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Media => Books => Topic started by: Apeiron on April 07, 2008, 05:40:32 AM

Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 07, 2008, 05:40:32 AM
Subject introduction
Dawkins argues against the existence of God, discusses several scientific theories on the origins of morality and religion, and explains why he feels religion has a bad influence on the world.

Wikipedia
Richard Dawkins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins)
The God Delusion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion)
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 07, 2008, 05:46:40 AM
This book is not only controversial among theists, but also among agnostics/atheists. I do not understand why, because the book is in my opinion a very rational and fair analysis of religion, its influence, its origin, and the likelihood of the existence of God. To a theists it may be perceived as a very hostile book, but that is largely due to the fact that people don't like to learn they're wrong. I don't get why some atheists are so critical of the book.

As I've indicated already, I liked this book very much. It's clarity and broader approach in my opinion made it better than for example God Is Not Great (Hitchens), or The End of Faith (Harris). The paperback version that I got has lot's of testimonials by impressive names, one of which (too lazy to check who) wishes that this message would come across to theists. That's the exact same sentiment I had while/after reading it: if only theists would read the book and approach it fairly and neutrally. Would solve a lot of problems.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 07, 2008, 06:16:45 AM
Quote from: "Apeiron"
The paperback version that I got has lot's of testimonials by impressive names, one of which (too lazy to check who) wishes that this message would come across to theists. That's the exact same sentiment I had while/after reading it: if only theists would read the book and approach it fairly and neutrally. Would solve a lot of problems.


I have just picked up the paperback version of this book as well.  I find the comment that they wish this message would come across the theists rather amusing, since so far, all of the criticisms in this book are ones that we discussed at length in my first year seminary classes.  Not brought up and disdainfully dismissed out of hand, nor raised up and then shot down with logical fallacies, but brought up as realities that must be incorporated into any theology that could hope to be relevant in the twenty-first century.

So far, this book has done nothing to mitigate my prejudice that the "anti-religious" strain of atheism is little more than one long argument from ignorance.  Perhaps my mind will be changed as I continue reading...
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Jim on April 07, 2008, 09:39:22 AM
I've just finished the preface, so you may have to wait a bit for a comment :-)
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 07, 2008, 09:41:56 AM
I look forward to more people posting opinions :)

P.S.: I've got a court order that no-one is allowed to inform spiney of the existence of this thread. Anyone who does will be held in contempt of court and can be kept in jail for an undefined period.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: zntneo on April 07, 2008, 10:01:42 AM
I personally love this book. Although this could be biased by the fact that it was one of the first books on atheism that I read, it was also one of the first books I read as an atheist.  I liked this book so much that I have read it multiple times all the way through.  If you want a book that has more of philosophical arguments refuting theistic arguments, I'd recommend George H.  Smith's book atheism: the case against God.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: TurboCramb on April 07, 2008, 12:01:25 PM
I really enjoyed this book as well.  I'm about 25% through reading it for the second time.  (Actually, I think I had to return it to the library the first time, so i didn't read the last few chapters.  This time I went out and bought it.)

It had a significant effect on my conversion to atheism, although the SGU podcast was by far the most significant factor.  This book's influence was about as large as talking to the people in this forum.  It was the last book I read as a theist, and the first I read as an atheist.

As for Febo's comments on anti-religious themes, I personally think that the arguments FOR the benefits of organized religion lack any real merit.  Organized religion can have good effects, and may have even served a necessary purpose during some unknown period in history, but I don't know of anything that it does which cannot be replicated in a secular form.  Fine, that's an argument from ignorance.  But I'm not advocating the abolition of religion.  If your personal preference is to be part of some non-harmful organized religion, then go ahead.  Why should I care what you do?  The "personal preference" argument is the only thing going for religion IMO.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Sabbie on April 07, 2008, 01:56:42 PM
I thought it was better than God is not Great as well, but I am not sure why. I am just not easily bored with this book, while I was with the former.

I still can't give my full opinion though, because I haven't finished reading it yet. So far I'm loving it and I think this will be among my favorites for a long time.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Donnikko on April 07, 2008, 06:41:17 PM
I started reading this book and got sidetracked with some other projects. This thread has reminded me and it will be the next non shcool related book I read.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: glosrob on April 08, 2008, 08:39:08 AM
Like some others on this thread this was the first book on Atheism I have read.

I find Dawkins style very easy to read and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Some people better read than I have said he brings nothing new to the table; if this is the case I dont have a problem with it. The arguments he puts forward are clear and concise and if all he is doing is going over old ground, then at least lots of new people are taking it in for the first time.

The arguments are persuasive to me, but then in my case he is preaching to a very attentive choir.

I also have the audiobook which I listen to occasionally at work - it is one of few books I an read and reread with ease.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 08, 2008, 08:47:15 AM
The audiobook, at least the version I found, is heavily abridged. Just a heads-up.

(I hate abridged audiobooks)
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 08:49:58 AM
Quote from: "TurboCramb"
As for Febo's comments on anti-religious themes, I personally think that the arguments FOR the benefits of organized religion lack any real merit.  Organized religion can have good effects, and may have even served a necessary purpose during some unknown period in history, but I don't know of anything that it does which cannot be replicated in a secular form.  Fine, that's an argument from ignorance.  But I'm not advocating the abolition of religion.  If your personal preference is to be part of some non-harmful organized religion, then go ahead.  Why should I care what you do?  The "personal preference" argument is the only thing going for religion IMO.


I'm not really in favor of "organized" religion; nor do think that believe in anything supernatural should go unchallenged.  I just think that Dawkins is completely misunderstanding or intentionally misrepresenting the potential grandeur of the human experience when he makes argues that the religious views of men like Einstein and Spinoza are ok, so therefore they are not really religious.  It's kind of like if a creationist said, "When I talk about scientists, I don't mean the people who actually understand the scientific method, I only mean people with whom I disagree!"

However, I am still only a few chapters along, so my thoughts may change...
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 08, 2008, 08:53:31 AM
Dawkins says those deist ideas are ok because they do not interfere with reality. If you want to phrase that as "they're not really religious", then I'm fine with that, but don't (ab)use your way of translating Dawkins' sentiment.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 09:00:17 AM
Quote from: "Apeiron"
Dawkins says those deist ideas are ok because they do not interfere with reality. If you want to phrase that as "they're not really religious", then I'm fine with that, but don't (ab)use your way of translating Dawkins' sentiment.


Using Dawkins' own definitions, neither Einstein nor Spinoza were deist, they were pantheists, the difference being that Deists believe that God is supernatural, while Pantheists use God as a metaphor for the more awesome or mysterious aspects of the natural world.

