Poll
Religion is the root of all evil, and if we just taught science better, it would go away!
Absolutely true! 2
Somewhat true, religion is the cause of most evil, but there are other factors too. 4
Somewhat true, religion can turn bad to evil, but most bad has political or economic origins. 5
Absolutely false, religion gets a bad rap! 0
Total Votes: 11
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Nagel, Dawkins and the deeper questions of religion
Posted: 23 October 2006 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Thomas Nagel - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Nagel - is a philosopher who "believes in altruism," but also seems to be some sort of religionist. 

    In a review -  https://ssl.tnr.com/p/docsub.mhtml?i=20061023&s=nagel102306  - in The New Republic of Richard Dawkins’ new book ([i:b1abd0b204]The God Delusion[/i:b1abd0b204]), he properly recognizes Dawkins over all "message" as just more arrogant, unsophisticated anti-religiosity.  Nagel seems to understand that, though properly drawing a hard line between religious literalism and science, Dawkins shows no real understanding of what religion is - beyond literal supernaturalism - or why it is important to so many people (beyond pat answers a la the ‘religion-as-a-crutch’ "analysis.")

    Still, in trying to dismiss Dawkins’ parochial atheism (not his claims of methodological scientific naturalism vs. literal or fundamentalist supernaturalistic religion), Nagel seems to cross those lines between what is known, knowable or unknowable as per ultimate origins and ultimate reality.  His particular language/examples used via refuting Dawkins’ atheism, may be easy to dismiss* as he misunderstands reality as much as Dawkins ignores the deeper issues of religiosity - but his essay is still worth reading for the underlying search he, and so many others, are undergoing. 

There must be a way for scientific naturalists, while articulating the absurdity of supernaturalism, to address religion and spirituality as a whole much better than Dawkins (or Sam Harris, for that matter), does, if we are to evolve (pun intended) into a more humanistic society. 

It is interesting to note, as an aside, that the New Republic enjoys publishing reviews which critique scientists who argue for natural altruism, cooperation, and other such ideas on human nature which may seem "Leftist" (such as publishing Pinker’s strawman attack on Lakoff), but that they are also willing to publish Nagel (who seems to be a liberal, if religious, person) because he criticizes atheism (even when the atheist in question is an arrogant Neo-Liberal).  Goes to show that Neo-Liberals, Conservatives and Libertarians all would rather argue against Leftist politics or economics than against religion - even liberal religion.  How hard is it to be an anarchist/libertarian-socialist AND an atheist these days!!!

*Nagel points out that evolution only explains life from first life, and not how life itself came from nonlife, or why anything exists at all and how did it all come about - thus he claims that Dawkins’ arguments for the ‘blind watchmaker’ as enough to promote atheism is nonsense.  Of course, he is correct in this, but Nagel misses the "little point" that science HAS explained how life itself could have come from non life and how it came about since the Big Bang, and makes no claims (as of yet) on why something exists rather than nothing, or of ultimate causes.  Of course, if Nagel thinks THOSE last points prove God exists, he is arguing from the fallacy of ignorance.

PS: Bare in mind that I have not read cover to cover Dawkins’ new book -and do not own it.  I have read much of his past essays on his take on God and atheism, but I do not know if Dawkins truly fails at responding to what Nagel claims, re ultimate cause and reality, he doesn’t in this new work.  I only know I have not been convinced by what I’ve allready seen.  If indeed Dawkins responds, and responds well, in this manor in [i:b1abd0b204]The God Delusion[/i:b1abd0b204], please share that in this forum.


Barry F. Seidman

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Barry F. Seidman
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Posted: 23 October 2006 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I just finished Dawkin’s The God Delusion and from the bit of fundementalist theology that I’m familiar with I thought many of his theological arguments were pretty weak. I do, however, think that he got the main point across quite well and does address critiques such as Nagel’s, which to me (and I think Dawkin’s would agree), seems akin to “you don’t know enough about flying invisible monkeys to criticize the invisible flying monkey experts”. “What gall a mere scientist has to question the authority of theologians.”

Hogwash. You don’t have to investigate all the details of a fantasy or delusion to identify it as such.

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Posted: 23 October 2006 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hogwash!

dbh1264:

I agree with you in that one does not need to know the entire universe to know that some things just don’t, and can’t exist.

I am curious, re my PS above, what Dawkins says re Nagel’s main argument?  I have not the interest in investing time to read more fully Dawkins’ new book, having been bored and turned off to his brand of atheism for a while now (and some of his science, re Selfish Genes), and I am in the midst of reading several other non-fiction books, and one fiction book, at the time.

Barry

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Posted: 26 October 2006 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Dawkins

Dawkins will respond to all reviews of his book. I thought Nagel tried to link natrural selection to chance when it its the anti-chance agency of nature as Dawkins so well explains . I want to see him respond to this piece of nonsense. Alister McGrath devotes a book to Dawkins, but he is so shallow . I think all the ones against Dawkins are probaly as shallow! He shows errancy and theistic evolution for the non-starters they are!  :idea:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 28 October 2006 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The poll doesn’t express my view very well. I choose the third item, but I think that religion is still the primary ENABLER of “evil”, which is itself a word that I hate.

If not for religion much of the economic and political “evil” that is done wouldn’t have the popular support that ti does have, so it wouldn’t be done because more people wouldn’t be blinded so as to allow it or engage in it.

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http://www.rationalrevolution.net

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Posted: 28 October 2006 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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As Paul Kurtz shows in “The Transcendent Temptation,” religion and the paranornal are akin. While I am a schizptypal and supposed to go in for the weird, i abjure both! :!:  :idea:  :arrow:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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