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19 of 27 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 31-40 of 47 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 08:08:10 BDT
No Andrew - I was simply pointing out that things are a little more complex in the real world! If you state that God is directly responsible for everything, or he does not exist, then you are stating that God is directly responsible for breaking my leg. I do not believe that - any more than I believe that when there is a tornado in Alabama it is God who started it and is directly responsible for it. You are doing what most atheists do - creating a straw man argument and then arguing against your own argument.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Apr 2012 22:21:13 BDT
Andrew says:
Dear David

I did spot you adding the term `directly' responsible as if I am suggesting that on a whim, God starts a tornado or makes you break your leg. I said no such thing, although I can see that you might like me to as it's easy to rebuff. I simply want you to explain how you believe God isn't responsible for the natural disasters that you accept are an intrinsic development of his creation, a development he was presumably prepared to accept. Remember that it is theism which says that God is responsible for everything, not me. I'm simply pointing out the problem you have in reconciling that responsibility with the horror of those who perish. As you are doing all you can to avoid addressing that problem I assume that you appreciate its significance.

Best wishes

Andrew

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2012 01:21:41 BDT
Chris Ray says:
"I notice that once again you have studiously avoided what you call the 'easily countered' question of natural disasters. I really would like to hear your response to the evidence of millions of people perishing in these God-created events......Are you really easily able to counter THIS evidence for the non-existence of God?"

Why do intelligent people kill other "intelligent/non-intelligent" people?

So from a atheist point of view rather than condemning Christians for what they believe, why not debate on how from a atheist point of view, you would morally teach other people what to do and what not to do, how are you going to change the world and make it a morally acceptable place to live in? ie... no wars, unless you intend to conclude that perhaps its morally acceptable to conduct war? I would like your view on this please.

If anyone can conclude its not morally acceptable for God to kill humans, but for some reason its acceptable that humans can in certain circumstances kill other humans, it appears a very unbalanced argument. Since one, should believe that either killing humans is immoral or its morally acceptable, what is the atheist point of view on this matter?

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2012 12:36:02 BDT
I don't accept your premise that they are God-created events.

And it is not always immoral for humans to kill other humans - for example in self -defence or to prevent others being killed. Life is not as simple as you would like...

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2012 14:26:47 BDT
Chris Ray says:
"I don't accept your premise that they are God-created events. "..
What do you mean?

"And it is not always immoral for humans to kill other humans - for example in self -defence or to prevent others being killed. Life is not as simple as you would like..."
Not always? So you partly agree that someone killing is immoral? I disagree, though I believe all killing is immoral, and life is as simple as that, people don't like to see things this simple, as we always fear repercussions and therefore its easier to justify immoral actions, if it was to do a 'good deed'. But justifying one persons death over another is wrong, isn't that judging? I watched the film Johnny Mad Dog - its about child soldiers fighting a war in an African country.... This film is both graphic and brutal, this sickened me and even then I thought that imagine you had a chance to kill these 'soldiers' would you do it, you could put a stop to their horrible actions. But I can't justify killing someone, if I could invent a weapon to defend people from them I might, but how far do you go to stop others from actions you don't agree with?

I know that's a harsh way to look at things/life in general, but if you mean to kill someone that's what I mean by immoral. If you didn't mean to do it, manslaughter then I believe its different, but its still bad but its not what you intended. That reason can be right or wrong, so its down to intention whether you deliberately killed someone or choose to try and not kill them but unfortunately it happened that way. Its odd that we can justify things like murder.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies Matthew 5:43-48. That's a extreme teaching, but with all the hate and brutality in our world, what needs to change until people realise Jesus was right.

Matthew 26:52 ('"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword") I love Jesus, and I try all my best to live as he said to do so.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Aug 2012 10:43:07 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Aug 2012 22:45:21 BDT
Andrew says:
Dear Chris

You say, `So from a atheist point of view rather than condemning Christians for what they believe, why not debate on how from a atheist point of view, you would morally teach other people what to do and what not to do, how are you going to change the world and make it a morally acceptable place to live in? ie... no wars, unless you intend to conclude that perhaps its morally acceptable to conduct war? I would like your view on this please.'

An interesting point, Chris. Could I firstly apologise for any `condemning' tone you detect. When you argue against deeply held and vitally important beliefs it can appear very personal and this is unfortunate. Regarding your point about promoting morality, I see no reason whatever why the teachings of Jesus cannot be taught - by parents, teachers and anyone in a leadership role. For the most part these teachings, unlike much of contradictory and frankly barbaric advice to be found in the Old Testament, represent an admirable moral basis to a civilised society.