I've been a "pantheist" (by Dawkins' definition) my whole life, even when I self-identified as a Christian.  It's the assumption that religion = supernatural belief that I have a problem with.

(But, Like I said, still reading... :wink: )
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 08, 2008, 09:02:59 AM
I think the two of us will always disagree on these definitions. To me religion must be supernatural in order to be religion. To me Christians must believe in Jesus' death and its importance in order to be Christians.

Oh well  :P
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 09:07:55 AM
Quote from: "Apeiron"
To me religion must be supernatural in order to be religion. To me Christians must believe in Jesus' death and its importance in order to be Christians.


There are a lot of Christians who think that, but there are a lot of Christians who believe a lot of crazy things that I know you reject.  Why do you chose to believe them on some things and not on others?

Quote from: "Apeiron"
I think the two of us will always disagree on these definitions. To me religion must be supernatural in order to be religion. To me Christians must believe in Jesus' death and its importance in order to be Christians.

Oh well  :P


Yeah, it really is a semantic argument.  I agree with pretty much everything Dawkins says in principle, but I think he's using the wrong words.

As someone who has been both culturally Christian and scientifically skeptical for as long as I can remember, I have a hard time with people who don't think the two are incompatible...

which is pretty much everyone...

my life is so miserable. :cry:
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: TurboCramb on April 08, 2008, 09:32:40 AM
Quote from: "Febo"

I'm not really in favor of "organized" religion; nor do think that believe in anything supernatural should go unchallenged.  I just think that Dawkins is completely misunderstanding or intentionally misrepresenting the potential grandeur of the human experience when he makes argues that the religious views of men like Einstein and Spinoza are ok, so therefore they are not really religious.  It's kind of like if a creationist said, "When I talk about scientists, I don't mean the people who actually understand the scientific method, I only mean people with whom I disagree!"

However, I am still only a few chapters along, so my thoughts may change...


What does religion have to do with the grandeur of the human experience?

I honestly don't care if you enjoy cultural christianity, I see it as the same thing as people who enjoy civil war reenactment.  But what I don't like is when you seem to make these vague references to religion having some inherent value.

I think Dawkins makes a correct argument (although yes, a semantic one) that the opinions of Einstein and Spinoza are not religious.  What is their religious content?  They use god as a metaphor.  The only way it is even "pantheistic" in any sense is that they use the word "god".  Their definition of "god" is so far removed from the common conception of a powerful, supernatural, conscious entity that I think the argument is correct that it would be a mistake to call their opinions religious.  That's where the semantics comes in.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 08, 2008, 09:41:41 AM
Quote
There are a lot of Christians who think that, but there are a lot of Christians who believe a lot of crazy things that I know you reject. Why do you chose to believe them on some things and not on others?


Jesus dying to redeem mankind is the central essence of Christianity. It is the definition of the religion's theology. All other things are debatable: for example the importance of belief versus good deeds, the question of whether it is your own choice to find salvation or whether the grace of God is needed, and even the questions of Jesus' divinity and the Trinity are debatable within Christianity.

Deny that Jesus' death redeems mankind of its sins though, and you're outside the religion.

It would be like calling yourself a Muslim without believing Mohammed was a prophet.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 09:42:15 AM
Quote from: "TurboCramb"
What does religion have to do with the grandeur of the human experience?


What???  That's like asking what does the visual range of the electromagnetic spectrum have to do with color!

Quote from: "TurboCramb"
I think Dawkins makes a correct argument (although yes, a semantic one) that the opinions of Einstein and Spinoza are not religious.  What is their religious content?  They use god as a metaphor.


Yes, that is religion!  Using God as a Metaphor = Religion!!!

This is why it is a semantic argument.  I don't know if Dawkins does this (still only a few chapters in) but I've know many anti-religious types who define religion in such a way that only an idiot would except it, and then disparage people who disagree with that definition.

Instead a attacking strawman versions of vague concepts like "religion", why can't folks like Dawkins stick to discussing actual falsifiable claims?

You know, like they try to do on the SGU.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: TurboCramb on April 08, 2008, 10:11:11 AM
Quote from: "Febo"
Quote from: "TurboCramb"
What does religion have to do with the grandeur of the human experience?


What???  That's like asking what does the visual range of the electromagnetic spectrum have to do with color!


I'm honestly not following you here.  I really can't think of anything that would link religion to the grandeur of the human experience.  I'm perfectly willing to discuss it if you can give me an example or an idea of what that even means.

Quote from: "Febo"

Quote from: "TurboCramb"
I think Dawkins makes a correct argument (although yes, a semantic one) that the opinions of Einstein and Spinoza are not religious.  What is their religious content?  They use god as a metaphor.


Yes, that is religion!  Using God as a Metaphor = Religion!!!

This is why it is a semantic argument.  I don't know if Dawkins does this (still only a few chapters in) but I've know many anti-religious types who define religion in such a way that only an idiot would except it, and then disparage people who disagree with that definition.

Instead a attacking strawman versions of vague concepts like "religion", why can't folks like Dawkins stick to discussing actual falsifiable claims?

You know, like they try to do on the SGU.


Febo, I've never met a single person who holds to the type of religion that you do.  Do you really think that a significant number of people would define religion as "using god as a metaphor"?

Granted, that's anecdotal, but I'm sure you've seen the large scale surveys of religion in the US that show high levels of belief in what we both agree are things that only idiots would accept.  Like I have said before, I have no problem with your personal preference for christian religious culture.  I'm NOT attacking that.  I really have nothing against you, but I do get irritated sometimes when you blast people for ragging on religion by saying "well MY religion isn't like that".  Attacking mainstream religion isn't a straw man just there are some people who have a version of religion that isn't bad.  

If you want, I'll start adding a caveat every time I say religion "BTW, this doesn't apply to people like Febo."  I just think that it should be understood that when I am attacking the bad things that religion does, that I am not attacking religion that does not do bad things.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Hanes on April 08, 2008, 10:25:49 AM
Quote
that I am not attacking religion that does not do bad things.
I am, though maybe not Febo's version of religion since it may not require faith.

Feebs, in a survey would you put down that you believe in a supernatural deity?  I mean, assuming there's no "it's just a metaphor" option.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: TurboCramb on April 08, 2008, 10:35:39 AM
Quote from: "Hanes"
Quote
that I am not attacking religion that does not do bad things.
I am, though maybe not Febo's version of religion since it may not require faith.


Eh, I'm certainly very critical of religion, I'm pretty bitter about it after all those years of being decieved.  If everyone was like me, and didn't feel any need for the contemplation of anything "spiritual" (in the emotional/contemplative sense, not the supernatural sense) then I would absolutely argue that religion is totally worthless and should be voluntarily discarded.

