Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion Page 19

  • SteJones 27 Jan 2015 23:47:31 432 posts
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    Well the fact that this thread is still going a decade after publication must say something.

    Personally, I quite like Dawkins. I disagree with him on all kinds of things and I think sometimes his approach is just awful (see the debate against deepak chopra) but overall, I think just having someone who just forcefully expresses their views, no matter how unpopular and how taboo they are, is really important in a free society. It's really helpful in avoiding groupthink.

    My main problem with him is that he's helped perpetuate the awful word "Atheist". Who the hell wants to label themself an atheist really?

    Going to the book itself, I found it a difficult read, and didn't get past the early stages, despite an avowed aversion to organised religion. I found Dawkins' tone rather smug and patronising.
    Why shouldn't he be though? Lots of people find religions ridiculous. We've just largely been convinced that we're not supposed to say so. I have fairly strong suspicion this is just a defense mechanism because creating the illusion of respect is very useful for religions in trying to stop their children doubting the teachings.
  • Mola_Ram 28 Jan 2015 05:11:40 25,904 posts
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    I think that your idea of "respect" (never ever questioning or criticising someone's beliefs) is different from my idea of respect (not being a dick about it).
  • mothercruncher 28 Jan 2015 08:29:54 19,338 posts
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    Perfectly happy to call myself an atheist.
  • Deleted user 28 January 2015 16:17:49
    SteJones wrote:

    Personally, I quite like Dawkins. I disagree with him on all kinds of things and I think sometimes his approach is just awful (see the debate against deepak chopra) but overall, I think just having someone who just forcefully expresses their views, no matter how unpopular and how taboo they are, is really important in a free society. It's really helpful in avoiding groupthink.
    My problems with Dawkins are A) his apparent conviction that everything would be better if there was no religion is imo really naive, and B) he accuses religion of simplistic thinking and dividing people, while he wilfully polarises and divides people as well.

    My main problem with him is that he's helped perpetuate the awful word "Atheist". Who the hell wants to label themself an atheist really?
    I don't have a problem with that, why should I? If someone asks me for my belief, I'll say I'm atheist, because that simply describes that I believe there is no God or anything like that. It's not meant in any judgemental way (well apart from that it means I'm smarter than others, obviously)

    edit: but I think I'll call myself gaytheist from now on. I really like that.

    Edited by DrStrangelove at 16:27:23 28-01-2015
  • Khanivor 28 Jan 2015 16:24:37 44,740 posts
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    jabberwoky wrote:
    I would love to continue this intellectually scintillating discussion with you, but I have to watch some cement dry in the cellar.
    I'm hoping to hear about the cosmic significance explained by the NE corner drying slightly quicker than the rest of it.
  • Armoured_Bear 28 Jan 2015 16:28:18 30,575 posts
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    Is Dawkins and his followers still unspeakably insufferable?
  • drhickman1983 28 Jan 2015 16:30:21 7,594 posts
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    I kind of think things would be better with no religion. I don't think it'd be some sort of secular utopia as people would find other reasons for acting like cunts, but I think it could be marginally better.

    The problem is that religion is something very easy to hide behind, because people are reluctant to attack something "sacred". But if the justifications for acting like a cunt were non-religious there is a possibility that people would be quicker to act against cunty behaviour, or at least might feel more able to discuss it without fear of causing offence.

    I actually find myself agreeing with Dawkins on a lot of things. Not everything, but a lot. I'm still more interested in his scientific writing than any of his religious or moral ramblings though.

    I'm perfectly happy to call myself an atheist because I am, anything else would be a lie.
  • imamazed 28 Jan 2015 16:34:46 6,664 posts
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    Armoured_Bear wrote:
    Is Dawkins and his followers still unspeakably insufferable?
    Pot....Kettle...
  • Khanivor 28 Jan 2015 16:38:37 44,740 posts
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    Mola_Ram wrote:
    I think that your idea of "respect" (never ever questioning or criticising someone's beliefs) is different from my idea of respect (not being a dick about it).
    If everyone keeps their thoughts to themselves concerning religion then it's easy to have respect. Once people start to discuss the matter in public then it gets harder. When people try to make everybody else follow their beliefs then it becomes very difficult indeed.

