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fibonaccispiral777
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06 Oct 2013, 3:05 pm

I would like to know if anyone shares this obsession because at the moment I am very much obsessed with Richard Dawkins and his arguments for being an atheist and why religion no longer serves a purpose at the moment. It is no really to do with the fact that I am a strict- religious-hater my self, although I have recently become a self-proclaimed atheist, it more due to his logic and reason that I find the man fascinating. I agree with him however, religious as a means by which to your morality seems highly out-dated and it appears odd that anyone should need a list of supposedly objective and god-given morals to know not to murder, steal and commit adultery. In a strange way, to admit that you do is to almost say that without such a fixed moral doctrine, you would become completely psychopathic , which I am sure many Christians would not agree with. Furthermore, to understand the world from the perspective of a world devoid of god seems far more awe-inspiring, spiritual and liberating than of one in which everything has been created by an all knowing creator. Of course, the mountains, sea, the complexity of DNA is so utterly incredible that one finds it difficult not to feel that there is some higher consciousness governing it but when you sit back and contemplate retrospectively that everything we perceive, the endless complexity of nature, has arisen by chance from a cosmic lottery, it seems far more incredible.

Anyway, this is not a post designed specifically with the purpose of condemning religious belief although I have done thus far, it is more of a celebration of the man's works and his ability to present such lucid and rational arguments. For some reason, at the moment, I enjoy listening to interviews and debates in which he features solely because I find the clear-cut logic of his arguments very soothing to listen to. Because he wishes to look at the issue of religion as well as evolution without emotion and sentimentality, I find them for some reason highly relaxing. People have stated that he is self-righteous in his demeanor however I must disagree. Considering the fact that he has studied evolution for over thirty years now and he encounters high numbers of people who dismiss such a 'theory', he seems reasonably tolerable to those who contradict him considering the abundance of evidence in favor of Darwinian natural selection. Furthermore, the fact that he is a scientist and is open to any hypothesis being altered in light of new evidence shows not a dogmatic mind but a pragmatic one open to change when considering the ever-shifting scientific paradigm in which new theories, new evidence and new refutations are constantly being brought to light. I am about to embark on his book The Greatest Show on Earth, which is a fantastic book by the looks of it and discusses how evolution is not a theory and supports his theory by showing how certain creatures in the space of two years changed their bone structure(although not willingly of course :lol: ) to adapt to their environment.

Anyway, I would love to know if there are fans of the man on this forum and more importantly, if any of you find his works actually very relaxing. It's like a conceptual form of cannabis listening to him. It puts my brain in a pleasing state of tranquility. Btw, this is not a thread to debate religion, more of an appreciation thread. Please no arguments. Also, no disrespect to those who believe in religion. If you find it comforting and it does you no harm or anyone else, go for it. :)



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06 Oct 2013, 3:22 pm

I follow him on twitter.



fibonaccispiral777
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06 Oct 2013, 3:25 pm

cathylynn wrote:
I follow him on twitter.


Ah sweet, for some reason I cannot imagine him knowing how to use t particularly well but I suppose that is prejudice on my part. Does he post things regularly on there? What kind of things does he post? I don't use the site personally.



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06 Oct 2013, 3:28 pm

I'm only a fan of his theory explaining altruistic behavior within the context of evolution.

As far as his theories on atheism, he is stepping outside of his field, and his ignorance shows. If you can keep an open mind, I would recommend the following book that explains the evolutionary benefit of religion:

http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-Cathedral ... +cathedral

As far as God goes, I must admit I'm on the fence. But genetics having just happened is about as likely as throwing a bag of mixed change up in the air, and having it come down not only all heads up and in perfect piles assorted by denomination, but sorted by date and mint mark as well. That would actually be probable compared to our genetic code just happening since our genetic code is much more complex.

Socially, the problem with atheism is that we can decide what is moral according to our whims. For example, when atheistic communists were chided by liberals for their worst atrocities, they would scornfully dismiss ideas that murder was wrong as "bourgeois sentimentality". And they were right. If we all decide what is right, who is to say that things like murder and theft are wrong. Consequently, a hundred million people died under the tender mercies of atheistic communism.