But from my experience, there are plenty of people who for some reason enjoy having some type of "spiritual" discussion or experience or something.  I honestly don't understand it.  My wife is like this.  She doesn't believe in anything supernatural, but she still wants to have a feeling of the spiritual, in some sort of naturalistic-human experience type of way that I really don't get.  If that sort of person feels like getting together and contemplating on that feeling, then why should I care?  I don't know that you could call it religion in the sense that the word is used now, but if that's the way people like my wife and Febo want to use the word, then fine.

I just take offense when I am attacking the generally understood definition of religion, and people like Febo act like I am attacking their use of the word.  It's a totally different concept IMO.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Hanes on April 08, 2008, 10:57:25 AM
I just have issue with faith, which is a large portion of religion (for most people).

Quote
You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe. [Dr. Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1985]
ya, true that
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 11:19:27 AM
Quote from: "Hanes"
Feebs, in a survey would you put down that you believe in a supernatural deity?  I mean, assuming there's no "it's just a metaphor" option.


No, you may not put me down as believing in a supernatural deity; I don't believe in a supernatural deity.

However, my admittedly anecdotal experience is that most average, non-fundamentalist, church-going Christians who do let themselves get put down as believing in a supernatural deity in surveys do actually believe "it's just a metaphor".
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: stonesean on April 08, 2008, 11:32:19 AM
Quote from: "Apeiron"
I think the two of us will always disagree on these definitions. To me religion must be supernatural in order to be religion. To me Christians must believe in Jesus' death and its importance in order to be Christians.

Oh well  :P


Aperion, I am reminded of the first religious discussion I had with my (at the time) girlfriend now, wife.

She identifies herself as a Catholic, (though she does not attend mass, go to confession, or even own a bible any more) and I asked her if she believes in transubstantiation and the infallibility of the Pope.

She, of course, said no.

So, I said, "Well, how can you call yourself Catholic then?"

The sparks flew.

I often think the self identification with religion is almost totally cultural in many peoples minds rather than an actual belief in the supernatural.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 11:41:53 AM
Quote from: "TurboCramb"
Eh, I'm certainly very critical of religion, I'm pretty bitter about it after all those years of being decieved.


Well, see, there's our problem.  My experience with religion -- Liberal Christianity in my case -- was positive, and never required me to believe in anything supernatural.    

Quote
I just take offense when I am attacking the generally understood definition of religion, and people like Febo act like I am attacking their use of the word.  It's a totally different concept IMO.


When it comes to thoughtful, rational, intelligent adults discussing "religion," the differences really are purely semantic.  What you call religion, I call one really offensive variety of religion that one I know takes seriously.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: TurboCramb on April 08, 2008, 11:55:16 AM
Quote from: "Febo"

Well, see, there's our problem.  My experience with religion -- Liberal Christianity in my case -- was positive, and never required me to believe in anything supernatural.


That's fine.  That's why I don't challenge your opinion on this.  You like it, that's your personal preference.

Quote from: "Febo"

Quote from: "TurboCramb"
I just take offense when I am attacking the generally understood definition of religion, and people like Febo act like I am attacking their use of the word.  It's a totally different concept IMO.


When it comes to thoughtful, rational, intelligent adults discussing "religion," the differences really are purely semantic.  What you call religion, I call one really offensive variety of religion that one I know takes seriously.


It's one variety, but that variety of religion just happens to be vastly larger than your variety as well as being what most people are usually referring to when they use the word "religion."  It's semantics, yes.  The only reason we don't make the distinction between liberal religion which has nothing to do with mainstream religion is because it's a pain to make a caveat every time you use a word.

It's okay though, I'll include a caveat just for you every time I talk about religion.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Hanes on April 08, 2008, 03:08:09 PM
What is a religion where everyone thinks it's just a metaphor like?  I mean, is there still mass?  Receiving the eucharist?  Confession?  Are sermons all "we should be good people because otherwise we'll go to hell *wink*?"

I'm having a hard time picturing this.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 03:38:00 PM
Quote from: "stonesean"
I often think the self identification with religion is almost totally cultural in many peoples minds rather than an actual belief in the supernatural.


Abso-fraggin-lutely, and there's nothing wrong with that!

One of my favorite movie quotes:
Quote
"Just because I stopped believing in God doesn't mean I'm going to stop being a good Catholic!"

Anyone?
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 03:41:27 PM
Quote from: "Hanes"
What is a religion where everyone thinks it's just a metaphor like?  I mean, is there still mass?  Receiving the eucharist?  Confession?  Are sermons all "we should be good people because otherwise we'll go to hell *wink*?"

I'm having a hard time picturing this.



Yes, there still are all those things.  Except replace the *wink* with a metaphorical interpretation myths being celebrated.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: stonesean on April 08, 2008, 03:47:02 PM
Quote from: "Febo"
Quote from: "stonesean"
I often think the self identification with religion is almost totally cultural in many peoples minds rather than an actual belief in the supernatural.


Abso-fraggin-lutely, and there's nothing wrong with that!

One of my favorite movie quotes:
Quote
"Just because I stopped believing in God doesn't mean I'm going to stop being a good Cathoilic!"


Anyone?


Though I happen to personally think that calling yourself religious without belief is a bit ridiculous.  My wife would never claim to be a deist/agnostic (even though she's told me that she doesn't actually believe in any kind of interventionist God) and would NEVER go so far as to call herself atheist.  (even though she probably is) Mostly I suspect because her family would be mad, which is funny, becuase she generally yells at her Mom and sister at least 2-3 times a week....though they quickly make up....

I happily tell anyone who asks that I am 99.9% sure that God doesn't exist, and 100% sure that all religion is made up fake stuff....though I usually tone it down around the in-laws, for my wifes sake.

That quote sure sounds like "Dogma".
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 08, 2008, 03:55:00 PM
Quote from: "stonesean"
Quote from: "Febo"
Quote from: "stonesean"
I often think the self identification with religion is almost totally cultural in many peoples minds rather than an actual belief in the supernatural.


Abso-fraggin-lutely, and there's nothing wrong with that!

One of my favorite movie quotes:
Quote
"Just because I stopped believing in God doesn't mean I'm going to stop being a good Cathoilic!"


Anyone?


Though I happen to personally think that calling yourself religious without belief is a bit ridiculous.  She would never claim to be a deist/agnostic (even though she doesn't actually believe in any kind of interventionist God) and would NEVER go so far as to call herself atheist.  Mostly I suspect because her family would be mad.

I happily tell anyone who asks that I am 99.9% sure that God doesn't exist, and 100% sure that all religion is made up fake stuff....though I usually tone it down around the in-laws, for my wifes sake.

That quote sure sounds like "Dogma".