    If someone thinks, for example, that women are secondary people subservient to men, then they are welcome to hold that belief. If, however, they start to voice that belief and wish that society was more in line with their belief then there is zero reason to not strongly voice your intolerance of such an abhorrent notion. That holds true regardless of why they believe this. A religious origin for a stupid belief should be no shield against ridicule.
  • Khanivor 28 Jan 2015 16:40:35 44,740 posts
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    Armoured_Bear wrote:
    Are King and his followers still unspeakably insufferable?

    Are Pankhurst and her followers still unspeakably insufferable?
  • drhickman1983 28 Jan 2015 16:42:48 7,594 posts
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    My favourite quote about religion is from Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

    I have no objection to any personís religion, be it what it may, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person donít believe it also. But when a manís religion becomes really frantic; when it is a positive torment to him; and, in fine, makes this earth of ours an uncomfortable inn to lodge in; then I think it high time to take that individual aside and argue the point with him.
  • Deleted user 28 January 2015 16:43:57
    Yeah, atheist struggles in the western world is very similar to women's suffrage and black civil rights in 60s America
  • Khanivor 28 Jan 2015 16:50:28 44,740 posts
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    For an awful lot of the world campaigning for atheism would be a far more dangerous prospect than those other two things.

    However, what I'm trying to get at is that it's those who think the cause isn't valid or has enough merit to make it worth rocking the boat over who tend to look down on those who view differently.
  • Deleted user 28 January 2015 17:40:59
    I follow no religion, but I fucking hate smug atheists who claim to know that there is no higher being. It's just as bad as religious nuts. We will never know, in our lifetime anyway. I feel it's best to be open minded and not shout down people who disagree with your viewpoint. There could be a God. It's probably not just this one dude with a big beard, it could be something that we just can't comprehend.

    Edited by Physically_Insane at 17:41:32 28-01-2015
  • Khanivor 28 Jan 2015 17:43:51 44,740 posts
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    I really don't know how anyone can claim to be a strict atheist without seeing the contradiction inherent in that position. Being certain that there can be no creator being in the universe is almost, almost as daft as believing your chosen story of creation and god is the one by which the entire universe came about.
  • SwissEvans 28 Jan 2015 18:08:46 368 posts
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    One thing that bothers me about definitions. You're either a Theist or an Atheist. The middle ground isn't Agnostic.

    People seem to say agnostic when they don't know as a soft way of saying i'm not sure. But you either believe or you don't, and when most people say i don't know, they mean i don't believe, i just admit i cant know for sure.

    Gnostiscm goes to what you know.
    Theism goes to what you believe.

    Gnostic - I know
    Agnostic - I don't know
    Theist - Believe in god
    Atheist - Don't believe in god

    You can be a gnostic or agnostic atheist, as in know (or think they know for sure) there's no god and don't belive, or don't know for sure if there's a god or not but don't believe there to be one.

    Same for theists, gnostic theists know for sure (or think they do) and believe. Agnostic theists don't know for sure, but still believe.

    Id say there is substantially more gnostic thiests than atheists.
  • SwissEvans 28 Jan 2015 18:13:30 368 posts
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    Additionally, Atheism is a single position on a single question. Do you believe in a god.

    It says nothing about any other belief you carry. It says nothing about your political stance. Your views on sexuality. Its just a single position in belief about a supreme being. Its not a worldview.
  • L0cky 28 Jan 2015 19:01:31 2,078 posts
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    Equally annoying is people accusing atheists of being arrogant as they are certain of something that they cannot possibly know. I don't believe such people even exist.

    I suspect that even people who phrase it that way (as @DrStrangelove did) actually mean they don't believe in gods, not that they believe there are no gods.

    it is effectively a big straw man used as another way to avoid logical debate.
  • Deleted user 28 January 2015 19:07:28
    L0cky wrote:
    I suspect that even people who phrase it that way (as @DrStrangelove did) actually mean they don't believe in gods, not that they believe there are no gods.
    What?
  • chopsen 28 Jan 2015 19:12:13 21,905 posts
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    Yeah, that always crops up in these discussions. Semantics isn't it? You can categorise it as weak/strong/implicit/excplitic/whatever atheism, but pragmatically it amounts to the same and says nothing about anything else apart from you belief in god(s).

