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The God Delusion
June 27, 2006 1:14 AM   Subscribe

Part One of the Channel4 program where Richard Dawkins challenges faith calling it 'a process of non-thinking'. [~48 mins] Part Two: The Virus of Faith. [~48 mins]
posted by econous (96 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously mentioned here, though the program was not linked in that post or the comments.
posted by econous at 1:16 AM on June 27, 2006


Thanks!
posted by interrobang at 2:01 AM on June 27, 2006


preach on, brother dawkins!
it's preaching to the choir as far as i'm concerned personally - these stories of dogma are so ludicrous that disproving them seems redundant - but i'm glad this series was made and that its ideas might spread to people who hadn't considered them.
posted by Silky Slim at 2:15 AM on June 27, 2006


I agree with Dawkins completely, but he comes across as such a smug prick, I may become a priest just to spite him.
posted by Optamystic at 2:18 AM on June 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


if this shakes the previously sturdy faith of just one housewife in bournemouth, it will have done its job.
posted by Silky Slim at 2:23 AM on June 27, 2006


While I agree in essence with Brother Dawkins, I'm inclined to share these words of Brother Einstein, who was careful to encourage - feelings- many of us share from -dogmatic assertions- about them by power-hungry ideologists who use them to turn us against one another:

"I was barked at by numerous dogs who are earning their food guarding ignorance and superstition for the benefit of those who profit from it. Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who -- in their grudge against the traditional 'opium of the people' -- cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human morals and human aims."
posted by Twang at 2:30 AM on June 27, 2006 [2 favorites]


This is really good. Logic, ahhhhh. The world is not completely insane after all.
posted by -t at 2:31 AM on June 27, 2006


Wasn't this screened months ago?

Nonetheless, agree with the rest of the comments. Dawkins does his case no good by vaunting his intellectual superiority all over the shop. And he is preaching to the choir. In this case the choir is most of the UK which is the most secular country on God's clean earth.

Has it ever been shown in the US?
posted by rhymer at 2:35 AM on June 27, 2006


Calling people delusional may not be the best way to convert people. Just a thought. Are totalitarian religions like Christianity and Islam really any worse then totalitarian Ideologies like Communism or Fascism? Both seem to inspire the same sort of behavior.

The converse is the question of non-totalitarian religions (maybe Zen Buddhism? Folk Religions?) being as begin as non-totalitarian political philosophies (liberal democracy?). I'm not sure that belief in any supernatural phenomenon really qualifies as a 'mind virus.'
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:43 AM on June 27, 2006


"American Taleban"?

Real Bright, Richard. Real fucking Bright.
posted by Optamystic at 2:58 AM on June 27, 2006


just finished watching part one. i wasn't familiar with dawkins before. he does make some excellent points, and he does come across as a prick, unfortunately.
not all atheists are as morally superior as this guy, there are plenty of somewhat more sensible and less grandiose people, but then again you need a certain degree of over-confidence in order to make a series like this and put yourself in its center. we don't make films like this and he does, so my hat's off to him.
twang, thanks for that magnificent einstein quote!
posted by Silky Slim at 3:01 AM on June 27, 2006


be sure not to miss this gem...
posted by Unregistered User at 3:02 AM on June 27, 2006


Calling people delusional may not be the best way to convert people.

And religious people calling the like of me evil, damned, unnatural, unclean, lost and unsaved never really won me over, either. Especially when cloaked in forgiveness.
posted by tula at 3:06 AM on June 27, 2006


"barking mad"! any one who would sit through this already agrees or will come away pissed off and more committed to their beliefs... but all the same, its just really nice to hear someone come right out and say "all you people are fucking. stupid."
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:12 AM on June 27, 2006


i find some of the inherent contradictions of this fascinating. for instance, if he considers religious indoctrination of children to be a form of child abuse, why does he regard the victims of this abuse not with sympathy but with scorn?
posted by Silky Slim at 3:36 AM on June 27, 2006


Scorn for perpetuating the abuse, as with abused children who go on to abuse themselves.
posted by beerbajay at 3:42 AM on June 27, 2006


if he considers religious indoctrination of children to be a form of child abuse, why does he regard the victims of this abuse not with sympathy but with scorn?

Perhaps the same reason we scorn the child-rapist who was raped by their uncle when they were a child.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 AM on June 27, 2006


btw - any one of the fundies who didn't murder dawkins when he suggested they're wrong isn't following the "word of god".

Now if you'll excuse me, exodus and I are going to beat our slaves 90% to death after which we'll sell our daughters into sexual servitude.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:47 AM on June 27, 2006


Dawkins's buddy and Atheist Manifesto author Sam Harris recently went on a meditation retreat, and he seemed to enjoy the experience well enough.
posted by homunculus at 3:52 AM on June 27, 2006


Karen Armstrong considered herself "fortunate enough to miss" these.
posted by homunculus at 4:05 AM on June 27, 2006


I agree with Dawkins completely, but he comes across as such a smug prick, I may become a priest just to spite him.