I think that I was like your wife until I actually went to Seminary, and learned that all of the great modern Christians theologians are pretty much atheists.  (I dropped out of Seminary because of the bullshit condescending attitude that we can let the "simple people in the pews" know that).

I am currently a big proponent of Christians coming out as Atheists.  Let your wife know that it's ok, atheism is the future of Christianity!

The quote is not from Dogma.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Grimner on April 09, 2008, 07:59:23 AM
Well written and argued. I read it as much for language as for the contents.

I don't think it is a book to give to real believers - it's a bit like handing a handgrenade to a toodler; either nothing will happen or there will be a mess.

As a tool for landing the doubters on the right side of the fence, yes, that's more like it.


The audiobook is abridged by... Richard Dawkins.
The audiobook runs at... about 7 hours.
The audiobook is read by... Lala Ward and Richard Dawkins.

OK, I hate "abridging" too, but here it is done in a rather nice way, don't you think?
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Jim on April 09, 2008, 08:46:07 AM
I only recently realised that Richard Dawkins married one of Doctor Who's assistants, now I find his arguements Even more compelling :-)
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: plob218 on April 09, 2008, 09:39:48 AM
I read it a few months ago. True, he doesn't bring a whole lot of new stuff to the table, but it's a damn good compilation of every argument I've heard him make against religion. And a pretty entertaining read, too!
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Geo on April 09, 2008, 10:39:41 AM
I just finished this book, but I'm not a convert. I was already an Atheist when I started.

I think the most important contribution Dawkins makes, and the most controversial, is the idea that we shouldn't be complacent any longer about peoples' supernatural beliefs. In his NOMA argument on pg. 54, he says that science has always taken a laissez faire approach to people's religious beliefs. That such beliefs lie beyond science and the two don't overlap. This is where Dawkins converts me. We give religion a free pass, but why should we?

He makes the point somewhere that these are our doctors, lawyers, congressmen. They are running our world. And they still believe in the Easter Bunny.

I, for one, think our electorate should be held to high intellectual standards. In the U.S. there's this idea taking root that we are a Christian nation. This is absolute b**crap! Our founding fathers were, for the most, deists, which is an agnostic sort of belief, a lot closer to atheism than Christianity, I dare say.

The other really important thing Dawkins has to say is that those who are taught that unquestioned faith is a virtue are truly missing out on the beauty and wonder of the universe and the world around them. An understanding of evolution opens up the narrow window that we see through. Unfortunately, this message will be lost on true believers because they want to believe and that's that.
Title: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Sabbie on April 21, 2008, 02:15:56 AM
Wow I finally finished it. Opinion hasn't changed, among the best books I have ever read. Well, non-fiction books.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: pareidoliac on April 29, 2008, 12:45:37 AM
I thought for the most part that this book is solid but I disagreed a bit with Dawkins.  When he was talking about that girl who was molested by her priest and thought that that was less traumatizing than being told people she knew would go to hell.  I'm great at run on sentences.  But that seems a bit of a weak anecdotal argument.  I rather enjoyed the last chapter, it was basically an extended version of his TED lecture (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/98).  From people who tell me they've read both The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, most say they liked The Selfish Gene more.  I have yet to read The Selfish Gene.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: MisterMarc on April 29, 2008, 01:33:07 AM
When he was talking about that girl who was molested by her priest and thought that that was less traumatizing than being told people she knew would go to hell.  I'm great at run on sentences.

Actually, I think that was a sentence fragment that happened to be long rather than a run-on sentence.

As for the book, I just picked it up yesterday. Should be a good read, as I generally find Dawkins to be pretty entertaining.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: ourpasture on April 29, 2008, 02:02:07 AM
a book on my reads for the year.  but Dawkins typically comes off as condescending... and well... an asshole.  I mean really, the guy comes off as a blowhard ass in alot of his commentaries, very coloquial.  the real message gets lost in his delivery. 

but it is pretty entertaining. 
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Sabbie on April 29, 2008, 05:44:15 AM
I hear that a lot but I actually do not experience this "he's such an asshole" feeling when read this book :-\
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 06:48:37 AM
I stopped reading it again.  I just can't get into it. 

I don't really disagree with much of what he says, but disagree with the way he says it.  I do not think that he is ontologically an asshole (like Chistopher Hitchens and Penn Jillette), but I don't think he's improving the "Public Understanding of Science" with his rhetoric, which is supposed to be his job.

I suspect I'm a Gouldian.  I started reading Gould after Asimov died; It seems that reading the combination of Gould, Spong, and Sagan during the formative years of my late teens/early twenties convinced me that Science and Religion are compatible and important parts of the human endeavor.

Dawkins makes very good arguments against certain beliefs and specific sects and inappropriately associates these arguments with all religion.  Of course, he ignores the fact that some of the most active opponents of the beliefs and sects he's condemning are other religious folk.  It's not at all dissimilar from the ridiculous associations EXPELLED tries to from between Evolution and Hitler.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 29, 2008, 07:24:28 AM
I am currently a big proponent of Christians coming out as Atheists.  Let your wife know that it's ok, atheism is the future of Christianity!



Hi Febo,

I am sure you have covered this before, but I am new here.  What is an atheist christian, and, further, how are they different from an atheist muslim?

I would also take issue with your claim that the majority of the religious are classed as believing in a supernatutral deity although they really don't.  Where are you from?  I am from the UK, BTW, where religion is barely even mentioned, but western europe is really the exception worldwide in my opinion.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 07:35:03 AM
I am currently a big proponent of Christians coming out as Atheists.  Let your wife know that it's ok, atheism is the future of Christianity!



Hi Febo,

I am sure you have covered this before, but I am new here.  What is an atheist christian, and, further, how are they different from an atheist muslim?

I would also take issue with your claim that the majority of the religious are classed as believing in a supernatutral deity although they really don't.  Where are you from?  I am from the UK, BTW, where religion is barely even mentioned, but western europe is really the exception worldwide in my opinion.

In the United States, most Jews (at least those of the reformed and conservative traditions) observe some of the traditions (the ones that don't get in the way of contemporary life), and celebrate some of the Holidays, and enjoy the stories from scripture, but no one, not even their Rabbi, demands that they believe anything in particular to be considered a "Jew".  The supernatural bits are seen as curious parts of the cultural tradition, but not the foundation of the Faith; the foundation of the Faith is a loving community that shares a common history and mythology and supports its people.

I see Christianity, and all religions, the same way.

Obviously, no one tradition has any exclusive claim on "a loving community that shares a common history and mythology and supports its people," so the way I see it, the only difference between the various religion is the particulars of their shared history, customs, and mythologies.

See Also. (http://skepchick.org/skepticsguide/index.php/topic,3.msg226956.html#msg226956)
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 29, 2008, 07:37:57 AM
I am currently a big proponent of Christians coming out as Atheists.  Let your wife know that it's ok, atheism is the future of Christianity!



