Richard Dawkins blurts again

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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Richard Dawkins blurts again

#1

Post by Turgonian » Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:06 pm

Has anyone read Richard Dawkins's new book, The God Delusion? I'd never heard of it, but today I happened to come across a review in The Economist. I'll post it here:
The Economist wrote:MISBEGOTTEN SONS

Richard Dawkins has long trumpeted the rationale of science. Now, at 65, he has finally marshalled a lifetime's arguments against believing in God.


“THE GOD DELUSION” is an irreverent book. The author, Richard Dawkins, accuses Jesus of having “dodgy family values”. And don't get him started on the God of the Old Testament, “a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”.

Mr Dawkins is an atheist, an evolutionary biologist and an eloquent communicator about science, three passions that have allowed him to construct a particularly comprehensive case against religion. Everyone should read it. Atheists will love Mr Dawkins's incisive logic and rapier wit and theists will find few better tests of the robustness of their faith. Even agnostics, who claim to have no opinion on God, may be persuaded that their position is an untenable waffle.

Like several other anti-religious volumes of recent years (“The End of Faith”, “Breaking the Spell”), Mr Dawkins's book is partly a reaction to the September 11th attacks. These have been portrayed as essentially religious acts. Whatever the hijackers' political or social motivations, it was religious faith that ultimately turned them into killing machines. They believed they were doing God's work and would be justly rewarded in the afterlife.

It is easy to denounce such deluded zealots, but what relation do they have to ordinary, “sensible” religious people? The problem, as Mr Dawkins sees it, is that religious moderates make the world safe for fundamentalists, by promoting faith as a virtue and by enforcing an overly pious respect for religion. (Why is it easier for a Quaker to avoid combat duty as a conscientious objector than someone who simply deplores violence?) Furthermore, the argument goes, any positive aspects of religion can be replaced by equally beneficial non-religious substitutes.

As a prelude to these contestable claims, Mr Dawkins examines the interesting question of why religion is so widespread. Worshipping deities would seem to be an irrational and wasteful habit, yet it has been found in all cultures. Wouldn't natural selection have got rid of religious tendencies if religion were clearly bad for humans after all?

Not necessarily. Mr Dawkins advocates the idea that religion is a by-product of mental abilities that evolved for other purposes. One form of this theory is that children are “programmed” to believe anything their parents tell them, which is quite sensible in light of all the useful information parents can share. But this system is vulnerable to becoming a conduit for worthless information that is passed on for no other reason than tradition.

However, this does not explain the special appeal of religious ideas as opposed to any bizarre ideas. Religious thoughts must be especially compatible with human psychology. “Religion has at one time or another been thought to fill four main roles in human life: explanation, exhortation, consolation and inspiration,” writes Mr Dawkins, enumerating the four targets of his logical firepower.

He shows that religion does not provide a satisfactory explanation for anything. Here his arguments are well-rehearsed and finely honed from decades of combating American fundamentalists. This section will appeal to anyone who ever wondered, if God created the universe, who created God?

As for exhortation, he argues that in practice, religion is not a legitimate source of morality. If it were, Jews would still be executing those who work on the Sabbath. Where morality actually does come from is less clear. Mr Dawkins suggests the source is a combination of genetic instincts, which evolved because morals allowed humans to benefit more efficiently from co-operation, and a cultural Zeitgeist.

For some people consolation and inspiration are genuine benefits of religion, as even Mr Dawkins will allow. But these functions can and should be fulfilled by other means, he says. This is the most problematic part of his thesis. In his case contemplation of the natural world does the job; his final chapter is an ode to the perspective-altering discoveries of modern physics. But only a minority will find as much consolation in quantum physics as in the prospect of reuniting with their dearly departed in heaven.

Even if it is granted that religion should be expunged, how does Mr Dawkins suggest this could be done? Buy his book as a Christmas gift for one's religious friends? Obviously, many people will never be persuaded; that is precisely the nature of faith. The actual plan is twofold.

First, Mr Dawkins wants to subvert the mode of transmission between parent and child. He calls a religious upbringing a form of indoctrination and equates it to child abuse. He wants to encourage a change in the Zeitgeist, so that when people hear the words “a Catholic child”, or “a Muslim child”, they will wince, and ask how a child could already have formed independent opinions on transubstantiation or jihad.

