The God Delusion - Chapter 8

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The God Delusion - Chapter 8

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Post by otseng »

What does Dawkins say is wrong with religion?
Does this claim make religion false?

McCulloch's questions:
Is religion itself bad or just certain instances of religion?
Are non-believers justified in being hostile to religion?

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 8

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otseng wrote:What does Dawkins say is wrong with religion?
Does this claim make religion false?
This entire chapter seems to be mostly devoted to the extremists of fundamentalism. I think mostly I was disappointed because in its own sense, the chapter reflected, at least to me, its own slippery slope argument. The scenario goes something like this:

Extreme fundamentalists initially started out with a moderate form of religion, but as they matured and started to make their own declarations about what scripture says and/or means, they took the literal route for everything and as a result used violence in a sort of religiously justified, they became the "martyrs".

Now, we know extremists exist on both sides. However, the implication that Dawkins makes is that mild religious teachings (the middle of the ground religious who aren't literalists but believe in a message metaphorically) breeds grounds for extremists to evolve or to influence those who are sensitive to radical ideas and actions. However, there isn't any evidence that just because a person is religious, they are going to become extremists. That is the slippery slope Dawkins creates out of this whole chapter.

I think he provides good reasons why we should be cautious in our beliefs and why Christians need to seriously consider what they are being taught, hate vs love, Gods punishment vs mans punishment, etc... in an attempt to prevent extremists. But regardless, extremists will always exist.


That being said, I think he hit the nail on the head when he mentions the fact that many Christians look forward to the 2nd coming of Christ event. I see a big problem with any faction that sees this as what is to be a "glorious" event. First off, the notion of "rapture" isn't explicit in Daniel, Revelations, etc... There is no valid reason to believe that true believers will be taken to heaven before the wrath of God is let loose. It seems to me that all will be tested, not just those who are questionable in their faith or lacking it at all. So those looking forwards to this event are fooling themselves into believing that they will be spared anything. I also see a problem with those who are trying to fulfill prophecy to usher in this event. How much donations have been given to the state of Israel by religious factions to assist in the rebuilding of the temple. I think when Israel was returned to the Jewish, the best part of the agreement was that the Jewish community was not allowed to destroy the islamic temple that now stands on the site the Jews would need to rebuild their temple.

I can understand the problem Dawkins would have with religion in general considering the ever growing power of Christianity and the knowledge that more and more pastors are teaching that this generation will be the one to see the coming of Christ. It is a chemical recipe for a disaster. But once again, a slippery slope fallacy. Though there are strong reasons to believe that this particular fallacy may become truth.

I think St Augustine had it right when he said that man shouldn't waste their time trying to determine the date of the second coming. Rather they should see it as already happened by the glorious appearance of Christ. In regards to the antichrist, man should look for the antichrist in themselves.
McCulloch's questions

Are non-believers justified in being hostile to religion?
I think they are justified in the fear of what religion can become. We have seen its disastrous results too many times to not want to ensure that it never rises to power. I don't think non-theists are hostile per se. I don't even think Dawkins or Sam Harris is. I think they are just too aware of what has been done in the name of religion and what can still be done.
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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 8

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Post by otseng »

otseng wrote:What does Dawkins say is wrong with religion?
One of the main critiques of religion that Dawkins has is that religion supposedly undermines science.

"As a scientist, I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise." (page 284)

I'm not really sure what Dawkins means by "fundamentalist" here. If he defines fundamentalist as "people who believe something and nothing will budge them from that belief", then non-religious people as well can be a fundamentalist.

Also, he doesn't give a good argument that religion corrupts science. He gives the example that geologist Kurt Wise had to either choose science or a young earth. This is a false dichotomy. For example, most members of the American Scientific Affiliation accept an old earth. So, one can be religious, a scientist, and also believe in an old earth.

However, I do agree in a sense with Dawkins in that a religious scientist shouldn't be "forced" to accept a young earth. If someone believes the evidence more strongly supports an old earth, he should feel free to believe it without having to sacrifice personal convictions.

"I believe not because of reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence." (page 282)

I would also agree with Dawkins that we should go where the evidence leads. And I do not believe that there needs to be a conflict between religion and science. There can exist a harmony between the two.
Does this claim make religion false?
Even if religion does supposedly undermines science, it would not in itself make the belief false. The role of science is not per se to know the truth, but to provide an explanation or model of what we observe.
Is religion itself bad or just certain instances of religion?
There certainly does exist bad religious people. But that doesn't show that all of religion is bad.
Are non-believers justified in being hostile to religion?
If there are injustices done in the name of religion, non-believers, as well as believers, should be free to point them out.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 8

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Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
otseng wrote:What does Dawkins say is wrong with religion?
One of the main critiques of religion that Dawkins has is that religion supposedly undermines science.