I agree with Optamystic. Dawkins comes across like a self-assured, self-righteous believer in disbelief and is just as smug as any evangelical.

I may become God just to smite him.
posted by three blind mice at 4:26 AM on June 27, 2006


The Karen Armstrong article is fabulous.

It's funny -- I love Dawkins when he's writing about biology and evolution, but his arguments about religion are reductive, hyperbolic, narrow and mean-spirited.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:26 AM on June 27, 2006


Dawkins has become so intolerant and offensive that I can't stand to listen to him anymore. Once, I admired him for his defence of science and willingness to attack foolishness such as astrology. Now, his complete lack of subtlety has turned him into little more than an Ann Coulter style provocateur. And that's from a pro-science atheist.
posted by sindark at 4:55 AM on June 27, 2006


My connection doesn't want to provide anything but a choppy version of the videos. Are there any transcripts available to read?

I'm Christian, and I don't like folks who run around telling other people they're going to hell for this or that either. Yet, those who practice the form of Christianity that preaches helping others, are seemingly ignored when arguments arise on the worthiness of at least Christianity to exist. No one thinks about the priests who work in the inner cities or to bring up an iconic cliche, Mother Teresea working with the dredges of society in India. One of America's largest and most visible charities, the Salvation Army, is Christian based. If Wikipedia is to be trusted, its the largest provider of aid after the United Nations.

So sure, those Christians who think the only way to sell Heavne is by threatening Hell are pains in the neck, but lets not lump an entire religion behind their harsh appearance.
posted by Atreides at 4:55 AM on June 27, 2006


Atreides, the difference between the people and organizations you mention and the bible-thumping, hell-and-damnation crowd is that of motivation. The latter do it because of their own selfish egos, the former because it's the right thing to do, publicity be damned. If you'll excuse the pun.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:04 AM on June 27, 2006


Ugh, people still listen to Dawkins? I was hoping his brand of intolerance and inhumanity would die out as time went on, but I suppose as long as there are Jerry Falwells, there should be some Dawkins to really throw some fuel on the fire.

Look, I'm not saying Dawkins is more or less "horrible" than "the religious right," I'm just saying that he's not helping. At all. He's just like them, in fact - get everyone all riled up so a couple more books get sold. Isn't that kind of disgusting? His extreme atheism is really starting to come off as another form of religious zealotry.
posted by muddgirl at 5:12 AM on June 27, 2006


Calling people delusional may not be the best way to convert people.

Being nice doesn't work. You tell them and tell them and they go on ignoring reason and believing crap. Maybe being blunt about it will get more attention.

But the only real way to cure people of religion would be to prevent their exposure as children, and you can't do that without parental cooperation. Once kids are indoctrinated, you might as well try to convince them that their mothers aren't the best women in the world. (Which generally is a harmless and useful enough fiction -- about mothers, I mean.)
posted by pracowity at 5:13 AM on June 27, 2006


Dawkins's buddy and Atheist Manifesto author Sam Harris recently went on a meditation retreat, and he seemed to enjoy the experience well enough.

Ok, seems like he is a buddhist missionary.

I would say it's just an exploration of the very worldly phenomena that religions offer and people seem to need, without taking them seriously.
posted by vertriebskonzept at 5:27 AM on June 27, 2006


Thats can be true, Civil_Disobedient, but unfortunately, there are people who believe they are honestly doing good as well. From my experience, it really has a lot to do with their church and what type of message the pastor is speaking on Sunday.

What I would argue is that why press for the destruction of religion? Yes, there are extremes within religion which cause people to act horribly, but a glance at our last 100 years shows what extremes of athiesm can also equally horribly accomplish.
posted by Atreides at 5:27 AM on June 27, 2006


Wow. Just, wow. I hope more atheists can be like Dawkins. So many more people will become religious because of him.
posted by brownpau at 5:46 AM on June 27, 2006


its just really nice to hear someone come right out and say "all you people are fucking. stupid."

Yeah, because we never get any of that here at MeFi. Repeat after me:

BUSH IS BAD!
THERE IS NO GOD!

...You in the back: you weren't chanting loud enough! What are you, a fascist inquisitor or something?
posted by languagehat at 5:53 AM on June 27, 2006


I may become God just to smite him

I enjoyed that, thank you.

The difference between the beautiful way Dawkins writes about biology and the banality of his tirades against religion is genuinely mind-boggling. And yet he keeps turning up - it's like some pro-religion group is actively conspiring to get him on the TV.

