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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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 1

Post #21

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
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.
I disagree. Ruse completely misrepresented the issue. He claims evolutionists are attacking "would be allies". Tell me, who started this fight? Evolutionists? Nope. It started with creationists which was laughed out of the legal system, then evolved into ID which was still an insult to science and a waste of judicial resources. No, sorry. We didn't start this fight. I agree we should be civil. And I think most are, even Dawkins to a point. But I also agree with Dawkins when he says he isn't going to approach the issue with kiddie gloves to avoid offending the religious when the religious has done everything possible to offend us. The approach Ruse uses is what sociologists call the "pleaser". The one in the social group who wants to please both sides. The "peacekeeper". The one in the social group who wants to use politically correct approaches to prevent hostilities. Usually these aren't bad things. But Ruse presents it as if evolutionists started the hostilities and atheists are contributing to it. Sorry, I think the role Ruse has chose is a pacifist. To chicken to rile any feathers so instead, placate. Personally, I agree with Dawkins when he referred to the pope as a hypocrite. To accept science now, after the history of condemning so many other scientists is a joke. To accept science now, though it directly contradicts your scripture: in that God created all as all are now, is hypocrisy. Plain and simple.
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Post #22

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
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"?
His only point is that religion currently is treated as if they have deserved respect. An illusion. We treat them with respect as if they deserve it.
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote: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.
Fair enough.
otseng wrote: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.
You are forgetting the criteria for something to be considered a pathological disorder. See, you can take any person in the world, hold them up to the DSM IV and find at least 100 disorders you could label them with. The key defining point is that the disorder must be disruptive to your daily life to be considered a disorder. Being delusional, as I stated before, need not be a pathological disorder if it doesn't interfere with your functional daily life. A schizophrenic who is delusional and believes that the food at the market is poisoned won't eat. This delusion is disruptive to his life. It is a pathological disorder. Simply having symptoms of a disorder in the DSM IV doesn't mean you have a disorder. You must meet certain criteria for it to be labeled a pathological disorder. Dawkins never claims his use of the term "delusion" is a pathological disorder. He doesn't label it based on the psychological use of the term as required by the DSM IV. In fact, in the beginning of his preface, page 5, he addresses this. He justified his use of the term in a non-pathological tense. he says: "The word delusion in my title has diquieted some psychiatrists who regard it as a technical term not to be bandied about.......I need to justify my use of it. The Penguin English Dictionary defines delusion as "a false belief or impression"." This is his intended use of the word. He goes on to give others definitions and even goes as far as to quote Pirsig. But nowhere does he state he is using it as a pathological disorder. You are interpreting it this way based on implicit quotes. But the implicit quotes are only used to further illustrate others definitions. Still, nowhere does he imply it to be a pathological disorder. Most assume it as such because they immediately assume it is linked to a psychiatric disease. It is a symptom. But need not be a disorder.
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Post #23

Post by FinalEnigma »

I think part of the reason Dawkins uses such an extreme term as delusion would be to make his point, and make it stick.

If you went around believing in faries, and you prayed to them every night and every morning, and you would only date people who also believed in your faries, and believed that when the human race attempts self annihilation(nuclear war) the faerie prince would freeze all the missiles and save all the believers, and you spent part of your time almost every day out trying to convert people...you would be called delusional, and put in a mental institution.

If you replaced "faries", in the above paragraph, with "God" then your description now matches many christians(particularly Jehovah's Witnesses). But these people arent called delusional, or put in a mental institution, because it's called their religion.

As soon as you invoke the word religion, you can believe in anything you want to, and nobody cares.

I think possibly the reason he used the word delusion, and the reason I agree with the use of the word, is that, just as much as my faerie example, christianity is a delusion. It is no more probable.

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Post #24

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:He claims evolutionists are attacking "would be allies". Tell me, who started this fight? Evolutionists?
If you want to mention legal cases and determine who started what, we can go back to the Scopes trial. So, actually, yes, it would be evolutionists.
Confused wrote: His only point is that religion currently is treated as if they have deserved respect.
He goes into great length about Einstein, scientists, and such in the beginning. But why does he bring it all up and call the section "deserved respect"? He does not mention religion hardly at all in the first part of the chapter.
But nowhere does he state he is using it as a pathological disorder.
That is correct. He does not state in the book that a delusion is a pathological order. But, a delusion can be construed as a pathological disorder. And the definitions I presented shows it can be.