His second and related plan is to energise atheists, whom he regards as being in the same situation as homosexuals were 50 years ago: stigmatised and unelectable to public office (in America, at least). Mr Dawkins dreams of a day when atheists are as well organised and influential as Christian conservatives have become. If nothing else, his book should help bring the atheists out of the closet.
Any thoughts? I personally thought the article had a small pro-Dawkins bias.
Comparing religion to child abuse...please. Someone else in his camp compared it to knocking out children's teeth. Just goes to show how ignorant scientists can be when they start playing the philosopher...
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#2

Post by Judah » Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:25 pm

I read Dr Albert Mohler's review on his blog last night - Crosswalk.com: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 "The Dawkins Delusion".
Dr Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
His review has no pro-Dawkins bias.

I quote clips of it here, but it is well worth reading the whole thing - er, if you are into reading reviews before reading the book itself.
There are few surprises in The God Delusion. Dawkins is a gifted writer who is able to popularize scientific concepts, and he writes with an acerbic style that fits his purpose in this volume. His condescending and sarcastic tone set the stage for what he hopes will be a devastating attack upon theism.

....................................

Though The God Delusion is intended more as an attack upon theism than as a defense of evolutionary theory, the framework of evolution is never far from Dawkins' mind. In his opening chapter, he argues that most legitimate scientists--indeed all who really understand the issues at stake--are atheists of one sort or another.

....................................

In one of the central chapters of his book, Dawkins attempts to accomplish two simultaneous purposes: to undermine the intellectual movement known as Intelligent Design and, in a twist of its logic, to suggest that belief in God is itself a refutation of the very notion of an intelligent design. As Dawkins sees it, "the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other." As he sets out his case, he denies that there could be any legitimate basis for belief in God. The very notion of a supernatural agent flies directly in the face of his presuppositional naturalism. Therefore, by definition, such a God cannot exist and those who believe in such a God prove their intellectual inadequacy or gullibility.

....................................

In a sweeping rejection of biblical Christianity, Dawkins expresses outrage at the morality of both the Old and New Testaments. "I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sado-masochistic and repellant. We should also dismiss it as barking mad, but for its ubiquitous familiarity which has dulled our objectivity," he asserts. Dawkins would dispense with the Ten Commandments and replace these with a new set of commandments more attuned to modern times. Among his proposed commandments are these: "Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none of your business;" "Do not discriminate or oppress on the basis of sex, race or (as far as possible) species." Another of Dawkins' commandments hits close to home: "Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you."

....................................

The tone of the book is strident, the content of the book is bracing, and the attitude of the book is condescending. Nevertheless, Dawkins insists that his strident attack upon the faith is limited to words. "I am not going to bomb anybody, behead them, stone them, burn them at the stake, crucify them, or fly planes into their skyscrapers, just because of a theological disagreement," he insists. He even allows that "we can retain a sentimental loyalty to the cultural and literary traditions" of organized religion, "and even participate in religious rituals such as marriages and funerals," he asserts. Nevertheless, all this must be done without buying into the supernatural beliefs that historically went along with those traditions." Further: "We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage."All this raises more questions that Dawkins answers. If belief in God is so intellectually abhorrent, why would anyone want to retain the traditions associated with these beliefs? Why does Dawkins acknowledge that all this amounts to "a treasured heritage?" It must be because, in the end, even Richard Dawkins is not as much of an atheist as he believes himself to be. If Dawkins is so certain that theism is dead, why would he devote so much of his time and energy to opposing it? A man who is genuinely certain that Christianity is passing away would feel no need to write a 400-page book in order to urge its passing.
Sounds interesting, but his ideas seem to me to have a certain futility about them. After all, in the end God has the last say.

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#3

Post by Turgonian » Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:36 am

Yeah, I read that review.

God has the last say, but if extreme anti-religionists have the first one, things could get tough.

Today's newspaper wrote that Liberals want to ban officials who refuse to marry homosexuals. You have to agree with everything they invent or retreat from the public square... And I've come across several articles (often of an American fundamentalist bent, but still) which strongly suggest the world is taking steps to brainwash children the way Dawkins would like. For instance, Brainwashing in America: Why Few Dare Call it Conspiracy by Berit Kjos.
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#4

Post by faithinware » Tue Nov 21, 2006 3:57 pm

The Baptist says:
If belief in God is so intellectually abhorrent, why would anyone want to retain the traditions associated with these beliefs? Why does Dawkins acknowledge that all this amounts to "a treasured heritage?" It must be because, in the end, even Richard Dawkins is not as much of an atheist as he believes himself to be.


Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not simple. Why would one want to maintain control over others, as so many Baptist ministries do?
At least my belief in God is not hateful or controlling. I think we should be free of the HellFiring Baptist that run around unthinking and mean.

