The God Delusion - Chapter 1

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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 #11

Post by Furrowed Brow »

Hi Confused.

Well I think the gist of the first section can be summed on p15 by the quote from Einstein.
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.
It is easy to imagine Dawkins saying this himself.

In the second section he launches into criticising the obvious failings and undeserved deference given to formal religion. But what is lacking is any serious counter point to the personal pantheism personified by Einstein. So on the one hand Dawkins roles out respected wise heads for the position he likes, and on the other hand he points out the idiots and idiocies of religion. Not that I disagree with the content of what he is saying - but it all adds up to a one-sided polemic and not a judicious shifting of evidence and argument by an academic prof. However The God Delusion will go on to sell way more copies than The cautious analysis in the failings of the God hypothesis.

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Post #12

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
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)
I think he was quite clear in what he was referring to in regards to giving religion a special pass. In the example he gave of the 12 year old who wore the t-shirt to school saying homosexuality is a sin, Islam is a lie, abortion is murder. (pg 23) The parents sued the school for not allowing the child to wear the shirt, but the sued under the rights of religious freedom, not free speech. So though the t-shirt clearly represents hate concepts, the parents won the case because the t-shirt was based on religious belief. He also addresses it on page 22 with the case of the church in New Mexico being able to legally use a hallucinogen similar to that found in LSD for religious purposes. Despite the fact it is an illegal drug.

You have decided presumptively that his quotations are to further his own book. In doing so, you are ignoring the compelling examples he is providing (and this is from one who doesn't care much for Dawkins).
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.[/quote]

Tax breaks? Donations? I am not trying to say that your church is corrupt, but you can't sit back and say that it doens't receive special considerations. Tell me, what other organizations receive all tax free property, donations, etc.... What other organization can get away with not being subject to legal scrutiny by the law? Oral Robertson? Come on now. If you give your child 50,000 dollars for a down payment on a house, it is considered a gift and is subject to taxation. Anything you will after death is subject to taxation. What religious is subject to it?
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". [/quote]

Delusions: by the DSM IV criteria:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delusional
Psychiatric definition
Although non-specific concepts of madness have been around for several thousand years, the psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers was the first to define the three main criteria for a belief to be considered delusional in his book General Psychopathology. These criteria are:

certainty (held with absolute conviction)
incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary)
impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)
These criteria still live on in modern psychiatric diagnosis. In the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a delusion is defined as:

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith).

The modern definition and Jaspers' original criteria have been criticised, as counter-examples can be shown for every defining feature.

Studies on psychiatric patients have shown that delusions can be seen to vary in intensity and conviction over time which suggests that certainty and incorrigibility are not necessary components of a delusional belief.[1]

Delusions do not necessarily have to be false or 'incorrect inferences about external reality'.[2] Some religious or spiritual beliefs (such as 'I believe in the existence of God') by their nature may not be falsifiable, and hence cannot be described as false or incorrect, no matter whether the person holding these beliefs was diagnosed as delusional or not. [3]
I is simply your lack of investigating it further to see that the use of the term delusion is quite appropriate. You just assume it to mean pathologically false as opposed to unfalsifiable.
otseng wrote:
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. :)
Of course I would be the one to disagree. :roll:
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Post #13

Post by Confused »

Furrowed Brow wrote:Hi Confused.

Well I think the gist of the first section can be summed on p15 by the quote from Einstein.
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.
It is easy to imagine Dawkins saying this himself.

In the second section he launches into criticising the obvious failings and undeserved deference given to formal religion. But what is lacking is any serious counter point to the personal pantheism personified by Einstein. So on the one hand Dawkins roles out respected wise heads for the position he likes, and on the other hand he points out the idiots and idiocies of religion. Not that I disagree with the content of what he is saying - but it all adds up to a one-sided polemic and not a judicious shifting of evidence and argument by an academic prof. However The God Delusion will go on to sell way more copies than The cautious analysis in the failings of the God hypothesis.
I think he presented the pantheism up front in order to clarify his position. His first sentence on page 20 is " My title, The God Delusion, does not refer to the God of Einstein etc... " He then goes on to say "In the rest of this book I am talking only about "supernatural" Gods,etc....." He clearly distinguishes the metaphorical use of the term God by those scientists from the literal usage of those religious in terms of supernatural. I don't think he in any way uses the respected academics to his advantage. I think he clarifies from the beginning the difference in terminology by means of intent. Was Einstein referring to a religious "God" in the literal meaning, most agree he wasn't. The same can be said for Sagan, Weistein, Hawkings etc.... The context in which these academies used the term God is what Dawkins is immediately showing so as to dispel the typical incorrect claims some theist use when they take a simply sentence out of context. A perfect example is given on pages 15-16. The famous quote "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind". Alone it supports a religious scientist. Go further and find his further quote "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly", etc..... To further support this, look at the many condemning letters he received from religious sect as provided on pages 16-17.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
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Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
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Post #14

