25
   

Whats your opinion of Richard Dawkins?

 
 
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 05:45 pm
@jeeprs,
Rubbish. This is a misrepresentation of Dawkin views, and they're a dime-a-dozen.

Dawkins relationship with the "Unknown" is that he treats it as unknown; whereas the religious pull an Known out of Nowhere.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 05:49 pm
@Eorl,
No misrepresentation. I have read TGD, I know what is in it. I have listed to the debates, analysed the issues, thought through the philosophy. I am not a church goer, I don't read the Bible, I am not a member of a Christian congregation, so I am don't have a personal ax to grind. I just think he is wrong, in the same way that people are wrong about economic theory, history, or politics.
stevecook172001
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 05:49 pm
@Eorl,
Eorl wrote:

Rubbish. This is a misrepresentation of Dawkin views, and they're a dime-a-dozen.

Dawkins relationship with the "Unknown" is that he treats it as unknown; whereas the religious pull an Known out of Nowhere.

Exactly

This post to which you refer represents the kind of dishonest rhetoric that the apologists for the unreason of religion typically employ. This is becasue they have no rational grounds on which to base their religious agenda.
0 Replies
 
stevecook172001
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 05:51 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

No misrepresentation. I have read TGD, I know what is in it. I have listed to the debates, analysed the issues, thought through the philosophy. I am not a church goer, I don't read the Bible, I am not a member of a Christian congregation, so I am don't have a personal ax to grind. I just think he is wrong, in the same way that people are wrong about economic theory, history, or politics.

Quote (or at the very least, paraphrase) any part of TGD that you coinsider to be wrong and explain your reasons. Otherwise your assertions are just that, assertions without substantiation.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 05:56 pm
@stevecook172001,
Well, he argues that God could not exist, because if he did, he must be more complex than anything that he has created, therefore he must be immensely complex. Now as the main aim of the book is to show that belief in God is a delusion, it would behove him to be working with a notion of God that is at least represented somewhere in the history of Theology, even if he thinks that theology does not have a subject matter. However, in fact, God is nowhere described as complex, anywhere in theology. He is invariably described as 'simple', i.e. not composed of parts, and incorporeal.

So it is quite possible that what Dawkins depicts, understands and criticizes throughout his book bears no relationship to the traditional understanding of what he is criticizing.

Therefore what is he talking about?
stevecook172001
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 06:02 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

Well, he argues that God could not exist, because if he did, he must be more complex than anything that he has created, therefore he must be immensely complex. Now as the main aim of the book is to show that belief in God is a delusion, it would behove him to be working with a notion of God that is at least represented somewhere in the history of Theology, even if he thinks that theology does not have a subject matter. However, in fact, God is nowhere described as complex, anywhere in theology. He is invariably described as 'simple', i.e. not composed of parts, and incorporeal.

So it is quite possible that what Dawkins depicts, understands and criticizes throughout his book bears no relationship to the traditional understanding of what he is criticizing.

Therefore what is he talking about?

You have just provided the very esscence of the argument by Dawkins you have just outlined. Dawkins is, amongst many other critisisms of religion, arguing that religion is hoplessly childish and simplistic in its conception of what a God must be. He is pointing out that any God that could create anything as complex as our universe must, by definition, be more complex. Thus, all attempts by religion throughout human history to describe the nature of God, fail utterly at the first conceptual hurdle.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 06:27 pm
@stevecook172001,
Find me, somewhere in the History of Western Philosophy, by a recognised philosopher, any version of Richard Dawkins 'God Must be more complex' argument. You will find it is not represented anywhere, because it is a fallacious conception from the outset. His critique fails at the first hurdle, which is, he doesn't understand what he is criticizing.

If 'God' were an anthropomorphic sky-father who went around designing flaggellum and batwings, as Dawkins believes he must be, then I would agree with Dawkins. But he is criticizing something that has never existed. So again:

What is he talking about?
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 06:43 pm
Here is part of Terry Eagleton's 2006 review of TGD. Eagleton has no ax to grind for creationism or evangalism, he is a leftist literary critic, who nevertheless knows a bad argument when he sees one:

Quote:
Dawkins holds that the existence or non-existence of God is a scientific hypothesis which is open to rational demonstration. Christianity teaches that to claim that there is a God must be reasonable, but that this is not at all the same thing as faith. Believing in God, whatever Dawkins might think, is not like concluding that aliens or the tooth fairy exist. God is not a celestial super-object or divine UFO, about whose existence we must remain agnostic until all the evidence is in. Theologians do not believe that he is either inside or outside the universe, as Dawkins thinks they do. His transcendence and invisibility are part of what he is, which is not the case with the Loch Ness monster. This is not to say that religious people believe in a black hole, because they also consider that God has revealed himself: not, as Dawkins thinks, in the guise of a cosmic manufacturer even smarter than Dawkins himself (the New Testament has next to nothing to say about God as Creator), but for Christians at least, in the form of a reviled and murdered political criminal. The Jews of the so-called Old Testament had faith in God, but this does not mean that after debating the matter at a number of international conferences they decided to endorse the scientific hypothesis that there existed a supreme architect of the universe – even though, as Genesis reveals, they were of this opinion. They had faith in God in the sense that I have faith in you. They may well have been mistaken in their view; but they were not mistaken because their scientific hypothesis was unsound.

