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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not a defence of 'The truth of Christianity', 12 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Paperback)
Some of the reviewers on Amazon seem not to have noticed that this book is not a defence of Christian beliefs, nor an attack on atheism as such. It is instead a defence of Christianity against claims made about its allegedly harmful historical impact and character by many today, including the 'new atheists'. It argues that Christianity gave to the world revolutionary ideas of charity and justice: they have been so successful that we hardly notice how radical they were, though most of us accept them. It argues that the Church, for all its many failures, has been, in general, a positive influence on the world. It cites many cases where the story behind the myth shows the Church to have acted better (or, at least, less poorly) than legend holds - the Galileo case for example. It sets out the argument with verve and wit even if, at times, it appears to be indulging its polemical style a little too much. It made me realise how accustomed even knowledgeable - even Christian - people have become to making assumptions about the past that do not reflect well on the Church. Those who do not like the book might do better to stop attacking it for what it is not, and demonstrate its historical errors if they can.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Jun 2011 14:15:29 BDT
Nicely written and explains well the nature of this book for those curious to read it, however, as always when showing how christianity has developed civilisation and a harbinger of grace to mankind, it takes away the real reason for the ''good" shown not by the religion itself but by those individuals which understood its wrongness and chose to be Humanistic. This is the underlying drive for good in helping fellow citizens and not the evolution of religion as an instrument of good.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Aug 2011 13:10:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Aug 2011 18:11:39 BDT
Peter Oz says:
Mr. Clarke

Why do these people choose to be "Humanistic"? Why should anyone be altruistic?

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Aug 2011 20:32:22 BDT
To be a Humanist is not a choice but a realisation that when religion is inadequate to explain Life, the result is that the individual becomes more sensitive to the vagaries of life and how precious it is and how we are all related man and all other forms of life. Altruism is a fascinating subject and I could direct you to the works of Bill Hamilton who elucidated a form of altruism as "Kin Selection", other forms of altruism are understood to be "Group Theory" and "Reciprocal Altruism" Some authors I could call attention to if you wish to know more are Ernst Mayr, Edward O. Wilson, J. Maynard Smith,Stephen J. Gould to name a very small list that can explain the evolution of altruism much better than me. So you will come o realise that since the grouping of individuals forming a society however primitive it is clearly seen how a group which supports each other survives than a a group of selfish individualists. This was the development of mankind well before the evolution of language and writing. Did you wonder why the riots in our various towns happened. It is Group Theory which underlies the collective looting even from individuals of a normally civilised and reputable background. There is no reason to be altruistic, it's because your ancestors realised its importance and it is seen in many groups of animals that form large societies of their own. I hope this brings some focus to your question and thank you for asking me to explain my comment. The Price Of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of KindnessThe Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Aug 2011 21:53:26 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Aug 2011 23:29:24 BDT
Peter Oz says:
Mr. Clarke, thank you for your response, and thank you for the two links at the end, although I am hardly in need of any more reading material on altruism. So let's take your post on its merits.

///To be a Humanist is not a choice but a realisation that when religion is inadequate to explain Life, the result is that the individual becomes more sensitive to the vagaries of life and how precious it is and how we are all related man and all other forms of life.///

This is simply an assertion. Please give me something more concrete. When did this humanism start? Can you give me statistics and trend up until the present day, please? Throughout history people of religion have found their religion adequately explains life. This continued and continues to this day and shows no sign of discontinuing. So if your assertion is correct, how would you explain why billions of people of religion still find their religion adequately explains life?

And please can you supply the relevant information that shows how these once-religious-now-humanist people simultaneously adopted a view that "we are all related... man and all other forms of life"? I'm not too sure what you mean by this, so please do elaborate if you have the time. I'd like to see the correlation arising from your initial assertion.

