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The God Delusion
Posted: 20 January 2007 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Huh?

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.

Exactly what I said, and I said it was simplistic because that’s NOT how to rid the world of religious fundementalism!

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Posted: 20 January 2007 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Kurtz is NOT "worth an (unbaised) read"

[quote author=“dougsmith”]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.

I address this elsewhere.. Kurtz is mixing and matching ideas and as such, misses the point - www.cfi-forums.org/viewtopic.php?p=9610#9610

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Posted: 21 January 2007 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I’m jumping the gun a bit here, since I haven’t read The God Delusion yet, though I have read a great deal of the arguments surrounding it. But as a general principle, I don’t think abrasive, aggressive “evangelism” is a particularly useful way to promulgate even a good idea. I agree with a great deal of what Sam Harris said in The End of Faith, but I found his style arrogant and contemptuous, and I was gritting my teeth all through it. As I’ve argued (with Barry, especially :wink: ) in other threads, even good ideas suffer when cloaked in rhetoric designed to offend. Rabble rousing gets more media attention, but ultimately drives away in exasperation the rational casual religious believer, who might benefit most from hearing the arguments.

Carl Sagan’s approach to the religious seems much more genuinely humble and compassionate, and much more likely to have a meaningful impact outside the already commited agnostic/atheist fold. The Varieties of Scientific Experience addresses the need humans seem to have for the emotional experiences of reverance and sacredness while still quietly making the existence of a god seem far-fetched and unnecessary.

Sure, I support everyone’s right to an opionion, an I’m all for raising the profile of atheism in America, but not but trying to fulfill the Religious Right’s charicatures of it as elitist and arrogant.

As a sidenote, here’s a lovely example of radical rightwing Christian exegesis of The End of Faith. The summary final sentance below gives a flavor for it, though there is oh so much more to it. Good for a laugh.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/theroux1.html

“Having adopted the “atheist,” “Buddhist,” Hindu,” “New Age” torture-mongerer Harris as his trusty side-kick in their jihad against God (all in the name of “scientific truth” of course), Dawkins has stated that, “The End of Faith should replace the Gideon Bible in every hotel room in the land.” However, the scientific evidence pertaining to Sam Harris now points more toward supporting the claim by G.K. Chesterton that: “The danger when men stop believing in God is not that they’ll believe in nothing, but that they’ll believe in anything.”

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Posted: 22 January 2007 01:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”] “The danger when men stop believing in God is not that they’ll believe in nothing, but that they’ll believe in anything.”

This is a slur that has been thrown against atheists since the Enlightement. In fact, it is precisely the argument that led to atheist books being banned, and their authors and printers thrown in jail. E.g., that atheists were public nuisances, since atheism led to crime and sexual libertinism.

So I would suggest we leave the Chesterton quote aside.

That said, personally I appreciate Carl Sagan’s style a lot myself. However, his constant claim that he was an “agnostic”, when coupled with precisely the same arguments that people gave for atheism, leads me to believe that he was—to an extent—more interested in keeping up a public face against atheism than simply being consistent.

Also, the positive effect of Dawkins’s and Harris’s books comes not so much from their impact on believers (most will not read them), but rather from their impact on nonbelievers: it gives them arguments and backbone to stand up to the constant religious harangue. If you see any of Dawkins’s speeches around the country, they are almost like revival meetings in the enthusiasm of the audience. And that is no small thing. Nothing like it has happened since Robert Ingersoll.

It is also no small thing that (at least so far as I know) no overtly pro-atheist books have sold anywhere near this well since perhaps Tom Paine. It is a huge deal to have forceful anti-religious arguments available in the public sphere, on the evening news, in papers, on the radio.

Put another way, there is a time for humility and a time for forthrightness. In GWB’s America, we really have to be forthright against the theocratic tendencies of the right wing. This is basically the point that Paul Kurtz made. Perhaps in three or five years, the tide will have turned somewhat, and Dawkins and Harris’s tactics will once again not be the best ones.

They are also not particularly good tactics when it comes to scholarly investigation into religion. But these are not intended to be scholarly books.