If you want someone to live your way, live the best life you can and wait to be asked what your secret is. If nobody is asking, maybe you should be a little less certain that what you have is actually better. I address this to the religious and the non-religious alike.
posted by teleskiving at 5:55 AM on June 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


The problem with Dawkins is the same that plagues every evangelical and biblical literalist. They stand unchallenged, and can walk away scathed from a fight to fight again, because they know that their detractors don't understand their POV as well as they do.

We have people like this on my show all the time. A good example is a debate we did with Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council and Rev. Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church in NYC. The topic was the federal marriage amendment. I literally had to beg Sprigg, a Baptist minister, to talk about gay marriage from a religious point of view. The right had insulated itself in a web of 'hetero is natural - this is a natural law issue' around gay marriage. It was ludicrous, remember how Christians used to defend slavery as morally correct? Full interview here. Worth taking a look.
posted by parmanparman at 6:10 AM on June 27, 2006


Dawkins comes across like a self-assured, self-righteous believer in disbelief and is just as smug as any evangelical.

The reason they come off sounding the same is their absolute certainty in the worldview they preach. I have no problem with Dawkins, because he is right.

Since when is MeFi a hotbed for moral relativism?
posted by phrontist at 6:15 AM on June 27, 2006


He was great on Family Feud and Hogan's Heroes.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:16 AM on June 27, 2006


It was ludicrous, remember how Christians used to defend slavery as morally correct?

And some Christians argued against Slavery, as well.
posted by Atreides at 6:16 AM on June 27, 2006


Atreides, not saying that all Christians argued for slavery. Just saying that many, many Christian leaders in pro-slave areas did so. There were always abolitionists, and they did admirably succeed in stopping the transatlantic slave trade with the US in 1808. All trade after that was of American-born slaves.
posted by parmanparman at 6:19 AM on June 27, 2006


Question: are Dawkins' general assertions (or conclusions) sound? If the answer is Yes, then why are so many of you upset at the guy?

Oh, he's smug? So the fuck what? If you're going to focus on whether or not you like the guy, then it becomes an ad hominem attack and not a matter of whether or not his argument holds water.

Personally, I'd like to know what people think of his argument, not his style.
posted by grubi at 6:21 AM on June 27, 2006


"They stand unchallenged, and can walk away scathed from a fight to fight again, because they know that their detractors don't understand their POV as well as they do."
Wrong. Dawkins, unlike biblical literalists, actually went and spoke with the people who he claims are irrational.

Those who argue above that Dawkins is pompous or intolerant have not watched the video and probably need to re-think their definition of tolerance. Isn't tolerance allowing those with whom you disagree to speak their mind? That's exactly what Dawkins does in the video. They make themselves look ridiculous.

It is not intolerant to demand that people give an account of what they believe. That is the point that Socrates made 2400 years ago, and that people should remember today. Dawkins is working in a long tradition, and those who cannot take should take a long look at their beliefs. Perhaps you consider him "intolerant" because he's asking questions you don't want to answer.
posted by austin5000 at 6:21 AM on June 27, 2006


BUSH IS BAD!
THERE IS NO GOD!


Gee, thanks for ruining the ending.
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:23 AM on June 27, 2006


Parmanparman, exactly. Christianity is not a monolithic culture in which the term Christians is suitable for blanket statements. It is extremely easy to do so, but something that should be avoided as much as possible.

And just to repeat some good advice from above:

If you want someone to live your way, live the best life you can and wait to be asked what your secret is. If nobody is asking, maybe you should be a little less certain that what you have is actually better.
posted by Atreides at 6:29 AM on June 27, 2006


Austin, I saw Dawkin's docu as a review DVD from C4 earlier this year. The problem I have with Dawkins is not dogmatic, it's programmatic. His interview style is like watching some search for an answer he's already decided. There is no suspense. What's the point of taking the chance on belief when you're not willing to give up your own father, son and holy ghost?

But what's much more compelling is Michael Beckford's "God is Black", a wonderful study of Africa-Caribbean-Anglo-Saxon religion.
posted by parmanparman at 6:31 AM on June 27, 2006


for a guy so opposed to faith- he comes off so darn dogmatic
posted by donabean at 6:32 AM on June 27, 2006


The more I see debates like this, the more I think I can see why liberalism in the US (MeFites being primarily of the American persuasion) hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell.

This time it's about liberals saying "we agree, but..." and then proceeding to bash Dawkins. 2004 elections -- liberals agree with Kerry but go on to bash Kerry lest they be accused of sympathizing with a man who was said at the time (and hilariously too) to be "French-looking". You can't discuss Michael Moore without both sides of the issue proceeding to bash the man, whether or not they agree with what he ultimately says.

