Having reread The God Delusion I have questions that I would value hearing participants on.
1) Richard Dawkins says that we should still keep the Bible in education? Should we?
2) Richard Dawkins implies that it would be acceptable to look to the Church (or other 'religious' groups) for services such as weddings and funerals. What do participants think of this? Does this not seem 'insincere' and lacking in integrity? Why should anyone want to hold onto the cultural heritage of religion?
3) Richard Dawkins say that Christianity and Islam teaches that 'unquestioned' faith is a virtue. Now I disagree that this is what is taught, but more significantly should he not quote at least one source for saying this? Which leads me to another question - is Richard Dawkins writing an objective science book, or a subjective book in which he only quotes examples and illustrations that back up his already decided argument?
The comments I are referring to are at the end of Chapter 9 and 8 of the God Delusion.
Chris- Apropos your points 1 thru' 3, Richard Dawkins, in common with many commentators on this forum, is, in time honoured tradition, riddled with the sin of Pride. Thus afflicted, Dawkins is unable to accept the gross limitations of his stunted ideological world view and therefore resorts as you have correctly assessed to, "a subjective book in which he only quotes examples and illustrations that back up his already decided argument", rather than cede to some much needed humility.
don't you guys ever get fed up of devoting time to something you can neither prove or disprove-you know like do unto others i.e let it drop.Do you really care that I don't believe, 'cos I don't care if you do. it's based on the notion of faith-right? you have it some dont-so what?!!!
Thank you, chaps, for your comments - I hope that my 'friends' from other discussions may offer their views. To elaborate on Mr Jackson's interesting perspective: I don't get tired of interesting conversation, and would have valued some engagment with the questions. I don't see why an atheist would want to hold onto a religious cultural heritage, and so am trying to understand other perspectives on this subject. I'd also value Mr Jackson telling me what he doesn't believe in, my questions are about the implications of following through Richard Dawkins argument. I do care what Mr Jackson (and others) believe, and am interested in dialogue and trying to understand different view points.
Mr Jackson - thank you. Could you explain the distinction between religious and spiritual, and what you mean by both? You see, I would call myself a Christian, but the word 'doctrine', for me, (at least in terms of Christian doctrine) means the beliefs that I (and other Christians) hold, which (if nothing else) should be examined by everyone - for no better reason that it is this belief system that has primarily shaped our country, and has impacted upon music, art, literature etc etc. When you talk about Christian stories, do you mean the parables of Jesus, or the crucifixion of Jesus, or the Resurrection of Jesus, or something else?
Hi Chris, no-one has answered your questions, so i'll make an attempt to do so.
1. Yes. It is impossible to study Christianity without looking at the Bible. Its also gives context to history, art and literature in western society.
2. No reason why not. In Scotland there is no discrimination as to where someone can get married. Castles, henges and other locations are all popular. The church is viewed as a traditional setting, but as i understand it, most weddings/funerals are held in churchs when they are members (or former members) of the congregation. You may view it as insincere, but the church is just a setting used as a focus for the ritual. Traditions persist, even when the original reason is lost.
3. Was it not Aquinas who taught that faith was one of the theological virtues? In that respect it is unquestioned, since to question god is not encouraged. TGD is not a science book, he clearly sets out what he is arguing for (science) and against (religion/god).
I thank you for your thoughtful answers - the point about using a church for a ritual and tradition persisting without original meaning is, of course, true, but I would have thought that the author of the God Delusion would have been against tradition without meaning, insstead he seems to think it's fine - which surprises me.
Yes, Aquinas called faith a virtue, but also he addressed some key issues and questions, and Richard Dawkins should have shown that unquestioned faith was taught by Christianity. Aquinas did question, as far as I can see, and so do I!
Chris, I'm sure that Father Christmas has featured in the Dawkins household and probably the tooth fairy from time to time too. Both are traditions without, arguably, real meaning. The church is built on a belief that cannot be scientifically verified, so therefore could, arguably, fit into the same bracket. Ghosts are accepted by millions across the world, but again, arguably, are without any real meaning and cannot be verified scientifically. I think Dawkins is a realist and sees that the church and it's dogma have a place in a modern society, as do father christmas, the tooth fairy and ghosts.
And as far as questioning the church goes, I can confirm that awkward questions are actively discouraged. In fact, "backsliders" are often prayed over by groups of other christians.
