first of all let me start off by saying, that i am a hindu and im 14 years old. secondly i have and am reading the god delusion, which has slightly worried my friends and family as to why me a 14 year old boy is reading such a book? well i want to see what the fuss is about. thridly i have to say yes i agree with one other review on amazon, that its seems quite unlikely that richard dakwins has managed to fully comprehend every religion in the world and managed to rebutt it with a justiable criticism, of which i say it is a justified one to people who want it. there are literally hundereds upon thousands of religious sects of interpretations of god. as i have said before in the start of this discussion that i am a hindu. now as you all know, hinduism is a very large religion like islam, christianity, and judasim. but i am in wonder as to why dawkins and no other religious hardcore critic has mentioned the indian branch of religions. hinduism, sihkism, and budhism in their criticisms. do they think that hinduisms beliefs are absurd. of course from the point of view of an outsider, it does. but i believe that the hindu scriptures can be seen as a metaphors. bear in mind that hinduism is 5000 years old and is spanning 330 million gods! that is the main reason of this part of my first posts in this discussion. i hope to rather pathetically if you see it that way, to attempt to present a rebuttal, and/or argument if you will of dawkins book, "the god delusion". what i attempt to do is to explore why his criticism isnt a one hundred percent criticism of religion, in that the only religions he criticises are christianity, islam, and judaism, the middele eastern beliefs. i want to find out what compells dawkins to say the things he says, his atttitude, his harsh mindset and morale towards religion. in my next post sometime next week i will give my thoughts on the subject of childhood indotrination, does it abuse children? and athesit pride. also if you wish, i would like to know your thoughts on me. say, what are your thoughts on a 14 year old secular hindu attempting a discussion of this nature, without the usual childish and rebellious language a person of my age would usuallyt say in a discussion. do let me know, and i'll see you next week people!
"i would like to know your thoughts on me. say, what are your thoughts on a 14 year old secular hindu attempting a discussion of this nature..."
You have as much right to be here and contributing as everyone else. Your perspective as a secular Hindu can offer something different from most of those posting who appear to either atheist, Christian, perversely non-committal or crazy mixed up human!
I agree that it is unlikely that RD has been able to acquire detailed knowledge of even the world's main religions, never mind the many different sects, but I think it is likely that he has sufficient knowledge of his own fields, and researched religions to a reasonable degree. He offers a set of arguments to support the proposition that there is, in all probability, no god of the kind he describes on p 52 (Black Swan edn)...a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. He puts forward his views with conviction, but makes no pretence to have sewn up the entire case. The arrogance that some have seen is, for me, not there. He has challenged the views that I have about god (which are based on my, now-lapsed, Catholic upbringing) and about the value of religious followership, particularly where those followers commit acts in the name of god/religion that bring religion into disrepute.
I cannot speak for others: it is not for me to decide whether RD has made accurate representations of religions other than the one I am personally familiar with.
By the way - you will of course discover that not everyone in an online discussion is who they appear to be. I have deliberately chosen a pen name, not my own, because it is a pretentious joke about a famous fictional character who professed to want to indoctrinate the young!
I was wondering what a good age for a youngster to read this book was. I was thinking maybe 16, maybe 18. I'm interested to know how you find it at 14. Is it a bit hard going in places, or boring for you, or do you understand it 100%? My thinking is that youngsters should not be too heavily introduced to this sort of thing (religion/anti-religion) before they are able to think for themselves and challenge the ideas presented to them. (I would also like to see them have a good understanding of science first, though I'm aware that that would skew their thinking in the direction of my view. That may make me as guilty as the religious folk who want to get in early and skew the youngsters thinking their way).
Are you aware of the silly tricks people can play on you to get you to accept dodgy ideas? A simple one might be someone says "As everyone knows A is true" and then they go onto to develop a logical argument from "A" that therefore "B is true". Before you know it you are grudingly admitting that "B" must be true. However of course "A" was never true in the first place and not everyone thinks it is. RD gives an excellent example where a position of Einstein's is subtly subverted and by changing one word in the sentence changes its whole meaning. (Sorry I don't have the book handy just now, or I'd tell you where it was but you may have noticed it yourself already). It was roughly along the lines of "Einstein is a great scientist but he does not accept the Jewish view" when the statement could have been "Einstein is a great scientist AND he does not accept the Jewish view" *.