If libs are to get power again in America, they will have to start leaving some for the enemy to bash/slander, instead of doing it to themselves preemptively.
posted by clevershark at 6:42 AM on June 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Clevershark, why is argument about religion and religious people a liberal pursuit? That buys into rightist religious agit-prop that liberals are godless and self-hating. That betrays the rights of every person to have the right to hold strong beliefs for or against a proposition - whether it be that there is a god or that all men are created equal.
posted by parmanparman at 6:51 AM on June 27, 2006


I would think being an atheist should make a person more humble. (should) You don't have a connection with eternity rattling around in your ribcage so your stuck with being a rather unremarkable species that has no due claim to grandeur, a history of savagery, and a tendency toward pomposity. I would prefer there be a God if only to break us free from our petty self-satisfaction.

And donabean: I think the term is godmatic.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:55 AM on June 27, 2006


Question: are Dawkins' general assertions (or conclusions) sound? If the answer is Yes, then why are so many of you upset at the guy?

It's because nobody likes an smartass. It's been my experience that many sciencefolk miss that subtle rule of personal interaction.
posted by Opposite George at 7:42 AM on June 27, 2006


The problem I have with dogmatic atheists such as Dawkins is similar to the problem I have with Evangelicals, they are so confident in their position that they loose a firm philosophical basis.

To be able to have a firm basis logical basis for your beliefs, you have to challenge every possible assumption that you make, but even Descarte didn't challenge all of his basic assumptions.

If one follows the path of science firmly, there are still things which require faith, Unless you go through and redo every single experiment you must assume the research of others is true and accurate, you must assume that your conclusions and the conclusions of others in the past are correct, essentially belief in science (or anything for that matter).

For example, I have never been to Latvia, but I am certain it exists.

This is also somewhat related to why I don't understand why some christians attempt to prove the existance of God, if the christian God exists than God requires only faith, proof of God's existence would be contrary to the spirit of faith.
posted by drezdn at 7:45 AM on June 27, 2006


A former journalist, Lee Stroubel, has a series of books in which he interviews individuals about various topics that either contradict or prove Christianity. I won't go into detail on either, but after reading Drezdn's post, I recall something that one interviewee remarked. I'll summarize it real quick.

The interviewee put his hand in a pocket and withdrew it closed. He asked Stroubel, "If I tell you I have a quarter in my pocket, will you believe me?" Stroubel said he would. Then the interviewee opened his hand and showed Stroubel a quarter and said," There, I've destroyed your faith."
posted by Atreides at 7:57 AM on June 27, 2006


drezdn I find it fantastical that you have not been to Latvia, such a claim requires exquisite proof, I demand you furnish it. Absurd very often, or all the time?
posted by econous at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2006


grubi: Question: are Dawkins' general assertions (or conclusions) sound? If the answer is Yes, then why are so many of you upset at the guy?

His conclusions about the existence of god are reasonable and sound. His conclusions about the nature of religious thought and faith strike me as having some serious errors, and frequently sloppy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2006


Ohh, since I opened up the can of worms....

Most religions define themselves as having at least three interrelated facets: a dogma or belief, a set of practices, and a community. Many times when I read Dawkins' criticisms of religion he appears to pin all his argument on the irrationality of the basic dogma as if that is sufficient to explain away the complex social systems that develop around religion.

He also pins too much on trying to keep memetics viable in some form.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2006


The problem with Dawkins is that religion and science have no business interacting with one another. I know many a religious scientist and they all feel the same. I happen to be an athiest, but I hope I don't let my views get in the way of logical thinking.

Once you embrace atheism like a religion and let it cloud your judgment, you're no better that so called scientists that look for god in everything. WHat if there were proof of a higher being - would the dogmatic athiest be able to accept it? Science is about observing the natural world - that is it. No god or gods or lack there of should even come into the picture. That's for theologists.

Dawkins either needs to stick to science, or dump it for theology. Tying the two together only hurts the scientific field.

Don't get me wrong, I am glad to see someone is calling zealots what they are - but all you're going to get from this is a bunch of christians saying "see, science is trying to destroy our religion!"
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:41 AM on June 27, 2006


It was ludicrous, remember how Christians used to defend slavery as morally correct?

And some Christians argued against Slavery, as well.


Like much related to Christianity on MeFi, the christians-arguing-for-slavery thing is a reference to the Southern US experience (not saying they didn't elsewhere). As historical counterexample however, note an evangelical Christian, William Wilberforce, fought for and finally ended slavery in the UK three decades before the American civil war.

Now, wouldn't it be more motivationally accurate to say "American businessmen defended slavery as morally correct."?

Mr Dawkins in the intro:
"I think the idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe"

Well, I think this is a fascinating statement and just don't have the time to fully parse it out this morning. Does it mean anything more than me-good you-bad? Imagine those dirty ignorant little people belittling my beautiful elegant world-view...?

