The God Delusion - Chapter 1

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otseng
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The God Delusion - Chapter 1

Post #1

Post by otseng »

I'll kick off the debate on chapter 1 with a few questions. Feel free to add more questions for us to debate.

What does Dawkins mean by "deserved respect"?
Does religion really have "undeserved respect"?

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Post #2

Post by FinalEnigma »

By deserved respect, I think Dawkins means respect and treatment that are properly reflective of the thing to which it is given. He does not seem to specifically address to what he is attributing this deserved respect to, however this is unnecessary. It is enough to say that some things have deserved respect, and some things do not.

As to what undeserved respect is (which you didn't ask, but is still important) a perfect example would be many things that fall under the protection of 'political correctness'. For example, the African American race, and the race card in general. And that sentence probably proves my point. What happens when the police beats up a white guy? Nobody notices, or cares. What if it's a black man? Suddenly there are claims of prejudice, bigotry, and everything else the 'black community' can come up with to get attention. Why is there even a black community? There isn’t a white community, or an Asian community. At my high school there was a couple after school clubs. There was a black club, and an Asian club, where only black or Asian people respectively could attend. What would have happened if there was a white club, where only white people could go?

Any time someone pulls the race card, everyone tiptoes away. Because you can't fight someone who pulled the race card, they are invulnerable because it is given a disproportionate amount of leniency.
Undeserved respect.
This is also true of religion. Any time someone pulls the religion card, you can't touch them. In the case of James Nixon mentioned in chapter one, what would have happened had they not pulled the religion card? They would have lost. No other defense of such a hateful shirt would work. What would have happened if they had worn a shirt that wasn't defendable with religion? Maybe "being black is evil"
That would be no different in actuality than "homosexuality is a sin". (Research suggests that people are born homosexual) But if you wore a shirt that said, "Being black is evil" you would be the one being sued. Or how about this one, lets have some fun. What if the shirt said, "Christians are evil"? That would never be allowed in America.

Undeserved respect is when something is given protection far and away beyond anything else, for no good reason.

Admittedly it is diminishing, this undeserved respect for religion, but very slowly, and it is there

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 1

Post #3

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:I'll kick off the debate on chapter 1 with a few questions. Feel free to add more questions for us to debate.

What does Dawkins mean by "deserved respect"?
Does religion really have "undeserved respect"?
I think in his opening chapter he clearly explains this. He puts religion on a pedestal in terms of how politically and scientifically we are suppose to approach it as untouchable. He made a very powerful statement when he quoted Bush Sr statements about atheists not only non-patriotic, but essentially morally corrupt souls without any inherent rights to survive.

He made several assertions about how people are so careful to be politically correct and to tip toe around the topic of religion as if it deserved some special platform that shouldn't be questioned. He made it perfectly clear, and backed it up with polls, about how few people would actually vote for any elected official that was atheist. In a sense, he showed how religion essentially has one of the top 10 most violent histories, yet we should respect it. Why? Where did the respect come from. When was it found worthy? The Crusades, the witch trials, the inquisition, the "ethnic cleansing" of our lifetime? How is one to find the notion of being labeled a sinner from birth respectable? It is like we are to fight from the first breath to prove we are worthy of one who finds us unworthy.

Tell me when has religion earned it current status as respectable? When the churches rejected my son? When Easyrider claimed they were valid in doing so because the life of one child isn't as important as the other 20? When the most recent "ethnic cleansing" (which he appropriately refers to as religious cleansing since that is what they truly are) occurred? 9/11?

Is it respect they have, or is it power? How many political parties owe their elections to funding by special interest groups/lobbyists? We are to be from religious persecution, yet don't admit you are agnostic or atheist because then you become not only unpatriotric but sub human to boot.

Tell me, what has religion done to earn its respect. All the homeless shelters in this area that are run by religious organizations are all willing to help those less fortunate find a ground to start off with, but you must attend a daily sermon to get the help they offer. There is always that catch. God forbid you fall short of their perceived perfection. Then you are not worthy of what they have to offer. You are a wasted resource. Why is it only around these special religious holidays that churches make such an effort to show their presence? Where are they during the rest of the year.