So I think one has to view these works in their sociopolitical context.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 02:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Re: Huh?

[quote author=“Barry”]Exaclty what I said, and I said it was simplistic because that’s NOT how to rid the world of religious fundementalism!

You’re assuming that the purpose of the book was to “rid the world of religious fundamentalism”, which is not the case.  The purpose of the book was to show people that there is an alternative to fundamentalism. a much more modest goal.  And I think Dawkins did a marvelous job of that!

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Posted: 22 January 2007 02:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]. But as a general principle, I don’t think abrasive, aggressive “evangelism” is a particularly useful way to promulgate even a good idea.

You ought to read the book, then, because I don’t think it was “abrasive”.  “Aggressive” in places, yes I’ll grant you.  But Dawkins’ entire point is that we’ve been pussy-footing around long enough, showing respect for religion, and if religion isn’t going to show respect for us, why shouldn’t we be aggressive every now and then?

Carl Sagan’s approach to the religious seems much more genuinely humble and compassionate, and much more likely to have a meaningful impact outside the already commited agnostic/atheist fold.

I don’t agree.  Though I greatly respect Sagan, I don’t think that “aggressive” Christian types gave him any thought at all.  When I tried the same kind of agnostic stance he epitomized, Christians just scoffed at me and said I obviously wasn’t sure what I believed.  I had to change my tune and tell them I was definitely an atheist before they payed any attention to me at all.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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When I tried the same kind of agnostic stance he epitomized, Christians just scoffed at me and said I obviously wasn’t sure what I believed. I had to change my tune and tell them I was definitely an atheist before they payed any attention to me at all.

There seems to be a consistent presumption among many contgributors to these boards that atheism is a forceful stance with integrity and courage and that agnosticism is a feeble, timid unwillingness to admit God really doesn’t exist. I’m overstating the case to make a point, of course, but the tone is pretty unfriendly to anyone not willing to assert positively that God cannot exist and is, in fact, a totally ridiculous concept. As a scientist and someone interested in true understanding of the universe, I am almost bound to be agnostic in the strictest sense of not being able to honestly assert the absolute truth of the existence or non-existence of God. For all the reasons we probably agree on, and which both Sagan and Dawkins give, the idea of God as traditionally conceived by Christianity seems pretty unlikely, but a certain humble acceptence of the limits on my own understanding is not intellectual or social cowardice. I don’t think Sagan chose to avoid the term atheist because he was a coward but because he was more interested in consistency (being a scientist who always understood knowledge and truth as beginning with lowercase letters) and in preaching to the not-yet-in-the choir. Likewise, I agree that coming “out of the closet” as non-religious is an improtant part of standing up for scientific naturalism and countering the deleterious effects of religion in GWB’s America, but I think it is possible to do so in a way that informs rather than antagonizes. To paraphrase Occam elsewhere in the forum, people tend to scroll past postings in all bold type, and that’s a useful lesson for those of us wishing to promote unpopular ideas.

Doug’s point about rallying the “faithful,” as it were, is a good one. That’s one of the main reasons I listen to POI and participate here. I rarely get converted to a radical new way of thinking by doing so, but the articulate presentation of familiar ideas in a variety of voices, and the occasional new insight, maintains my commitment to promoting good ideas even when they are unpopular. I suppose from that point of view, Harris and Dawkins may do great good. But I am trouble by their being the public face of the non-religious and humanist community since I think they don’t make their arguments in ways likley to appeal to the people we most need to address-those who are fundamentally rational and naturalistic in their day-to-day thinking but still cling, out of habit or lack of awareness of the alternatives, to supernaturalist ideas. Sagan always made a strong point that religious believers aren’t any less intelligent, or even necessarily less rational, on average than we are. They can be brought to see a better way of udnerstanding, but not by telling them they are idiots or cowards for having the beliefs they grew up with. My goal is the same, I think, as yours-a more secular and philosophically naturalistic society. I guess I just am not convinced by your argument about the tactics that people like Harris use (and, as I currently understand, Dawkins, though I am still aware of my second hand understanding of his recent book). I don’t think humility and forthrightness are mutually exclusive.