I would think being an atheist should make a person more humble. (should)


Yes, and being a Christian should make a person more humble as well given the plentiful direct instruction to do so. Anyone who thinks real hard about themselves as compared to 'reality', 'the universe', and / or God should be more humble than many of us seem to be including Dawkins, an otherwise accomplished scientist who'd remain more helpful generally by concentrating on his own field of expertise.
posted by scheptech at 8:52 AM on June 27, 2006


WHat if there were proof of a higher being - would the dogmatic athiest be able to accept it? Science is about observing the natural world - that is it.

Athiesm is not science. And regarding your point, if it's provable then it would be accepted by science.
posted by movilla at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2006


Movilla, that is exactly my point. Dawkins has moved out of the realm of science yet he still claims to be a scientist. That, to me, is a problem.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:03 AM on June 27, 2006


So, if Dawkins' "smugness" is a big problem for atheism, or the atheist message, surely the smugness of, say, James Dobson is a big problem for Christianity, as well? I mean, certainly the condescending way in which Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell carry themselves must've had some terrible effect on their movement, right?
posted by aaronetc at 10:38 AM on June 27, 2006


"I think the idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe"
... and I think (or rather ... I fully believe) the elegant reality of the universe is not random chance.

But I guess I'm stupid in Mr. Dawkins view, but that's ok, I've no problem being lumped in with dumb ol' "E=M*Square(C)" Al.
posted by forforf at 10:39 AM on June 27, 2006


He picked some pretty bad people to interview. Some might accuse him of being selective in his data.
posted by 517 at 10:43 AM on June 27, 2006


Dawkins has moved out of the realm of science yet he still claims to be a scientist.

Dawkins has not left the realm of science. He is simply pointing out that religious belief is unfounded. There is nothing dogmatic in showing the baseless foundation that religions are built upon.

As to Dawkins' bluntness: If you were surrounded by those who fervently believed that Mickey Mouse created the universe, then I doubt you would have a problem in saying those believers, and their beliefs, were delusional. Why then should currently popular religious belief be treated with more respect, seeing how it is as equally unfounded as a creator-Mickey?
posted by jsonic at 10:55 AM on June 27, 2006


He didn't seem smug to me really. He just seems like he's had enough of people calling him 'rude' or 'arrogant', or people of 'peaceful' religions telling him that they hate him.
posted by dobie at 11:02 AM on June 27, 2006


To Dawkins, "randomness" means...what?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:06 AM on June 27, 2006


To anybody, "randomness" means... what?
posted by flabdablet at 11:25 AM on June 27, 2006


To someone like ET Jaynes, randomness is a description of the limits of a state of knowledge. To someone like Chaitin, randomness is a consequent of formal systems. It is a hot topic, you'd think Dawkins would address this sometime.

To Dawkins, as far as I have ever been able to tell, it is a deus ex machina.

He does not distinguish between counterfactual conceptions of physical reality and metaphysical conceptions prior to that reality. He sets up the first to knock down, and claims he has therefore demolished the second, substituting "randomness" whenever a predictive theory stops predicting.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:33 AM on June 27, 2006


If nobody is asking, maybe you should be a little less certain that what you have is actually better

i disagree. it could very well mean that they firmly believe that what they have is so much better, they need not ask me about what i've got. and i'm cool with that -- if what they have doesn't hurt children/non-consenting adults/the environment, it's all good. they can do their thing, i'll do my thing, and if there's an afterlife, we can hopefully feast at the same table.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:44 AM on June 27, 2006


scheptech: Mr Dawkins in the intro:
"I think the idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe"


[...] Does it mean anything more than me-good you-bad?

Yes, it does mean something more than that. If I say I think the idea of an afterlife makes life less valuable, would you assume I am accusing believers in an afterlife of something? And if so, how would anyone argue against concepts of religion without seeming to attack those who believe in those concepts?
posted by effwerd at 11:57 AM on June 27, 2006


The problem with Dawkins is that religion and science have no business interacting with one another.

The problem is that religionists mix religion and the real world, which is the realm of science. Fantasies about eternal life and invisible superbeings are cool for home, are fine when confined to imagination, but don't try to mix them with public policy. Scientists need to be there to counter attempts to shape, for example, birth control policy or science education according to religious fantasies.

I don't think Dawkins would be too worried about what the average Texan thinks at home if it stayed at home. But what that very average Texan in the White House thinks after he's done having a conference call with folk who hear voices and don't understand reality could harm the whole of humanity. At the very least, a president in the age of nuclear weapons and various other ways to kill everyone needs to understand that this is all we've got. If the president doesn't see that, we're all in greater danger than we should be.
posted by pracowity at 12:17 PM on June 27, 2006


i'm guessing that those who would criticize dawkins for his approach or manner would not think to similarly criticize anyone who decided to post something particularly insulting about scientologists or heaven's gaters or any other cultspersons on the horizon...even those christians who claim that personal privilege against criticism of faith that effwerd alludes to wouldn't hesitate (and historically haven't hesitated) to dump on them...