Ironically much of his teaching is inconvenient, not for atheists, but for the church. During the recent events in the banking world, did you hear any sermon, or even a comment from either of the two protestant churches about Jesus' clear message for `rich men entering the kingdom of heaven?' For so-called Christian politicians the teachings of Jesus are particularly inconvenient. In fact I would go so far as to say that when tested, the morals of the average citizen - whether religious or not - far outshine political, or indeed religious, leaders who are more concerned with their own and their church's status than with moral principles. Did Rowan Williams, who is one of the most principled, come out strongly against the behaviour of greedy bankers or politicians? The Catholic church tried its best to hide the wrongdoings of priests until the pressure forced a reluctant and half-hearted response.

The shameful illegal war in Iraq, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, was started by two professed `Christians' Bush and Blair.

Regarding god vs humans killing, my point is that god's killing in natural disasters is arbitrary and indiscriminate. There is no `imbalance' since as you can see I condemn humans, religious or otherwise, who kill in the same way.

Regarding David Robertson's later comment that he `doesn't accept (my) premise that (natural disasters) are God-created events', he needs to explain why it is that he (David) gives credit to god for all the wonderful things in nature, but not for the bad things. I can only wonder what other aspect of the creation he wishes to absolve god the responsibility of? Presumably the barbarity of his proudest creation - Man?

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Aug 2012 16:17:47 BDT
Hi Andrew,

I've read through your discussion here with the author and I just wanted to say thanks for helping to draw out a perfect example of how theists will absolutely not address the core points, and try instead to wiggle out of things by twisting to questions put to them.

Your point about the natural disasters is very clear and makes perfect sense. I'm really baffled at the way the author tries to somehow dismiss this point (and then tries to treat it as if they are winning the discussion and it is you who are being unreasonable). It certainly provided me with plenty of amusement.

I was wondering whether this book would provide a rational counterbalance to The God Delusion (which I enjoyed very much) as I am interested to understand the theists' side of the story. However, seeing how the author responded in the discussion here, I don't think I will bother if they cannot even address the simple points that you put forward (and they seemed rather dismissive with it, too).

Best wishes,

Steve

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Aug 2012 17:31:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Aug 2012 21:58:31 BDT
Andrew says:
Hi Steve

Thanks for your kind comments. I recognise that no amount of evidence, however solid, can change the views of a theist because the meaning of their life depends on their belief. Unfortunately, therefore, any challenge to the basis of their belief tends to be received personally and should be done, if at all, very delicately. In this case, I felt I couldn't let David's book - and subsequent comments - pass without challenge. The responses of David and many others to `The God Delusion' were inevitable as it was a pretty fierce broadside from Dawkins - the result, I suspect, of years of pent-up frustration, firstly at the spurious challenges to science by people who do not understand science, scientific method, or the meaning of acceptable evidence, and secondly at the track record of organised religion, which is pretty dodgy at best and contemptible at worst. However, as I said above, even if Jesus never lived, the teachings attributed to him arguably form the best guidelines for decency and social harmony. I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water!

Best wishes

Andrew

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2014 14:34:24 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Jan 2014 14:38:27 GMT
Chris Ray says:
Dear Andrew,

Sorry time has eluded me and your reply managed to escape my attention, due to Steven's nature of human perception, I was not intending to twist anything, though I am human as you are, so we may equally challenge one another? Twisting is a political way of saying, I wish you would stop doing that, please stop being so politically correct, we may disagree on some topics, its human to do so.

" I see no reason whatever why the teachings of Jesus cannot be taught - by parents, teachers and anyone in a leadership role. For the most part these teachings, unlike much of contradictory and frankly barbaric advice to be found in the Old Testament, represent an admirable moral basis to a civilized society. "

Of course, many see that the teachings of Jesus go against the grain of the law of God, this preception is down to how one reads the Bible. Do you never see the
barbaric nature to how God treats sinning humans similiar to the barbaric nature that humans treat one another, whether they are religious or non-religious and if a atheist could accept religion was 'made up', then the Bible represents how humans have been treated in a Godly way for doing wrong. People regards themselves as a authority equal to God as gods (especially for those who don't believe in toothfairies). However this does not change the fact that to this present day, humans are trafficed and enslaved, abeit usually enslaved on a lighter note than the AFricans were 60+ years ago, I am very please that times are changing in regards to abuse of humans, I hope the way animals are abused also changes too!

