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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How very dare you, Dr Dawkins!, 17 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths (Mass Market Paperback)
I was about to add some fulsome comments about this book when I saw that Mr Haswell had done it before me and very well, too. My copy of David's book has pencil notes down most pages and Mr Haswell has covered most of them and most articulately. I must add: I too was annoyed at the slur on anyone asking about the origin of God. This is a common response to this fundamental question.('Treat it with disdain or we may have to consider it seriously'!) David fails to understand that by asserting that the universe is so wonderful that it requires a creator, Christians have invoked a specific principle, viz, anything wonderful requires a creator. The 'Who created God?' question is merely to apply the self-same principle to justify the existence of God! If you don't like the principle, don't use it! David's attempt to ridicule the question as worthy of a six(teen?) year old is not only regrettable but also displays a shallowness of thinking born of his dependence on the existence of God.

And that is the problem really. Someone who feels that their life would be meaningless without God is hardly likely to be able to discuss evidence about his existence objectively. This is evident in the many books written to challenge Dawkins or atheism generally. It becomes clear that the writers have a common starting point - two immovable assumptions: a) God exists b) he is all those things that Christians believe him to be. One could have more sympathy with those who say 'I can't answer that'. There is also a tendency to try to paint atheism as a belief system diametrically opposite Theism, rather like devil-worship because it's then easier to counter-attack. But atheism is not a belief system, any more than belief in a round earth. It's simple disbelief! Atheism is based on evidence, theism on need. A theist needs God; an atheist doesn't need the absence of God. In fact most atheists wouldn't care tuppence if there actually were a Christian God (though not an Old Testament God with his psychopathic tendencies). It would be rather like a flat earth. It would change things but we would adjust!

Very few theists seem consider the significance of their use of the word 'faith' to describe their belief. The whole mantra of theism is shot through with the uncertainty encapsulated in the word. I am always reminded of this by the burial prayer 'in the sure and certain hope of resurrection'. Evidently it is not resurrection which is 'sure and certain', merely the hope of it! But why this uncertainty if theists are as confident as David Robertson? I do not have mere faith that sun will rise or birds fly tomorrow. I KNOW they will. To say that I had only 'faith' that these things will happen would display a considerable and disconcerting level of uncertainty. And so it is with faith in theism.

David's rather disdainful, nit-picking approach is perhaps understandable in view of the abrasive and combative style of Dawkin's book, which for all its length failed to highlight the simple fact that belief in an all-powerful, caring, and above all, good God is rendered totally untenable by the evidence of the millions of innocent men, women and, especially, children, who have been drowned, suffocated, incinerated and crushed in those little quirks of 'God's wonderful creation' - floods, tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquakes. I find theists' response to that evidence is always a little less assured than David's to Dawkins.
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Showing 21-30 of 47 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2012 12:28:34 GMT
A. Hawkins says:
You said, "The Bible does not teach that every single natural disaster is specifically created by God. It states that the natural order has been created by God, but that order has been distorted and perverted by evil and sin".

So therefore natural disasters are the result of sin. Land movements, if a human gets in the way, result in pain death and suffering and are hence a result of sin.

I don't tend to argue against what I want people to say. Maybe people aren't very good at communicating what they mean to say. And when a Christian argues for his God they tend to have thinking diametrically opposed to mine.

A Christian who doesn't believe in the duality of the good force and the bad force; this is even better. I wish we could tie just one of you down to what you really believe. So, if I decide to tell a lie am I under the influence of the devil? Or is it that my post-fall psychology was designed to be innately non-avoidant of sin. I would guess (from your response) that you would side with the latter. This post-fall psychology must have been designed by God himself. If my post-fall designed psychology leads me to sin then it is by God's design so it is unfair for him to punish me eternally for his design. And then the fix to this lamentable mistake is the self-sacrifice of Jesus. The devil only seems to be needed to kick-start sin during the temptation of Eve.

Moral judgements are made every day by billions of humans and the holocaust was a one off event consigned to history. The holocaust was totally wrong and therefore black (in our analogous colouring system), but the billions of moralistic decisions made every day are rarely ever totally black nor totally white.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2012 12:38:04 GMT
Sorry but such simplistic atheistic literalist views are hard to argue against - it's a bit like arguing against a conspiracy theorist. Everything you say is part of the conspiracy! You will find that the notion of the good God creating good things and the bad God creating bad things is as old as the hills and has been repudiated many times by Christian thinkers and scholars. If you decide to tell a lie you are certainly copying the father of lies, but you are responsible yourself for what you do. The holocaust is a one off event consigned to history?! Brilliant. Of course there are shades of grey but you stated there was no black and white - just shades of grey. I can think of hundreds of black and white things right now . As a Christian of course I have a reason for my morality...as an atheist there can be no reason...after all it is all just a social construct come about as a result of a chemical accident! As Dawkins himself pointed out - who is to say that Hitler was wrong!

