledge of religions can easily dismiss or debunk any discussion that involves God, faith, spirituality, etc.  In practice those conversations tend to go very poorly.  I'm still totally on board with recommending  those books to people interested in skepticism, but I think more of us need to be aware that the so-called "10,000 hour rule" applies to religion as well as science.  You're not going to solve every theological question from the last 5000 years in an afternoon.  The fact that we can't resolve this question about deism seems to be a pretty good illustration of that.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Anders on June 24, 2015, 12:20:40 PM
You might want to recommend the Christian Delusion, for a more specific debunking of Christian claims by scholars in the field.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Friendly Angel on June 24, 2015, 01:10:09 PM
I don't know if there's a way to encapsulate really probing questions on the nature/history/philosophy of religion into a short survey.

I don't think that is the objective.  The Pew survey (I just checked, it was 32 questions, not 10; and it was about general knowledge of religious topics, not specifically knowledge of world religions), asked things like "what is the Koran?" and "what religion is the Dalai Lama?" ... that is a really low bar and only half of all respondents got either one right.  I think I could come up with enough questions of that caliber to make a decent survey aimed at gauging public knowledge of world religions.



Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Crash on June 24, 2015, 02:03:28 PM

  The fact that we can't resolve this question about deism seems to be a pretty good illustration of that.

  Speak for yourself.  I think most of us have resolved the question.   In my opinion Deism is only a pathetic response to avoid the "A" word because of thousands of years of vilification.  You can claim to be a deist and not get all the religious nuts' panties in a bunch.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 24, 2015, 04:33:45 PM
Seems to me a lot of skeptics who are also atheists don't actually understand deism. But a lot of them don't understand any kind of religion, so I guess that's par for the course.

Don't American surveys show atheists to be more knowledgeable about religion than religious people?

Knowledgeable about factoids and tidbits and trivia, sure.

What then is "deep" knowledge in religion? That atheism is just another religion that inevitably leads to Nazism and communism? That evolution is "just a theory"? That Richard Dawkins is the atheist equivalent of Osama bin Laden (or maybe it is now more fashionable to compare him to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi)? Or any of the rest of the nonsense that theists and their apologists peddle?
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: amysrevenge on June 24, 2015, 04:51:07 PM
What then is "deep" knowledge in religion?
There isn't any.  Or at least any more meaningful than the shallow tidbits.  Only the loud people (on either side) care about these things.

My mildly religious parents don't care about the nuts and bolts of transubstantiation or other trivia.  They care about hanging out at church sometimes, listening to music, feeling like they are grounding their moral sense in something, and that's about it.  I care more, and know substantially more, about the minutia of what Christians are supposed to believe than they do.  And even I don't really give that much of a shit about it - I just happen to hang out in places where people talk about these things a lot and obsess over every detail.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 24, 2015, 05:10:51 PM
What then is "deep" knowledge in religion?
There isn't any.  Or at least any more meaningful than the shallow tidbits.  Only the loud people (on either side) care about these things.

My mildly religious parents don't care about the nuts and bolts of transubstantiation or other trivia.  They care about hanging out at church sometimes, listening to music, feeling like they are grounding their moral sense in something, and that's about it.  I care more, and know substantially more, about the minutia of what Christians are supposed to believe than they do.  And even I don't really give that much of a shit about it - I just happen to hang out in places where people talk about these things a lot and obsess over every detail.

So the ideal is to be ignorant about religion, be proud of it, and also be an apologist for it?

I, and I suspect a lot of people here, care about if religion is true or not. If Jesus rose from the dead, or if Muhammad recieved divine revelations, that would be of interest to know.

Your antiintellectualism will not change that.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: amysrevenge on June 24, 2015, 05:26:33 PM
I also think it is important what bits are true (ie. practically none).

I just don't think that average religious folks not knowing all of the intricate details of either their own or other people's dogma/traditions is any kind of effective GOTCHA that would be useful to prove any kind of point to them.  That's where I've been going with this.  All the way back up to:

Seems to me a lot of skeptics who are also atheists don't actually understand deism. But a lot of them don't understand any kind of religion, so I guess that's par for the course.

Don't American surveys show atheists to be more knowledgeable about religion than religious people?

I don't think knowing which particular decisions about the Trinity were made for what reasons during Constantine's time is in any way demonstrating "understanding any kind of religion".  It is certainly demonstrating "knowledge about religion", but in no way explains the "why" of anything.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 24, 2015, 05:42:02 PM
Well, people who are exposed to knowledge of the different religions might be more inclined to be atheists.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: amysrevenge on June 24, 2015, 05:49:50 PM
Well, people who are exposed to knowledge of the different religions might be more inclined to be atheists.