Anyway, there is clearly room for a variety of approaches and styles, so I’m not suggesting one should supplant another. And I’ll try to reserve any defintie judgement until I’ve read the books. grin

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Posted: 22 January 2007 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”] I suppose from that point of view, Harris and Dawkins may do great good. But I am trouble by their being the public face of the non-religious and humanist community since I think they don’t make their arguments in ways likley to appeal to the people we most need to address-those who are fundamentally rational and naturalistic in their day-to-day thinking but still cling, out of habit or lack of awareness of the alternatives, to supernaturalist ideas. Sagan always made a strong point that religious believers aren’t any less intelligent, or even necessarily less rational, on average than we are. They can be brought to see a better way of udnerstanding, but not by telling them they are idiots or cowards for having the beliefs they grew up with. My goal is the same, I think, as yours-a more secular and philosophically naturalistic society. I guess I just am not convinced by your argument about the tactics that people like Harris use (and, as I currently understand, Dawkins, though I am still aware of my second hand understanding of his recent book). I don’t think humility and forthrightness are mutually exclusive.

Yeah, I certainly see where you’re coming from here. As a side note, you really should pick up a copy of Dawkins’s book and try to read it objectively ... although he is strident at times, I don’t think it’s quite the screed that some have made it out to be. A lot of it is simply forthright argumentation. And even at that, he never claims to have ‘disproven’ that god exists, only to have demonstrated that it is very, very unlikely. And that in itself is something of a humble distinction.

But to return to the point at hand, certainly Dawkins and Harris can come across as arrogant at times, both in writing and in person, and that’s not altogether a good thing. But it has its place and time, and I think here and now is a good place and time for it. :wink:

It would have been interesting to hear Sagan’s take on what is going on now, and to know if he would have become more strident or not. Certainly his widow, while eschewing the forceful tactics of Dawkins and Harris, appears to agree with them in all the specifics. I have not heard her attack their strategy directly, although she has been given plenty of opportunity to do so.

Re. the question of atheism vs. agnosticism, there is a very nice thread about this very question HERE . I certainly don’t deny that one can be a ‘committed agnostic’, in the same way that one can be sure of one’s atheism. But it often seems to me that agnostics are only so—in a way—illicitly, in that their agnosticism depends on what one means by ‘god’. They agree that the omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good creator deity doesn’t exist, but hold out the possibility that something else does ... like Sagan saying that Spinoza’s god might exist. Well, Spinoza’s god is really a god in name only—it’s a god that’s identical to the physical world. So to me that sounds sort of a logic-chopping way to be a believer in god.

I didn’t used to believe this, BTW. It was only after some long talks and courses with a Christian philosophy professor that I came to agree with him that god meant one thing: an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good creator of the universe.

Now, maybe this isn’t the right tack to take, and we should allow for anyone’s non-standard sort of god. And then, yes, we would all be agnostics, I suppose. (Some of us might be theists—if Spinoza were right, for instance!) But that just seems to confuse the issue too much, and I prefer clarity.

YMMV ...

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Posted: 22 January 2007 06:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Doug,
Thanks for the link. Truly a good discussion of atheist vs agnostic. I tend to identify most closely with what Chris (cgallaga) said about agnosticism. While finding the kind of god you’re talking about as unlikley to exist as the tooth fairy, I also am daily reminded, in the act of pursuing scientific understanding, how limited our understanding really is and how the anthropocentrism and arrogance of religious views defining the universe in familiar human terms can easily apply to science. There is a great deal we don’t understand, and may not even be able to conceive of due to the limitation of the physical mechanisms we use for thinking. So if we define God at all, particularly in as specific a way as your definition, I agree it’s not a phenomenon with much empirical support. However, there is still much in the universe beyond our knowledge, understanding, or even possibly beyond our capacity to imagine a defintion of. Sagan used to charactorize traditional religions as lacking in imagination, and while I agree wholeheartedly, I also think science must be wary of imaging all phenomena must fit into categories we can currently conceive. Being an agnostic is essentially my reluctance to presume a deeper understanding of all the possibilities in reality than seems warranted given the great gaps in our knowledge and the historical tendancy to believe our understanding is much greater than it later turns out to be.

