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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node Keep's Avatar
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    The God Delusion

    I don't want to ruin the fine thread that is 'What book are you reading?' But I do want to complain about how terrible I think the God Delusion is.

    New thread+.


    Ok. Cards on the table: I'm an atheist. But I'm definitely not anti-theism.

    Dawkins completely rubbed me up the wrong way. First of all, the reasons he gives for atheism don't match up with the depth of argument available. It's reasonable that for someone like him, the Argument from Design ("God doesn't exist? Explain the wonders of nature!") holds the most allure and I think he really does a good job giving a naturalistic counter-argument to that one.

    But he takes on Aquinas, the Ontological Argument, big theological topics, but he never really manages to get under the skin to the core "This is why God can not exist". His overview is glib. And he does while always maintaining a cruel sneer of "Theology's not even worth engaging worth".

    I find that so disrespectful, so obnoxious, and so ignorant.

    The second thing that Dawkins does that bothers me is he completely disregards the positive aspects of religion. Now I'm not going to defend it at all as societal force, I think no doubt, you look at history you look at modern day society and religion is little more than a justification for the most heinous activities. What religion has done during the Crusades, or the conquest of the Americas, to AIDS work in Africa, child abuse here in Ireland, what's currently going on in the US for LGBT rights, it's despicable and I'm not going to stand by any of that.

    However, to think it's something humanity needs to shake off is naive. Not only can we not - it's a part of us. You may as well say we should shake off our sexual jealousy - but we shouldn't try to.

    Religious belief has, and does, provide opportunities for wonderful and positive things. There're a whole range of activities we do, from charities to pilgrimages to rituals to artworks, that are fascinating and worthwhile and central to our nature, but Dawkins rubbishes them all as inconsequential.

    I find that so disrespectful, so obnoxious, and so ignorant.


    Ok folks. Go!
    Free speech don't mean unchallengeable speech.

  2. #2
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    Fundamentally the problem is that Dawkins is a little bit of a cock.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  3. #3
    Network Hub Rakysh's Avatar
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    I'm basically in agreement with you, Keep. I would add that I think when it comes to religion as a societal force in the middle ages and such like saying things like "religion caused the crusades" rather misses the point about medieval society, the nature of historical causation and why the crusades happened.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    I didn't hate it that much, but I definitely agree with those points. A lot of the book was about why it's ok to not believe in any god, and that stuff was good.

    But the stuff about why it's not ok to believe in any god was unconvincing. At best, it convinced me that religion shouldn't be given carte blanche to do whatever it likes, but I already kind of believed that anyway. But when people use religion to legitimise their personal prejudices, I consider that an abuse of religion, and anything can be painted as terrible if it is abused. There's obviously a logical distinction between what religious followers do and what a religion requires its followers to do (and a difference between what strict adherence to a religion requires its followers to do and "modernised" adherence to a religion requires its followers to do, too, for that matter).

    That said, while he failed to convince me that people shouldn't believe in God, he did convince me that believing in Satan is pretty ridiculous.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of na´vetÚ. It's na´vetÚ turned inside-out. Na´vetÚ wearing a sneer." -Momus

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    I'm anti-theism in that I agree with Prof. Dawkins in that it's very much a brainwashing tool used on children. There's no freedom of belief for them, because they don't understand they have the choice. I'm also against it as it's often used as a tool of hatred.

    The majority of religious people are fine. They're benign. They cause no issues. But it's the religions and the extremists that cause problems for me.

    Gay marriage's progression in the UK was halted by a Catholic bishop running his mouth, followed by the Archbishop of York, thusly turning a civil issue into a religious one.
    The spread of AIDS in Africa was partially due to the Catholic church refusing to endorse condoms.
    Restriction of personal freedoms and over-bearing safety checks for travelling on aircraft have been implemented in the wake of Islamic extremism.
    Whole communities of Islamic people have been demonised due to a few dangerous people.
    Paedophilia has been covered up within the Catholic church.

    That's just off the top of my head. Religion is a problem. A massive problem. It encroaches on debates that it is not involved in, it's changed the meanings of war (for example, Jeanne d'Arc's rise turned the war she was involved in from a territorial conflict into a religious action). Those who say religion is the cause or a factor in most wars? They're right.