It's sort of like him accusing scientists of using the word God in a metaphorical sense. One can certainly use the word God in a metaphorical sense. But by not using it in the generally accepted usage, it only invites misunderstanding. Here, Dawkins uses the word delusion for his own purposes and not with its generally accepted medical meaning. He could've easily chosen a title that could not be misunderstood. But, he intentionally chose it knowing its fuller implications and that it would be better for publicity and sales.

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Post #25

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote: His only point is that religion currently is treated as if they have deserved respect.
He goes into great length about Einstein, scientists, and such in the beginning. But why does he bring it all up and call the section "deserved respect"? He does not mention religion hardly at all in the first part of the chapter.
Ok, I see where I am off base here. I was bringing both deserved and undeserved under the same context. Separating them, I see where you are coming from. He isn't very clear here. I think my interpretation is the point he is making is that some of the most prominent scientists who have contributed some of the greatest knowledge to man have worked to deserve respect. His greatest example is Einstein. Of all the contributions this man made, he earned his right for respect. Yet he is currently misquoted and mis-characterized for a religious man by the same religion that sent him some of the most damning letters such as those shown on pages 16-17. Dawkins is very vague, but that is what I gain from his point. Sagan, Weinberg, etc... All have made wondrous contributions worthy of respect in their fields. All have used the term God in a metaphorical sense at best, ie einsteinian religion, yet the very same institution that condemned their comments and research is the same they now claim they were deeply religious. Again, since Dawkins did poorly imply this, it is the only thing I can see his intent meaning.

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:But nowhere does he state he is using it as a pathological disorder.
That is correct. He does not state in the book that a delusion is a pathological order. But, a delusion can be construed as a pathological disorder. And the definitions I presented shows it can be.

It's sort of like him accusing scientists of using the word God in a metaphorical sense. One can certainly use the word God in a metaphorical sense. But by not using it in the generally accepted usage, it only invites misunderstanding. Here, Dawkins uses the word delusion for his own purposes and not with its generally accepted medical meaning. He could have easily chosen a title that could not be misunderstood. But, he intentionally chose it knowing its fuller implications and that it would be better for publicity and sales.
But the definition he presented didn't label it as a pathological disorder because based on the DSM IV criteria for it to become one, it must be interfering with ones life. He presented his definition. That is all you can consider. Anything outside of that is your own misgiving. You are offended by the term "delusion". He explained his usage of the term and he also gave you fair warning that he had no intentions of trying to offend, but he also isn't going to handle this with kid gloves at the risk of offending. He is presenting it from his perspective and not so worried about being politically correct, though he is in some cases. He may not capitalize the H in He when referring to God, but at least he capitalizes the G in God. Happy medium to a degree.

Yes, he could have chosen a better word than delusion. But it is his book. And by presenting his chosen usage of the word, he isn't out of line using it. Because it offends you is simply your own sensitivities. Let me give you an example. Statistically speaking, a great proportion of children with ADHD will not go on to successfully graduate from college. This is offensive to me. Why? Because having ADHD my entire life and requiring medication for it puts me into that statistical category. However, I have 2 bachelors and a masters. I beat the odds only to show them wrong. So I get offended when I hear this. However, it is a personal offense, not one I can justify. No more so than you can justify the use of "delusion". You don't know that he chose that word to simply be inflammatory. You assume it. He addresses it in the Preface. But still, the offense is only your interpretation and he has any right to chose whatever words he wishes so long as he can define the parameters in which he uses the word. At least that is my take on it.
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Post #26

Post by Confused »

FinalEnigma wrote:I think part of the reason Dawkins uses such an extreme term as delusion would be to make his point, and make it stick.

If you went around believing in faries, and you prayed to them every night and every morning, and you would only date people who also believed in your faries, and believed that when the human race attempts self annihilation(nuclear war) the faerie prince would freeze all the missiles and save all the believers, and you spent part of your time almost every day out trying to convert people...you would be called delusional, and put in a mental institution.