"Ironically much of his teaching is inconvenient, not for atheists, but for the church. During the recent events in the banking world, did you hear any sermon, or even a comment from either of the two protestant churches about Jesus' clear message for `rich men entering the kingdom of heaven?' For so-called Christian politicians the teachings of Jesus are particularly inconvenient. In fact I would go so far as to say that when tested, the morals of the average citizen - whether religious or not - far outshine political, or indeed religious, leaders who are more concerned with their own and their church's status than with moral principles. Did Rowan Williams, who is one of the most principled, come out strongly against the behaviour of greedy bankers or politicians? The Catholic church tried its best to hide the wrongdoings of priests until the pressure forced a reluctant and half-hearted response."

Inconvenient? I think not! Every Christian should know better than to think that any of his teachings are Inconvenient. The problem with your statement, is that you are rounding up believers into a church and foreseeing "Christians as a power structure" and therefore as I am a Christian, this represents me and other Christians "the church", you have merely left out The Quakers, The Jehovah Witnesses, Messianic Jews etc, who are not represented by other Christians or even so-called Christians but Jesus!!! The church is exactly what Jesus was preaching about, please just keep reading the Bible, rather than think you know better.

As you are judging me and other Christians by "so-called Christian actions", is this fair? Would it be fair if I represented an atheist opinions with so-called atheists? Is this a misguided view, a deception or a mis-intrepretation on our part? To represent a human being of the actions of a group of people rather than them as a individual? Christians are called to judge as any other belief or political stance but we do so at our own peril "Matthew 7 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

This just serves as a warning, we can judge but the same will be applied to us.

Atheists argue would it be fair that people's sin are brought down from generation to generation "Exodus 20 speaks of "visiting the iniquity unto the third and fourth generation." but many atheists are quite happy to bring wrong doings from person to person with regard to their religion or even politics!!!! So why do you condemn politicians or religious individuals on the actions of their groups, if you "see no reason whatever why the teachings of Jesus cannot be taught"????

You are quite right to point out your view "For so-called Christian politicians the teachings of Jesus are particularly inconvenient", but again you are judging them in regards to Jesus, not in regards to being human. Perhaps if I look in the mirror at any given second would I see Jesus or my reflection? Is this my problem or the fact that at any given second we can appear more human than G-d like but when we are given leadership roles and money, suddenly we become more obsessed with ourselves and less concerned for others. So again, the teachings of Jesus 'rich men will not enter the kingdom of heaven', applies!!!!!!!!!! We must not be obsessed with ourselves but each other. If you catch a Christian not doing this, don't judge them on being Christian, but being human, that way you can see them as human rather than thinking they are going to be 100% perfect, unless you are 100% perfect all the time, people think they are, but at any given second, could we be caught out?

The shameful illegal war in Iraq, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, was started by two professed `Christians' Bush and Blair.

Again, I would apoligise on half of my Christian brothers and sisters around the world, but why? For I may have or may have not taken their action but if you were in their position and someone had killed civilians in the country that you governed, what would you do? Would you have served your moral principles any better? Its easy to condemn others, but given the responsibilities of those in command and you've got loved ones being killed around you, do you simply command the old testament of punishment or serve the new testament of forgiveness? Its easy to judge but much harder if your in a power role and have people to serve. Would you simply let Hilter take control killing the Jews and forgive him, where would society be now, if such a moral principle had been applied?

"Regarding god vs humans killing, my point is that god's killing in natural disasters is arbitrary and indiscriminate. There is no `imbalance' since as you can see I condemn humans, religious or otherwise, who kill in the same way."

Of course, we cannot see the full picture, G-d kills in nature, yet humans kill who they see as guilty, is this fair? You condemn both actions, so with science would you say its logical that no-one ever dies? If there's too many people on the planet now, how would resources fair on planet earth let alone the universe if we didnt die? The problem is, dieing is natural, I can fairly say that its a part of living I least look forward to, wouldn't you agree on at least one thing I have said?

Moreover, I love the new testament, Jesus's teachings!! Though I fully respect the Torah.

Peace be with you and best wishes

Christopher

Posted on 22 Jan 2014 12:50:18 GMT
Bob says:
Is it proportionate to use the term "Fundie" regarding atheists in an era when fundamentalism is more typically associated with extreme and often violent actions? Some atheists are vocal in their views, but the debates go through the same acceptable and legal channels as any other discussion; the same channels that are available to all, such as the publishing of these books.

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