This is definitely possible.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Sawyer on June 24, 2015, 06:10:05 PM

So the ideal is to be ignorant about religion, be proud of it, and also be an apologist for it?

I, and I suspect a lot of people here, care about if religion is true or not. If Jesus rose from the dead, or if Muhammad recieved divine revelations, that would be of interest to know.

Your antiintellectualism will not change that.

I don't think amys was going in the same direction I was about this topic, but I'm also 100% sure that neither of us were employing, endorsing, or in any way celebrating "anti-intellectualism".  I'm still at a complete loss as to how we completely resolved the deist/scientist/skeptic divide, and I find it a little insulting that someone that wants to explore these issues in more depth is deemed as being against intellectualism.

The communication gap in this thread is growing wider by the minute so I'm already losing confidence that anything good will come out of it, but I'll try offering a topic that's been on my mind recently.  I'm currently reading The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman, which discusses a sweeping range of historical topics where ruling institutions have acted against their own best interest.  One of the examples that is looked at is the Renaissance Popes, Sixtus IV - Clement VII.  There's a litany of sins (in both the literal religious sense and in the realm of leadership, finance, and public relations) that the various popes committed just before the Protestant Reformation.  These mistakes are worth learning about.  I know that despite the tremendous scholarship some atheists put into learning about religious history, there are many people within our community who would brush off these lessons completely with "Lol, the Catholic Church is garbage, end of story", or perhaps some jokes about alter boys.  Well I'm not satisfied with those kinds of responses.  I think it's worth looking into certain aspects of religious history and philosophy, even if we feel the big question about whether or not God exists has already been answered.  I often feel like people in the atheist camp are trying to derail these conversations before they even get started, which ironically is against our best interest.

I preemptively apologize for mischaracterizing anyone's position on learning about religious history.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: DaveTheReader on June 26, 2015, 09:13:46 AM
Well, people who are exposed to knowledge of the different religions might be more inclined to be atheists.

This is definitely possible.

People who are exposed to history, specifically the history of the regions where these things got started will probably go or remain atheist. For example,  the Egyptian god Horus:
god who became man
Born of a virgin on December 25
celestial events to mark the occasion
At 12 years of age, wise beyond his years
started his ministry at age 30
performed miracles
raised the dead
slain by his enemies
rose from the dead after 3 days

Oh, that one was a myth, but my god really happened. Give me a break.

Your god is just one of many. The locals borrowed freely from the different gods. They changed the names and locations and you have a new god.

Get over it.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: DaveTheReader on June 26, 2015, 09:25:16 AM
Well, people who are exposed to knowledge of the different religions might be more inclined to be atheists.

BTW. The god Quetzalcoatl has parallels to the Christian god Jesus, long before European contact. Best of all, eating the body and blood.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on September 08, 2015, 05:04:31 PM
Well, people who are exposed to knowledge of the different religions might be more inclined to be atheists.

BTW. The god Quetzalcoatl has parallels to the Christian god Jesus, long before European contact. Best of all, eating the body and blood.

And is completely unrelated to Jesus anyways. :)
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Mr. Beagle on September 08, 2015, 05:28:03 PM
Well, people who are exposed to knowledge of the different religions might be more inclined to be atheists.

BTW. The god Quetzalcoatl has parallels to the Christian god Jesus, long before European contact. Best of all, eating the body and blood.

And is completely unrelated to Jesus anyways. :)

The Mormons point to Quetzalcoatl as proof that Jesus came to the Americas.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on September 09, 2015, 02:59:27 PM
Well, people who are exposed to knowledge of the different religions might be more inclined to be atheists.

BTW. The god Quetzalcoatl has parallels to the Christian god Jesus, long before European contact. Best of all, eating the body and blood.

And is completely unrelated to Jesus anyways. :)

The Mormons point to Quetzalcoatl as proof that Jesus came to the Americas.

I'm not sure how old worship of Quetzalcoatl is, or if he was always thought of the same way over time (probably not).
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on September 09, 2015, 03:01:07 PM
And I still disagree with the earlier assertion that the books they recommend on their website are just a random collection of books they happen to like, no deeper thought behind it. I gather from various interviews that they are very brand-conscious.
Title: Re: Why does the SGU recommed The God Delusion and God Is Not Great?
Post by: stonesean on December 16, 2015, 10:50:24 AM
And I still disagree with the earlier assertion that the books they recommend on their website are just a random collection of books they happen to like, no deeper thought behind it. I gather from various interviews that they are very brand-conscious.

As is anyone with a brand who plans on keeping that brand around, I assume (hope).

But i'm not sure why that would be a concern of a consumer of their product.

I feel like you're trying to make some sort of nefarious claim without making some sort of nefarious claim.