So enjoy the book and don't forget to read it and other books in a questioning way. I'm not suggesting for a moment that RD is trying to trick you by the way - just to declare my allegiance here I'm in favour of the RD side of the argument.
* PS I just looked up the quote and it was "Einstein is unquestionably a great scientist, but his religious views are diametrically opposed to Judaism".
I found that broadly speaking the views RD expresses in TGD were the same as the ones I've had for a long time. I think he does rather bulldoze the reader though, and he could benefit from a gentler approach. Something I didn't agree with, for example, his assertion that atheists have conquered fear of death. I don't agree - although I'm sure RD has - most of the rest of us have just had to accept death, and stay scared of it - although that is still a liberating feeling compared to the everlasting paradise/torment rubbish we are taught from birth. I don't understand what is wrong with fearing your own mortality, and why religion feels the need to invent raptures and days of judgement. We would be healthier I think, if we let that go and accepted our fear.
@Sp Rao RD indicates that he is focussing on monotheism (belief in one god) and as such focuses on the old testament shifting into the three "new testaments" of christianity, islam and judasim (oversimplified I know). I suspect that RD believes, all religion is absurd (obviously I can't speak for him, and even if he believed that he wouldn't summarise it in such a trivial way). The subject of religion is so overwhelmingly large, he's done a good job in presenting a dissertation of his understanding (note that a very large proportion of TGD is other peoples words). To progress with this discussion it would be a good idea to pick one small part of TGD and discuss it specifically as the subject is too large otherwise (such as your suggestion of "does [religion] abuse children"). A good area to discuss is "do we get our morals from religion?" I think his argument is made very well (he uses the old and new testaments to argue the point). Or perhaps a little more abstract, why is there a lower percentage of athiests in prison than out of prision.
As for your question, "what are your thoughts on a 14 year old secular hindu attempting a discussion of this nature?" perhaps I can quote RD "Do not indoctronate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you" which is exactly what you are doing.
As a footnote, I didn't get the impression that he was being harsh, but if you can find a quote where this is the case please post it and we can discuss that too.
thank you so much for the replys. sorry it has been a long time but i have been busy with school and such. i would have replied sooner. getting back on track. in response to other comments on this page, i do find it boring in some places, though i have 'put it down' for a while. i had no idea that my comments would be recieve with a posotive approach. previously i had attempted these sorts of things on youtube on a rd video. that was at a time when i was still frustrated and angry at what rd was writing. and at that time my typing on a pc wasnt spectacular. it ended up as a horribly messed up text with a fair few profanitys. responses then were negative as you would have guessed. those people there had all assumed that is was probably a member of the christian-judaic/islamic faiths. well i am not! even one person replied in my inbox that if it wasn't for people such as myself then 9/11 wouldnt have occurred. you could imagine my shock horror.