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2012 20:09:22 GMT
Andrew says:
Thanks David. Simple is much better!

You say, `No. I do not believe that God is responsible for natural disasters'.

Do you then believe that natural disasters are not an intrinsic part of the earth's development since the creation?

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2012 10:12:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2012 10:14:02 GMT
A. Hawkins says:
You say, "You will find that the notion of the good God creating good things and the bad God creating bad things is as old as the hills and has been repudiated many times by Christian thinkers and scholars". Oh dear. This Christian Theology is the most baffling thing I have ever encountered. Most Christians would agree that God is responsible for good things and the bad god (i.e. the devil) is responsible for bad things. Why else do would you say I am copying the father of lies? What is the role of the devil and what lies is he making for me to copy him?

Okay, I stand corrected. There are moral things that are totally white and moral things that are totally black. This exchange was too fast paced and I should have stood back and slept on what I had said.

I really don't know why you scoff. The holocaust was an event which is now historical i.e. it happened in the past. I don't understand why you scoff. Maybe, that is just your nature.

I don't know why my morality has to have a reason. Does everything have to have a reason? Does the puddle have to have a reason, as Douglas Adams famously argued? You have reduced the origin of my morality down to a few sharp words, but does that undermine it in anyway? And in doing so you are committing the genetic fallacy. Equally we could reduce your morality down to a few sharp words. You are moral because you follow a God that promises to burn you forever if you do not believe in him, because of a sin that a long dead ancestor committed. How silly it seems when you commit the genetic fallacy! I believe we need to compare the morality of your religion with the morality of others. In Christian morality, I find hell a repulsive notion; that I can burn forever because of a sin that a long dead ancestor committed. The punishment does not fit the crime and our harshest courts would not contemplate administering a sentence for the most heinous of crimes. But this notion seems perfectly good for you; indeed it pervades your being until you have become blunted to its horror because of its ubiquitous acceptance in Christian society. One should ask, what has happened to your morality that you accept a notion? There are other societies who uphold a greater morality like the Jains for example. Conversely, there are other societies where apostates should be punished by death and those societies see this as perfectly moral and right. Each does so because of a reliance on a shared moral understanding based on supernaturalism. An atheist bases moral decisions on a feeling that she gets about the projected outcome of a moral decision (amongst other things). I could equally ask, "Which is more correct?"

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Mar 2012 13:31:37 GMT
Yes - I think they are...

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Mar 2012 13:37:17 GMT
No Christians do not say that God and the Devil are equal and opposite forces. I am also intrigued as to how you can use the words 'good' and 'bad' - do they have any meaning and what is that meaning based on?

Does everything have to have a reason? Yes - if you are going to argue from reason and logic. Yes the puddle does have a reason. And no I am not moral because I follow a God who promises to burn me forever. I am moral because I am made in the image of God (as is every human being). You are moral but the logic for your morality is limited. And I do not accept that people burn in hell forever because of one mans sin a long time ago. I believe what the bible says - that the dead are judged according to what they have done. Perhaps it would be helpful if you stopped arguing against straw men....

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2012 12:16:39 BDT
Agreed, I particularly like the way he defines the opposite of 'belief' as 'disbelief'. Disbelief is not the opposite of belief but rather a temporary confused state of mind, quickly replaced by another belief. The nature of our mind is to always be believing. It rather reminds me of the wonderful Woody Allen argument in 'Love and Death' about objectivity, which he finally nails to the ground by stating 'all objectivity is subjective.'

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2012 22:36:35 BDT
Andrew says:
Dear David

You say: `No. I do not believe that God is responsible for natural disasters'.

I say: `Do you then believe that natural disasters are not an intrinsic part of the earth's development since the creation?'

You say: `Yes I think they are...'

But if natural disasters ARE an intrinsic part of the earth's development since its creation, how can God NOT be responsible for them?

Regards

Andrew

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Apr 2012 09:39:30 BDT
Andrew - if I fall over and break my leg - is God responsible?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 00:41:56 BDT
Andrew says:
Dear David

Much as a broken leg would be a disaster for you, especially at 8am on a Sunday morning, it would surely be a welcome alternative to being crushed, burned or drowned in a truly natural disaster, which you accept is an intrinsic part of the earth's development since God created it. In giving this diversionary example, of course, you have skilfully avoided explaining how God is not responsible for such disasters and the lives lost in them.

Best wishes

Andrew

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