I am not sure I agree with your statement that 'awkward questions are actively discouraged.' This implies that all churches are like that - which is not my experience. Likewise even within churches that are more conservative, there are often wiser people willing to attempt to answer difficult questions.
In fact it is quite difficult to make generalisations about the church in the same way as it is to make generalisations about people. Churches come in all shapes and sizes. If you have had a bad experience at one (and you would not be alone in that experience), there is undoubtedly one that has an ethos that is completely different.
thank you for your posting. I don't have much to add, but value hearing people's perspective on these questions. I wonder if the ghost point is actually the opposite to Father Christmas, in that Father Christmas is an obvious tradition for a season, and that ghosts (apart from Halloween I suppose) are mainly believed to exist by those whose personal experience leads them to that conclusion.
Wayne, have you ever read a chick publication? You should google him.
Chris, you make a very good point. Personal experience leads people to believe things that are arguably improbable. Yet they cling on to those beliefs despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A very interesting point. Thanks.
Yes I have read a Chick publication - it was a load of codswallop (dare I say lies). This is my point. It is not the church of Chick, it is the church of Christ and not everyone subscribes to the extremes of Chick's work (which I'm sure actually works for some people).
I'm sure that if we polled the different believers who comment on this site their church backgrounds and possibly even some beliefs would be different. If you go looking for bad churches you will find them. In part this is Chris' point in the original question, since Dawkins clearly selects the worst examples of churches and holds them up as 'typical', when in reality they are anything but typical. In a sense he presents faulty data in order to come to a conclusion - which is why his conclusions don't actually work for me.
"which is why his conclusions don't actually work for me." Why the "for me"? If the conclusions are wrong then they are wrong full-stop; it is this kind of weakness [in modern Protestantism] that Dawkins is playing on.
So you mean that a more robust Catholicism would be immune from Dawkins' criticism?
Coming from somebody who is ignorant of central tenets of Catholic dogma (like the immaculate conception!), that seems an unlikely proposition. I'd address the weaknesses of your own position before starting a sectarian turf war, if I were you.
In terms of questions being asked of religion I think that most religions do welcome questions it's usually questioning the answers to much that gets you into trouble!
One of Dawkins main arguments in TGD is that the scientific method offers a better more robust path to knowledge than revelation. Yes there is both good and bad in religion but absolutely no way of separating the two other than personal preference labelled 'faith' to avoid acknowledging it is abitary.
All this moaning that TGD doesn't talk enough about the good of religion overlooks something i.e. that religion has never done something good that couldn't be done via secular means. Religion patting it's god on the back for something his followers did is illogical, immoral and doesn't validate the belief of those followers.
When it comes to god theist make the mistake of assuming the circular logic that god must be good if he is real, and is real if you can attribute enough good to him. It's totally illogical.
Throughout these discussions I think I have learnt that atheists care more about whether a claim is valid or not. Theists want something beautiful.
Drew says, " religion has never done something good that couldn't be done via secular means." but wasn't!!!
"Religion patting it's god" SHOULD READ, "Religion patting its God".
" I think I have learnt that atheists care more about whether a claim is valid or not." As in Marxist atheist ideology and the Death Camps? Think again.
"Theists want something beautiful". You mean like the horror of 9/11, nuclear war? Or possibly peace and reconciliation.
" the scientific method offers a better more robust path to knowledge than revelation." Come on Drew you've missed out the word "vibrant" from your buzzword-opinionated view.
"Religion patting its God on the back for something his followers did is illogical, immoral and doesn't validate the belief of those followers" SHOULD READ, "Science patting itself on the back for its creation of weapons of mass destruction, Hiroshima, Dresden and the Boys from Brazil is illogical, immoral and doesn't validate its activities."
Black and white divisions are the mark of an unseeing inner eye and intellectual blindness. Where should I send your white stick? (metaphorically speaking of course).
I'll at least do you the courtesy of replying to your whole post in order with the exception of the final paragraph just so we stick to the point.
<Quote "religion has never done something good that couldn't be done via secular means." but wasn't!!!"/> Yes and all the secular good wasn't done by religion. Can you give an example of something good that can only be done by those of a religious conviction?
<Quote "Religion patting it's god" SHOULD READ, "Religion patting its God"./> Thanks for the correction but actually it should read "Religion patting its god". I'm referring to all gods not just your personal favourite. The argument applies equally to all gods.