...given that i would put any religious belief on the same plane as any modern freakish cult (why should longevity be any justification?), i'm not going to buy that criticism or contempt is okay in one instance and not in the other...
posted by troybob at 12:23 PM on June 27, 2006


Religious beliefs are given way too much respect. (maybe because religious people tend to be murderous bastards so they have to humoured a little so they dont get the holy hand grenades out... :) )

He isnt smug he's had enough as he shouldnt even need to discuss these issues. Its all a bunch of made up old bollox to give children answers when adults had none.
posted by BeepK at 1:01 PM on June 27, 2006


So, yeah, the pastor even told him that his "intellectual superiority" was off-putting to his "children," and told him "don't be arrogant."

The problem is that there is no way to approach discussing the contradictions between what the "faithful" believe and what investigation of reality actually shows us without coming off as "arrogant" in the eyes of the faithful. Why is that?

Because the faithful are the ones who are truly arrogant. They think they know it all, and they don't want to hear anything that might suggest otherwise. They may act all polite and friendly - at first - but really they are monomaniacally certain that their faith, their feelings, are perfect and inerrant... no matter where they got them from, since generally someone else poured it into their brains.

They have no idea what the scientific method really is, they have no clue how scientists actually work, they have no understanding of what scientists actually say and have shown about things like evolution - as evidenced by Pastor Haggard's statements about how eyes and ears happened "by accident" - and by Jesus, they don't want to know. God said it, they believe it, and that settles it!

The pinnacle of arrogance, that. Sorry, but that's what it is.

And the pastor showing up in his pickup truck and making threats, talking about calling "his children" animals, just shows him for another arrogant narcissist who can't stand that someone might have showed him up in public. Have a tantrum, Haggard, yep, that shows you're manly powerful primate.

Scientists, real scientists, KNOW that they don't know everything, and will tell you that point-blank. Faith adherents KNOW that they know everything, and will go as far as murder, even genocide, to demonstrate it. Who's the real "smartass?"

There isn't any polite way to tell irrational people that they're irrational. And humoring people with "holy hand grenades" isn't going to do anything, that's just caving in to a bully. A murderous bastard is a murderous bastard - and murderous bastards of any kind should be restrained and hopefully rehabilitated, not facilitated.

You'd think that physical scientists would get together with the more rigorously scientific psychologists and come up with an intelligent way to discredit and demolish insane faith...

And how about that New York Jew turned Palestinian Muslim, huh? Boy, what kind of twisted life does that to a guy? What a horribly bitter, bitter, angry young man. He'd just as soon kill everyone who isn't just like him, if only he could have the power. It seemed like every other word out of his mouth was "control, control, control, you're out of control, your women are out of control." He's just another pathetic person who can't stand the fact that other human beings, and much of life in general, is beyond his (or anyone else's) individual control. He desperately requires a dominant, controlling position in his life, and he gets it - or really, the fantasy of it - from his brand of extremist religion. Ugh.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2006


maybe because religious people tend to be murderous bastards so they have to humoured a little so they dont get the holy hand grenades out... :)

What are you, twelve? Boy, this topic really does bring out the worst in MeFi.
posted by languagehat at 1:57 PM on June 27, 2006


Yeah, every time this dog and pony show turns up here, I sigh and sit back for the fireworks.

Seriously, languagehat, The level of discourse sometimes gets into the "eternal college freshman" level.

"fuck you mom and dad for makin' me go to church, there so is not a god and you're the Taliban and i am a freedom fighter against your bourgeois dogma!"

etc, etc, check please.
posted by erskelyne at 3:05 PM on June 27, 2006


Paraphrased: "here are my virgin daughter and my guests concubine; let me show you them now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against my guest do nothing." As a good Englishman, Richard should have known this was an impossible situation, what else is a host to do but ensure the comfort of a guest?

sindark lol.

zoogleplex To excuse the pastor a bit, Richard did compare his service to a Nuremberg rally. Richard also became aggressive when the pastor thought that the eye just leaped into existence all the way up Improbable by accident. An amusing misunderstanding of evolution. However by some magic of intonation Richard suggested the man was a fool. Fools may not be receptive to this news. I hate that telegram.

To put things straightforwardly, if I gave I shit I'd be disappointed by the fagish/veggie/liberal/... manner in which Richard presents, and his uncontrolled contempt for fools. If only someone better could do the job, or someone else do the job better. As an atheist I don't care enough to try my self.
posted by econous at 3:08 PM on June 27, 2006


If I say I think the idea of an afterlife makes life less valuable

Hmm - what I'd say is, despite the suicide bombers (who are, after all in something of a minority) this is exactly wrong, for the other 99.9etc % of either Christians or Muslims. Both teach that what you do in this life has eternal consequences, and so life is actually seen as more valuable, not less. Look, believing that religion causes war is a little naive. People go to war for other reasons and use religion as an enabling excuse where practical, i.e. when the other side has a different one, and as a way to encourage themselves. But the cause is always something else. Does anyone really imagine people would stop fighting over worldly wealth and power if religion didn't exist?

they have no clue how scientists actually work

You may be overgeneralizing on this one, I happen to know two scientists who are also Christians, or is it the other way around?

