Hard News: The God Thing
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Just wanted to say the Richard Dawkins is a freakin' hero.
The Richard Dawkins and Teg Haggart interview is particularly interesting in light of later events. You can find it on YouTube (can't get to YouTube from here, but just search for DAWKINS and you'll find it) in the 'Root of All Evil' series.
I am sick and tired of the media turning the waterfront Vs Eden park story into some sort of conflict, rather than doing some solid work on this issue - especially the string of worthless, highly unscientific polls. The media spend money on gauging the nation's political pulse, yet they can't do the same for the future of our biggest city's waterfront?
Give me some real research, not these popularity contests... its not nz idol, its our future we're talking about here!
Like Mr Slack said, we've bypassed sustained debate for Ready Fire, Aim.
Dawkins may be a hero but he's also an old crotchety pain in the ass contrarian.
I'm firmly in the camp of anti-theist rather than atheist and found the Time intro sort of annoying:
"Roman Catholicism's Christoph Cardinal Schönborn has dubbed the most fervent of faith-challenging scientists followers of "scientism" or "evolutionism," since they hope science, beyond being a measure, can replace religion as a worldview and a touchstone."
I think the more interesting question is why people continue to see religion as the only source of morality when so many of us have world views that aren't based on divine revelation. Science informs my moral questions and beliefs but certainly doesn't define them.
Dawkins seems relatively unconcerned about moral questions or deeper philosophical questions to the point where he tends to ridicule those who are (see the Salon.com interview last month) which is slightly irritating.
I'm firmly in the camp of anti-theist rather than atheist
I'm not familiar with the term, and how it is different from "atheist". Could you explain it for me?
Atheists don't believe in god. Anti-theists are against god.
The Russian Anarchist Mikhal Bakunin once said (something along the lines of) that if god did exist it would be necessary to destroy him. The argument runs that putting our faith in a supreme being ingrains a respect for natural heirarchy and 'the natural order' in us that prevents the realisation of freedom. Therefore, even if god was real, it would be a bad thing.
Luckily for us, he's not.
I admire a Christian willing to reject Intelligent Design. I was somewhat surprised to see he's called an evangelical christian in wikipedia. This sort of reasonableness I'd more associate with liberal theologians. What I think is important is that if a person chooses to subscribe to christianity and science (which I think should be possible), that faith shouldn't set boundaries on what is knowable. Faith is fine for the unknowable, but what is unknowable may recede over time with advances in science.
Atheists don't believe in god. Anti-theists are against god.
I would have thought anti-theists were people that were against theists (ie, were annoyed by theists/those who believe in god)
Dawkins is right. Science does not deal with moral questions. Science is a means of describing nature, nothing more than that. Moral questions, if they are meaningful at all, are another matter.
The interesting aspect of the Collins/Dawkins debate is that Collins could only make conjectures about a god. The existence of such a god, any god, was not necessary to explain any aspect of nature or fill any holes left by science. God was simply an opinion of Collins.
So anti-theists could either believe or not believe in god, but if they did believe in god, they would also think that god is a bad thing.
I like the Bakunin analysis.
To be fair to Christians, most do not believe in Intelligent Design. The ID movement is only a few years old and is nothing more than a fraud perpetuated to discredit science. The Christians who do believe are generally those that once believed the world to be 5000 years old: hicks.
Most Christians have no problem with Evolution, although they do seem to want their god to be in charge of it all.
I thought Dawkins response to the old "evolution is God's way of doing this" argument was pretty good.
Paul, of course science doesn't answer moral questions. But his rejection of moral questions as "remarkably stupid" in that Salon interview implied that we should be concerned with them.
Anyway, I've never met an anti-theist who did beleive in god, but I guess Deborah's argument could stand.
As an atheist (not an anti-theist or a Rationalist or, God forbid, a Humanist) I do not like all this talk of believing or not believing in God. Surely, God is impossible and so one could not ask reasonable questions about God's existence. It is not that I do not believe in God, just that there is nothing there in which to believe.
However, I do insist on proper nouns being capitalised.
To be fair to Christians, most do not believe in Intelligent Design.
Bah, you moderate (haha!)..