Dawkins speaks scoffingly of a personal God, as though it were entirely obvious exactly what this might mean. He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized. He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms. For Judeo-Christianity, God is not a person in the sense that Al Gore arguably is. Nor is he a principle, an entity, or ‘existent’: in one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects
.


From Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching - review of The God Delusion, London Review of Books, Oct 2006.

There were many other scathing reviews, from biologists (H Allen Orr, David Sloan Wilson), columnists, (Sam Novak, John Gray) and many others.

Almost all of them note how similar Dawkins is to the hardline evangelicals and fundamentalists that he is criticizing, as he must be, because in the matter of religion, the only thing you can prove is what you believe to be true.

Anyway I have said enough about the matter but do look at the reviews.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 06:59 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

Here is part of Terry Eagleton's 2006 review
Quote:
Believing in God, whatever Dawkins might think, is not like concluding that aliens or the tooth fairy exist. God is not a celestial super-object or divine UFO, about whose existence we must remain agnostic until all the evidence is in.


That's an opinion. It has no basis in fact. I think it's wrong, and I imagine Dawkins does too.
If a god (this author seems to have a specific one in mind) exists in some form scattered evenly throughout the universe, then it's existence must be detectable in some form, like the background radiation "wrinkles in time". For example, if people pray for a good outcome, then the effects can be tested and measured. If said god influences animals and matter then that too is testable.

These things can and have been tested, and guess what...?

jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 07:18 pm
@Eorl,
Quote:
If a god (this author seems to have a specific one in min) exists in some form scattered evenly throughout the universe, then it's existence must be detectable in some form, like the background radiation "wrinkles in time". For example, if people pray for a good outcome, then the effects can be tested and measured. If said god influences animals and matter then that too is testable.


But, with all due respect, this is the whole problem in this dialog. 'God' - and I use the square quotes intentionally - is not anything. There is no such thing, search high or low. This is the meaning of 'transcendent'. It means 'beyond'. What is a transcendent being beyond? Beyond existence, beyond the universe, and naturally beyond anything we can detect, imagine or test for.

Here's an analogy. Say I get a report from some villagers on an island in Java, some new mammal. I find some spores, some footprints. How do I get a specimen? Set up an infra-red camera in the forest and wait patiently. Sooner or later if I am lucky I will get photographic evidence.

Now 'spiritual beings' are not like that. How, traditionally, have spiritual beings been sought out? The answer is, through meditation, austerity, mental purification, and so on. That is what monks spend their lives doing. And they report (and have reported, since about the beginnning of written history) that through these practices, through mental purification and concentration, that transcendent dimensions of being are disclosed.

In fact, philosophically speaking, and leaving aside that it may be culturally taboo in an industrial/scientific society, what is wrong with the idea that there are particular forms of knowledge that are only available in the first person, to a suitably prepared mind?

Now I am not asking you to believe this, or believe anything. But there is abundant literature from all over the world, and all throughout history, provided by anthropological and cultural historians, of this kind of understanding.

But it needs to be clear that Dawkins has no idea of this kind of 'first person knowledge of transcendent states'. Nor, I would suggest, will he ever have any idea, because of his starting point. Having formed a complete misconception of the subject matter of religion, I predict he will spend the rest of his life loudly barking up the wrong tree.

And aside from everything else, the nature of the material universe, it may be recalled, is once again a very mysterious question. At time of writing, we can't account for 95% of its mass, so I would not be overconfident about what science can or can't detect.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 07:29 pm
@jeeprs,
You claim to know things you don't. It's that simple. You can assume you are right, and maybe you are, but without a way of finding out objectively, you don't know. That's why you need "faith". It's the user friendly word for self-delusion.

The most basic and obvious demonstration of something "out there" is demonstrable through healing, and every religion I can think of includes healing as part of it's religions magic.

I'll take just one healed amputee to rethink my position.

You, and the author, assume that Dawkins, et al, just don't get it. What you and the author are keen to avoid is that he does get it, at least as well as you, and thinks your reasoning is flawed, which it is.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 07:34 pm
@Eorl,
Would I be correct in assuming that (1) you have never really studied the anthropology of religion, the nature of altered states of consciousness, and related literature and (2) you really don't like anything religious (or spiritual).

Because that is how you are coming across.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 07:43 pm
@jeeprs,
Would I be correct in assuming you are falling back on ad hom'?

I'd rather hear your answer to my last post.

Where is your healed amputee?
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 07:54 pm
@Eorl,
Quote:
Where is your healed amputee?


I didn't notice that. I don't really understand the relevance though. We have discussed on the other forum, ad infinitum. 'if God exists how come bad things happen, or things don't work out like you think they should'. I never really could follow those arguments, or see the relevance of them. My conception of God, such as it is, would never encompass what they call 'petitionary prayer'.