///Altruism is a fascinating subject and I could direct you to the works of Bill Hamilton who elucidated a form of altruism as "Kin Selection", other forms of altruism are understood to be "Group Theory" and "Reciprocal Altruism" Some authors I could call attention to if you wish to know more are Ernst Mayr, Edward O. Wilson, J. Maynard Smith,Stephen J.///

I've heard all of this before. It is just theory emanating from a presupposed worldview. Nothing new here. Altruism is a regard for others as a principle of action. It is an unselfish concern for other people, and comes from the Italian altrui, which literally means 'somebody else'. Your theories have nothing to do with altruism in any true sense. It is just an attempt to hijack morality, incorporate it into a worldview and attempt to dumb it down by pretending that it really exists for the benefit of a group, or for reciprocity.

Rather than altruism being a "fascinating subject", in an atheistic worldview there can be no such thing as altruism. That you even use the term shows you are being inconsistent with your worldview.

///Gould to name a very small list that can explain the evolution of altruism much better than me. So you will come o realise that since the grouping of individuals forming a society however primitive it is clearly seen how a group which supports each other survives than a a group of selfish individualists.///

Reciprocal/Kin/Group "altruism" are all selfish, so don't kid yourself here. Reciprocity is about a mutual 'give and take.' Nothing unselfish there. Kin selection is selfish because it excludes those outside your immediate family. And Group selection is selfish because it excludes those outside of your circle. There's no getting away from it, you're trying to apply the Darwinian metaphor to morality. If you believe all this, then fine. But I wouldn't try to pass it off as fact or proven because it is neither.

///This was the development of mankind well before the evolution of language and writing. Did you wonder why the riots in our various towns happened. It is Group Theory which underlies the collective looting even from individuals of a normally civilised and reputable background.///

A total contrast. The riots were probably a combination or mixture of several things: anti-establishment and police; anti white authority; greed; laziness; peer pressure... animalistic instincts which stand in complete contrast to an unadulterated altruism.

///There is no reason to be altruistic, it's because your ancestors realised its importance and it is seen in many groups of animals that form large societies of their own. I hope this brings some focus to your question and thank you for asking me to explain my comment.///

I appreciate you taking the time, and I hope we can continue this in a civil manner.

Ozzie

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2011 17:53:21 BDT
I. T. Turner says:
To Peter Alan Clarke,

I was struck by your statement '[a]ltruism is a fascinating subject and I could direct you to the works of Bill Hamilton who elucidated a form of altruism as "Kin Selection", other forms of altruism are understood to be "Group Theory" and "Reciprocal Altruism"'

Let me refer you to agnostic philosopher David Stove's book "Darwinian Fairytales" in which, with devastating wit, he demolishes Hamilton's case for altruism based on kin selection. Stove's critique of Hamilton's kin selection applies with equal vigour to other materialistically motivated explanations of altruistic behaviour.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Sep 2011 08:21:26 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Sep 2011 08:36:53 BDT
Clarke - don't bother. Hart and Stove are two of a kind and 'devastating wit' just about sums it up - or one might say posturing and sneering
As for Mr Oz, you'll note that he's careful never to make any 'assertions' himself. Don't go there

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Sep 2011 16:25:23 BDT
Thank you I.T.Turner, I will read your suggestion and look forward to responding to your argument at a later date. Many thanks for your suggestion....

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Sep 2011 16:29:05 BDT
Hello Ozzie, yes I would like to continue this argument in a civil manner and look forward to responding to your well defined position of your argument against altruism as i understand it to be. I hope if time allows to counter several of your posits as soon as possible. Thank you for agreeing to be civil as that is the only way I know how to argue with thought and reason.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2011 18:51:06 BDT
Peter Oz says:
Thank you, Peter. I understand that time permits, so please do not worry.

Ozzie

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2011 14:17:47 GMT
T. Deegan says:
Mr Barrett- I appreciate that both these authors at times get a bit merciless in their criticisms. But does that mean that they are therefore wrong about the matter under discussion? Also, "new atheists" such as Dawkins and Hitchens shout ever so loudly in their writings, Hitchens in particular can be very unrestrained and one could say that what's sauce for the goose, etc.
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