Yeah, I'm not so fair. ID is no more, or less, logical [to me] than any other religious doctrine.
I use god as a standard noun to mean a supreme being. Capitalising it gives to much creedence to theist beliefs. ;)
However, I do insist on proper nouns being capitalised.
Well... I don't capitalise 'fairy' or 'unicorn' either, and I didn't think we were talking about any god in particular, just the concept of god in general.
Perhaps just a motivated Atheist? :P
One of the refreshing aspects of Dawkin’s recent book, the God Delusion was his vigorous attack on religion’s oft-asserted monopoly on morality.
There are few things I find more annoying than being judged by a Bible literalist as being amoral due to my atheist position.
So if God is all powerful and eternal, then she has been around for an infinite time, and has the power to destroy herself.
Therefore, by the laws of probability, God has already committed suicide.
COLLINS: By being outside of nature, God is also outside of space and time.
Well if that's the case then God is outside of our system (i.e. the universe) and hence can be removed from all scientific equations.
"To be fair to Christians, most do not believe in Intelligent Design."
Except, the exceptions are notable...like, er, the Pope.
Yet another of many reasons to oppose faith based schools (whether Islamist, Christian or the Great Juju).
Dawkins makes very sound points, but that doesn't get past the fact that he comes off as kind of a jerk. Many of his arguments have been made in a much more eloquent and less condescending way by Bertrand Russell.
(You've got to love that photo.)
Here's a famous passage by Russell on the inabilty of sceptics to disprove the existence of God.
Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
There's more here.
Russell went on to explain in great detail why he is not a Christian.
I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the Gospels, taking the Gospel narrative as it stands, and there one does find some things that do not seem to be very wise. For one thing, he certainly thought his second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at that time. There are a great many texts that prove that. He says, for instance: "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come." Then He says: "There are some standing here which shall not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom"; and there are a lot of places where it is quite clear that He believed His second coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That was the belief of his earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of His moral teaching. When He said, "Take no thought for the morrow," and things of that sort, it was very largely because He thought the second coming was going to be very soon, and that all ordinary mundane affairs did not count. I have, as a matter of fact, known some Christians who did believe the second coming was imminent. I knew a parson who frightened his congregation terribly by telling them that the second coming was very imminent indeed, but they were much consoled when they found that he was planting trees in his garden. The early Christians really did believe it, and they did abstain from such things as planting trees in their gardens, because they did accept from Christ the belief that the second coming was imminent. In this respect clearly He was not so wise as some other people have been, and he certainly was not superlatively wise.
And there's more of that speech here.
Terry Eagleton has a good review of Dawkins' book in the London Review of Books.
By saying 'good' (and by linking to it) I'm not endorsing everything Eagleton writes. Indeed, as a good agnostic I'm sitting on the fence with the review as with the whole God Thing.
I thought this was marvelous though:
Dawkins rejects the surely reasonable case that science and religion are not in competition on the grounds that this insulates religion from rational inquiry. But this is a mistake: to claim that science and religion pose different questions to the world is not to suggest that if the bones of Jesus were discovered in Palestine, the pope should get himself down to the dole queue as fast as possible. It is rather to claim that while faith, rather like love, must involve factual knowledge, it is not reducible to it. For my claim to love you to be coherent, I must be able to explain what it is about you that justifies it; but my bank manager might agree with my dewy-eyed description of you without being in love with you himself.
I've just finished The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris.
He suffers from sounding a bit preachy and maybe a bit too hard on religion but it's worth a read.
Danyl, you have to remember Dawkins is in the rather (to him) annoying position of having to defend science against some very sustained attacks by idiots.
He would rather be arguing with other scientists about the mechanics of evolution, instead he feels he has been forced into a rear-guard action to make sure that *real* science is taught to our children, as it was to him. If the pope, along with certain US politicians, is trying to push ID as a scientific theory that should be taught in biology classes rather than theology classes then his concern is warranted, and if he comes across a a jerk, so beit. He is a very readable jerk :-)
Hayden Green: God ... can be removed from all scientific equations.
The kind of people that make arguments like Collins would never put God in a scientific equation to start with. That's sort of the point.
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