Dawkins just has another point of view, to which God isn't included. That doesn't mean that we need to believe the same. Faith is just belief in God regaurdless of any evidence there is to convince us to believe differently. In most cases, faith is a good thing. It is the fear of misuse of such activity that gives men like Dawkins and Harris a reason to write against these types of activities.

If we keep to a moral precept, the Doctor's creed: "Do no harm". Then we have moral values. However if we do harm to others, our faith in God will be negatively challenged, and well it should be. We are only part of this world a short while, why would Christians or any religious faith have cause to intentionally harm others? We shouldn't give atheists quarter in this. Nor any other religion.

What dawkins argues for is reason to be accountable for our own actions, and that my friends is more powerful than any belief system. God has his own way of handling the world, who are we to question that?

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#5

Post by hetfield » Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:10 am

I watch the Colbert Report so I've known about this show for a while, here's the clip of him on Colbert Report. I busted out laughing at Steven Colbert's intro comment, it's so wrong.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuXpysYEhgA
Someone one this forum, take some of the comments and break them down and prove them wrong, he was on C-SPAN a week ago or so, but I didn't have time to watch it, he might be on later. Look up his wikipedia article,whenever he gets to christianity stuff he uses very weak claims, but some of them are hard hitting, he's today's Charles Darwin.

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#6

Post by Turgonian » Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:18 am

faithinware wrote:Dawkins just has another point of view, to which God isn't included. That doesn't mean that we need to believe the same. Faith is just belief in God regaurdless of any evidence there is to convince us to believe differently. In most cases, faith is a good thing. It is the fear of misuse of such activity that gives men like Dawkins and Harris a reason to write against these types of activities.
Your definition of faith is, I think, not quite correct. See here: faith is 'a technical rhetorical term for forensic proof'.

Peter 'appealed to the evidence of the wonders and signs performed by Jesus; he appealed to the empty tomb, and he appealed to fulfillment of OT prophecy. In short, his appeals were evidentiary. One of course might wish to dispute the validity of the evidence, but in context this is beside the point. The point is that Peter grounded belief in Christianity on evidence -- or, as the definition of pistis in Acts 17:31 would put it, proofs.'

Faith isn't blind. ;)

And that 'Dawkins has just another point of view' is dangerous, especially if he convinces people to see things his way.
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#7

Post by faithinware » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:41 pm

I understand what you mean. But the first two definitions of Faith:
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof:

found in the dicitonary are the ones most commonly used.
So your saying our Faith in God is second hand faith. Its really confidence in Peter's ability to interpret the evidence that was revealed to him.

Is that correct?

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#8

Post by Turgonian » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:56 pm

No, not really.

We believe in Jesus, but we don't do so blindly, not just because we were told we had to. We believe in Jesus because He proved that He was God's Son by His miracles and especially His resurrection. That's what our faith is based on: proofs. Because Jesus showed Himself to be trustworthy, we can trust what He says.

So it's definition 1, not definition 2.
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#9

Post by faithinware » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:45 pm

I understand what you mean. We can trust what he says.
Is there anything he has said, that is not true?

I guess we individually have to examine what he says, and if it isn't true, then we decide on trust based on the evidentiary of what he says within our world.

If we base our belief on hearsay, and not first hand knowledge are we being true to our own integrity?

Man discovered science not all that long ago, when compared to human history. And the information we gain from science allows us to do many things that before were unheard of. Flying, camera's, phones, computers, healthcare. I mean our use of science is so ubiquitous that we don't even realize we use something that we naturally take to be true in our daily lives.

Science allows us to feed many more than we could have without it. It allows many good things to happen, yet when we look at things like evolution and the factual information it brings to our lives, we turn our heads and stick our fingers in our ears.

I use Faith to believe in many things. But we don't use faith to believe in the computer screen, or the keyboard etc... At least I don't.

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#10

Post by godslanguage » Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:34 pm

Hetfield, Richard Dawkins cannot justify anything else then his own religious theories. He can justify the theory of evolution to a "certain" extent. He frequently blends in his own faith with science but that doesn't justify anything beyond that. He even admits it himself, not that anyone is stupid enough to realize it.

Here is him being interviewed: http://www.arn.org/docs/dawkins.mpg

It is good to know that the bible teaches there will ALWAYS be people like Richard Dawkins claiming to know everything and pretending to have all the answers to the worlds needs. He feels religion is evil and I agree with that in the way that it CAN be used for evil. But does chritianity teach evil? Maybe, however that all depends on if you ever actually "read" the bible, or if you have been completely blinded or brainwashed by non-believers who have been spreading lies for the past 2000 years about Christianity and continue to this day... otherwise you'll notice that it teaches love because God is love.