If nothing else, God is an eminently useful fiction. As Voltaire quipped, if God did not exist, he would have to be invented.



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06 Oct 2013, 3:38 pm

I've enjoyed watching the Richard Dawkins interviews and debates on You Tube. I've been very influenced by his views and it's great to see someone articulate atheistic ideas so strongly and clearly. He's also blunt and fearless.

I think I like the late Christopher Hitchens more though as a prominent public presenter and debater because he was witty, mischievous and not so stiff upper lip.



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06 Oct 2013, 3:52 pm

Quote:
Also, no disrespect to those who believe in religion. If you find it comforting and it does you no harm or anyone else, go for it.

As a Christian, thank you. :D
Also, I can understand your reasons for enjoying him. I've not read any of his works, but some factual books read like poetry. I just think that he is wrong to say that religion serves no purpose. Especially when Freud said that a long time before Dawkins existed. :wink: True that all people know right from wrong - or we do now, in this time. Back in ye olde days people needed to have those laws otherwise evil deeds would be far too common. Other Old Testament laws were given to prevent the spread of diseases, etc. The problem is that people will take the laws and rules out of context and time era and follow them ridgely, not questioning why God gave those rules. It's more that: God said it, so obey! That has caused a lot of problems.
Dawkins can say religion is outdated, but I think that many of our laws and rules and morality comes from a time when the human race were evolving (I do believe in evolution. My belief is that the Creation Story was just a story to help people pre-scientific age have some understanding of how the world came to be).
That said, some of our morality must be instinctive and not learnt and not as a means to appease the gods.
That also said, you said you didn't want a religious debate. My apologises!
Dawkins is a clever man, a beautiful writer (I believe you on that point, Makes me want to read some of his stuff) and right about a lot of things. He's just very, very, brave for saying that religion is outdated.....as the OP said,he should stick to science. Religion is needed because people want it. Moslty.


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06 Oct 2013, 4:06 pm

Richard Dawkins gives me an appreciation for what Darwin was about all the time. I have read The God Delusion and I'm seriously interested in reading The Selfish Gene.

The strange thing is I think The Selfish Gene is what drew him into the confict with Religion in the first place. Especially if people to the Book's title or sections of it's content out of context in debates. I've heard that in hindsight Dawkins actually regrets the title of that book.

One of my favorite speakers on this subject is Sam Harris who still thinks spiritual experience and meditation deserve recognition and can be beneficial. This is on the condition that you don't let this things be hijacked by organized religion. Sam Harris has a background in neurology and has also studied meditation with Buddhists.

Also, Hitchens is certainly entertaining.

Another interesting person I've read up on is Dan Barker who is a deconverted Evangelical Minister.



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06 Oct 2013, 4:28 pm

Yes, you are quite right, he was raised as a Christian even though his parents were supposedly atheistic and taught him about the universe in a scientific way. However, as you say, he decided to abandon his religious faith and become a atheist since he found the darwinian perspective far more enlightening and also probable. The Selfish gene is a fantastic book and speaks about genes in a very metaphorical and poetical way as if genes were conscious organism wishing to intentionally replicate themselves like self-aware machines. It also, despite the book's title, shows that Dawkins is not in favor of a survivalist mentality when it comes to social organization and shows how evolution often rewards those who are altruistic.

Vampire bats will go out in a collective group and seek out the blood of animals to feed themselves and when they return to their habitat, if one bat hasn't acquired any blood, they decide to share out their blood so that the unfed bat can be fed. This seems counter-intuitive to the idea of the 'selfish gene' but it means that the unfed bat that is fed the next time feels obliged to feed the bats that fed it when they themselves are hungry for blood if that makes sense. In that sense it is selfish but a selfish form of altruism. It seems odd to create a dichotomy between altruism and selfishness. The two in my opinion and, as is evident by such an evolutionary tale, are intrinsically linked and the fact that acts of charity are committed for selfish reasons does not undermine the act in anyway. I disagree with Kant when he sates morality is defined by intention. If the consequence is beneficial despite the intention, it is still positive.

By the way, I like your username. That film is fantastic. LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH :)



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06 Oct 2013, 4:50 pm

Thelibrarian wrote:
I'm only a fan of his theory explaining altruistic behavior within the context of evolution.