Anyway one was a Christian from childhood who went into biology, and yes he's gainfully employed, something to do with fish stocks. He remarried a little later in life bringing his and her kids together to make a new family. One of the kids has Downs syndrome and they're doing everything they can to make a good life for him.

The other was atheist into his 40's. Then after a lot of data gathering and analysis first, of course, came to faith. He became really a new person within his community, doing a lot of practical charity work, providing not just money but also his own time to various social causes.

I don't see anything in either of these guys to suggest they're living twisted lives, wanting to kill anyone, or wanting to dominate or be dominated by anyone.

Point being, the people we see in the news, on tv, in the movies, and discussed on MeFi are highlighted in those venues exactly because they're unusual, provocative and sometimes extreme. Just like our rather uncharitable (and in my humble opinion - spiritually obtuse) Mr Dawkins.
posted by scheptech at 3:18 PM on June 27, 2006



What are you, twelve? Boy, this topic really does bring out the worst in MeFi.


Just looking for a reaction... trying to stir the pot a little :)
posted by BeepK at 3:24 PM on June 27, 2006


"Think of chimps as ms-dos, humans as Windows 2000".

Oh fuck, we're doomed!
posted by movilla at 3:27 PM on June 27, 2006


"I don't see anything in either of these guys to suggest they're living twisted lives, wanting to kill anyone, or wanting to dominate or be dominated by anyone." It's the faith at issue. I'm guessing that you knew this as you posted your comment. Dawkins as uncharitable? Explain. Spiritually obtuse? Does that even parse as sense? Or is it forever defined as being embroiled by meaning?
posted by econous at 3:32 PM on June 27, 2006


Think of the Grays as a unix derivative...
posted by econous at 3:37 PM on June 27, 2006


scheptech, it sounds like the two Christians you know are not Dominionist fundamentalists, the biologist especially. Do either of them claim that the Bible is inerrant and must be obeyed to the letter? I suspect not. I'm not trying to generalize to all Christians, because not all of them are so extreme.

Dawkins, maybe he's generalizing. I get the sense that he's most worried about the extremes, but is also worried that even the more moderate groups participate in distortion of scientifically-discovered facts and isolationist education of children within their faiths.

Personally I think there's room for both religious faith and science among humanity, and they needn't be mutually exclusive. It's only the various sectarian dogmas that contradict observable reality that I think should be dropped - or at the very least, entirely excluded from public governance and all that pertains thereto.

Clearly, some people of faith don't think there's room for anything but their faith, and that everyone else should be converted, controlled, or destroyed. Anybody here have a problem with cutting all those folks out of the decision-making loop?

"Does anyone really imagine people would stop fighting over worldly wealth and power if religion didn't exist?"

No, but it would remove the most patently ridiculous excuses for bloody violence, and leave us with the stark reality that some people just have a massive psychological need to feel superior to others. We'd have to look in the mirror and admit to ourselves that we really aren't as far past the level of animals as we think. We'd have to drop our arrogance and look at ourselves as we really are - a process that individual people go through all the time.

I think Dawkins believes that religion is one of, if not the, major factor which perpetuates the psychological conditions which perpetuate the constant fighting for wealth and power. I also think that he believes that removing that set of excuses might allow us to discover and attack the actual root causes of the perpetual violence.

Nothing else is working, so it's worth a try, don't you think? Jesus' message of peace and human love hasn't really sunk in, has it. Perhaps we should put the sort of scientific research effort that we've put into weapons creation into figuring out why we're such bastards to each other and trying to solve it?

That won't happen until people stop basing their lives on mumbo-jumbo and allowing themselves to be comfortably controlled by authority figures.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:47 PM on June 27, 2006


Hmm - what I'd say is, despite the suicide bombers (who are, after all in something of a minority) this is exactly wrong, for the other 99.9etc % of either Christians or Muslims. Both teach that what you do in this life has eternal consequences, and so life is actually seen as more valuable, not less. [...]

That's fine. But not what I was asking.
posted by effwerd at 3:58 PM on June 27, 2006


forforf: But I guess I'm stupid in Mr. Dawkins view, but that's ok, I've no problem being lumped in with dumb ol' "E=M*Square(C)" Al.

