More God Delusion

Posted: October 30, 2006 in Intelligent Design, Theo/Philo

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Dawkins is a relatively easy target-I have to admit it –his foot and mouth are close associates. Bearing that in mind, this is my last post regarding Dawkins new book, unless more illusions/inconsistencies float to the surface of that oozing bubbling stream the blogosphere.

From ‘Wired’ magazine, Gary Wolf presents the article:” The Church of the Non-Believers”, here’s a quote:

‘The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it’s evil. Now that the battle has been joined, there’s no excuse for shirking.

Three writers have sounded this call to arms. They are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. A few months ago, I set out to talk with them. I wanted to find out what it would mean to enlist in the war against faith . . .’

Michael Ruse wrote to Dawkins and Dennett, a few months ago about the wisdom of labelling certain groups as evil:

“I think that you and Richard [Dawkins] are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design – we are losing this battle, not the least of which is the two new supreme court justices who are certainly going to vote to let it into classrooms – what we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues – neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas – it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims – more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will.”

I have been a Christian for 28 years, and like any other group of individuals none are perfect few pretend they are, most Christians, like non Christians, are keenly aware of there own failings. I have to say the overwhelming impression I get of Christianity is not of evil but of good. I have known many Christians who have helped people in crisis all over the world and continue to do so, providing infrastructure and support.

I confess I’m confused about Dawkins use of the term evil, I don’t think he defines what evil is –so maybe I’m not the only one who’s confused?

Gary Wolf quotes Dawkins: “How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents?” Dawkins asks. “It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?”

So belief and politics do mix, are related? Apparently so, after all, atheism is a positive belief based on positive evidence that God is on holiday permanently, otherwise we are talking agnosticism.
It also appears that the consequences of Atheism according to Dawkins et al are a loss of freedom, at least for those evil religious people. Yellow star anyone?

I wonder what would happen, in ‘Dawkinsonia’, if atheistic parents imposed their creed on there progeny? Would that be ok, after all, it’s not a ‘manifest falsehood’-or is it? Those dam meme’s if only I could get them to shut up!

He understands perfectly well that there are practical constraints on controlling the spread of bad memes. If the solution to the spread of wrong ideas and contagious superstitions is a totalitarian commissariat that would silence believers, then the cure is worse than the disease.
Didn’t Stalin try this sometime ago? Aren’t China, North Korea, and Cuba still trying it now? Dawkins needs to get in line behind these fellas.

You can’t have any sense of goal directedness if everything is just a machine.
My experience of machines is that they are wholly determined.
I have always thought that if a worldview cannot be lived out consistently then it is wrong, at least in part.
Dawkins new book is called the ‘God Delusion’.
How can anything be deluded if there is no agency? Understanding something requires agency -in order to be deluded we must think, thinking is an act of intent not determinism. I do not think that the existence of a God is such a ridiculous possibility that it should be excluded from thought. I do not understand why God seems so anathema to Dawkins.

Dawkins has said in several interviews:

“Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car.”

I believe if we do have an example of species that cannot comprehend the concept of blame and responsibility. I believe that such a species can be found in the zoo. Perhaps if we do grow out of such concept we might belong there as well.

Finally, Thomas Nagel in a critic of Dawkins writes:

‘All explanations come to an end somewhere. The real opposition between Dawkins’s physicalist naturalism and the God hypothesis is a disagreement over whether this end point is physical, extensional, and purposeless, or mental, intentional, and purposive. On either view, the ultimate explanation is not itself explained. The God hypothesis does not explain the existence of God, and naturalistic physicalism does not explain the laws of physics.’

It really does all boil down to Faith.

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Comments
  1. Bruno says:

    this would have made a lot more sense if you’d shown somewhere – anywhere – where Dawkins had called Christianity, or religion, evil.

    Is the only source of this is the title of the documentary he presented “The root of all evil?”

    Then, firstly, this was a title over which Dawkins objected to and had no control and secondly, it has a question mark in it and is therefore not a statement.

  2. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Bruno,
    thanks for posting.
    Your right I forgot to post a quote attributing this characteristic of evil to religon-from Dawkins.Although it is common knowledge aoungst those drawn to this type of debate.
    I haven’t seen the root of evil tv series and I wasn’t thinking of that when I posted this.
    I was thinking of his latests book ‘The God Delusion’ and the interviews I have picked up on, to promote the book.
    Heres a smattering of things that lead me to think Dawkins considers Religon evil:

    ‘Imagine, sang John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Kashmir dispute, no Indian partition, no Israel/Palestine wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no Northern Ireland “troubles.”

    Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin for the crime of showing an inch of it. Imagine no persecutions of the Jews – no Jews to persecute indeed, for, without religious taboos against marrying out, the Diaspora would long ago have merged into Europe.’ The God delusion.

    Talking to David Quinn Dawkins says”..I do think that there is some evil in faith because faith is belief in something without evidence.”

    It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, “mad cow” disease, and many others, but I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.
    — Richard Dawkins, The Humanist, Vol. 57, No. 1

    There are plenty of others.

  3. If assigning blame and responsibility is a useful fiction of a truer analysis then is there no such thing as responsibility in Dawkins’ truer world? If there is no responsibility then there can be no blame either. Maybe that’s what goads the likes of Dawkins- a penchant for avoiding the consequences of not living up to standards entailing concepts like responsibility to a moral code of behavior.

  4. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi William-thanks for your post.
    I agree with you-an exclusive mechanistic past leads to an exclusive mechanistic future.
    What frustrates me is that Dawkins seems never to face up to the implications of his worldview.
    Such as the problem of free will,the problem of asigning value to things, as if one arrangement of molecules has a higher value than another arrngement of molecules;you can’t say this chair is less valuble than that Human, in his worldview both are ultimately molecular.Who is there to assign value to these arrangement of molecules (things/people)?Nothing except yet another arrangement of molecules ie Dawkins for instance.
    Ho Hum

  5. My experience with the likes of Dawkins is that they ignore the issue of how materialism impacts value formulations and free will. What can they say? Everyone does what is right in his own eyes.

  6. Tom says:

    I found this while gathering reviews of Dawkins book. I can just say that your post is the most incoherent babble on the subject I’ve encountered so far.

  7. Derick says:

    Well I’ve found tons of much worse babble, some of it totally impenetrable.

    Personally, I think Dawkins has hit the nail on its head, people realize this but are, if they are religious, ticked off by such common sense.

    I mean, let’s face it, why don’t Christians when they learn of a loved one’s impending death (especially a child’s) not celebrate his or her imminent entry to the great party in the sky?

  8. Mike Godfrey says:

    Well thanks for stopping by-Tom how is this post incoherent?
    Cheers,
    Mike

  9. “Personally, I think Dawkins has hit the nail on its head, people realize this but are, if they are religious, ticked off by such common sense.”

    People realize that Dawkins and others like him are blowing off steam. There is much emotion but little in the way of rational discourse in Dawkins’s claims about religion.

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