Overall, Richard Dawkins and his religious theories are like taking a sledge hammer and trying to breakdown the Pyramid of Gaza. Think of it as another "tool" that has and will continue to be used, however will never succeed.

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#11

Post by faithinware » Wed Nov 22, 2006 5:04 pm

I have to say godslanguage that you portray Dawkins falsely.
Dawkins never claims to know everything my friend. You unfortunately are sadly mistaken. Dawkins has Faith in science "confidence in science". We all do. Or have you ever flown in an airplane?

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#12

Post by faithinware » Wed Nov 22, 2006 5:14 pm

I think I can have Faith in a God and not posit things that are possibly harmful. Science and its methods don't posit things that aren't backed up by facts. Personally I don't know if God created us via evolution or not, it really doesn't matter that much. At least not to me. I personally also don't like cognitive dissonance. So I believe what the evidence tells me to believe, and I normally test these things for myself.

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#13

Post by hetfield » Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:38 pm

well this is what he said about evolution (this is a paraphrase, but overall this is what he says, i'm not trying to change any of it) "think of a crime scene, now think of someone being murdered and signs being everywhere, now think of evolution as being this, and all an evolutinist is doing is picking up the signs, and putting things back together." ok so that's what he said, it seems like a good comparison, but can one really put back the signs of a crime scene if it happened over 13.7 billion years ago, afterall carbon dating is innacurate after something is 13,000 years old. i think my view of both creation and evolution is glim, so i'm going on this site to expand my mind.

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#14

Post by godslanguage » Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:42 pm

faithinware wrote:I have to say godslanguage that you portray Dawkins falsely.
Dawkins never claims to know everything my friend. You unfortunately are sadly mistaken. Dawkins has Faith in science "confidence in science". We all do. Or have you ever flown in an airplane?
Dawkins has faith in science...HAHAHA. And you mean to tell me that I don't? (actually, I have faith in God first, then maybe science)
Technology is a science that can be observed and tested in real-time. Nature is far more unpredictable, you can test it, but you can never be absolutely sure what the results are going to be, especially when it occurs through a 4.5 billion year course. Yes, you can make assumptions but that would take it to a level that is not within scientific boundaries, and that is exactly what Dawkins is doing. I believe there is alot of truth in Evolution, but I believe and many believe that Dawkins believes that the whole universe is the product of evolution. What that constitutes is a level of philosophy and religion just due to the fact that we know so little about the universe in the first place. I would like to hear a real good reason why you believe that he doesn't admit to this?

My claim that he knows everything there is, because when he says evolution is all there is then all there is left to study for scientists is the theory of evolution and what that also means is that nothing else is open to ANY other further explanation or interpretation. He forces science itself to be limited to Neo-Darwinism and not only science but now hes planning to run crusades against religion, as if relgion is evil!!! I believe religion CAN be evil and can be used as a product of EVIL. But I don't believe religion "teaches" evil. Is Christianity evil? The bible teaches love, there is NO doubt that it does, but Richard Dawkins, an expert in theology believes ALL religion is evil. Do you think that evolution can justify his claim that Christianity is the product of evil?

Dawkins says,quote: "I can't prove God exists, nobody can" and then he writes a book "The God delusion", and what that means is the obvious, his scientific background is NOT OPEN to other interpretations. Since he is not open to the existence of God, he will reject theories such as the Big Bang, possibility of design in nature, possibility of a creator given the probabilities of the Universe to have the amazing physical properties and constants in physics even to support life.

Richard Dawkins likes to repeatedly claim that "education, education and education" is the problem we have, what that also says that anyone not in the biology field is a moron. Now, thats fine, granted, I am not a biologist, rather in the field of Computer Networks/telecommunications so I wouldn't really know anything about biology. But you don't see me saying believe in computers, they are our hope, Computers are the only thing there is....etc... anything in the IT field onto people, differant people have differant skills and talents given to them by God, and many here who I greatly respect and honour wish to spread the word of God onto others, which is completely fine, because it is the truth and the truth is love from God.

However, I would honestly be very afraid if Richard Dawkins started messing around with the servers and pushing buttons randomly without any intelligence behind it, the network might be vulnerable to intruders which would pose security threats 8)
Last edited by godslanguage on Thu Nov 23, 2006 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#15

Post by hetfield » Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:19 pm

"anyone not in the biology field is a moron"
That is the best quote ever
Looks like our founding fathers were Morons.

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