If you replaced "faries", in the above paragraph, with "God" then your description now matches many christians(particularly Jehovah's Witnesses). But these people arent called delusional, or put in a mental institution, because it's called their religion.

As soon as you invoke the word religion, you can believe in anything you want to, and nobody cares.

I think possibly the reason he used the word delusion, and the reason I agree with the use of the word, is that, just as much as my faerie example, christianity is a delusion. It is no more probable.
I think we are seeing it the same, but by presenting a comparison between relgion and fairies, you are inviting a fight. But in all reality, to present it different would go directly against what Dawkins is saying. Why use kid gloves to approach this. State it like it is.
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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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 1

Post #27

Post by bernee51 »

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'll have to read over the first chapter again (when time allows) but I don''t recall Dawkins defining 'deserved respect" perhaps other than by default.

The 'underserved respect' religion has, as Dawkins points out, and has been demonstrated by some posters who have contibuted on these fora, is the beleif that to criticize religion is to be somehow persecutiong the religious. Look at the furore ove such things as prayers in school or the 10 commandments on public buildings, Criticize the actions odf some who would promote these and you are breaching human rights and out to destroy religious belief according to them.

The 'undeserved respect' is displayed in the reactions of those who would hold that religion shpould be protected from criticism because 'god' is involved.

The fact that it is only THEIR religion that should be immune demontrates clearly that it is 'undeserved'
"Whatever you are totally ignorant of, assert to be the explanation of everything else"

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Post #28

Post by jjg »

I agree that the belief in God should be based on reason and not emotionalism. I seriously question if Dawkins arguments are not based on the same type of emotionalism.

I don't know about this talk of religion not being criticized and people are afraid to criticize it.

The Twentieth Century was an experiment in secularism and materialism and religion has always been questioned since the Middle Ages.

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Post #29

Post by Confused »

jjg wrote:I agree that the belief in God should be based on reason and not emotionalism. I seriously question if Dawkins arguments are not based on the same type of emotionalism.

I don't know about this talk of religion not being criticized and people are afraid to criticize it.

The Twentieth Century was an experiment in secularism and materialism and religion has always been questioned since the Middle Ages.
You confuse me here. You believe God should be evaluated using reasoning, yet you believe in Him. Exactly what reasoning leads you to believe in Him? How is Dawkins using emotionalism? I think your reversed here. Dawkins is presenting his case from the standpoint of probability and evidence. Logical reasoning. Convergence of evidence. Etc.... The only thing emotional I have read thus far is the fact that he despises the fact that religion seems to be afforded a special set of rules that are separate from society. Re: hallucinogens in the New Mexico Church being legalized by the courts, prejudicial and offensive t-shirt worn by boy being allowed at school d/t freedom of religious expression. Yes, he gets emotional about this. Mind you, though it may appear so, I am not usually a fan of his books. But thus far, I am wondering if we are all reading the same book. Perhaps I am an incapable of coming to the same conclusions here as I am with the bible. Oh well. I can think of fates worse than such.

In regards to the criticism of religion. Did you miss the Bush statements? Did you miss the poll on how few would vote an atheist into office? Did you miss the responses of the religious community to some of the greatest contributors of science? Are you aware the American Debating Association will not allow debates of religious nature? And for the record, any questioning done about religion since Christianity was made the official religion of Rome included convert to these beliefs or die?

No, it is more like the militarys don't ask don't tell policy. Don't ask if they are relgious, don't tell if you aren't.
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Post #30

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:Yes, he could have chosen a better word than delusion. But it is his book. And by presenting his chosen usage of the word, he isn't out of line using it. Because it offends you is simply your own sensitivities.
Actually, I'm not too offended by it's usage. Just making the personal observation that he knew that by using a controversial word (instead of a more accurate word) that it would bolster sales.
Dawkins is presenting his case from the standpoint of probability and evidence.
Actually, I see none of this in the book. But, when we get to the appropriate chapters, feel free to present the probabilities and evidence against God.

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