<Quote"Theists want something beautiful". You mean like the horror of 9/11, nuclear war? Or possibly peace and reconciliation."./> You argued that 9/11 was political are you now reclassifying it? Peace and reconciliation would be beautiful things and fit in with the interests of a theist. Wanting something beautiful or caring about the truth are not mutually exclusive I was listing them as where I saw each sides priorities. I can explain further if you promise to listen.
<Quote"the scientific method offers a better more robust path to knowledge than revelation." Come on Drew you've missed out the word "vibrant" from your buzzword-opinionated view."/> Add which ever buzz word you like the fact is the scientific method has proved itself to be a better path to knowledge. It's not as quick or as perfect as we'd like but it is demonstrably better than revelation.
<Quote"SHOULD READ, "Science patting itself on the back for its creation of weapons of mass destruction, Hiroshima, Dresden and the Boys from Brazil is illogical, immoral and doesn't validate its activities."/> All the bad things you list and others created by science still validate the scientific method. They unfortunately work. They are immoral and don't validate its activities. Science is only interested in what works. It would be illogical and wrong to suggest, think or assume science or anything else can only be good by it's nature. Do you see how you're still trying to apply the faulty logic of bad=false good=true though?
Can I assume that since you advocate that only the intellectually deficient can't understand, ignore or misrepresent others posts that the content you didn't respond to you have no issue with?
Drew wrote, "Can I assume that since you advocate that only the intellectually deficient can't understand, ignore or misrepresent others posts that the content you didn't respond to you have no issue with?". Your posts assume too much which indicates the core of your problem. If I don't respond to a post it's usually because my indifference to your stupidity outweighs my commitment to looking for signs of intelligence in what you say. I admit I am often misled into believing you have a valid point to make but then posts like your last one prove to be a great disappointment.
With regards to the correction I was actually correcting your grammar, there's no apostrophe in "its". Whether the argument applies to one God or many gods is irrelevant. You repeated the error in your latest posting when you wrote, " It would be illogical and wrong to suggest, think or assume science or anything else can only be good by it's nature." There is no 's' in its when it is used as the possessive pronoun.
Quite separately, I didn't accept your argument because religion, in the sense in which you use, is an abstract concept and incapable of such acts as patting itself on the back. Only people can do that. The same applies to science, discovering what works does not translate into immoral use, only people do that.
9/11 was a political act but you insist it was a religious one. I don't believe you have the openness of mind to demonstrate an understanding of the different strands of religious belief or practice. Neither have you shown any appreciation of what makes people tick, unless they tick in line with your clock.
You asked, "Can you give an example of something good that can only be done by those of a religious conviction?" Can you give me an example of something good that can only be done by those who lack religious conviction or is it that human beings act in a manner which is determined by factors other than whether they do or do not have religious convictions? Or, is it, as I consider, that each individual acts as they act according to their perception of the world, whatever that might be?
You suggest that, " the scientific method has proved itself to be a better path to knowledge.... it is demonstrably better than revelation" which is indicative of your fundamental problem. i.e. your insistence that knowledge is divided between empirical knowledge and revelation. I do not accept such a division between "physics" and "metaphysics". I see human beings like Dawkins using the scientific method as a means of claiming knowledge and advocating an opinion beyond such knowledge as he actually possesses. I also see some religious people suggesting revelation as a means of claiming knowledge and advocating an opinion I would not accept as having empirical validity. Dawkins is every much a "fundamentalist" of a secular religion as any proponent of Radical Islam is of revealed religion.
You ask, "It would be illogical and wrong to suggest, think or assume science or anything else can only be good by it's nature. Do you see how you're still trying to apply the faulty logic of bad=false good=true though?" You continue to misrepresent my viewpoint. It's not the thing in itself which is good or bad but what human beings do with the thing in itself. Science, properly used and the scientific method properly applied, should increase the sum of total knowledge. Regrettably, as Khun pointed out, on many occasions it does not but creates paradigms which assume a degree of validity beyond that which can be proved.
I apply no faulty logic. What you do is to fail to understand what I have written and, frankly, there has to be a limit to the number of times I'm prepared to put up with your failure to do so. Hence my increasing indifference to your nonsense and misrepresentation.
I know that the creator of a discussion can't influence what is said in the discussion, but I would have valued more people engaging with, what I think are, reasonable questions from a questioning Christian!
