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The God Delusion
Posted: 14 November 2006 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Wow, George, that’s quite some story, and your uncle sounds like a pretty amazing guy. Spine of steel is right!

8)

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Posted: 14 November 2006 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Forthetruth, dougsmith and others have given you a number of references and suggested that you read them to understand the basics of what you are criticizing or attacking.  I think those references are a waste of time for you, now.  Before you bother with any of them, find a nice local community college (not religious), and sign up for a course in critical thinking.  (Don’t be discouraged if you get an F in it the first two or three times through.  Stick with it.)  Your understanding of logic and reasoning needs a great deal of work before you can discuss topics of putative theology rationally.

Occam

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Posted: 14 November 2006 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Hello Forthetruth smile

Hmmm i have an idea for you if you will do me the honor and think on it just a little. This is my idea and by no means do i represent anyone else on this forum other than myself.

The concept of life after death is a funny one but to a degree i do think it exists just not in the way you might think.  If you know basic astronamy then you will know it is said that the plannets are basicly made of stardust.  Basicly an old star goes boom and we have a massive area full of old star matter which are the basic elements like Iron, Hydrogen, Helium and so on.  Anyways the point is we are made up of all the matter that has setteled in this part of the universe. Its is who we are and what we are.

Your concept of death is that we have a soul and when we die it goes to heven or hell but what your talking about is your consciousness being able to exist out side of your own mortal existance. This do belive is wrong.  But there is Energy/Matter and that stuff never stops existing its always here so to a degree we are always here but what i find even more sweet is the fact you and i and everyone else are made up of creatures and people and plants that have existed since this earth was here.

We are all part of each other and will never really die in the sence of what makes us will always be here and we will go on and make other people, plants, animals and so on.

Look at it this way the reason to make life great is to basicly look after the future and each other cause our matter is the future. Be great, Be the best you can be and make a world worth living in for the breif times when our matter is formed into a consious being they can have a wonderfull and forfilling life that we have enjoyed.  We are all bothers and sisters of the universe and the universe is my and your creator you mite even call it god. Its not consious but it did make us. You and i and every one else will always exist in some form or another. smile

Hope this wasnt to airy fairy for my friends on the forum here but i really get a kick out of it when i think we are all made of stars and we will die but never stop existing in one form or another smile

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"Let me get this strait what U are saying is that my parents are going to burn in hell, even though their jobs involve them saving lives every day, just because they chose not to follow your god? I dont blame them!!! Your god sounds like a real PRICK"

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Posted: 15 November 2006 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Great post, baronben. It does remind me of Carl Sagan’s famous phrase that “We are all made of star stuff.” Amazing and literally true!

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Posted: 18 January 2007 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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The God Delusion

Richard Dawkin’s book, The God Delusion, is as venomous as it’s title suggests; religionists are all “deluded” and until they adopt science as their way of knowing and jettison faith and religion, evil will continue to abound in the world. 

There is no shortage of proof of the damage certain forms of religion, particularly fundamentalism, have done to many a human society over the centuries; and clearly the scientific, evidence-based way of understanding the universe is philosophically superior to the supernaturalistic, faith-based ways.  But is religion itself the root of all evil?  Can science disprove God?  Are religionists twisted, “faith-heads” (Dawkins’s term), who in their delusions are walking time bombs?  Or, is there something more to religion than meets the common atheist’s eye? 

The doctrines of religion may all turn out to be false, but the reasons for religion’s very existence as a human need will remain very real.  How might humanists, who understand many of the basic philosophical and scientific arguments Dawkins makes in his book, actually address the problems which arise from religion in the real world?  How can we take the project of humanism out of the ivory towers Dawkins and others live in (and away from the angry, simplistic arguments of Sam Harris types), and bring it into reality in a way which can include the very “moderates” Dawkins and Harris aim much of their explosive weapons at? 

And if we are to roll back religious fundamentalism, are the best ways to do that those of Dawkins and Harris (via intellectual, mean-spirited debates and attacks), or ought we look to the reasons fundamentalisms are able to capture the hearts and minds of people, and deal with those reasons first?

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Posted: 18 January 2007 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I’ve seen and heard Dawkins on a few interviews, and although he and I have similar beliefs, he demonstrates quite clearly my contention that it’s much harder for people to recognize a demagogue when he shares their views.  I see him as the equivalent on our side of a fundamentalist. 