Hi Febo,

I am sure you have covered this before, but I am new here.  What is an atheist christian, and, further, how are they different from an atheist muslim?

I would also take issue with your claim that the majority of the religious are classed as believing in a supernatutral deity although they really don't.  Where are you from?  I am from the UK, BTW, where religion is barely even mentioned, but western europe is really the exception worldwide in my opinion.

In the United States, most Jews (at least those of the reformed and conservative traditions) observe some of the traditions (the ones that don't get in the way of contemporary life), and celebrate some of the Holidays, and enjoy the stories from scripture, but no one, not even their Rabbi, demands that they believe anything in particular to be considered a "Jew".  The supernatural bits are seen as curious parts of the cultural tradition, but not the foundation of the Faith; the foundation of the Faith is a loving community that shares a common history and mythology and supports its people.

I see Christianity, and all religions, the same way.

Obviously, no one tradition has any exclusive claim on "a loving community that shares a common history and mythology and supports its people," so the way I see it, the only difference between the various religion is the particulars of their shared history, customs, and mythologies.

See Also. (http://skepchick.org/skepticsguide/index.php/topic,3.msg226956.html#msg226956)


I wouldn't disagree with your view of Judaism in the US, although my experience is not great, but I would love to see your evidence that mainstream christianity is the same 'happy-go-lucky' group hug that views this 'god' character as an amusing quirk.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: door on April 29, 2008, 07:43:16 AM
In the end how is being an atheist different to being a theist?

Does this book address this?


Personally I'm an agnostic with a twist of atheism. A strong twist, but still..


 
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 07:44:36 AM
I am currently a big proponent of Christians coming out as Atheists.  Let your wife know that it's ok, atheism is the future of Christianity!



Hi Febo,

I am sure you have covered this before, but I am new here.  What is an atheist christian, and, further, how are they different from an atheist muslim?

I would also take issue with your claim that the majority of the religious are classed as believing in a supernatutral deity although they really don't.  Where are you from?  I am from the UK, BTW, where religion is barely even mentioned, but western europe is really the exception worldwide in my opinion.

In the United States, most Jews (at least those of the reformed and conservative traditions) observe some of the traditions (the ones that don't get in the way of contemporary life), and celebrate some of the Holidays, and enjoy the stories from scripture, but no one, not even their Rabbi, demands that they believe anything in particular to be considered a "Jew".  The supernatural bits are seen as curious parts of the cultural tradition, but not the foundation of the Faith; the foundation of the Faith is a loving community that shares a common history and mythology and supports its people.

I see Christianity, and all religions, the same way.

Obviously, no one tradition has any exclusive claim on "a loving community that shares a common history and mythology and supports its people," so the way I see it, the only difference between the various religion is the particulars of their shared history, customs, and mythologies.

See Also. (http://skepchick.org/skepticsguide/index.php/topic,3.msg226956.html#msg226956)


I wouldn't disagree with your view of Judaism in the US, although my experience is not great, but I would love to see your evidence that mainstream christianity is the same 'happy-go-lucky' group hug that views this 'god' character as an amusing quirk.

There are many congregations of mainstream Christians like that, mostly in Northeastern Cities.  Overall, mainstream Christianity is certainly not at that point yet, but it is heading in that direction.   However, it is certainly closer to that than it is to the cult of hatred and ignorance that is it frequently portrayed as by skeptics and in the mainstream media.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 29, 2008, 07:57:10 AM
Ok, so we are getting somewhere.  Christianity is HEADING in the direction of being a simple collection of people sharing a culture.  But it is not there yet.  I hope you are right.

But history shows that religion can wax as well as wane in its virulence.

And can you answer my question as to the diffrence between an atheist muslim and an atheist christian?

Edit:  And another thing, while the mainstream may not be the cult of hatred and ignorance, the loudest and most (overtly) influential bits are.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 08:32:17 AM
And can you answer my question as to the difference between an atheist Muslim and an atheist Christian?

I thought I did... the bit about "the only difference is the specifics of their Myths and Customs." 

Quote
Edit:  And another thing, while the mainstream may not be the cult of hatred and ignorance, the loudest and most (overtly) influential bits are.

Yeah, that sucks, doesn't it?

And they are aided by hateful and ignorant skeptics (not naming any names) who encourage others to believe that this vocal minority is representative of the majority.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 29, 2008, 08:49:16 AM
And can you answer my question as to the difference between an atheist Muslim and an atheist Christian?

I thought I did... the bit about "the only difference is the specifics of their Myths and Customs." 

Quote
Edit:  And another thing, while the mainstream may not be the cult of hatred and ignorance, the loudest and most (overtly) influential bits are.

Yeah, that sucks, doesn't it?

And they are aided by hateful and ignorant skeptics (not naming any names) who encourage others to believe that this vocal minority is representative of the majority.

Ok, so there is no difference between atheist christians, atheist muslims, and atheists birdwatchers.

I understand your point, just don't agree.

And the hateful and ignorant skeptics are guilty only of pointing out that the vocal minority are the problem.  Most skeptics I have read are happy to say that they are perfectly ok with people practicing any faith they want in a non intrusive way.  And concede that many or most do.  So I think hateful and ignorant is a bit harsh.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 09:18:52 AM
And the hateful and ignorant skeptics are guilty only of pointing out that the vocal minority are the problem.  Most skeptics I have read are happy to say that they are perfectly ok with people practicing any faith they want in a non intrusive way.  And concede that many or most do.  So I think hateful and ignorant is a bit harsh.

The hateful and ignorant skeptic are just as rare and non-representative as the hateful and ignorant Christians.  But I am still sometimes shocked by the degree to which many run-of-mill skeptics take extremists' rhetoric at face value.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 29, 2008, 09:30:54 AM
And the hateful and ignorant skeptics are guilty only of pointing out that the vocal minority are the problem.  Most skeptics I have read are happy to say that they are perfectly ok with people practicing any faith they want in a non intrusive way.  And concede that many or most do.  So I think hateful and ignorant is a bit harsh.

The hateful and ignorant skeptic are just as rare and non-representative as the hateful and ignorant Christians.  But I am still sometimes shocked by the degree to which many run-of-mill skeptics take extremists' rhetoric at face value.