    Agree that there's a tendency to strawmaning, and that the absolutist atheist "believer" does not describe anyone. Putting atheism and believing in god on an even footing is a nonsense argument, but you see it all the time.
  • chopsen 28 Jan 2015 19:13:50 21,905 posts
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    Physically_Insane wrote:
    L0cky wrote:
    I suspect that even people who phrase it that way (as @DrStrangelove did) actually mean they don't believe in gods, not that they believe there are no gods.
    What?
    Not having a belief in god is not the same as actively believing there is no god.

    Nobody believes in all gods.

    A atheist just believes in one less god than someone who believes in the existence of one.
  • L0cky 28 Jan 2015 19:19:51 2,078 posts
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    Physically_Insane wrote:
    L0cky wrote:
    I suspect that even people who phrase it that way (as @DrStrangelove did) actually mean they don't believe in gods, not that they believe there are no gods.
    What?
    It's not complicated but it is subtle, and an important distinction, and I'm pointing it out based on your last post.

    Not believing something exists is not the same thing as believing it does not.

    Edit: What chopsen said.

    Edited by L0cky at 19:20:42 28-01-2015
  • Deleted user 28 January 2015 19:57:01
    Khanivor wrote:
    I really don't know how anyone can claim to be a strict atheist without seeing the contradiction inherent in that position. Being certain that there can be no creator being in the universe is almost, almost as daft as believing your chosen story of creation and god is the one by which the entire universe came about.
    I don't think there are many atheists who claim they know with certainty that there's no god. There could theoretically be one, but they are fairly confident there isn't.
  • Deleted user 28 January 2015 20:02:05
    L0cky wrote:

    I suspect that even people who phrase it that way (as @DrStrangelove did) actually mean they don't believe in gods, not that they believe there are no gods.
    I'm not sure I'm getting your point, but I'll try to clarify my stance. I'm confident there is no god and that there are no gods. In the same way and for the same reasons why I'm confident Santa (or any other mythical figure like that) doesn't exist.
  • JoeBlade 28 Jan 2015 20:13:20 6,136 posts
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    Atheism is a very broad term. The lines between the various definitions are very blurry so it's rather pointless to discuss semantics.
  • mothercruncher 28 Jan 2015 20:19:19 19,338 posts
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    Even the most fervent theist is happy to flatly deny the existence of the several thousand Gods mankind has invested itself in over the last 30,000 years, perfectly at ease with rejecting the equally heart felt and passionate beliefs of those billions of people.
    As an atheist, I simply "go one further" as you said Chopsen, and find the current creator myths today's lot follow as implausible as the rest and that'll be my position until any evidence shows up.
  • SwissEvans 28 Jan 2015 21:05:45 368 posts
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    JoeBlade wrote:
    Atheism is a very broad term. The lines between the various definitions are very blurry so it's rather pointless to discuss semantics.
    Its not though. It may be used broadly. But atheist is simply I don't believein a god. That's it. A single answer to a single question. It says nothing else about you.

    Its like saying you're a Liverpool fan. Then someone saying oh that must mean you hate Everton. No. It just means you're a liverpool fan. Other people add the broadness to it from their own experiences (you hate Everton, next years our year, Gerrard must be a legend). Admittedly a lot of atheists may act or believe in similar things, but usually because most arrived to the atheist position through skeptiscm and that leads to other similar positions on other things, psychics, value on science and impirical evidence etc.

    But atheism by itself is just, i have yet to be convinced of the existence of a god. Its no broader than that.

    Edited by SwissEvans at 21:11:07 28-01-2015
  • SwissEvans 28 Jan 2015 21:09:47 368 posts
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    Unless you mean there are tonnes of weak/strong blah blah versions of it.In which case iI apologise if I've misinterpreted what you've said.
  • Khanivor 28 Jan 2015 21:18:04 44,740 posts
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    Personally, I most certainly do not believe in any god, nor do I think they exist. However, I cannot say with certainty that no such being exists.

    What do you call that?
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