He won’t sway the true believers, but he may have some value because his dramatic and extreme positions will motivate some of the undecided to consider his ideas.

Occam

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Posted: 18 January 2007 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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This reminds me of a recent visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A pleasant young couple came to the door and asked if I wanted life eternal as a way of giving meaning to this life. I had recently read Paine’s Age of Reason and Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise, so I was primed to disprove Biblical claims.

Later, and too late to discuss, it occurred to me that rather than enhancing the meaning of this life, eternal life diminishes it. Under the aspect of eternity, this life shrinks to an infinitesimal. How much of our first year of life remains for us in our middle age? After a thousand years, how much regard would we have for the 70 or so years we are granted in this life?

Imagine the fate Bunyan glimpses in The Pilgrim’s Progress of the heavenly city where the saved disport themselves with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps with which to sing praises for all eternity. Imagine the departed garrulously swapping tales of their earthly life for all time. As Marvin, the neurotically depressed android in Douglas Adams’ books said, “The first billion years were the worst; from then on, it was all downhill.”

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Posted: 19 January 2007 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Dawkins the dogmatist

==============================
Dawkins the dogmatist
by Andrew Brown

Incurious and rambling, Richard Dawkins’s diatribe against religion doesn’t come close to explaining how faith has survived the assault of Darwinism

It has been obvious for years that Richard Dawkins had a fat book on religion in him, but who would have thought him capable of writing one this bad? Incurious, dogmatic, rambling and self-contradictory, it has none of the style or verve of his earlier works.

In his broad thesis, Dawkins is right. Religions are potentially dangerous, and in their popular forms profoundly irrational. The agnostics must be right and the atheists very well may be. There is no purpose to the universe. Nothing inconsistent with the laws of physics has been reliably reported. To demand a designer to explain the complexity of the world begs the question, “Who designed the designer?” It has been clear since Darwin that we have no need to hypothesise a designer to explain the complexity of living things. The results of intercessory prayer are indistinguishable from those of chance.

Dawkins gets miffed when this is called “19th-century” atheism, since, as he says, the period of their first discovery does not affect the truth of these propositions. But to call it “19th-century” is to draw attention to the important truth added in the 20th century: that religious belief persists in the face of these facts and arguments.

This persistence is what any scientific attack on religion must explain—and this one doesn’t. Dawkins mentions lots of modern atheist scientists who have tried to explain the puzzle: Robert Hinde, Scott Atran, Pascal Boyer, DS Wilson, Daniel Dennett, all of them worth reading. But he cannot accept the obvious conclusion to draw from their works, which is that thoroughgoing atheism is unnatural and will never be popular.

Dawkins is inexhaustibly outraged by the fact that religious opinions lead people to terrible crimes. But what, if there is no God, is so peculiarly shocking about these opinions being specifically religious? The answer he supplies is simple: that when religious people do evil things, they are acting on the promptings of their faith but when atheists do so, it’s nothing to do with their atheism. He devotes pages to a discussion of whether Hitler was a Catholic, concluding that “Stalin was an atheist and Hitler probably wasn’t, but even if he was” the bottom line is very simple. Individual atheists may do evil things but they don’t do evil things in the name of atheism.”

Yet under Stalin almost the entire Orthodox priesthood was exterminated simply for being priests, as were the clergy of other religions and hundreds of thousands of Baptists. The claim that Stalin’s atheism had nothing to do with his actions may be the most disingenuous in the book, but it has competition from a later question, “Why would anyone go to war for the sake of an absence of belief [atheism]?”—as if the armies of the French revolution had marched under icons of the Virgin, or as if a common justification offered for China’s invasion of Tibet had not been the awful priest-ridden backwardness of the Dalai Lama’s regime.

One might argue that a professor of the public understanding of science has no need to concern himself with trivialities outside his field like the French revolution, the Spanish civil war or Stalin’s purges when he knows that history is on his side. “With notable exceptions, such as the Afghan Taliban and the American Christian equivalent, most people play lip service to the same broad liberal consensus of ethical principles.”

Really?

“The majority of us don’t cause needless suffering; we believe in free speech and protect it even if we disagree with what is being said.”

Do the Chinese believe in free speech? Does Dawkins think that pious Catholics or Muslims are allowed to? Does he believe in it himself? He quotes later in the book approvingly and at length a speech by his friend Nicholas Humphrey which argued that, “We should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible or that planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out.”

