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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QED
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Post #31

Post by QED »

otseng wrote: 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.
I think this is inevitable due to the shortcomings of language and human comprehension. Every scientist was once a child going though the same instruction on language as all the other children who would not become scientists. Anthropomorphism's abound -- not because anyone really thinks there's a little person inside the device for example, but because it makes the communication and appreciation of certain concepts a lot easier. If anyone thinks this hints towards the existence of something deeper, they need to be reminded that there really aren't little people at work in everyday appliances.

One popular science author (I don't recall which one) mentioned that popular science books are rated by their publishers on how many novel analogies are invented in order to get a point across. We have a pool of experience gained from our workaday lives and it is by analogy that we can most effectively grasp new concepts remote from direct experience. Despite having a questionable existence God is in that pool and will inevitably be referenced when seeking to convey the concept of an entity that generates God-like effects.

I think Dawkins has since stated that he regrets the title of this book. I wish I could recall where I heard this from -- I think he described the decision as that of his publisher. I'm still trying to find the source for this but I don't mean to mount a defense for Dawkins. In fact, there is an element in "delusion" that I feel would be appropriate if we are basing our inferences for the existence of God on ambiguous observations.

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Post #32

Post by Cogitoergosum »

otseng wrote:
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.
Actually i think it is a smart marketing strategy to name it the God delusion, knowing the controversies that it will make. I, presonnally thing the title is warranted, this title caught my attention in an airport library when my flight was delayed for hours, i read it and it sparked my curiosity, this book was the beginning of my journey in leaving christianity.
If it was a marketing strategy or not is irrelevant, a book is valuable for the information it offers and not its cover.
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Post #33

Post by jjg »

I use First Cause arguments as reason to believe in God.

I really don't care about the Americans take on anything. This religious emotionalism that's going on down there is no different than there Commie hunt in the Fifties.

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Post #34

Post by Cogitoergosum »

jjg wrote:I use First Cause arguments as reason to believe in God.

I really don't care about the Americans take on anything. This religious emotionalism that's going on down there is no different than there Commie hunt in the Fifties.
We'll debate that first cause argument in chapter 3 and show you how flawed it is.
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Post #35

Post by jjg »

Dawkins emotionalism is evident through his selective uses of such people as Einstein to try to back his arguments.

He doesn't admit to Einstein's Times magazine article in 1940 in which Einstein praises the Catholic Church.

He also clumps all "Christian" beliefs into the most distorted, negative presentation possible and doesn't objectively show anything good that the Church has done.

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Post #36

Post by Confused »

jjg wrote:Dawkins emotionalism is evident through his selective uses of such people as Einstein to try to back his arguments.

He doesn't admit to Einstein's Times magazine article in 1940 in which Einstein praises the Catholic Church.

He also clumps all "Christian" beliefs into the most distorted, negative presentation possible and doesn't objectively show anything good that the Church has done.

Appeal to authority, perhaps. Appeal to emotion? No.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
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and is immortal.

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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 #37

Post by QED »

jjg wrote:Dawkins emotionalism is evident through his selective uses of such people as Einstein to try to back his arguments.

He doesn't admit to Einstein's Times magazine article in 1940 in which Einstein praises the Catholic Church.
I don't know how aware you are of Einstein's religious views, but the man himself made it quite clear that he did not believe in a personal God...
I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.
This quote and many others with detailed sources is available on this website. Dawkins mentions Einstein because he wants to refer to something he calls Einsteinian religion...
c1.p13 wrote:Much unfortunate confusion is caused by failure to distinguish
what can be called Einsteinian religion from supernatural religion.
Einstein sometimes invoked the name of God (and he is not the
only atheistic scientist to do so), inviting misunderstanding by
supernaturalists eager to misunderstand and claim so illustrious a
thinker as their own.
I don't think Dawkins is being so crude as to try to claim back this illustrious thinker for himself, rather he is exposing an intriguing ambiguity that is presented to the human mind when considering the apparent order in the cosmos.

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Post #38

Post by Greenbeard »

otseng wrote: 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".
So, you dislike the use of the word delusion because of the pathological connotations, but you suggest hypothesis? As in The God Hypothesis? I would say that in a debate concerning the respect and utility of religion and its quarrels with the findings of science, to use the word hypothesis would be at the very least begging the question, and beyond that very confusing. God is not a hypothesis. There is no collection of alternatives, no outline of predictions, no list of testable outcomes delineating just how God is falsifiable, etc. Delusion may be provocative, but it fits the book very well.

Accusing Dawkins of profiteering is possibly a red herring. It seems to me that Dawkins has throughout his career been quite sincere and consistent in his arguments. You'll have to convince us that he doesn't really care about the subject, and is just writing for a buck. You're swimming up a mighty stream, here.

Matt

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Post #39

Post by Greenbeard »

otseng wrote:
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 don't see this connection at all. Just because the various religions are prohibited from subsuming parts of the government doesn't mean that they are now outside the law. Think of a non-religious example. For instance, I don't think that the Enron Corporation should have a hand in writing Federal Legislation. Does this mean that they should have immunity from Federal Law? Hardly. If you don't like the comparison, then substitute a more reputable company, say, Wal Mart. Should they be excused from all law pertaining to business practices & personnel treatment simply because as a corporation they can't write laws, but only lobby for beneficial outcome?

Not.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 1

Post #40

Post by Greenbeard »

otseng wrote:
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.


I would submit that religion can't hide behind faith, because that's what it is. If I were to go into a Catholic Church, and suggest that faith had nothing to do with it, Catholicism is just a bunch of rituals involving cute statues of sacred mothers and people being executed Roman-Style - they would boot me out! Or worse. Who hasn't read all the arguments about all the trappings just being symbols for faith? I can't argue that faith is all that religion has got, because the ritual, community action, and psychological aspects are evident, also. But to argue that faith is just a shield for something more substantial?...

The second statement above is another round of question-begging. Hasn't this whole discussion revolved around with-holding undue respect? Of course we all have respect for the people involved, but as alternative ways of thought, religion and science - as ideas - are not only not equivalent, they are not even comparable. What if I show up in church to expound the implications of David Deutsch's Fabric of Reality when people are expecting a reading from Matthew? Should they respect those ideas in that context? I wouldn't expect it. Now when people the world over agree - even though there is no universal religion, no universal culture, no universal government - the world over we agree that killing others is unethical and immoral, when members of Islam or any other religion proclaim that they have been instructed by a book or their leaders to do just that, does that opinion deserve the same respect as a universally acknowledged prohibition? If I were to shoot a current member of the administration and claim that I had read it in the New Testament, or had even had a revelation, should I get respect for that claim? I wouldn't expect it.

"Yeah, but I'm not talking about killing anybody" you complain. "We just want you to consider tribal oral traditions, or the Bible, along with biology when studying the epidemiology of Columbia River Salmon." No difference. When religion enters into ethical considerations, or is trying to be held equivalent to centuries of scientific work, or is just trying to get into the public coffers, the basis is just the same! Revelations, or writings based upon supposed revelations. The very question at issue is 'does this basis for ideas deserve the same respect?'

Matthew[/i]

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