being brought up in a religious family is a unique experience. certainly from the moment you are born in one, you adhere to a set of rules an mandatorily follow them fomr an age group onwards. i can remember mine. my first experience of learning that i was hindu came about when i was five. i had seen an ad on t.v about burgers. naturallly they looked good to me and i wanted one. but i cryed myslef over when i realised they were BEEF. and hindus do not eat beef as we believe that the cow when it provides us milk is a giver. a natural mother of sorts, protecting its child. that about all i know im sure the rest of it ill learn later. until a few years back. say age 6/7. i was always almost entirely and untill age 10 brought up as a christina in the sense that untill then my only experience of god was through the readings of the bile the primary school teachers used to tell us at school. it is amazing the effect religion has on children. even atheism itslef has a profound affect on a child when they realise at some stage( for one of my friends it was age 6/7), when they say to themselves that god does not exist. this does sound a bit rd but i am using it in a similar fashion to explore my own thoughts. my next use of dawkins is this: how do people like me know form a very young age where we stand on such issues. even rd himself said that he began to question religion at the age of 9 give or take a year! that amazes me how did he know where he stood on such issues at his time. it is our personal choice, what we want to believe. in the uk the views on atheism and religion with children are certainly lukewarm. people are ok with their friends ( well at least most) being religious. in my R.E class the recent thursday of this week in which i posted this, we sometimes never touch upon the harder hitting aspects of religion. that changed. we were told to watch a dvd titled ' amazing creatures that defy evolution 3', by our R.E of ours who knows what he is talking about. the person on the dvd was pretty annoying and boring. but in discussion before and after watching the dvd, on the subject of teaching creationism, we were asked to give our thoughts. at the time i was sitting next to my catholic friend. although i do not know what he thought i was overwhelmed with anger and negativity at the thoughts by my classmates. you see 1 third of my class are in some way atheist. it really made me cry in some wasy inside. some of the responses were intelligent and at this age 14/15 we were begining to asert ourselves. the one third of the class asserting their belief in atheism. ( why do i refer to atheism as a beleif, maybe the strong impact it has had?) what has compelled them at some poin in their lives to believe in this. if you people out there would like to leave your thought and help me asnwer that question whihc i find difficult to asnwer, that would be good. although short this for my liking has proved my thoughts on indoctrination. ill continue this next week and go into a bit more on this matter. why are we beginning to assert our strongly 'convicted beliefs' so soon in life. as f we didnt apparently have second thoughts. we i post ( i hope so) next week i will also share my thoughts with you on a newspaper article my R.E gave to me. yes it was about religion, but it was one particular article which did reasure me and i hope youll look at it in the same light. Hey either way its your choice what to accept and believe. after all isn't that what we are? to be able( no matter our religion/beliefs) to make choices? see what you think next week. CYA
You give me hope. I don't personally care if teens today believe in God or not. I just hope they have thought about it and came to their own conclusions. I was schooled in a catholic environment. We were TOLD god existed and could fail religion class if we decided to go against this theory. It is very important, at the age you are at, to sit back and think about how all these religions came to be, and most importantly, why humans have a need for religion. You may find this frustrating if you approach the question with a scientific approach because you will not be able to come to definite conclusions. There are still too many mysteries in life to "figure it all out". Humans deal with this uncertainty in one of two ways in my opinion: 1. Acceptance we cannot know all or 2. Assume a position and stick with it.
The people that fall in category 1 become agnostics...they simply accept that we cannot know why we exist, either because of lack of brain power or because of lack of evidence for or against the existence of a "creator". The opposite of agnostic is gnostic, meaning they think there is a way to know for sure (either that god does or does not exist)
The people that fall in category 2 tend to be either theist(belief in a god/deities) or atheist(do not believe in such gods/deities.)
I am trying to make this simple but as you can guess, there a lot of nuances (for example: people that aren't sure but somewhat believe, people who make up their own religious beliefs etc).
I guess what I am saying is that you really shouldn't feel sad for the people who don't believe just like they shouldn't feel sad that you believe. What you should be concerned about is making sure that your decisions were thought out and that all points of view were weighed.
It is also very important to make a distinction between a belief and it's associated organized religion. A lot of people are anti-organized-religion but not against the concept of god as a creator. Frustrations towards the church are not frustrations towards that church's god. These are objections that are political in nature and not spiritual.