    I don't hate religious people, but I hate their religions for all of the damage they cause, the abuses of people, the limitations of civil rights and so on.


  6. #6
    I haven't read the book, but I find the man to be just as arrogant, dismissive, and insulting as some of the people he rails against. Which, in my experience, is not the way to bring people around to your viewpoint.

    But he's loud.
    I guess there's that.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    The only way to ensure a just, tolerant and egalitarian society is to push towards a goal of universal political enfranchisement. All progress towards modern, pluralistic governance - and with it greater equality and a higher base standard of living - has come from the extension of political rights to a greater subset of the population. It stands to reason that the most enlightened form of governance, with the greatest results for its citizens, would be a theocracy, right? Ha.

    The last time formal religion was on the right side of history was when Martin Luther nailed a manifesto to the All-Saints' Church in Wittenberg, and only then because his autocratic institution was slightly less autocratic than the institution he was critiquing. However, so long as the book remains immutable, the most liberal Christianity can be is "you can interpret this book however which way you see fit." Imagine a 1,600 year old unedited constitution. You'd have to be pretty out there with your interpretation in order to hit the right century of progress, to say nothing of the right decade.

    Pretty much all of the time, however, the Abrahamic religions have been at best indifferent to and at worst staunch forces of regression against any progressive change towards greater enfranchisement. If it's not a bishop or priest, it's a cabal of parishioners attempting to consolidate power amongst themselves over everybody else. Even the 'liberal' sects commonly interpret their faith to include a mandate to use it to subvert secular institutions.

    God's always trotted out when it comes to putting a clamp on any form of self-determination for groups the Church or its parishioners deem unworthy - and that includes miscegenation, gender equality, civil rights, free speech, sexual freedom and really, for that matter, any assembly for any cause that doesn't make things more restrictive. Even the Good Works and charities tend more often than not to come bundled with demands to overtly follow interpretations of the book to the charity's satisfaction.

    The most tolerant of parishioners tend to be the most irreligious of parishioners - you know, the ones who ignore the calls to "go and make disciples of all nations," forcing people under the yoke of their "superior" morality. An absolutist moral system lends itself to sanctimony and thus intolerance.

    Now, I thought I'd provide examples of both historical and modern applications of this form of regression, repression and insularity, but all you really need to do is open a newspaper and three will just leap out of the pages at you. So, in the name of saving myself time, I'll just leave it at that for now.
    Last edited by Nalano; 17-05-2012 at 08:27 PM.
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  8. #8
    Network Hub sendmark's Avatar
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    Religious belief has, and does, provide opportunities for wonderful and positive things. There're a whole range of activities we do, from charities to pilgrimages to rituals to artworks, that are fascinating and worthwhile and central to our nature, but Dawkins rubbishes them all as inconsequential.
    Sorry but they are inconsequential compared to what can be achieved through collective human activities without the burden of religion and its inherent divisive judgments. It's a pity you find that upsetting, but a lot of cold truths are. Religion has absolutely no claim to kindness, social activity or art. Works produced in those fields under the shroud of religion could just as easily have been produced without it, and in most cases would have been a lot stronger and more reflective of humanity as a whole without it.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Pretty much what Nalano said.

    There *are* good preachers out there, and by that I mean people who apply common sense to their religion. The Reverend Ruth Jones, I believe she's a reverend in the Church of England, said that you cannot take the Bible literally nor can you pick and choose bits of it - the bits that say homosexuals are 'wrong' are also the bits where it says to stone your wife and children if they show disrespect and so forth - that's what we need. People who understand religion has to move with the times - it can certainly co-exist with secularism, but it needs to adapt to society in order to stay relevant and true to its message.

    Quote Originally Posted by sendmark View Post
    Sorry but they are inconsequential compared to what can be achieved through collective human activities without the burden of religion and its inherent divisive judgments. It's a pity you find that upsetting, but a lot of cold truths are. Religion has absolutely no claim to kindness, social activity or art. Works produced in those fields under the shroud of religion could just as easily have been produced without it, and in most cases would have been a lot stronger and more reflective of humanity as a whole without it.
    Except for generally being commissioned, of course.


  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keep View Post
    from charities to pilgrimages to rituals to artworks
    You know who are also great patrons of the arts?

    Dictators.

    Why?

    Because they have all the money.