As far as his theories on atheism, he is stepping outside of his field, and his ignorance shows. If you can keep an open mind, I would recommend the following book that explains the evolutionary benefit of religion:

http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-Cathedral ... +cathedral

As far as God goes, I must admit I'm on the fence. But genetics having just happened is about as likely as throwing a bag of mixed change up in the air, and having it come down not only all heads up and in perfect piles assorted by denomination, but sorted by date and mint mark as well. That would actually be probable compared to our genetic code just happening since our genetic code is much more complex.

Socially, the problem with atheism is that we can decide what is moral according to our whims. For example, when atheistic communists were chided by liberals for their worst atrocities, they would scornfully dismiss ideas that murder was wrong as "bourgeois sentimentality". And they were right. If we all decide what is right, who is to say that things like murder and theft are wrong. Consequently, a hundred million people died under the tender mercies of atheistic communism.

If nothing else, God is an eminently useful fiction. As Voltaire quipped, if God did not exist, he would have to be invented.


As I have said, I do not wish to turn this into a religious debate but I think it is important to address your points. I agree, we do not know how genetics came to be but I suppose we should not then limit scientific research on the basis that it seems so much of a fluke that it must therefore be the work of some higher power since the scientific answer might be far more startling. Also, I don't know if we can equate something with being highly improbable with the work of a greater power, if we did this there would be many things that would still remain unknown. There might be various reasons as to why our genetics are so complex. I have personally thought in the past that if the universe has expanded and then contracted before billions of times before, perhaps the previous billions of times it did so there was no life whatsoever and therefore statistically, it was inevitable that at some point we should therefore exist.

Also in regards to atheistic communism, I personally would not say that they were atheistic since communism became a religion in itself in which Stalin became an omniscient, omnipotent god-like figure bringing the country to some sort of metaphysical 'heaven'. I see communism as a religion in itself. I also would like to say that what was communism under Stalin in my opinion was not a true manifestation of Karl Marx's vision since he envisioned a utopia in which communism would not be forced upon the people, it would happen organically and there would be no state nor a dictator. Whether or not this is a realistic vision is a different debate and one that needs to be discussed but concerning the issue at hand, I would not say that was true communism. I would also say that such killings did not happen because of atheism but because of political motives but that is due to interpretation. Furthermore, Stalin during his former years was training to become a priest. Chairman Mao was raised as a Buddhist ironically and Hitler was roman catholic. Furthermore, yes you may believe that communism killed many people under an atheistic regime but more an equal and if not more people have been killed during religious wars, especially if you consider Iraq to be a religious war considering George Bush deemed it as 'God's work' as I believe. Of course you could say that wasn't Christianity but due to the abstract nature of religious belief, anything can be interpreted from such a doctrine. Also, there are massive amounts of passages in the bible that justify violence, unlike communism. There is a scene in the book in which God decided to kill innocent children due to the fact that people are opposing his wrath, thus to say that atrocities are mostly committed out of atheistic belief to me appears to be highly illogical but there you go.

I personally cannot be an agnostic due to the fact that if I choose to sit on the fence in regards to god because it cannot be dis-proven, I must therefore sit on the fence in regards to other things that equally cannot be dis-proven. This would therefore imply that I would be agnostic about various metaphysical entities like unicorns, faeries and so forth, which I do not. It would also mean that since I do not have any evidence about an evil man living in my head trying to control me, I should therefore be agnostic, however to do so would be physically and mentally strenuous and thus I make the assumption that no such thing exists since I have no reason to and my life is practically better without placing faith in such a belief.

Last but not least, I would agree Religion can have certain evolutionary advantages, I would not dispute that in the SLIGHTEST. It is rational and logical to see that believing there is some higher patriarchal consciousness guiding the 'tribe' and watching over you and he cares for you and loves you would be of benefit but that may have been the case when our environment demanded of it and now our environment has been altered, our need for such a notion has also altered.



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06 Oct 2013, 6:00 pm

I don't have a special interest in Dawkins, though when I've seen video of him I've found him compelling and thoughtful.
I've spent a lot of time on religion and philosophy and some time exploring biological evolution.
I don't spend much time on either anymore because it seems so blatantly obvious which is most likely to be most accurate, and it is entirely pointless (IMO) to study them on a conflicting level.