Some people find comfort in believing in reincarnation, some find comfort in believing in a heaven concept, some people are only comforted with proven truths and find spiritual matters a catch-all for the feeble minded. We can all try to sway people to our version of the truth but that would be like trying to prove that the colour you describe as blue is percieved in the same way as I percieve it.
the more the merrier my friend. also, it's been a while since i read god delusion, but doesn't he say he's going to focus more on christianity as it's what he has more experience in. hope your having fun my friend
i have all ways questioned the critiscms of my own beliefs. what can you really say about hinduism. the caste system perhaps? also to end this short note off i would like to know your thoughts on the religious movement of wicca. you see my friend is one, and on the rd webpage there was an article on wicca posted wiht one response being, ' wicca is more illogical thant christ'. do let me know what you think
As others have said, any discussion, viewpoint and opinion is valuable. It does not surprise me at all that the largely atheist members here have reacted positively to your original post since you were polite, sincere and open to discussion and even criticism - which isn't necessarily hostile. You have nothing to fear from reasonable people as long as you remain that way and I hope you enjoy discussing the issues.
To answer your last post, I know little of Wicca but I had a college-friend who claimed to follow it and I will air this thought - I see it as a "fashion", a fad. I feel VERY much the same way about Scientology. It comes across as something with little in the way of foundations but just happens to be "vogue" at the present time. I'm interested to hear peoples thoughts on this view. Assuming your friend is of similar age to you, do you think he has had the time and experience of life to reinforce his beliefs?
I'd like to ask you a question that I hope won't seem offensive in anyway as I do not wish to undermine your beliefs. To expand on C.Moore's post: do you think that had you been raised in a Christian (or Jewish/Muslim/etc) environment your beliefs would be different? What I'm trying to say is that is your Hinduism personal to you and largely connected to your upbringing?
Sp Rao - Dawkins is by general consensus ignorant of the christianity he was a) brought up with by protestant parents and b) culturally immersed in as a white anglo-saxon Briton.
So if he can't get that right after 65 odd years living it, maybe it's too much to expect him to critique eastern religions? It doesn't matter anyway, because as far as Dawkins is concerned theist = idiot, Hindu, mormon, catholic or moonie, makes no difference.
By the way - apparently buddhism may be exempt from his scathing pen - it's not expressly theistic you see.....
Well, if Dawkins is 'ignorant of ... christianity', then so are most Christians. I reckon Dawkins knows at least as much about Christianity as, say, 90% of people who call themselves Christians.
Also, Dawkins does not say that theists are 'idiots'. That's just a silly lie.
Finally, an honest critique of religion is, in my opinion, far preferable to your approach. To pick a religion from your list, I reckon that the founding myths of Mormonism are deliberate lies told by a charlatan. I don't see the need to find any nicer way of putting it. If you are (suppose) an 'orthodox' (small o) Christian, then you presumably agree with that analysis. Or take the Catholics: if you're a Protestant, you won't believe in transubstantiation, the immaculate conception, or the assumption of the Virgin; indeed, you'd find those things heretical. (Of course if you're a Catholic, then it's the denial of those things that constitutes heresy.) You presumably believe that Hinduism is, at heart, idolatrous, polytheistic nonsense, and that the Reverend Moon is the powerful leader of a very nasty and dangerous cult.
There now - I've put lots of words in your mouth. Would you care to disagree with any of those judgements of the value of other religions? I can't see how you can, without hypocrisy. If anything, your own criticisms should be stronger than mine - after all, you presumably think that one of these faiths (or another one not on the list) actually represents the word of God, and the other ones are keeping souls from the true path. I can simply shrug and dismiss them all as nonsense.
If you do actually agree with my views of most of these faiths (and I suspect you do), but you're just not saying so, then that seems to me to be amazingly patronising. In comparison, Dawkins' honest criticism comes as a breath of fresh air.
Well said Derek, I'm getting fed up with the hysterical abuse of Dawkins in these forums. He strikes me as being a far more moral and decent man than many people who call themselves Christians, or Muslims, or whatever. The forum's top line asks if we are tired of him, and tired of his loathing of religion. Definitely not. Religion has had it too much its own way for far too long, and there is no reason whatsoever why it should somehow be exempt from questioning and enquiry. Maybe it's adherents get the screaming meemies at Dawkins because they know their illogical, stupid and frequently downright evil shibboleths are no match for his intelligence and eloquence. Young Sp Rao asks what do we think of the Hindu caste system? I'm surprised no-one has taken him up on this. Myself, I think the Hindu caste system is horrendous, the human suffering and misery it causes are incalcuable. I can remember when Mrs Ghandi took the South Africans to task over apartheid, while apparently seeing nothing wrong with the cruel oppression of the dark-skinned 'untouchables' going on in her own country. As for 'wicca' - well, it's just as daft as any other religion. Why it's adherents worship certain trees and hills beats me. I doubt if the tree or the hill is much impressed by their earnestness ... but what is it about people that they will subscribe to this nonsense - anything rather than use their heads!