    When the Catholic church was tithing all of Europe, they commissioned great works of art. Go Catholicism, right? Religion doesn't have a monopoly on morality or culture or art. If anything, it perverts them to suit a power elite. I'm reminded of the tongue-in-cheek accusation that communism is a religion: Indeed, there's a fair bit of hatred for "godless" communism among the church, mainly because the church sees a direct competitor. "Hey, we're supposed to be the totalitarian authority around here!"

    It's really quite simple: In an economy of scarcity, more for you means less for me. Therefore, if I have the power to deny you anything - because you can't veto me or vote me down - I directly benefit. The church is a power structure. Ergo.
    Last edited by Nalano; 17-05-2012 at 08:50 PM.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    The Catholic church is also really, really touchy about art.

    They've endangered the lives of artists because they've 'dared' to use the crucifix or other religious iconography in controversial works - Piss Christ, perhaps they've done so or will do so with Gunther von Hagens' Crucifixion, Madonna's crucifix set piece, and so on.


  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Althea View Post
    The Catholic church is also really, really touchy about art.

    They've endangered the lives of artists because they've 'dared' to use the crucifix or other religious iconography in controversial works - Piss Christ, perhaps they've done so or will do so with Gunther von Hagens' Crucifixion, Madonna's crucifix set piece, and so on.
    In a way, that makes them comparable to fascists. Under fascism, everything must be in service to the state, including art. Here, everything must be in service to the church. Power corrupts.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  13. #13
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    Religion is a good way to keep the masses down. However, we can probably make do just with football, celebrities, and shitty talent shows for this job now.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    What's that quote attributed to Karl Marx? Religion is the opiate of the masses.


  15. #15
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    I read a decent article recently (I believe it was in the Fortean Times) arguing that the way the human brain works leaves us open to interpret certain 'mind states' (such as some drugs, or faintness through fasting) as a religious or spiritual experience, as the article put it we were 'wired for God'. Which would explain why religion is so widespread.

    I describe myself as agnostic or probably more correctly irreligious, but dislike most organised religion, it's the difference between "if you believe this, come be our friends" and "you must believe this or you are bad".

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    It's kinda funny watching the militant evangelicals decide whether they hate the Black man or the Mormon the most.

    (Hint: It's the Black man)
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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    "His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy." - Woody Allen

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keep View Post
    However, to think it's something humanity needs to shake off is naive. Not only can we not - it's a part of us. You may as well say we should shake off our sexual jealousy - but we shouldn't try to.
    It's not part of me, and I reject the assertion that it is. I also reject the notion that we shouldn't try and shake off the idea of sexual jealousy. What use is it to me? What compelling argument have you that I ought to try and preserve either?

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    It's kinda funny watching the militant evangelicals decide whether they hate the Black man or the Mormon the most.

    (Hint: It's the Black man)
    But... but how are they supposed to claim evolution is racist, then?
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of na´vetÚ. It's na´vetÚ turned inside-out. Na´vetÚ wearing a sneer." -Momus

  19. #19
    Network Hub Donjo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    Religion is a good way to keep the masses down. However, we can probably make do just with football, celebrities, and shitty talent shows for this job now.
    Fuck all that shit, I'll stick with old Doom mods.

    Dawkins has occasionally come across as fairly arrogant but I wouldn't go from there to defending religion too quickly..
    Keep- "child abuse here in Ireland"
    is enough for me to wish utter destruction for the Catholic church. I read some article recently, can't remember what, the point stuck though- How is it that an organisation is still tolerated after it has become painfully obvious it carried out an industrial scale of abuse and rape
    against children
    for decades?

    Edit: not sure why my text is formatting like that.. can't fix it though.. DAMN YOU GOD FOR FORMATTING IT THIS WAY
    Last edited by Donjo; 17-05-2012 at 10:55 PM.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegooseking View Post
    But... but how are they supposed to claim evolution is racist, then?
    Evolution is a lie made by socialists to call us upstanding god-fearing folks monkeys! Next, they'll be comparing us to Black people!

    Quote Originally Posted by Donjonson View Post
    Keep- "child abuse here in Ireland" is enough for me to wish utter destruction for the Catholic church.
    Don't forget the Magdalene asylums.
    Last edited by Nalano; 17-05-2012 at 10:57 PM.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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