There is something nice about listening to someone speak thoughtfully, logically, and intelligently on any subject, I suppose.
It certainly is a relief from listening to morons so much.


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06 Oct 2013, 6:30 pm

Dawkins in my opinion has gone from a brilliant scientist and an even more brilliant teacher to a guy who thinks science is anything that makes him feel good to say.



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06 Oct 2013, 6:38 pm

Dawkins is a racist and a sexist and there are far better people who say what he does, only they say it better without defaming entire cultures.



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06 Oct 2013, 7:16 pm

As I have said, I do not wish to turn this into a religious debate but I think it is important to address your points. I agree, we do not know how genetics came to be but I suppose we should not then limit scientific research on the basis that it seems so much of a fluke that it must therefore be the work of some higher power since the scientific answer might be far more startling. Also, I don't know if we can equate something with being highly improbable with the work of a greater power, if we did this there would be many things that would still remain unknown. There might be various reasons as to why our genetics are so complex. I have personally thought in the past that if the universe has expanded and then contracted before billions of times before, perhaps the previous billions of times it did so there was no life whatsoever and therefore statistically, it was inevitable that at some point we should therefore exist.

Improbable means something that is almost impossible to happen in this case. And by improbable we are talking about something more improbable than getting struck by lightning while winning the lottery. Yet it did happen. Science assumes determinism, which assumes causation. There had to be some cause, particularly a designer.

The atheist and logician Bertrand Russell, in his book, "Why I am not a Christian", smugly poked fun at Hindu cosmology thus: The world sits on the back of an elephant. Ask the Hindu what the elephant sits on, and he replies a giant turtle. After that, it is time to change the subject. What I'm getting at is that we can apply the same logic to the materialist theory of the Big Bang by asking what went bang?

Aristotle actually noted this problem in his theory of the unmoved mover. The unmoved mover is something that causes everything but was caused by nothing itself. This is very unscientific. Yet science is incapable of offering anything any better.

Are you sure you're not being scientistic?


"Also in regards to atheistic communism, I personally would not say that they were atheistic since communism became a religion in itself in which Stalin became an omniscient, omnipotent god-like figure bringing the country to some sort of metaphysical 'heaven'. I see communism as a religion in itself. I also would like to say that what was communism under Stalin in my opinion was not a true manifestation of Karl Marx's vision since he envisioned a utopia in which communism would not be forced upon the people, it would happen organically and there would be no state nor a dictator. Whether or not this is a realistic vision is a different debate and one that needs to be discussed but concerning the issue at hand, I would not say that was true communism. I would also say that such killings did not happen because of atheism but because of political motives but that is due to interpretation. Furthermore, Stalin during his former years was training to become a priest. Chairman Mao was raised as a Buddhist ironically and Hitler was roman catholic. Furthermore, yes you may believe that communism killed many people under an atheistic regime but more an equal and if not more people have been killed during religious wars, especially if you consider Iraq to be a religious war considering George Bush deemed it as 'God's work' as I believe. Of course you could say that wasn't Christianity but due to the abstract nature of religious belief, anything can be interpreted from such a doctrine. Also, there are massive amounts of passages in the bible that justify violence, unlike communism. There is a scene in the book in which God decided to kill innocent children due to the fact that people are opposing his wrath, thus to say that atrocities are mostly committed out of atheistic belief to me appears to be highly illogical but there you go."

While there was a faction of communism called the God-Builders, of which Maxim Gorky was a prominent member, the communists never made much headway in political sacralization. Yes, there was a cult of Stalin and Lenin, but never one for Khrushchev or Brezhnev. And they were good communists both. I would add that trying to call Stalin a Christian does grave violence against the facts of history--something anybody who defers to science over religion should avoid. Stalin destroyed untold numbers of churches, and executed or imprisoned millions of Orthodox clergy and devout laymen. It's hard to argue he was a Christian when he hated it.

Fascism did pioneering work in the sacralization of politics. But they firmly rejected Christianity. Fascism sacralized violence, something anathema to Christianity.