Himm, if they take rhetoric at face value then, drum roll please, they are not real skeptics. ahahahahahahahaha I kill me.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: 2112 on April 29, 2008, 11:05:40 AM
I find it funny when people say that religion leads to violence and atheism is the way out. Just look at that drunk bastard Christopher Hitchens. He uses his extreme form of atheism to advocate the wholesale slaughter of muslims. People must realize it is not religion that causes violence, its fundamentalism (I think a great skeptic once said that).
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: cerveauxfrits on April 29, 2008, 11:12:24 AM
I find it funny when people say that religion leads to violence and atheism is the way out. Just look at that drunk bastard Christopher Hitchens. He uses his extreme form of atheism to advocate the wholesale slaughter of muslims. People must realize it is not religion that causes violence, its fundamentalism (I think a great skeptic once said that).
Srsly, I'm getting sick of that argument.  I almost cried for joy when I was listening to the "who kills more" episode of Skeptoid and Dunning threw the whole debate on its ass and ranted a little bit about what a stupid false dilemma it is.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 11:24:07 AM
I find it funny when people say that religion leads to violence and atheism is the way out. Just look at that drunk bastard Christopher Hitchens. He uses his extreme form of atheism to advocate the wholesale slaughter of muslims. People must realize it is not religion that causes violence, its fundamentalism (I think a great skeptic once said that).
Srsly, I'm getting sick of that argument.  I almost cried for joy when I was listening to the "who kills more" episode of Skeptoid and Dunning threw the whole debate on its ass and ranted a little bit about what a stupid false dilemma it is.

Yes, that episode was one of Dunning's finest!  :D
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: spiney on April 29, 2008, 12:23:58 PM
I agree with a lot of what Dawkins says (many will be surprised to hear!).

Had this book been called - something like - "The evils of religious fundamentalism", that would have been great, but unfortunately Dawkins turns it into a dogmatic ranting of his own beliefs, which has the following problems:

1. Religious fanatics and moderates and liberals are all lumped together, as "deluded".

2. Much of this is about USA and Middle East Fundamentalism, but doesn't apply to most religious believers.

3. His presentation of complex theological issues is just caricature (hence, just wrong, to put it bluntly!).

4. Research by Google (instead of consulting actual experts!).

For example ........

http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/2007/03/god-delusion-source-criticism.html

http://www.faithfullyliberal.com/?p=879

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=214x133176

and so on .........

The general problem is, his representation of religious beliefs is generally a misleading caricature, so even if somebody seriously considers atheism because of this book, they're doing it based on ignorance, which I don't think is too good!
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 12:28:14 PM
4. Research by Google (instead of consulting actual experts!).

For example ........

http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/2007/03/god-delusion-source-criticism.html

http://www.faithfullyliberal.com/?p=879

and so on .........


Did you just condemn someone for doing research by Google, and rebut it with more research by Google?
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: spiney on April 29, 2008, 12:31:21 PM
4. Research by Google (instead of consulting actual experts!).

For example ........

http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/2007/03/god-delusion-source-criticism.html

http://www.faithfullyliberal.com/?p=879

and so on .........


Did you just condemn someone for doing research by Google, and rebut it with more research by Google?

No!

But, his understanding of religion is highly deficient. He did not consult any experts. Good going, for somebody at Oxford University!
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: cerveauxfrits on April 29, 2008, 12:45:52 PM
Sounds like a bit of a Courtier's Reply to me.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 12:51:53 PM
Sounds like a bit of a Courtier's Reply to me.

I certainly agree that Dawkins' knowledge of religion is significantly lacking.

What is a "Courtier's Reply?"

Edit: I looked it up; it is basically the accusation that those who know more about religion than Dawkins are the equivalent of courtiers who fawn over an emperor's invisible clothes.  Which is basically just a very sophisticated way of saying, "Nuh-uh!"
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: MisterMarc on April 29, 2008, 01:57:22 PM
Personally I think what Febo is describing as religion is really 'culture.' You can honor jewish culture without having to subscribe to judaism. The same is true of christianity. A prime example is christmas, which I'm sure most atheists celebrate along with everyone else. However, I would say that participating in the religious rituals of those cultures is akin to being a religious enabler. That is why fundamentalism is in the state it is now, and I think that was Dawkins' point, not that all religious people are doing bad things.

By the way, what makes a religion (as Dawkins discusses it) a religion is the worship of a deity. That's what happens in the majority of all churches of all denominations. People who are members of those churches either believe that said deity is real, or act as if that deity is real. And no amount of semantic babble is going to change that. If your "christian church" does not hold christ to be the son of god, and god to be the creator, or if it does not act is if that is the case, then it isn't a christian church. It's a social club.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 02:04:33 PM
Personally I think what Febo is describing as religion is really 'culture.' You can honor jewish culture without having to subscribe to judaism. The same is true of christianity. A prime example is christmas, which I'm sure most atheists celebrate along with everyone else. However, I would say that participating in the religious rituals of those cultures is akin to being a religious enabler. That is why fundamentalism is in the state it is now, and I think that was Dawkins' point, not that all religious people are doing bad things.

By the way, what makes a religion (as Dawkins discusses it) a religion is the worship of a deity. That's what happens in the majority of all churches of all denominations. People who are members of those churches either believe that said deity is real, or act as if that deity is real. And no amount of semantic babble is going to change that. If your "christian church" does not hold christ to be the son of god, and god to be the creator, or if it does not act is if that is the case, then it isn't a christian church. It's a social club.

If you don't consider yourself a Christian, don't try to define the Christian Church.  The Christian Church has been evolving for 2000 years, and it continues to evolve, and it is not required to live up to it's enemies worst expectations.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: cerveauxfrits on April 29, 2008, 02:29:55 PM
I was more intending to argue that Dawkins is operating on the level of the basic premise of religion, which is something about which he (having, among other things, been raised in a religious environment) does not necessarily lack the expertise needed to discuss with authority.  I doubt that there's much to be gained from much time spent consulting with theologians, as their added expertise is related to aspects of religion which don't come in to play when you're talking about something as fundamental as whether there's a god in the first place.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 02:39:24 PM
I was more intending to argue that Dawkins is operating on the level of the basic premise of religion, which is something about which he (having, among other things, been raised in a religious environment) does not necessarily lack the expertise needed to discuss with authority.  I doubt that there's much to be gained from much time spent consulting with theologians, as their added expertise is related to aspects of religion which don't come in to play when you're talking about something as fundamental as whether there's a god in the first place.

Right... why try to find out the facts when your own prejudices support your arguments so perfectly?
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: thefellswooper on April 29, 2008, 03:00:55 PM
I was more intending to argue that Dawkins is operating on the level of the basic premise of religion, which is something about which he (having, among other things, been raised in a religious environment) does not necessarily lack the expertise needed to discuss with authority.  I doubt that there's much to be gained from much time spent consulting with theologians, as their added expertise is related to aspects of religion which don't come in to play when you're talking about something as fundamental as whether there's a god in the first place.

Right... why try to find out the facts when your own prejudices support your arguments so perfectly?