Post by Confused »

Otseng:

Slow down speedy. You are already jumping to chapter 2 and I still think there is much to cover in chapter one.
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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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Post #15

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:Otseng:

Slow down speedy. You are already jumping to chapter 2 and I still think there is much to cover in chapter one.
I'm not attempting to rush through the book. We'll probably stay here on chapters 1 and 2 for awhile.

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Post #16

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:Otseng:

Slow down speedy. You are already jumping to chapter 2 and I still think there is much to cover in chapter one.
I'm not attempting to rush through the book. We'll probably stay here on chapters 1 and 2 for awhile.
Coolio :)
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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Post #17

Post by Cogitoergosum »

Furrowed Brow wrote:Hi Confused.

Well I think the gist of the first section can be summed on p15 by the quote from Einstein.
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.
It is easy to imagine Dawkins saying this himself.

In the second section he launches into criticising the obvious failings and undeserved deference given to formal religion. But what is lacking is any serious counter point to the personal pantheism personified by Einstein. So on the one hand Dawkins roles out respected wise heads for the position he likes, and on the other hand he points out the idiots and idiocies of religion. Not that I disagree with the content of what he is saying - but it all adds up to a one-sided polemic and not a judicious shifting of evidence and argument by an academic prof. However The God Delusion will go on to sell way more copies than The cautious analysis in the failings of the God hypothesis.
well dawkins in his book is not out to analyse the pros and cons of religion, on the countrary he is out to destroy the myth. If good things are done by religion it is irrelevant to the truth of what it claims, and those good deeds can be done outside a religious context. I guess we should debate if he makes valid points against religion, not so much look for why he did not enumerate the pros of releigion.
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Post #18

Post by Cogitoergosum »

it makes you wonder if the KKK clan had gotten the status of religion would we have to respect their anti-black prejudices? would we have had to call a lynching a ritual celebration?
Somebody needs to justify why religious beliefs are beyond questioning.
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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 1

Post #19

Post by otseng »

Cogitoergosum wrote: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?
I actually agree with you and Dawkins in that I don't believe religion should be immune from debate. People should be able to question and challenge it. It should not hide behind a shield of faith.

But, I believe it should be approached rationally and civilly. If people on differing sides have respect for one another, they are free to attack each other's beliefs.

That is one reason I respect Michael Ruse more than Dawkins. I've seen Ruse debate and he has a great spirit while he debates. I don't agree with him. And he certainly doesn't agree with us. But, his approach is much more civil than Dawkins.

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Post #20

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:
otseng wrote:
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)
I think he was quite clear in what he was referring to in regards to giving religion a special pass.
Yes, that's clear. And that is what he was referring to with "undeserved respect". But what is he referring to with "deserved respect"?
What other organization can get away with not being subject to legal scrutiny by the law?
Actually, if proponents of the separation of church and state really mean what they say, the church should not be obligated to be under the law of the state. But that's for another thread.
I is simply your lack of investigating it further to see that the use of the term delusion is quite appropriate.


Here are some definitions of delusion. All of them refer to delusion as being a mental illness.
Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. These illnesses alter a person's ability to think clearly, make good judgments, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality and behave appropriately. When symptoms are severe, people with psychotic disorders have difficulty staying in touch with reality and often are unable to meet the ordinary demands of daily life. However, even the most severe psychotic disorders usually are treatable.

There are different types of psychotic disorders, including:

Delusional disorder: People with this illness have delusions involving real-life situations that could be true, such as being followed, being conspired against or having a disease. These delusions persist for at least one month.
http://www.medicinenet.com/psychotic_di ... rticle.htm
Delusions - false beliefs strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness
http://www.schizophrenia.com/ami/diagno ... icDep.html

Even in the Wikipedia that you quoted, it says:
Delusions typically occur in the context of neurological or mental illness, although they are not tied to any particular disease and have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both physical and mental).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delusional

So, I object to the word "Delusion" being used since it strongly implies one who believes in a god has a mental illness.

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