As for the vague god of Spinoza that is, essentially, the sum total of the physical laws of the universe, I think it can have value in that it gives us an outlet for religous impulses that we likely have and cannot shed, perhaps for good evolutionary reasons, despite our intellectual skepticism about specific religious myths. I sometimes feel the urge to express admiration for the universe, or gratitude for the experiences in my life despite not believing there’s a personal god to direct these feelings towards, and I think a less anthropomorphized concept of god may be a way to acknowlegde and indulge these feelings without leaving scientific naturalism behind. Not a thought I’ve worked out very well yet, but something I think Sagan was aiming towards and that may have more value than you suspect. Perhaps I simple have too much Catholicism leftover from my grandparents since I’m only a 2nd generation agnostic wink.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]So if we define God at all, particularly in as specific a way as your definition, I agree it’s not a phenomenon with much empirical support. However, there is still much in the universe beyond our knowledge, understanding, or even possibly beyond our capacity to imagine a defintion of. Sagan used to charactorize traditional religions as lacking in imagination, and while I agree wholeheartedly, I also think science must be wary of imaging all phenomena must fit into categories we can currently conceive. Being an agnostic is essentially my reluctance to presume a deeper understanding of all the possibilities in reality than seems warranted given the great gaps in our knowledge and the historical tendancy to believe our understanding is much greater than it later turns out to be.

Sure. Although whatever we do end up finding out will have to be consonant with the scientific knowledge we have already gained, just as Einstein’s physical laws are identical to Newton’s in low gravity, low acceleration, low speed situations. The scientific laws we have on the books now work, and that cannot be a simple accident.

All I’m saying is this: the notion of god comes from a particular human impulse, as mediated by historical and theological contexts. The traditional form of god is the “omnicompetent” person that I mentioned before. That is, someone who has these “perfections”, answers prayer, judges people after they die, sends them to heaven and hell, demands obedience and belief, and so on.

Now, the universe is enormous, and our knowledge of it is miniscule. There are almost certainly enormous amounts of interesting stuff that we do not know now, and may never know. But I don’t see that there’s any evidence that god is among those things. Nor do I see any argument that, whatever those unknown things are, they would be anything like the traditional theological god I just mentioned. That’s all.

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]As for the vague god of Spinoza that is, essentially, the sum total of the physical laws of the universe, I think it can have value in that it gives us an outlet for religous impulses that we likely have and cannot shed, perhaps for good evolutionary reasons, despite our intellectual skepticism about specific religious myths. I sometimes feel the urge to express admiration for the universe, or gratitude for the experiences in my life despite not believing there’s a personal god to direct these feelings towards, and I think a less anthropomorphized concept of god may be a way to acknowlegde and indulge these feelings without leaving scientific naturalism behind.

Yes. This is one of the reasons that Ann Druyan talks about “spirituality”, and about how science is a spiritual enterprise. Now, she does get some pretty fierce push-back from skeptics about her choice of words here—even from some on this very forum! :wink:—but IMO she is on the right track so long as she does not falsify any of the science or get into woo-woo stuff. Fortunately, she is too smart for that.

The problem with using the word “god” for this sort of wonder we feel about nature is twofold. First, it is likely to confuse everyone. Again, god is standardly the sort of being I outlined before, so if someone says “I believe in god” and in fact what he believes in are the laws of the universe ... well ... you can’t pray to those laws, they don’t judge you and send you to hell, they don’t demand obedience, they aren’t perfectly good or all knowing or all powerful. So they sort of fall flat as any workable notion of god. And then it sounds sort of like a cop-out or intentional obscuring of the facts.

Second, and FWIW I do think this is a relevant point, this notion of god is not one that is acceptable to theists. Indeed, Spinoza was viewed as an atheist during his lifetime and after his death by everyone in Europe. He viewed himself as basically an atheist as well. I expect that he would have said so explicitly had he not known he would have been thrown in jail for doing so.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 08:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Although whatever we do end up finding out will have to be consonant with the scientific knowledge we have already gained, just as Einstein’s physical laws are identical to Newton’s in low gravity, low acceleration, low speed situations. The scientific laws we have on the books now work, and that cannot be a simple accident.