I've read a fair amount of theology, ranging from Augustine to Barth.  I don't remember a lot of facts.

I think this notion that Dawkins paints all Christians (or all religious people) with the same brush is just plain false.  I don't have the book handy, but I distinctly remember a quite clear passage in which he indicates that he understands perfectly well that there are "moderate" and even "liberal" religious, and that they obviously don't pose the same danger to society that fundamentalists do.  His basic complaint with the moderate religious - with which I agree - is that they provide the socially acceptable ground of irrational belief upon which the fundamentalists build their mountains of lunacy. 
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 03:08:17 PM
I think this notion that Dawkins paints all Christians (or all religious people) with the same brush is just plain false.  I don't have the book handy, but I distinctly remember a quite clear passage in which he indicates that he understands perfectly well that there are "moderate" and even "liberal" religious, and that they obviously don't pose the same danger to society that fundamentalists do.

That's part of what's so frustrating about reading him... he does make statements like that -- and then he says the exact opposite.

Quote
His basic complaint with the moderate religious - with which I agree - is that they provide the socially acceptable ground of irrational belief upon which the fundamentalists build their mountains of lunacy. 

Which is about as accurate as claiming that the Theory of Evolution provides the philosophical basis for Fascism.

Liberal religious folks are actually very good at combating the fundamentalist lunacy.  There will always be those extreme wack-jobs who claim that liberal Christians are just as bad as atheists, but there's nothing to be done about those people, they're just as hopeless as those other extremists who claim that liberal Christians provide the socially acceptable ground of irrational belief upon which the fundamentalists build their mountains of lunacy.

 ;)
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: MisterMarc on April 29, 2008, 03:13:03 PM
If you don't consider yourself a Christian, don't try to define the Christian Church.  The Christian Church has been evolving for 2000 years, and it continues to evolve, and it is not required to live up to it's enemies worst expectations.

I don't have to be Christian to define "Christian," it has been defined for ages.
Quote
American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition -

Christianity

The religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, sent by God. They believe that Jesus, by dying and rising from the dead, made up for the sin of Adam and thus redeemed the world, allowing all who believe in him to enter heaven. Christians rely on the Bible as the inspired word of God. (See also gospel, Nativity, Resurrection, salvation, and Sermon on the Mount.)
I'm sure many Christians would disapprove of you re-writing of the definition, just as you appear to disapprove of me offering the commonly accepted one.

And if you are implying that I am an enemy of the Christian church somehow, I don't think I am. I don't particularly love it, but I don't have any desire to harm the people that practice it. I'm fine with their right to practice that religion as well. However, most religions (including Christianity, I think) are too aggressive to be content with simply practicing. They want to preach and convert, by hook or by crook. That I'm not fine with.

Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 29, 2008, 03:50:51 PM
I've tried to tell Febo this before. He won't listen. He'll still call himself a Christian, despite not believing the central beliefs of Christianity.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 03:58:09 PM
I've tried to tell Febo this before. He won't listen. He'll still call himself a Christian, despite not believing the central beliefs of Christianity.

Neither you, Aperion, nor MisterMarc, nor Richard dawkins, nor the American Heritage Dictionary can accurately define Christianity.  Christianity can only be defined by Christians.  Christians disagree among themselves what the best definition of Christianity is; but that does not mean that you are free to tell all Christians that they have to adhere to the one definition you believe.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: MisterMarc on April 29, 2008, 04:02:05 PM
Neither you, Aperion, nor MisterMarc, nor Richard dawkins, nor the American Heritage Dictionary can accurately define Christianity.  Christianity can only be defined by Christians.

I can't argue with that.

No seriously, I mean I can't argue with that. Impossible. :-\
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: thefellswooper on April 29, 2008, 04:02:21 PM
I've tried to tell Febo this before. He won't listen. He'll still call himself a Christian, despite not believing the central beliefs of Christianity.
Christianity can only be defined by Christians.

Says who?  Why do you think this is true?  We're all observers of Christians and the history of Christianity.  You just want it to be true, because it's an easy out from some tough questions for you.   You might as well say schizophrenia can only be defined by schizophrenics.  It's just nonsense.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 29, 2008, 04:04:33 PM
What's really funny is that, when I was at seminary, I had arguments very similar to this with Christians telling me that I wasn't really an Atheist.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Grimner on April 29, 2008, 04:06:04 PM
You do realize, Fedo, that your stance as a 'Skeptical Materialist Agnostic Christian' is far more advanced and defensible than average beliefs? If your views where mainstream Christianity, Islam or whatever other belief system out there, then the religions would truly evolve. Such religions would have zero trouble with science or society.

What we have today is a fuzzy, knee-jerk respect for religion, which stops all discussion of it.
If we could put religion down to being culture (my opionion if you are in doubt), we could talk about the good and bad like any other part of society and politics.  Instead we have the ultimate show-stopper "god". Politicians will (if they want to be re-elected) bend over backwards to show respect for religion.

Religion is so ill-defined and steeped in authority that believers think that challenges can be met with curt dismissals and alleged "facts".
This is fairly typical in any discussion of religion - the believers are offended by simple questions and instead of letting them sulk, we say "sorry for asking, have a lollipop".
And when someone like Dawkins comes along and is so disrespectful as to demand proof - well, of course he is met with derision.

Personally, I'd love religions to live up to their own talk of morals and compassion. This is not likely as long as they insist on being exempt from the world when it suits them. I am not saying this from the typical "bad American fundie" or "mad mullah" view-point - this is from the Protestant church of Norway, run and sponsored by the state - the fights we have seen over abortion, female priests and gays are reeking more of human follies than theology or any god.


 As a side-note. In four years time (if it manages to do democratic reform), the Norwegian church will get the right to elect its own bishops, now appointed by ministerial orders. And the fight is on already, with more conservatives (hell might make a comeback) crawling out of the wood-work than I ever thought possible. Bring out the popcorn and watch it self-destruct or apply for membership to battle the forces of darkness as they gather force in susande's neighbourhood? Time will show...

 And for anyone in doubt, the Swedes are as usual years ahead of Norway on this.

Usual ramble - pleased if it was worth your time :)
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Grimner on April 29, 2008, 04:15:44 PM
I've tried to tell Febo this before. He won't listen. He'll still call himself a Christian, despite not believing the central beliefs of Christianity.

Neither you, Aperion, nor MisterMarc, nor Richard dawkins, nor the American Heritage Dictionary can accurately define Christianity.  Christianity can only be defined by Christians.  Christians disagree among themselves what the best definition of Christianity is; but that does not mean that you are free to tell all Christians that they have to adhere to the one definition you believe.