"As a scientist, I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise." (page 284)

I'm not really sure what Dawkins means by "fundamentalist" here. If he defines fundamentalist as "people who believe something and nothing will budge them from that belief", then non-religious people as well can be a fundamentalist.
I think he mostly refers to fundamentalism as those extremists who take everything in the bible as literal, not metaphorical. He seems to like to pick out evangelical and those denominations that break off from them. These are the ones he considers dangerous and I can't say I disagree. He refers both fundamental Christians as well as fundamental Islamics. Those who take it upon themselves to try to "usher in" the 2nd coming. Those who take it upon themselves to pass judgment and non-tolerance of anyone who they see as anti-literalists.
otseng wrote: Also, he doesn't give a good argument that religion corrupts science. He gives the example that geologist Kurt Wise had to either choose science or a young earth. This is a false dichotomy. For example, most members of the American Scientific Affiliation accept an old earth. So, one can be religious, a scientist, and also believe in an old earth.
I think his point was that, in his opinion, Wise couldn't reconcile his science knowledge with that of scripture, so Wise discarded science in favor of the literal scripture. Though this was a choice that Wise made, Dawkins seems to feel that religion corrupted the potential he could have provided to future science. However, That is his opinion, not the opinion of Wise. Wise appears to have no problem with it.

But once again, it seems like he is referring to the extreme literalists who undermine science, not the "middle of the ground".
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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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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 8

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Post by McCulloch »

otseng wrote:I would also agree with Dawkins that we should go where the evidence leads. And I do not believe that there needs to be a conflict between religion and science. There can exist a harmony between the two.
But there is not. Religions make claims that conflict with what science has found to be true. Religions because the already know the answers oppose investigation into some subjects.
otseng wrote:If there are injustices done in the name of religion, non-believers, as well as believers, should be free to point them out.
I don't think that you should have any worries about us not doing that!
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
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The truth will make you free.
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Post #6

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:I think his point was that, in his opinion, Wise couldn't reconcile his science knowledge with that of scripture, so Wise discarded science in favor of the literal scripture. Though this was a choice that Wise made, Dawkins seems to feel that religion corrupted the potential he could have provided to future science. However, That is his opinion, not the opinion of Wise. Wise appears to have no problem with it.
And if Wise has no problem with it, why should even Dawkins care? It's a free country. If people willingly choose to believe something, no matter how absurd someone else might think, they should have the freedom to believe in it.
But once again, it seems like he is referring to the extreme literalists who undermine science, not the "middle of the ground".
Does he give any examples to illustrate this claim?
McCulloch wrote:Religions make claims that conflict with what science has found to be true.
Does Dawkins give any examples of this?

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otseng wrote:And if Wise has no problem with it, why should even Dawkins care? It's a free country. If people willingly choose to believe something, no matter how absurd someone else might think, they should have the freedom to believe in it.
In my opinion, which I believe is shared by Dawkins (as taken from TV interview) -- if a belief which leads to some significant behaviour cannot be validated (in principle) by others who may wish to question it, then it should not be granted such freedoms. Arbitrary beliefs can readily be fabricated that are independent of the actual world, and so cannot be verified. An obvious example would be the belief that God (the ultimate authority in the universe) has expressed a wish that all US soldiers or civilians should die for their actions in the middle East -- and furthermore that he promises any martyr to this cause an eternal life in paradise where the martyr will be granted all their carnal desires.

This belief, in common with most religious beliefs, is impossible to contradict in principle, and hence has the power to influence minds in ways that cannot be controlled. That such control is desirable should be beyond dispute given the consequences we have seen.

It will no doubt be argued that this is an extreme example that has no real bearing on the general question of religious faith. But any organised framework that positively encourages faith in beliefs that cannot in principle be contradicted is educating, on a mass scale, minds into being susceptible to irrationality -- which is demonstrably a dangerous precedent.

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Post #8

Post by otseng »

QED wrote: In my opinion, which I believe is shared by Dawkins (as taken from TV interview) -- if a belief which leads to some significant behaviour cannot be validated (in principle) by others who may wish to question it, then it should not be granted such freedoms. Arbitrary beliefs can readily be fabricated that are independent of the actual world, and so cannot be verified.

If it has no effect on other individuals, it shouldn't matter. Additionally, how can anything be sufficiently validated? And by whom should the validation be done by?

