The God Delusion - Chapter 8

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The God Delusion - Chapter 8

Post #1

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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bernee51
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Post #51

Post by bernee51 »

otseng wrote:I think it's more like:

Religion does bad things.
Therefore religion is wrong.
Do you think it is right that religions do wrong?

BTW 'wrong' does not equal 'false'
"Whatever you are totally ignorant of, assert to be the explanation of everything else"

William James quoting Dr. Hodgson

"When I see I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I see I am everything, that is love. My life is a movement between these two."

Nisargadatta Maharaj

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Post #52

Post by otseng »

bernee51 wrote:Do you think it is right that religions do wrong?
It would depend on what you mean by "religions do wrong". But generally, no, it is not right when someone religious does something wrong.

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Re: religion is powerful

Post #53

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
otseng wrote:From what I can gather in this thread, I think we all can agree that there have been bad things done in the name of religion. But, what I have not seen is that this shows that religion is false or even wrong.
In practically any human activity, there can be shown bad aspects of it, especially any activity that has latent power (eg politics, money, sex). But, this does not show that these activities are categorically wrong. And it especially doesn't show that these activities are false, or even delusional.

So, unless it can be shown that bad things done in the name of religion demonstrates that religion is false, I'm going to be resting my case in this chapter.
I don't think one can say that bad things done in the name of religion make it false. But I think Dawkins does show how it can make it dangerous. And the fact that anyone thinks that the ability for religion to do good or bad things makes it powerful, and thinks that is a good thing, amplifies the danger. Religion has already shown what happens when it gains to much power. Must we keep repeating the cycle? The key is moderation. But the extremists from both sides will never allow it to happen.

But I am ready to move on to the next chapter.
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: religion is powerful

Post #54

Post by QED »

otseng wrote:
QED wrote:
otseng wrote:From what I can gather in this thread, I think we all can agree that there have been bad things done in the name of religion. But, what I have not seen is that this shows that religion is false or even wrong.

No, and in principle, you can't ever be shown that.

To clarify, what can't ever be shown? That bad things done in the name of religion would show religion is false or even wrong? Or simply that religion is false
Perhaps I should have made it clearer. To me it's a rather obvious point and is, I think, what Dawkin's argument is centered upon: It is impossible in practice and in principle to falsify faith-based belief systems. When we join in debates on a wide variety of religious topics here we often reach a point where the argument rests on faith. At this point the rational enquiry can go no further.

If we "blow this up" to the massive proportions of dominant faith-based systems like Christianity, we cut-off huge areas of human motivation from any kind of rational enquiry as well. If some other religion fires-up tomorrow and enjoins people in its faith who's to say what deeply held beliefs it may engender and what motivations it may provide?
otseng wrote:
QED wrote:So is it too powerful for the job it's required to do?

I wouldn't say that it is too powerful, but it is simply how it is. Is water too powerful for the job it's required to do? Is sex too powerful for the job it's required to do?
You missed my point about the 300mm Grinder then. There are some ends that can be achieved by different means. Most of the "services" provided by faith-based systems could equally be supplied by other intellectual means. The core requirements that demand faith could be isolated rather than lumped-in with those things that do not necessitate faith.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote:If, as I suspect, the main motive for monotheistic religions like Christianity has always been an attempt to impose a code of conduct on human beings (something that necessitated an authority apparently higher than man) then the framework of democracy might suffice.

Well, for Christianity, the purpose is not to provide a code of conduct. So, your suspicion would not apply to Christianity.
I would like to know how you come about that conclusion. From the outside (nearly always a good position to see the bigger-picture) the collections of writings that comprise the Abrahamic religion appear to be very much about codes of conduct. The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament were stamped with the ultimate authority -- and the later teachings of Jesus, while shifting the emphasis away from the cut and thrust of Mosaic Law enforcement, completed the "good cop, bad cop" thing just as effectively.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote:As for the other traditional roles of religion, we could still permit the possibility of God as creator in a Deist sense and leave room for speculation about meaning, and other existential issues that many feel the need for comforting answers.

That would be like saying we should also remove all forms of money and use bartering. Though it would remove all the negative aspects of money, it would also remove all the positive aspects of money.
I can't see the analogy. I'm just pointing out that there is no need to wield the massively powerful tool of faith over everything that it was once brought to bear upon. The skills we have picked-up in understanding the world over the last couple of millenia should be allowed to refine our arguments and ration our need for unsupportable beliefs. Your U.S. Constitution is a self-confessed man-made artifact that can be upheld and respected -- is that not a better model?

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Re: religion is powerful

Post #55

Post by otseng »

QED wrote: Perhaps I should have made it clearer. To me it's a rather obvious point and is, I think, what Dawkin's argument is centered upon: It is impossible in practice and in principle to falsify faith-based belief systems.
I'd be curious if you can provide a quote from Dawkins where he states or implies this.
You missed my point about the 300mm Grinder then. There are some ends that can be achieved by different means. Most of the "services" provided by faith-based systems could equally be supplied by other intellectual means.
I would disagree that something else can replace religion. Even attempts to replace religion have been unsuccessful (eg Communist China).
I would like to know how you come about that conclusion. From the outside (nearly always a good position to see the bigger-picture) the collections of writings that comprise the Abrahamic religion appear to be very much about codes of conduct. The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament were stamped with the ultimate authority -- and the later teachings of Jesus, while shifting the emphasis away from the cut and thrust of Mosaic Law enforcement, completed the "good cop, bad cop" thing just as effectively.
The main message of the Bible is not a code of conduct, but how to have a right standing with God. And it is clear from the Bible that this cannot be achieved through any set of laws. The only way is through Jesus Christ.

Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

This is the one key difference between Christianity and almost all other religions. Other religions' main emphasis is how one should act through some set of principals. Though the Bible does also touch on this, it is not the main emphasis of the Bible.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote:As for the other traditional roles of religion, we could still permit the possibility of God as creator in a Deist sense and leave room for speculation about meaning, and other existential issues that many feel the need for comforting answers.

That would be like saying we should also remove all forms of money and use bartering. Though it would remove all the negative aspects of money, it would also remove all the positive aspects of money.
I can't see the analogy.
Christianity : Deism :: Money : Bartering
The skills we have picked-up in understanding the world over the last couple of millenia should be allowed to refine our arguments and ration our need for unsupportable beliefs.
Of course, I'd disagree with the position that the beliefs are unsupportable.
Your U.S. Constitution is a self-confessed man-made artifact that can be upheld and respected -- is that not a better model?
Well, the US Constitution is no replacement for religion. Nor was it meant to be.

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Post #56

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote: But I am ready to move on to the next chapter.
On to Chapter 9.

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Re: religion is powerful

Post #57

Post by QED »

otseng wrote:
QED wrote: Perhaps I should have made it clearer. To me it's a rather obvious point and is, I think, what Dawkin's argument is centered upon: It is impossible in practice and in principle to falsify faith-based belief systems.
I'd be curious if you can provide a quote from Dawkins where he states or implies this
OK:
p282 wrote: FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE
SUBVERSION OF SCIENCE
Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the
truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will
budge them from their belief. The truth of the holy book is an
axiom, not the end product of a process of reasoning. The book is
true, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence
that must be thrown out, not the book. By contrast, what I, as a
scientist, believe (for example, evolution) I believe not because of
reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence. It
really is a very different matter. Books about evolution are believed
not because they are holy. They are believed because they present
overwhelming quantities of mutually buttressed evidence. In
principle, any reader can go and check that evidence.
When a
science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake
and it is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn't
happen with holy books.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote: You missed my point about the 300mm Grinder then. There are some ends that can be achieved by different means. Most of the "services" provided by faith-based systems could equally be supplied by other intellectual means.
I would disagree that something else can replace religion. Even attempts to replace religion have been unsuccessful (eg Communist China).
That may just turn out to be a question of education.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote: I would like to know how you come about that conclusion. From the outside (nearly always a good position to see the bigger-picture) the collections of writings that comprise the Abrahamic religion appear to be very much about codes of conduct. The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament were stamped with the ultimate authority -- and the later teachings of Jesus, while shifting the emphasis away from the cut and thrust of Mosaic Law enforcement, completed the "good cop, bad cop" thing just as effectively.
The main message of the Bible is not a code of conduct, but how to have a right standing with God. And it is clear from the Bible that this cannot be achieved through any set of laws. The only way is through Jesus Christ.

Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

This is the one key difference between Christianity and almost all other religions. Other religions' main emphasis is how one should act through some set of principals. Though the Bible does also touch on this, it is not the main emphasis of the Bible.
It looks to me as though "Believing in Jesus as our saviour" gets "a foot in the door" for a rather extensive package deal that, as you admit, is also aimed at equipping us with a set of principles. I would characterize this difference between Christianity and other religions that you mention as a "soft selling tactic" that has a particular appeal to the Western mind.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote: The skills we have picked-up in understanding the world over the last couple of millenia should be allowed to refine our arguments and ration our need for unsupportable beliefs.
Of course, I'd disagree with the position that the beliefs are unsupportable.
Well, I think you'll find it impossible to distinguish between a multiverse and a fine-tuning creator so I can't help but see great difficulties for your beliefs.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote:Your U.S. Constitution is a self-confessed man-made artifact that can be upheld and respected -- is that not a better model?
Well, the US Constitution is no replacement for religion. Nor was it meant to be.
But it could be, and then it would be utterly transparent and open to question.

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Post #58

Post by otseng »

QED wrote:
otseng wrote:
QED wrote: Perhaps I should have made it clearer. To me it's a rather obvious point and is, I think, what Dawkin's argument is centered upon: It is impossible in practice and in principle to falsify faith-based belief systems.
I'd be curious if you can provide a quote from Dawkins where he states or implies this
OK:
p282 wrote: FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE
SUBVERSION OF SCIENCE
Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the
truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will
budge them from their belief. The truth of the holy book is an
axiom, not the end product of a process of reasoning. The book is
true, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence
that must be thrown out, not the book. By contrast, what I, as a
scientist, believe (for example, evolution) I believe not because of
reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence. It
really is a very different matter. Books about evolution are believed
not because they are holy. They are believed because they present
overwhelming quantities of mutually buttressed evidence. In
principle, any reader can go and check that evidence.
When a
science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake
and it is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn't
happen with holy books.
I think his point is that you cannot use a holy book to support the belief of its own religion. But that doesn't mean that it's impossible to falsify a religion.

Dawkins states on page 50, "God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice."

So, though one cannot use a religious book to prove itself, what Dawkins does say is that one can use science to prove or disprove it.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote: The skills we have picked-up in understanding the world over the last couple of millenia should be allowed to refine our arguments and ration our need for unsupportable beliefs.
Of course, I'd disagree with the position that the beliefs are unsupportable.
Well, I think you'll find it impossible to distinguish between a multiverse and a fine-tuning creator so I can't help but see great difficulties for your beliefs.
Then it would be just as valid to say that the multiverse belief is unsupportable.

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