The reference to Chick tracts (chicklit - surely) was wasted on me, but having read up on it it represents a very conservative view of Christianity. Of course some will judge all Christians by this, but I believe that the thoughtful Christian faith of Bonhoeffer and Tillich is far more predonimnant, and Richard Dawkins can say that "understated, decent, revisionist (not sure what he means by this word) religion is numerically neglible and that the extremism of Osama bin Laden, and others, resembles "the vast majority" (page 15 -paperback edition) but unless he shows this with evidence - what gain?
You can try, but whether you succeed depends on the participants. Most (i hope) would respect your request.
What Richard Dawkins means by 'revisionist' is one who is willing to adapt to new information. The YEC are the opposite, they do not amend their beliefs to reflect what we discover about the natural world. They cling to those beliefs regardless of the facts.
He is making a broad generalisation about the majority, but i think that he might be correct. The reason i think this is because in my experience, not many people give a great deal of thought regarding their religion. Since to do so requires a broad education. It is what informs us, and education is not as well funded outside the 1st world. I have met people from all over and its inevitable that the subject of religion comes up. The belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God is widespread amongst Christians i have met from outside the UK. The myth of the Flood (sorry) is quite easily incorporated into their belief in an all-powerful God.
Its not until you are aware of processes required to engineer such a flood, becoming aware of when scripture was written (and how it reflects what was known at the time), and being at least partially aware of the many other deluge myths, and the common motifs many of them share. That you revise your belief and no longer regard it quite so literally.
You are right that this thread needs to get back to your question. Once again it has been hijacked by the idiot who has no idea how to conduct a discussion. So to answer your questions:
1) Yes, of course the bible should stay in education. Its part of our heritage and it has interesting stories and many of them have perfectly sensible ideas behind them, which are worth promoting. However, I believe it should be taught alongside all other religious books (at least as many as can be accommodated) and children should be educated to make their own decisions about religion. Until then comparative religion should be taught. I may be an atheist or at least be as close as makes no difference, but that doesn't mean that I favour banning religion, knocking down churches or tearing up religious music sheets. Live and let live is my motto, so I say carry on teaching the bible, the koran and anything else.
2) So far as services in church go, my view is that many of the services currently carried out are done for people who are not church goers or religious believers. Yes it probably is insincere or lacking integrity, but its what people like. There's something quite comforting about the rituals of church which probably endear them to people, and so they endure. Again I (and probably Richard Dawkins) wouldn't have it any other way. I certainly wouldn't want to see the end of all the religious ritual that goes on in the UK. The only place in which I would like to see it end is in the area of influencing public policy, where I believe that religion should lose its prominent position.
3) Of course Richard Dawkins isn't writing an objective science book. TGD is a populist book intended for casual readers and is not written as a serious scientific work. As for it being subjective. Well, of course it is, after all its called 'The God Delusion,' so readers know exactly what they are getting. It isn't a college essay where the writer is invited to discuss two sides of the argument. Having said this, I don't see this as a problem. After all I don't hear vicars from pulpits giving balanced sermons based on biblical versus scientific views. Indeed when it comes to creationists, their material as shown on their web sites is definitely the most biased that can be imagined, given that it always completely ignores all the evidence. For me. I guess the more interesting question is why this lack of balance matters when it comes to TGD, but apparently is unimportant for religious balance.
Thank you chaps for your very helpful postings. David - I agree that TGD is not a "serious scientific work", but I suspect some would disagree - after all Richard Dawkins has written serious scientific work, and that may relay the difference between vicars and Richard Dawkins, (so is TGD a sermon??!!), but clergy I have known would give different perspectives on an issue, not always biblical v scientific, simply because it is not a one or other. Andrew, thanks for your revisionist idea - I would say all people are revisionist, up to a point, but interestingly (I think) I gather 'the selfish gene' caused some to revise their view on science and religion and come up with inteligent design! But most Christians I know don't want a war between science and religion, are happy to accept science, and to allow study (in different speheres - not only science) to inform them.
Regarding tradition, we celebrate Christmas (which has no Christian roots), maintain Roman baths (which were built on earlier pagan temples) and maintain sites such as Stonehenge and Callanish. In these the tradition has proved stronger than the beliefs from which they came. Should we abandon them? The church has been a focal point for the community for a long time in our history, and is seen as a special place. So to wish your wedding or funeral there is not insincere or lacking integrity. That person only lacks belief, not respect.