 We are going after the aspects that have an impact on society - what internal hairs Christians choose to split in metaphysical discussions is of no consequence to us (or anyone, apart from theologians getting paid for it). If people are going to use "God" as an argument, then "God" is fair play - just like any other ideological, scientific or cultural argument is fair game.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: cerveauxfrits on April 29, 2008, 04:40:48 PM
This whole "Is Febo a Christian or not?" thing is officially the the Internet's Lamest Meme.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 30, 2008, 03:53:24 AM
This whole "Is Febo a Christian or not?" thing is officially the the Internet's Lamest Meme.

For Febo to say he is a christian is to rob the sentence 'I am a christian' of any discenible meaning, rendering all further discusiion of religion impossible.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Apeiron on April 30, 2008, 04:19:43 AM
Neither you, Aperion, nor MisterMarc, nor Richard dawkins, nor the American Heritage Dictionary can accurately define Christianity.  Christianity can only be defined by Christians.  Christians disagree among themselves what the best definition of Christianity is; but that does not mean that you are free to tell all Christians that they have to adhere to the one definition you believe.

Bullshit. If you start living according to the Quran, practice the Five Pillars of Islam, start referring to some divine being as Allah, preach that Muhammad was his prophet, read the Quran daily and go to mosques then you can call yourself a Christian all you want, but you're still a Muslim.

In the same way are you not a Christian if you do not believe in God, and do not believe that Jesus was sent for the salvation of mankind from its inherently sinful nature.

Sure, Christians disagree. Some say that it is your will that leads you to accepting Jesus, others say that God chose you to become a Christian. Some say accepting Jesus' death is the only way to heaven, others say that good deeds will get you there as well. One thing is central to it all: the idea that Jesus was sent by God to redeem us of our sins. If you do not believe that, you are not a Christian even if you want to call yourself one. It would be similar to a vegetarian eating meat, me pointing out he's not a vegetarian, and him telling me that I don't know anything because vegetarians differ and only they can decide.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 30, 2008, 06:21:35 AM
This whole "Is Febo a Christian or not?" thing is officially the the Internet's Lamest Meme.

For Febo to say he is a christian is to rob the sentence 'I am a christian' of any discenible meaning, rendering all further discusiion of religion impossible.

I know many Chrisitians who would agree with you; I know other Christians who would vehemently disagree.

Science provides us with systematic methods for dealing with questions, and while some questions may remain unanswered for  a long period of time, as least we can agree that they are unanswered.

Religion deals with questions that cannot be answered.  Some people think that religion is mean to provide answers to questions, and refuse to accept when science comes up with a better answer; or else they abandon religion altogether.

However, questions that can be addressed by science are no longer religious questions.  That means that Religious questions change over time.  Some call this "god of the gaps" -- which is true if it is claimed that "god" inhabits the gaps... but "god" -- that metaphor which until recently referred to a supernatural being (and now does not mean that to anyone save for fundamentalists and anti-fundamentalist extremists like Dawkins) -- may be the human propensity for exploring questions that are currently well beyond our scientific understanding.

It is possible that some of you reading this will fall back to the old "you're just redefining god" chestnut.  But I'm not making this up, I learned this -- and many other ideas about god that transcend the old "supernatural sky daddy" cliche -- while studying at a mainstream Lutheran Seminary.  So it is not me, but the theological zeitgeist that is "redefining god" (as it has done continually for the past 45,000 years).  The only reason this seems strange to some today is that 120 years ago or so, one group of Christians redefined god in a way they they found appropriate to their situation, starting the "Fundamentalist Movement", and anti-religious zealous have clung to that one insignificant movement within the ever-evolving cluster of traditions and communities that can be called "Christian" and have used it as a cudgel in pseudo-theological warfare.

I guess we all need bogey-men to project our fears and hatred onto.  As I speculated elsewhere, I suspect that I do that with "Libertarians" -- whenever I'm in an argument with a Libertarian, and they say something reasonable, my first instinct is to say "That's not real Libertarianism".  But then, my whole point in arguing economics and politics is that we cannot pick any single philosophy and cling to it through all situations, we have to allow political and economic ideas evolve with the times; which is also how I see religion -- how most mainstream religious people see religion.

I am rambling now, so allow me to end with a Jefferson quote:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
- Thomas Jefferson
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 30, 2008, 06:29:17 AM
... but "god" -- that metaphor which until recently referred to a supernatural being (and now does not mean that to anyone save for fundamentalists and anti-fundamentalist extremists like Dawkins) --

Sorry, but I just think you are dead wrong whjen you say that YOUR view of god as a metaphor is the common one.  Show some evidence that 'god as a supernatural being' is a minority view among the professed religious.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Kwisatz Haderach on April 30, 2008, 07:52:08 AM
... but "god" -- that metaphor which until recently referred to a supernatural being (and now does not mean that to anyone save for fundamentalists and anti-fundamentalist extremists like Dawkins) --

Sorry, but I just think you are dead wrong whjen you say that YOUR view of god as a metaphor is the common one.  Show some evidence that 'god as a supernatural being' is a minority view among the professed religious.

Go to any academic seminary or school of theology and talk to the faculty; if you suggest that god is a supernatural being they will probably either smile condescendingly or laugh in your face (depending on how big an asshole they are).

Here are theologians who do not present god as a supernatural being, who publish in the popular press: Paul Tillich, John Spong, Edvard Schillebeeckx, Marcus Borg, Chuck Meyer, Paul Rajashekar, and of course -- although he is not technically a theologian -- Joseph Campbell.

I have always acknowledged that my self-appellation "Christian Atheist" is an unusual one, but the idea that "God" is a metaphor that transcends the quaint concept of a supernatural entity is certain not unusual, it is very common among average church going folks even in conservative congregations, and it is far and away the overwhelmingly dominant understanding of "god" among mainstream theologians.
Title: Re: Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion (2006)
Post by: Zookster on April 30, 2008, 08:04:11 AM

Go to any academic seminary or school of theology and talk to the faculty; if you suggest that god is a supernatural being they will probably either smile condescendingly or laugh in your face (depending on how big an asshole they are).

snip

I have always acknowledged that my self-appellation "Christian Atheist" is an unusual one, but the idea that "God" is a metaphor that transcends the quaint concept of a supernatural entity is certain not unusual, it is very common among average church going folks even in conservative congregations, and it is far and away the overwhelmingly dominant understanding of "god" among mainstream theologians.

Ok so your 'evidence' is to point out that many theologians agree with you, and then you extrapolate that to the general religious population via yet another plain bald assertion.

Shall we have a poll?  Maybe a religious forum member who is a member of christian forums too could go and gather some data?

Lets ask here, to start:

Any christians reading who agree that god is just a metaphor for something or other and not really a distinct supernatural entity with a son called Jesus?  If yes, raise your hands.