Ok, now I’m nitpicking a little,  :D , but Einstein’s physical laws would not have appeared consistent with Newton’s, or even possible, prior to Einstein’s elucidation of them and subsequent empirical validation. Anything we cannot now conceive of except as an exception to physical laws we know work, may simple be consistent with physical laws in a way or circumstance we cannot now envision. Maybe the Tooth Fairy can fly because of manipulation of anti-gravitons, even though we haven’t produced these in a supercollider yet wink.

So while I have very little doubt the “standard” god you describe is anything other than a human fiction created for the sort of psychological and historical reasons you allude to, and while I cannot define an alternative kind of god worthy of the name that might exist, I still choose agnostic to describe my position because my inability to conceive of what god might be like says almost nothing about the actuality or liklihood of such a god. I cannot in any meaningful way grasp or define for you special relativity or quantum mechanics, though there are people who can, but these things probably exist. Even if no one could give a concept or description of a non-anthropomorphic god, that doesn’t say much about whether such exists. Sure, such a god would be a lot less useful to us, and we would likely have to redefine the word god to accomodate whatever understanding we might ultimately achieve of it but I’m not willing to rule out the possibility that it exists anyway.

This can, of course, cause confusion. Spinoza would be classed as an atheist in your description (and maybe his own) because the categories of belief and non-belief are limited. And since atheist and agnostic have some generally accepted meanings, I have to go to extra effort to be clear about what agnostic means to me to avoid being labeled a “closet” atheist. But the difference, though subtle, speaks to me general ideas about the degree of certainty it is reasonable to give to our own understandings, so I stick by it. In practical terms, I suspect there is little difference between our positions as regards epistemology or how we would choose to structure society, etc.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]Einstein’s physical laws would not have appeared consistent with Newton’s, or even possible, prior to Einstein’s elucidation of them and subsequent empirical validation. Anything we cannot now conceive of except as an exception to physical laws we know work, may simple be consistent with physical laws in a way or circumstance we cannot now envision. Maybe the Tooth Fairy can fly because of manipulation of anti-gravitons, even though we haven’t produced these in a supercollider yet wink.

Sure, although I’m not sure I follow your argument about Einstein. His laws make precisely the same predictions as Newton’s under conditions of low speed, low gravity, etc. The only time that they diverge is when you are talking about relative velocities close to the speed of light, etc. That’s why it took so long to verify Einstein’s laws—nobody had any idea how to test them, until they viewed the perturbation of the light from a star from around the limb of the sun. The sun’s massive gravitational field made a very slight, but measurable, influence that Einstein predicted and Newton did not. The problem is that the measurement had to be made during a total eclipse ... so it took some doing.

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]Even if no one could give a concept or description of a non-anthropomorphic god, that doesn’t say much about whether such exists. Sure, such a god would be a lot less useful to us, and we would likely have to redefine the word god to accomodate whatever understanding we might ultimately achieve of it but I’m not willing to rule out the possibility that it exists anyway.

Well, I think at some level this is an issue of semantics. What you want to say is that there might be some sort of non-anthropomorphic something in the universe that we don’t know about yet. I am willing to grant that, but it’s still not clear that such a thing or things would deserve the name of “god”, if they weren’t omincompetent, etc.

One might call them (just to take an example) very powerful extraterrestrials ... and I would say that I am agnostic about very powerful extraterrestrials.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Sure, although I’m not sure I follow your argument about Einstein. His laws make precisely the same predictions as Newton’s under conditions of low speed, low gravity, etc. The only time that they diverge is when you are talking about relative velocities close to the speed of light, etc. That’s why it took so long to verify Einstein’s laws

My point was only that non-Newtonian behavior of objects (time-dilation, mass changing w/ velocity, etc) was inconceivable for a long time (and in a visceral sense still is, for me at least) because of the limitations of our experience and our point of view. Yet those phenomena are real, so if something is indescribable or inconceivable, that has little bearing on whether or not it is real. Most people have trouble imagining anything that we might call god that is not within the standard description you give, but that may have more to do with the limitations of our imagination than with whether or not such a god exists. And I agree, that if that is true we are left with the largely semantic issue of whether to call it god. I think if we do call it god, we have to specify what we mean, since the common meaning of the word for most Americans is the sort of personified god you describe. But, words do change meaning with time, so perhaps if our understadning grows away from religious mythologies yet our spiritual urges remain, we will come to mean something different by the word god.

