The God Delusion - Chapter 2

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The God Delusion - Chapter 2

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Not a whole lot of action in chapter 1 so far. So, I'll go ahead and start up chapter 2. Discussions can still continue in chapter 1, but hopefully by starting chapter 2 more people will want to get involved.

I'll repost McCulloch's proposed questions:
- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much skepticism as any other hypothesis?
- Is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria valid?
- Does the inability to disprove the existence of God provide a positive reason to believe?

I'll also throw in some other questions:
- Is agnosticism impoverished?
- What exactly does Dawkins have against Michael Ruse?

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Post #21

Post by otseng »

McCulloch wrote:But that aside, the authority to decide matters internal only to itself is not, I think what Gould's idea of magisteria is all about.
I'm not sure if he meant only within itself, but it certainly can include within itself. Further, in his article Nonoverlapping Magisteria, he has reference to authority only within the Catholic church.
To summarize, Pius generally accepts the NOMA principle of nonoverlapping magisteria in permitting Catholics to entertain the hypothesis of evolution for the human body so long as they accept the divine infusion of the soul.
And thinking about it, why would he want to say the church should have guidance/authority over those outside of the church? Especially since he is a nonbeliever?

And finally, the word "magisterium" is a Catholic term. Why would he want to modify its usage and apply it to those outside the Catholic faith (or even more to non-religious people)?
My belief is that religion cannot reliably answer this second set of issues.
Since you would be outside the authority of any religion, this would certainly be reasonable. But, it would not nullify the magisterium for those under religious authority.

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Post #22

Post by jjg »

http://amasci.com/miscon/myths10.html

Look at myth number seven and look at the sources that the article is based on.

It is not just Gould. It is the whole methodology of physical science.

Just as physical science does not encompass the science of mathematics, physical science does not encompass and in fact depends on the philosophy of ontology behind it.

Einstein's personal opinions about God do not matter here. He did say that nontheless there is room for belief in a personal God.

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Post #23

Post by McCulloch »

otseng wrote:I'm not sure if he meant only within itself, but it certainly can include within itself. Further, in his article Nonoverlapping Magisteria, he has reference to authority only within the Catholic church.[...]

And finally, the word "magisterium" is a Catholic term. Why would he want to modify its usage and apply it to those outside the Catholic faith (or even more to non-religious people)?
I'll concede your point. Within the limits of civil society, religions have self-jurisdiction. They can determine what members of each sect must profess to believe.

The fact is that many religious people behave as if the truth of those beliefs should be imposed in some way on those outside of their particular faith. This I oppose.
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 #24

Post by Greenbeard »

otseng wrote:If religion exists, then certainly it has the right to have teaching/guidance authority over itself. So, since it has this right, then the B set cannot be empty. It might be non-overlapping from A, but because it is non-overlapping does not mean B would be empty.
And then McCulloch
McCulloch wrote:I'll concede your point. Within the limits of civil society, religions have self-jurisdiction. They can determine what members of each sect must profess to believe.

The fact is that many religious people behave as if the truth of those beliefs should be imposed in some way on those outside of their particular faith. This I oppose.


Not so fast! Once again, cart before the horse, question-begging, and all that! Does and should religion have any say in anything, including its own self-guidance, is exactly the mooted question. And the overlapping of 'magisteria' is precisely the reason.

In a trivial way, the mere act of existence doesn't grant religion - as a concept or as an incorporated entity - any special privileges. Grade Schools exist, and yet neither the school nor its inhabitants have any authority. Just because religious organizations assume they have authority, even over themselves, doesn't mean that they do! This has even been tested in court, via various cases involving with-holding of medical treatment, use of illegal drugs, etc. These have gone various ways, but the point is that the very idea that religions automatically have self-authority can't be assumed.

The first reason is the intersection mentioned in this thread. Those religious people are also members of other sets. Like citizens of this or that country, this or that state, part of a family some of whom are not religious - and some of whom are, part of either the Dover school district or the State of Kansas, etc. No religious person exists only in that state. There is always overlap.

The second reason is the subject of Dawkins' book. Religions can have authority over anybody or anything only if the basis for the authority is assumed and uncontested! Religious groups have no basis for any authority or jurisdiction that was not generated by themselves. What other entity would be granted so many rights based upon self proclamation? It reminds me of the goofy movie Matrix: "It is true because I know it is true." Does this "John 14:2, KJB :...if it were not so, I would have told you..." deserve the same respect as a reviewed paper in a scientific journal or "We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union..." as the basis for anything that we do in life? That is the basic question of this thread and the whole book.

As to McCulloch's second statement. It is because religions do not exist in a vacuum that the very fact of their owningany authority should be questioned. Because we inhabit the same world, nothing they do affects only their own members. This is why Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and a growing number of us peons are increasingly questioning the whole shebang.