Except that Einstein as a Spinoza-style pantheist wasn't especially friendly towards the dominant forms of religion either. To put it another way, while it was self-evident to him that the universe had a structure worthy of awe and reverence, it was foolish to think that grand design was personal, sentient, or even potent.

jonsic: As to Dawkins' bluntness: If you were surrounded by those who fervently believed that Mickey Mouse created the universe, then I doubt you would have a problem in saying those believers, and their beliefs, were delusional. Why then should currently popular religious belief be treated with more respect, seeing how it is as equally unfounded as a creator-Mickey?

Except for the uncomfortable fact that not all religions claim that a deity created the universe, and many people of faith are entirely comfortable modern cosmology. One of the more successful theories in modern cosmology was developed by a Jesuit Priest after all.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:54 PM on June 27, 2006


If you liked this you might want to give "God's next Army" (Google Video) a view.
posted by Tenuki at 6:51 PM on June 27, 2006


If you want someone to live your way, live the best life you can and wait to be asked what your secret is. If nobody is asking, maybe you should be a little less certain that what you have is actually better.

Maybe there's some hope for Christianity.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:51 PM on June 27, 2006


If we didn't have a Dawkins we'd have to invent him: he provides the frothing evangel athiest counterpart to the frothing evangel religionists. All the rest of us come out looking pretty good, regardless our religious views.

I am, however, all for the idea of telling religionists flat-out that they're idiots for believing in that hogwash. I have nothing against the ideals of most religions — that we should be nice to one another — but by gods the claptrap with which religions envelop that essential message is just sickening.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on June 27, 2006


Tenuki the vt you linked to was too depressing. Excellent.
posted by econous at 7:45 PM on June 27, 2006


How to spell atheism and atheist:

If a belief or philosophy is X-ism, a follower of it is an X-ist. Get the ist or ism on the end of the word and the rest of the spelling will work itself out for you. A theist believes gods exist. An atheist does not. Theist, theism, atheist, atheism.

(It probably seems petty to some folk, but I just think that people who claim to be X-ists or to know something about X-ism should at least be able to spell it.)
posted by pracowity at 12:54 AM on June 28, 2006


(And just for fun...)

Both teach that what you do in this life has eternal consequences, and so life is actually seen as more valuable, not less.

This still supports the position that an afterlife devalues life. In this case, you're saying that your current state is merely a means to achieve some desired state in a suspected afterlife. It may make life inordinately necessary to achieve the desired end but that doesn't equate to value.
posted by effwerd at 7:51 AM on June 28, 2006


I don't see why one asshole would keep so many people away from Atheism the Millions of smug Christian assholes don't seem to drive you folks away from your beliefs.
posted by Megafly at 7:04 PM on June 28, 2006


Ok, just for interest:

It may make life inordinately necessary to achieve the desired end but that doesn't equate to value.

Maybe the word 'significance' is more accurate than 'value'.

Here's an argument against killing another human under any circumstances. It applies to Islam, Buddhism, and other religions just as well as Christianity: the purpose of this life is to prepare for the next in some way (differently defined by different beliefs of course), one must never kill another human because while alive they still have a chance to: confess that Christ is Lord and be granted eternal life, achieve enlightenment and escape the cycle of death and rebirth, reconcile with God and go to paradise, etc.
posted by scheptech at 10:50 PM on June 28, 2006


Riiiight. And I have some lovely oceanview land to sell you in Florida.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:55 AM on June 29, 2006


scheptech, that's pretty much along the lines of why I'm against the death penalty... killing someone means taking away any chance they might have to redeem themselves.

fff, I think that applies whether you're religious or not, atheist or not. "Redemption" is not solely the province of religion.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:26 PM on June 29, 2006


I'm not seeing how you figure that. "Prepare for the next life in some way" pretty much requires that you hold a religious belief in an afterlife.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on June 29, 2006


(I should also note that in order for this life to affect "the next," there must be an information flow between the two states. This seems highly unlikely.)
posted by five fresh fish at 6:36 PM on June 29, 2006


Well, I see redemption as the process whereby someone who has committed crimes against others comes to realize that what they've done is wrong, and they feel remorse at doing it and a genuine wish to change themselves and make amends.

I come from the point of view that rather than having a religiously-based responsibility to "behave" according to some God's rules, we each have a responsibility to behave well toward each other simply for the sake of our own and each other's humanity. I don't think it requires the inclusion of an abstract higher being to consider ourselves each members of this greater whole and community of all humans, and understand that we all have responsibility toward each other to treat each other well.

I think even a hardened, cold-blooded killer has the opportunity and the hope of letting go of the anger, fear, and self-involvement that makes them a sociopath, and becoming a humble and community-conscious person.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:41 AM on June 30, 2006


Fersure, but scheptech's examples were all after-death, which is distinctly not atheistic.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:45 PM on July 1, 2006


I thinks the american preacher is an asshole but he has a point : the "scientist" is arrogant!!
posted by zouhair at 11:03 AM on July 8, 2006


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