I came to agree with him that god meant one thing: an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good creator of the universe.

Now, maybe this isn’t the right tack to take, and we should allow for anyone’s non-standard sort of god. And then, yes, we would all be agnostics, I suppose. (Some of us might be theists—if Spinoza were right, for instance!) But that just seems to confuse the issue too much, and I prefer clarity.

I’m not sure clarity is sacrificed if we do not hold the word god to your specific definition, though the discussion does become more complex. As long as we’re clear about what we mean, or don’t mean, by the word, we can still make clear statements about our beliefs and clear arguments about the merits of different degrees of certainty. While your definition is probably most representative of what most people mean by the word, at least in Judeo-Christian-Muslim cultures, strictly limiting the defintion requires people to make a choice of labels that excludes some of the subtleties we’ve been discussing.

And clearly some of the choice of labels for our (un)belief has to do with politics and political strategy. I suspect, for example, Barry’s objection to atheism has more to do with his belief that humanim is wasting its time confronting religion when we should be building a libertarian anarchist democracy (whatever the hell that is) than any real doubt on his part about the existence of god. You, on the other hand, seem to object to agnostic as a label for people who reject the strict kind of god you describe partly because you feel the subtle distinctions I’m claiming aren’t practically meaningful (“logic-chopping,” “cop out,” etc) but also because you feel politically it’s time for a more assertive stance from those opposed to traditional religion. I, on the other hand, prefer agnostic because I feel there is some slight but important epistemological reason to refrain from a more defintive rejection of god, especially when the defintiion of the word is allowed a bit more leeway. I also do share the feeling that a vital opposition to the influence of religion and religious thinking is politically crucial right now. Tactically, however, as we’ve discussed above, I’m not sure I would opt for as aggressive a voice as you would. It may be that each approach has pros and cons and that a mixture may be most effective, or the two approaches may undercut each other. Most likely, I think, it is at least appropriate that non-religious people be seen to have a diversity of styles and positions, since that is more truthful and makes us harder to charicature.

Sorry if we’ve drifted away from The God Delusion or recapitulated too much of the atheist/agnostic thread. I do intend to read the book soon, and my concerns about it may be based on false characterizations from other sources.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]My point was only that non-Newtonian behavior of objects (time-dilation, mass changing w/ velocity, etc) was inconceivable for a long time (and in a visceral sense still is, for me at least) because of the limitations of our experience and our point of view. Yet those phenomena are real, so if something is indescribable or inconceivable, that has little bearing on whether or not it is real. Most people have trouble imagining anything that we might call god that is not within the standard description you give, but that may have more to do with the limitations of our imagination than with whether or not such a god exists. And I agree, that if that is true we are left with the largely semantic issue of whether to call it god. I think if we do call it god, we have to specify what we mean, since the common meaning of the word for most Americans is the sort of personified god you describe. But, words do change meaning with time, so perhaps if our understadning grows away from religious mythologies yet our spiritual urges remain, we will come to mean something different by the word god.

Sure.  I would only quibble a bit that these notions of Einstein’s weren’t “indescribable” or “inconceivable”, only very odd. Same with the non-locality effects of QM. But I think your main point stands that there may be other very odd phenomena of which we are now unaware.

As to the rest of your message, I think we are in general agreement as to the issues and differences. And that’s a good thing at least!

:D

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Doug

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Posted: 22 January 2007 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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assumptions

advocatus said:

You’re assuming that the purpose of the book was to “rid the world of religious fundamentalism,” which is not the case. The purpose of the book was to show people that there is an alternative to fundamentalism. a much more modest goal. And I think Dawkins did a marvelous job of that!


An alternative for whom?

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Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

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