But anyway, I don't wish to occupy the role of arguing for God. Everyone is obviously entitled to their own view of the matter. What I do say is that the Dawkins-style 'religion versus science' argument is specific to a very particular historical period, and a very particular understanding of the respective roles and meaning of 'science' and 'religion'. It is an intellectual construction which is very much a thing of its times. And within this context, Dawkins and his sympathizers are very, very certain that they are on the side of the Good and the Right, and in this are ironically similar to those whom they mock.

But religion means many things to many people, and I just can't accept the simplistic view that it is all a delusion and a mistake. It overlooks, and I think it really quite ignorant of, the role of religion in society and history. Western Science grew out of a spiritual and religious tradition, and I think that materialism is a minority position when you take a broad view. I wonder what Dawkins makes of platonism? Or if he knows what it is?

Anyway thanks for your questions, I have to sign out for a day and do some actual work for my employer.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 10:01 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
God' - and I use the square quotes intentionally - is not anything.

That's not what the Apostle's Creed says. To create universes, father sons, and judge the living and the dead after the Second Coming of Christ, God would certainly have to be a "something".

It's also not what the Bible says. In one passage, it strongly suggests that Jacob physically wrestles with god (Genesis 32:22-32). Although this passage is carefully phrased to allow for some wiggle room, there is no such room in an passage several books later. Moses asks god to show himself to him. God replies that he can't possibly show Moses his face, but consents to let him see his back (Exodus 33:18-23).

Therefore, when theologians claim that god "is not anything", they are using the word "god" in gross departure from the usage in the Bible, and of the Christians who believe in it. These theologians are weaseling.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 02:19 am
@Thomas,
God is not anything - not a thing, being, object, entity, and so on. Humans have depicted God in various ways but all of these depictions are symbols and images and not finally real. They are useful within certain contexts but have no ultimate validity.

There is a longstanding tradition of this approach in Western and Eastern traditions. It is called 'apophatic', which literally means 'to mention by not mentioning' and also 'the via negativa'. Zen is a lot like this.

Quote:
"God, in the true sense, is indefinable. Since the Unconditional precedes our minds and precedes all created things, God cannot be confined by the mind or by words. Tillich sees God as Being-Itself, or the "Ground of all Being." For this reason there cannot be "a" God. There cannot even be a "highest God," for even that concept is limiting. We cannot make an object out of God. And the moment we say he is the highest God or anything else, we have made him an object. Thus, beyond the God of the Christian or the God of the Jews, there is the "God beyond God." This God cannot be said to exist or not to exist in the sense that we "exist".


So in this interpretation, all religious language is metaphorical. The whole problem starts with 'literalism' which is mistaking the symbolic for the actual. And I think Dawkins is mostly concerned with rejecting those who mistake the symbolic for the actual. The real actual has got nothing to do with this debate.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 02:33 am
@jeeprs,
You claim to know exactly what gods exist and what gods do not exist, and what the true god is and you accuse Dawkins of being arrogant??

To your claim of knowing what god is and is not, I say - prove it.

Oh and I should say; great to have you here! enjoying your input Smile
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:01 am
@Eorl,
why thanks Eorl! I started off on the Dawkins forum a couple of years back which was a bit hair-raising, I must admit. I am trying to avoid the 'partisan religious' approach - I think to the Evangelicals, I would be regarded as an Atheist, but to many Atheists, I would be regarded as a Believer. Actually I am neither, but it is a hard thing to explain.

As far as Dawkins being arrogant in this matter, it is really not hard to demonstrate, if you read his polemics. Because he thinks that anything like belief in God is so utterly mistaken, and there really is no room for error, then he is extremely condescending to anyone religious, like he is talking about a mentally impaired person. He says that people win the Templeton Prize 'for having something nice to say about religion', notwithstanding the fact that recent prizewinners include a nuclear physicist, an evolutionary biologist who is staunchly anti-ID, and one of the world's top-selling science writers.

I do understand his exasperation with creationist nonsense, but he goes on to tar the whole spectrum of religious culture with the same brush. It would be like me forming an opinion of American politics on the basis of a single reading of George Wallace's biography.

There is a dynamic going on in all of this, and I will return later with an interesting slant on the whole question by philosopher Thomas Nagel.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 04:48 am
@jeeprs,
Circling back to DAwkins as the focus, Ive found that, at the height of his polemics many of his colleagues in the evo/devo biology woprld were openly embarrassed at how he turned into an "anti Creationist/ID pitbull".
LAtely , with the publication of his last two books, hes tried to cirxle around and present cases of the world of evolutionary biology by examples . In other words he has taken some of the criticism seriously and has "let off" a bit.
His most recent book "The Greatest SHow on Earth" Tries to be an argument based upon scientific examples rather than a screaming session about religions and delusions.

He is getting to be a senior citizen so, prhaps hes mellowed a bit..
I ,think that, overall,Robert Wrights works on the paleo anthropological evidence of the rise in the concept of "gods to a God" are infinately more reasoned and much less a series of showpieces than are Dawkins .
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 04:51 am
@farmerman,
thanks, I agree. Which 'Wrights' is that, I don't think I'm familiar.....?
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.05 seconds on 05/16/2022 at 12:05:22