It is also an abomination factually to claim that as many people were killed in religious wars as were killed by fascism and communism. According to a professor named Rummel, 120 MILLION innocent people were killed by their own fascist and communist governments. The religious wars since Christianity began can't begin to compare.

As far as your statement on Bush and Christianity. and "anything can be interpreted from such a doctrine", that's not true. Real Christianity has a very specific meaning, as outlined in the Nicene Creed. As evidence, I would suggest that it would not be plausible for you to call yourself a Christian. Something that has no fixed meaning can mean anything. If Christianity could mean anything, you plausibly could call yourself a Christian.

As far as Bush goes, I would argue that he's a liberal. As such, he does his worship in front of a mirror. Liberalism went from very innocently asserting the individual has rights against the state (think the US Constitution) to placing the individual above all else, especially God. The reason Bush calls himself a Christian is because Christianity is widely recognized as a force for good. Bush was the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.


Last but not least, I would agree Religion can have certain evolutionary advantages, I would not dispute that in the SLIGHTEST. It is rational and logical to see that believing there is some higher patriarchal consciousness guiding the 'tribe' and watching over you and he cares for you and loves you would be of benefit but that may have been the case when our environment demanded of it and now our environment has been altered, our

You make a good point. The atheist Karl Marx noted that religion is the opiate of the people. He of course was right. What Marx failed to realize is that sometimes opiates are good. Just as you're going to want a real opiate after serious surgery or accident, sometimes we need a spiritual palliative as life is full of unavoidable pain. Again, God is something I couldn't say with any conviction that I believe in or disbelieve in. It is an abstraction my simple aspie mind just cannot process.

But God is much more than that. J.S. Mill clearly wanted Christianity replaced with a liberal Religion of Humanity. A formal religion of this name actually developed, and the current flag of Brazil is based upon the Religion of Humanity. But the real religion of humanity is Political Correctness, which is the most complete example of the sacralization of politics yet. All political correctness is based upon morality rather than logic. This is why the politically correct treat anybody who challenges their doctrines as beneath consideration, and as moral lepers. It is liberalism sacralized.

Political Correctness started out with the best of intentions, namely to correct the deficiencies in Christianity, and to develop a religion to serve all of humanity. It didn't work out that way because of Gramsci's antecedent to his Theory of Cultural Hegemony, which states that the elite class will always use the media, educational institutions, and any other means at their disposal to advance their own interests. The beliefs of Christianity are recorded either in the Bible or in age-old Catholic doctrine, and are immutable. The elites determine what is PC, or compatible with the Religion of Humanity, and what is not, and for their good, not ours.



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06 Oct 2013, 10:55 pm

I don't like atheism because it in itself is a religion. Very hypocritical. Someone made a good point, communism was the great evil of the 20th century, more people died under communist rule than any other. They were not atheists though, communism was the religion, albeit secular.



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07 Oct 2013, 1:13 am

Sorry fibonaccispiral777, I don't want this thread to get derailed, but I am really curious about something...

schizoid26 wrote:
I don't like atheism because it in itself is a religion. Very hypocritical.

What stance, then, would you consider to be non-religious and non-hypocritical? How would you describe or label such a stance?


Back on topic, I too find listening to Dawkins to be quite relaxing. I feel that way anytime I listen to logical thinkers speak. I'm not obsessed with the guy but I have read one of his books and watched a lot of his interviews, debates etc.



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07 Oct 2013, 1:43 am

Dawkins makes a fundemental error by assuming that any form of religious belief is akin to a kind of mental illness. He uses this assumption to make derogatory statements about cultures and groups.

There are facets of Dawkins athiesm that make sense for large organised religions where god the munificent diety seems to have bipolar disorder on the one hand hand crafting a "chosen people" then every so often punishing them in cruel ways because they did not sacrifice enough animals, or they ate pork or did not pay due homage by dancing with their hands in the air and chanting hymns. These have the hallmarks of cults (i.e. Abrahmic religions).

On the other hand traditional beliefs about spirits seem harmless and for all we know thousands of years ago primitive humans may have been visited by aliens or interdimensional beings and interpreted their teachings as messages from the gods. In this context Dawkins can't pretend to know everything.