ages ago, it was part of hindu religon. but now just ike the dowry, the catse system has become part of india culture rather than part of its religon. hinduism has evolved over time to adapt and change. i personally am horrified at the cast system. it make sme wonder how ignorant india's government is. they should f ing do something! even my tata ( grandfather in an indian dialect called telegu) has an ' untouchable house maid!
Any religion that is based on the central tenet that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds punished, is based on truth. That, at least, is my experience. Both judaism, christianity and islam are built up on that (God does it there) and so is Theravada buddhism (the law of karma does it there), and, for example, the Quakers, derived from George Fox, also base their search for peace and justice on that central tenet (they are derived from christ teachings directly).
If you focus on that in hinduism (I assume it is there already), then you will be able to verify it personally, I know you will since I have, and I can say without any doubt that it is truth. However, contrary to some popular renditions, the punishments are PRIMARILY spiritual in nature, so look there - guilt is a prime example of that, but there are many varieties and degress of guilt. Conversely, happiness, in many degrees and textures come from truly good deeds. I leave it completely up to your own discretion what you find, in key with what Buddha said to his followers. See for yourself. I will not be back here.
excues me. did you not read what i just said in my first post. yes i was a hindu since birth, though i was never forced or indoctrinated into doing anything against my will. my family has always been open minded and seculer. and fun loving and always wanting a good time. its almost as if we didnt believ in god.
I accept that everybody has a choice to believe in whatever they want. But Dawkins sums this up nicely when talking about (I forget the exact quote) how a person who believes in fairies can be said to be crazy but a person who believes in a personal god is religious. I am generally a much mellower atheist than I was as a teenager when I would argue for the sake of arguing. I don't hold atheism as a belief as I would drop it as soons as the evidence for a God outweighed the evidence against. Maybe then reason or science is my belief. I prefer to think of it as a way of life though. I find the high probability that there is no God highly liberating as I can live to my own morals and not worry too much about going to hell or heaven.
Religion can stay for those who want it but it must expect to be thoroughly examined when it interferes with scientific thought and teaching. This is what has happened with American Creationsism and I suspect that this is one of the main reasons that Dawkins is as scathing as he is. By all means offer theories on the great questions in life but expect them to be evaluated as would any scientific theory. This is exactly what Dawkins has done.
I have to say to see a fourteen year old reading this is refreshing. I actually find it less surprising that your a Hindu to be honest! I actually started to question the existence of God at a similar age to Dawkins. Most of this revolves around the evidence for Evolution by natural selection. There can be said to be criticisms of the theory but it is the mst perfect theory we have to explain how we all got here. It shows that we aren't designed at all. We aren't even perfectly adapted to live our lives the way we do (standing up straight when built to walk on all fours, sort of)!
Actually while we're at it can anyone actually propose a better theory?
to start off with, i think you would be really really suprised by the amount of under 15 year olds who read this, i can think of at least 10 as it is, anyway i became a Christian when i was 10, and i know what your thinking, that i did it because of my parents i didn't understand it yada yada yada, but let me get this clear, I BECAME RELIGIOUS MYSELF NOT BECAUSE ANY HUMAN BEING INFLUENCED ME TO. ok, so the whole fairy religious thing, i think the thing is that there are more religious people in the world than non religious, so people can't really insult it religion, also if they did they would be called racist, whereas fairies are just a bed time story, and not many people really belive in them.
also, personally i (and many other Christians) belive in natural selection, i mean after all, God want to give us the best chance of surviving while the devil is still controlling and changing the world