But of course, it’s not interfering with free speech when atheists do it.

He repeats the theory that suicide bombs are caused by religious schools: “If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior value of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools.”

Evidence? As it happens, the definitive scientific study of suicide bombers, Dying to Win, has just been published by Robert Pape, a Chicago professor who has a database containing every known suicide attack since 1980. This shows, as clearly as evidence can, that religious zealotry is not on its own sufficient to produce suicide bombers; in fact, it’s not even necessary: the practice was widely used by Marxist guerrillas in Sri Lanka.

Dawkins, as a young man, invented and deployed to great effect a logical fallacy he called “the argument from Episcopal incredulity,” skewering a hapless clergyman who had argued that since nothing hunted polar bears, they had no need to camouflage themselves in white. It had not occurred to the bishop that polar bears must eat, and that the seals they prey on find it harder to spot a white bear stalking across the ice cap. Of course, you had to think a bit about life on the ice cap to spot this argument. But thinking a bit was once what Dawkins was famous for. It’s a shame to see him reduced to one long argument from professorial incredulity.

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Posted: 19 January 2007 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Re: Dawkins the dogmatist

[quote author=“Andrew Brown”]Yet under Stalin almost the entire Orthodox priesthood was exterminated simply for being priests, as were the clergy of other religions and hundreds of thousands of Baptists. The claim that Stalin’s atheism had nothing to do with his actions may be the most disingenuous in the book

Well, I really don’t think Stalin killed the priests because he was an atheist. He had them killed because they had power. If a religious person kills for a reason that has nothing to do with his religious beliefs (let’s say drinking and driving), it would be wrong to blame religion. This is obviously very different in the case of a religious person killing “in the name of God”.

I like Weinberg’s comment when he said that:
“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

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Posted: 19 January 2007 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Weinberg’s comment

I like Weinberg’s comment when he said that:
“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

That’s assuming there ARE bad and good people, rather than people with certain determinants in life (based on mainly the environment.) 

Take all the determinants of Hitler or Stalin, and make them your own (replacing yours with theirs), and you become Hitler or Stalin.. no religion or dogma needed.

People are people, and when they do “good”, we can look to their environment and its effects on their genes.  When they do “bad”, we can look the same place. 

Religion does not cause people to do bad, though it can help make the environment less healthy (or more healthy in some cases) and lead to people doing bad (or good). 

If we can create environments which will be healthy for people in important ways - and then add religion to it, chances are, not much bad would come from it.  Fundementalism is born of bad lives.

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Posted: 19 January 2007 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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People are people, and when they do “good”, we can look to their environment and its effects on their genes. When they do “bad”, we can look the same place.

This, once again, reminds me of the ideology “a la Lamarck and Lysenko” I grew up listening to. It just sounds wrong to me. How can the environment change us?

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Posted: 19 January 2007 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Huh?

It just sounds wrong to me. How can the environment change us?

You’re kidding, right?

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Posted: 20 January 2007 03:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Re: Huh?

[quote author=“Barry”]

It just sounds wrong to me. How can the environment change us?

You’re kidding, right?

No, I am not. My grandfather was German and during the WWII he “worked” for the Nazis at Mauthausen. He hated it. But some of his “friends” didn’t. And that’s he whole point. Certain type of environment will appear appealing only to certain individuals, never the whole population.

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Posted: 20 January 2007 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Re: The God Delusion

[quote author=“Barry”]And if we are to roll back religious fundamentalism, are the best ways to do that those of Dawkins and Harris (via intellectual, mean-spirited debates and attacks), or ought we look to the reasons fundamentalisms are able to capture the hearts and minds of people, and deal with those reasons first?

I’m beginning to wonder if you read the same book I did.  In the book I read, Dawkins stated from the onset that his purpose was to shake up some of that fundamentalist mindset and show people that it was alright to think for yourself.  Then he spent pages and pages showing them that atheism was a reasonable alternative to religion.

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Posted: 20 January 2007 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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The new issue of Free Inquiry (Feb/Mar 2007) has a very good editorial by Paul Kurtz in defense of Dawkins and others against the fervent pushback by mainstream editorialists and others who accuse them of “evangelical atheism”. It’s worth a read.

The same sort of pushback occurred with Spinoza and the other early Enlightenment thinkers when he denied the existence of ghosts, demons and witches.

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