While I may not like Dawkins writing style, I respect the fact that he states flat out in his opening that he isn't out to intentionally offend religion, but he isn't going to handle it kiddie gloves either.

So I have to go with the fact that religion in general has much undeserved respect. I think it is more fear than respect, but that is a personal opinion.
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Post #4

Post by Furrowed Brow »

I find the asymmetry between the section Deserved Respect and Undeserved Respect not very well structured. It seems that deserving of respect is Einstein’s pantheism
To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.
So Dawkins does not seem to mind this kind of humble fumble, as he lets Einstein’s quotes stand for itself without challenge. But then in the section Undeserving of Respect he launches into an attack on the sensitivities of formal religion. I might agree with that but he is lacking any quotes or references giving insight into the nature of personal belief in the supernatural, in the way he is quick to quote Einstein. So he moves from personal philosophies to the cultural-political nature of world religions. It’s a slick move, but probably missing a couple of chapters in between if he Dawkins’ intended to offer something more substantial.

So in the section Deserved Respect Dawkins’ provides insight, and in the section Undeserved Respect he just goes straight on the attack. In short the chapter is not balanced; and it signals we are in for a polemic.

The section Undeserved Respect is also where Dawkins gives himself his initial licence to go religion bashing.

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Post #5

Post by otseng »

FinalEnigma wrote:By deserved respect, I think Dawkins means respect and treatment that are properly reflective of the thing to which it is given. He does not seem to specifically address to what he is attributing this deserved respect to, however this is unnecessary. It is enough to say that some things have deserved respect, and some things do not.
I couldn't figure out what Dawkins was referring to that deserved respect either. If he is going to bring up a concept, he should be clear as to what it means and why he brings it up. In this part of the chapter, I end up scratching my head as to his point.

The closest thing I see that he might be referring to is "Einsteinian religion". Or is he referring to science in general that deserves respect? Or perhaps is he implying that his own books deserve respect? "All Sagan's books touch the nerve-endings of transcendent wonder that religion monopolized in past centuries. My own books have the same aspiration." (page 12)
FinalEnigma wrote:As to what undeserved respect is (which you didn't ask, but is still important) a perfect example would be many things that fall under the protection of 'political correctness'.
I think it's clear that Dawkins says religion gets undeserved respect. And actually, I would not argue with him on this point. In many ways religion does have a trump card that others do not have (and probably should have).
Confused wrote:All the homeless shelters in this area that are run by religious organizations are all willing to help those less fortunate find a ground to start off with, but you must attend a daily sermon to get the help they offer. There is always that catch.
No, there's not always a catch. But, even if there's a catch, the shelters are not forcing anyone to listen through a sermon. I've volunteered several times for homeless shelters in Atlanta. Yes, they have to sit through a prayer at the beginning of the meal. Then the food is served. And there is usually a sermon afterwards, but nobody is forced to listen to it. And as a matter of fact, some usually do get up and leave at that time.

In our church, we make hundreds of sandwiches for the homeless each month. We then donate it all to a homeless shelter. We have yet to receive any sort of compensation (either through money or a body warming a pew). And we are not looking for any sort of compensation either.
Confused wrote:While I may not like Dawkins writing style, I respect the fact that he states flat out in his opening that he isn't out to intentionally offend religion, but he isn't going to handle it kiddie gloves either.
I respect that attitude also. However some comments throughout the book would seem to be "flame-bait"-ish.