Also, as much as it would be nice if everyone was on the same page and believed in the same things, we would head into dangerous waters if we determined who can believe what. As long as one's belief does not hurt others, one should be given the complete freedom to believe in whatever one wants.
An obvious example would be the belief that God (the ultimate authority in the universe) has expressed a wish that all US soldiers or civilians should die for their actions in the middle East -- and furthermore that he promises any martyr to this cause an eternal life in paradise where the martyr will be granted all their carnal desires.
In the case where a belief harms others, I'm opposed to it.

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Post #9

Post by Scrotum »

I had a interesting telephonecall involving Otseng, which made my eyes cast over this part of the forum, and as i managed to nestle myself into this debate, i shall try to spell properly too. Hurray :lol:

What does Dawkins say is wrong with religion?
Does this claim make religion false?
I´ve only seen a couple of debates regarding Dawkins book, as well as about Dawkins, so i can only give you my subjective view, which i have no doubt will reflect what he says in the Book (do inform me if it is similar).

Is religion itself bad or just certain instances of religion?
Religion is bad in almost, if not all, instances.

My main objection to religion is the clear incentive to lie to people, especially children. This will cause problems in the future for the particular individual in many different ways, but speaking purely mentally, it makes their brains like pourage (metaphorically).


After the acceptance of a specific religion, lets say Christianity, they are to discard belief in such things as Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, which has the exact same amount of "evidence" for its existence (nothing). The irony of it all, also comes when talking about other religions, which are obviously, "wrong". And any evidence for this is not needed, as no evidence for your own religion is needed, so they continue their little lives, letting their brain live in isolation of logic, and believe whatever they want to believe.
Are non-believers justified in being hostile to religion?
Yes.

Religion is the main cause of most of the wars we have had in the world. Excuse of (using) religion in one way or another has caused a huge amount of pain for the worlds population.

We also have examples, Such as the U.S president veto stemcell reaserch which is one of the most important scientific areas in our time, as "it is against Gods wish". And the U.S together with the Western World would be able (quicker) to find the solutions to many problems, but they wish not to be part of it, making sure the suffering will have to wait longer until help can come.


Just mere examples. Thoughts?
T: ´I do not believe in gravity, it´s just a theory

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Post #10

Post by QED »

otseng wrote:
QED wrote: In my opinion, which I believe is shared by Dawkins (as taken from TV interview) -- if a belief which leads to some significant behaviour cannot be validated (in principle) by others who may wish to question it, then it should not be granted such freedoms. Arbitrary beliefs can readily be fabricated that are independent of the actual world, and so cannot be verified.

If it has no effect on other individuals, it shouldn't matter.
Except that being indoctrinated into an arbitrary belief system from an early age is teaching children (and let's be honest -- this is how the vast majority of people come to religion) that beliefs may be arbitrary and unjustified. How is this a bad thing? Well, it's tantamount to training people to be irrational for one thing -- and for another, it divides human beings into different factions (your religion will be overwhelmingly likely to be that of your parents/geographical location -- and will differ from that of a person in a different part of the world). Arbitrary division into "clans" like this creates clear fracture-points for inter-human conflict. As if that wasn't bad enough, the training that attaches people to arbitrary beliefs (i.e. to be irrational) hampers any attempts to deal with such conflicts as neither "clan" can show that their particular belief is valid.
otseng wrote:Additionally, how can anything be sufficiently validated?
Try the scientific method. Seriously -- it answers your next question...
otseng wrote: And by whom should the validation be done by?
In principle anyone and everyone. If beliefs born out of the scientific method are in discord with the actual world, any detectable discord is -- by definition -- open to correction. Using faith alone means we never know if we are on the right track or not.
otseng wrote: Also, as much as it would be nice if everyone was on the same page and believed in the same things, we would head into dangerous waters if we determined who can believe what.
All are welcome to show that they have detected that discord. The assumption is that there is "an actual reality" to things and by testing our theories up against that reality we may find our way to the truth. Of course such a journey can never know when it is at an end -- and may even have to back-track on occasions. But at least it has a mechanism to detect, and extract itself, from blind alleys.
otseng wrote: As long as one's belief does not hurt others, one should be given the complete freedom to believe in whatever one wants.
I really don't think you can isolate people sufficiently to make this the harmless exercise you would wish it to be. Your President announced that his foreign policy was, in effect, a response to a "calling from beyond the stars". While world leaders retain respect when personal revelation informs their decision making, I think we are consigned to the barbarism of the past.
otseng wrote:In the case where a belief harms others, I'm opposed to it
How can we decouple the individual from society in this way? You are conceding that many beliefs will be irrational -- do you really think it healthy for human civilization to built-up from societies of irrational thinkers?

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