Matthew 7:3:'57

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Post #25

Post by QED »

BohemianBanjo wrote:It is because religions do not exist in a vacuum that the very fact of their owningany authority should be questioned. Because we inhabit the same world, nothing they do affects only their own members. This is why Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and a growing number of us peons are increasingly questioning the whole shebang.
Well said. Religiosity is a like plant who's roots extend unseen over surprising distances only to emerge and cause problems in unexpected places.
UK Criminal Justice System wrote: What is taking the oath or affirming?
If you decide to give evidence, then before you give your evidence you will be asked to take an oath on a holy book of your choice, or if you prefer you can choose to affirm instead. The usher should ask you about your preference beforehand. You will swear or affirm that the evidence you are about to give is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

What Holy Books will be available for me to take my oath?
Oath cards and holy books are available for several religions. If you want to take the oath on a holy book, please tell the court official which book you require as soon as you can. The official can then arrange to have that oath card and holy book ready for you.
This public test of one's faith (or lack thereof) is forcefully conducted before judge and jury in every criminal case. Because of the automatic respect given to religion, it doesn't have the neutrality it might first appear to have.

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Post #26

Post by otseng »

BohemianBanjo wrote:The first reason is the intersection mentioned in this thread. Those religious people are also members of other sets. Like citizens of this or that country, this or that state, part of a family some of whom are not religious - and some of whom are, part of either the Dover school district or the State of Kansas, etc. No religious person exists only in that state. There is always overlap.
Yes, there will always be overlap. And that is one reason that I do not believe that NOMA is valid.
Does this "John 14:2, KJB :...if it were not so, I would have told you..." deserve the same respect as a reviewed paper in a scientific journal or "We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union..." as the basis for anything that we do in life? That is the basic question of this thread and the whole book.
For many people, John 14:2 is heard and read much more often than any sentence in any scientific journal or any government document. So, in a sense, it is very relevant to a large population of the US and perhaps much more so than any other publication or document.
It is because religions do not exist in a vacuum that the very fact of their owningany authority should be questioned. Because we inhabit the same world, nothing they do affects only their own members. This is why Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and a growing number of us peons are increasingly questioning the whole shebang.
No human institution exists in a vacuum. Then by your argument all institutional authorities should be invalidated.

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Post #27

Post by McCulloch »

otseng wrote:No human institution exists in a vacuum. Then by your argument all institutional authorities should be invalidated.
I think that the argument should be that no institutional authority should be granted on the basis of faith rather than evidence.
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 #28

Post by Greenbeard »

McCulloch wrote:
otseng wrote:No human institution exists in a vacuum. Then by your argument all institutional authorities should be invalidated.


I think that the argument should be that no institutional authority should be granted on the basis of faith rather than evidence.


My mistake for not being precise. As McCulloch stated, it is not the religions themselves that should not be granted undue influence, but any entity, concept or statement with faith as the sole grounds for acceptance. All institutions affect the world around them, but most are asked to explain themselves, and not allowed to "hide behind a shield of faith." When the FDA inspects your meat for safety, "if it were not so, I would have told you" is just not acceptable as justification for any of their actions, and it shouldn't be accepted from anybody else, either.
otseng wrote:For many people, John 14:2 is heard and read much more often than any sentence in any scientific journal or any government document. So, in a sense, it is very relevant to a large population of the US and perhaps much more so than any other publication or document.

It may well be that many people regularly recite this passage. Many people also can, and do, recite television commercials. Religion and commercials both have that quality of memorizability. But that doesn't add much to the "because I told you so" as grounds for acceptance by the rest of us. My comparison of the bible with a peer-reviewed paper and the preamble to the constitution was simply to show that "because I said so" is simply not accepted from any source which does deserve respect. That respect comes after a lot of work by many people willing to put their ideas, and personal feelings, on the line, leading to revision, improvement, assessment, and in many cases an outcome based upon evidence or some attribute we can all inspect and accept.

I like McCulloch's restatement. I'll stick with that for now.


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Post #29

Post by otseng »

McCulloch wrote:I think that the argument should be that no institutional authority should be granted on the basis of faith rather than evidence.
We've touched on something similar before.

I would agree that authority based on blind faith (absolutely no evidence) could be bad. But, authority based on faith (as defined by lack of a logical proof) is commonplace and would not be considered bad. And if we are to judge on "reasonable faith", then it would be too subjective to make any kind of objective judgement.

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Post #30

Post by mbl020980 »

I would agree that authority based on blind faith (absolutely no evidence) could be bad. But, authority based on faith (as defined by lack of a logical proof) is commonplace and would not be considered bad. And if we are to judge on "reasonable faith", then it would be too subjective to make any kind of objective judgement.
Please give an example of "authority based on [not-blind] faith" that is commonplace. In fact, I think it would be a good idea for all of us to cite references or at least provide an example whenever we posit an assertion like the one above. By not doing so, an entire seemingly reasonable argument could be built upon a single specious premise.

Having said that, I also take exception to your distinction between "blind faith" and "faith." In the first place, I've never seen this distinction posited elsewhere. But irregardless, you use the term "no evidence" in your definition of blind faith and "logical proof" in your definition of faith. Are "evidence" and "logical proof" are synonymous? If they are, then your argument is a non sequitur. If they are not synonymous, then your burden is to differentiate between the two for your audience. You need to show how a "faith" could be based on "no evidence" but still be supported by "logical proof." We need to be very precise in our definition of terms if we are to conduct a rational debate.

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