Even the title, "The God Delusion", I believe was chosen primarily for marketing purposes rather than an attitude of not intentionally offending. Though he states delusion is simply "a false belief or impression", what he leaves out is it also implies the false belief is pathological. A better title might be "God: The False Hypothesis". But, such a title would not garner as much attention as "The God Delusion".
Furrowed Brow wrote:I find the asymmetry between the section Deserved Respect and Undeserved Respect not very well structured.
I would agree.
Furrowed Brow wrote:It seems that deserving of respect is Einstein’s pantheism.
I would agree also.
Furrowed Brow wrote:In short the chapter is not balanced; and it signals we are in for a polemic.
Make that 3 agreements with you.
Furrowed Brow wrote:The section Undeserved Respect is also where Dawkins gives himself his initial licence to go religion bashing.
Well, I think that sets the record with 4 agreements with you in a single post. :)

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Post #6

Post by otseng »

One point in the chapter that I agree with Dawkins is the following:
page 19 wrote:I wish that physicists would refrain from using the word God in their special metaphorical sense.

Deliberately to confuse the two is, in my opinion, an act of intellectual high treason.
Why scientists would feel the need to use the word "God" to describe things metaphorically is beyond me. They should either use the word in its well known meaning or not use it at all. For a scientist to use a phrase as "God does not play dice with the universe" only confuses others and will inevitably be misread and misunderstood.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 1

Post #7

Post by Cogitoergosum »

otseng wrote:I'll kick off the debate on chapter 1 with a few questions. Feel free to add more questions for us to debate.

What does Dawkins mean by "deserved respect"?
Does religion really have "undeserved respect"?
I guess what frustrates Dawkins (and me too) is the fact that you can argue anything with people, but somehow you just cannot argue religious belief. People get very offended and defensive. His question is why is everything up for debate but religion? why can you ridicule someone for believing in leprechauns but cannot do so if he believes in GOD? if someone claims that leperechauns exists you will ask him to provide all sort of proof and evidence to back his claim or you would call him crazy, yet somehow religion can make all sorts of supernatural claims without anyone asking it for proof of what it claims. In this manner religion is given a lot of undeserved respect. He gives a lot of examples about situations where if any argument is invoked in defense of an action they would be refuted but put them in a religious concept they are accepted no matter how obnoxious they are.
Beati paupere spiritu

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Post #8

Post by McCulloch »

The point that I think Dawkins is making is that there is an attitude in our society that a particular point of view, which otherwise would be ignored, set aside, laughed at and ridiculed, is expected to be held in some kind of honour and respect if it is derived from someone's religion. I am sure that all of us can think of numerous examples. I believe that the veil has been removed.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #9

Post by Furrowed Brow »

Otseng wrote:Well, I think that sets the record with 4 agreements with you in a single post. :D
Hmm...Can't be having that! :lol: So far I was simply criticising form and presentation. I am an agreement with Dawkins' basic point that the sensitivities of the religious should not be given special consideration. As an exercise in raising our consciousness of why religious deference at all; I'd say he hits his mark.

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Post #10

Post by Confused »

Furrowed Brow wrote:I find the asymmetry between the section Deserved Respect and Undeserved Respect not very well structured. It seems that deserving of respect is Einstein’s pantheism
To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.
So Dawkins does not seem to mind this kind of humble fumble, as he lets Einstein’s quotes stand for itself without challenge. But then in the section Undeserving of Respect he launches into an attack on the sensitivities of formal religion. I might agree with that but he is lacking any quotes or references giving insight into the nature of personal belief in the supernatural, in the way he is quick to quote Einstein. So he moves from personal philosophies to the cultural-political nature of world religions. It’s a slick move, but probably missing a couple of chapters in between if he Dawkins’ intended to offer something more substantial.

So in the section Deserved Respect Dawkins’ provides insight, and in the section Undeserved Respect he just goes straight on the attack. In short the chapter is not balanced; and it signals we are in for a polemic.

The section Undeserved Respect is also where Dawkins gives himself his initial licence to go religion bashing.
I disagree. Prior to this section, he did a well job of differentiating the metaphorical useage of the term God by Einstein, Sagan, Hawkings, etc... And he gives multiple references by each of the above to show the metaphorical useage of the term rather than the literal.

And I don't think his intention is to start "religion bashing" here. I think he summed it up perfectly at the end when he stated point blank, he wasn't out to offend religion, but he also wasnt' going to treat it with kiddie gloves as relgion has been afforded the luxury of by so many.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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