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Author Topic: Persecution of Atheists
Everard
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"SP, Dawkins' assumption that any assumption of "God" must be absolutely omnipotent, has nothing to do with God being "Anthropocentric.""

Dawkins doesn't make the assumption that any assumption god must be absolutely omnipotent.

As discussed here Dawkins is only showing how the common christian understanding of god, not every understanding of god, rests on bad assumptions.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

If we talk about force as harm and we allow free will, how could we say that God would not be harming us if He fixed our problems for us?

You have a "munchkin" and you need to ask this question?

Seriously, Mormons get a pass on this one because they don't believe God created the Universe and don't believe He's omnipotent in the classical sense. Catholics, who're all about the omniomnism, don't.

--------

quote:

Conflating the two, we see the pinhole of the Big Bang as a carnival game where scientists try to throw theories through said miniscule aperture and hit the button that dumps God off his throne and into the water.

kenmeer, I loved this line. [Wink] It's one of the best allegories for the "God of the Gaps" that I've seen.
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PanHeraclitean
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Thank you for reiterating that Everard. I don't really want to revisit that argument either.

But Pete's comment does clarify my comment about Dawkins using 9/10 of his "God Delusion" book on the "omni-personal-God."

TomD, I know it's a bad analogy, but I'm sure you know of "tough love".

A good example just happened. My son walks in and holds my hand and starts walking away with me. He walks me to the silverware drawer and asks for a "poooom". I don't give him one, but instead ask him where the other one he took is. We go looking for it and find a couple things before the spoon. He doesn't get mad at me, but overjoyed at finding his original spoon.

I didn't just give in to what he thought he wanted, TomD. I directed him to his root desire. This is what I think our relationship with God is like. But if we get to stuck on what we want, we'll never find our root desire. Make sense?

[ March 04, 2007, 01:01 PM: Message edited by: PanHeraclitean ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"It's one of the best allegories for the "God of the Gaps" that I've seen."

AND... WHAT'S MORE... is that

EVERYONE'S A WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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kenmeer livermaile
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"When it comes to explaining the workings and explolatible directions of life on TerrA..."

wOW. noW that's A TYPO.

shOULD 'EXTRAPOLATIBLE. (CAPS oops)

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TomDavidson
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quote:
This is what I think our relationship with God is like.
I have never had God direct me to the metaphorical spoon drawer. Have you?

Also: if your son persisted in looking for the "pooom," even if you were sure he wanted his original "spoon," how long would you wait to smite him and curse all his descendants?

[ March 04, 2007, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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PanHeraclitean
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in the metaphor we are trying to direct God to the spoon drawer TomD, not the other way around. And one of the themes of not only Catholicism but many other religions (I can't help but think Matrix, "there is no spoon". This is not what I'm talking about) is that we must say "not mine but your will be done" like Jesus in the Garden.

I have a feeling you will look at this and say that this is psychologically explainable. I agree. But a guy was teaching about this sort of thing and to a certain extent and even more by his followers claimed he was God. Insert Lewis's liar, lunatic, Lord argument here.

Edited: which cursing are we talking about here? For instance if you were given a destiny to be God's chosen people and you decided you liked Baal because he seemed cooler and didn't expect what you didn't want to give, but expected orgies with virgins (which would you pick?) do you think that God actively had to curse you or your very actions were doing the job themselves. It goes back to the whole sins of your fathers idea.

[ March 04, 2007, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: PanHeraclitean ]

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MattP
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quote:
Insert Lewis's liar, lunatic, Lord argument here.
false dilemma
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TomDavidson
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quote:
do you think that God actively had to curse you or your very actions were doing the job themselves
The Bible quite specifically notes when God curses a people. Feel free to individually examine each of those citations if you'd like. I don't recall the Bible ever indicating that a people have cursed themselves.
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PanHeraclitean
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MattP, what other options do we have for the person of Jesus.

Are we headed toward a discussion about the historicity of Jesus and how the followers of Jesus got it all wrong insidiously or because they were stupid fishermen?

So an entire religion based on lies has survived with a leader tracing back 2000 years when no other power structure has been able to come anywhere near that longevity? Sounds nearly as improbable as God. [Wink]

TomD, having gone through all of Christianity within an afternoon, I'm sure your familiar with "Dei Verbum" which says that the message of the bible is transmitted through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon a human author. The author was relating the cursing that occurs in terms that a people that were developing their conception of God could understand. For instance Sirach is on a much higher intellectual plane than Kings. If we are to read purely literally the bible is full of contradictions. But not even the strictest adherent of Sola Scriptura does that.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The author was relating the cursing that occurs in terms that a people that were developing their conception of God could understand.
Sure. And if you pick and choose the parts of the Bible you want to take seriously this week, it almost makes sense. [Wink]

I submit that it would have been no harder for someone to write "and so they sank into ignominy, ruining the lives of their children for generations," and no harder for their readers to understand. In fact, if that was what happened, it seems that writing "and they were cursed by God" actually obfuscates what happened.

Ancients were primitive, but they weren't stupid. If God didn't actually do any cursing, He shouldn't've had people write a book in which He does a lot of cursing.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"SP, Dawkins' assumption that any assumption of "God" must be absolutely omnipotent, has nothing to do with God being "Anthropocentric.""

Dawkins doesn't make the assumption that any assumption god must be absolutely omnipotent.

As discussed here Dawkins is only showing how the common christian understanding of god, not every understanding of god, rests on bad assumptions.

And as I explained above, Dawkins' quasi-straw-man is not in fact the "common Christian understanding," but the representation of the creeds, which most Christians do not actually fully accept if you quiz them on the atonement.
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Pete at Home
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Is Free Will "supernatural"?

Is Free Will within the bounds of science, e.g., is it measurable?

Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?

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MattP
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quote:
MattP, what other options do we have for the person of Jesus.
I'm surprised you can't think of any. Usually, pointing out that it's a false dilemma is sufficient to get the necessary creative juices flowing.

The most obvious is that he was simply mistaken either entirely, or in part, about his nature. Perhaps he was the son of god, but suffered from the same ambiguity of communication that many religious people seem to suffer from. Perhaps he understood his nature but was not effective in communicating it. Perhaps his story was more allegorical than even those who view the bible an essentially symbolic work could imagine. There is an endless number of possibilities without even going into the debate about whether he existed or how intelligent his followers were.

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Pete at Home
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Matt, if you consider Lewis' argument a false dillemma, then how can you countenance Dawkins' dillemma that we either prove our religious belief empirically, give them up, or get labeled irrational?
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Matt, if you consider Lewis' argument a false dillemma, then how can you countenance Dawkins' dillemma that we either prove our religious belief empirically, give them up, or get labeled irrational?

If you can provide a Dawkins quote that presents this dilemma I'll happily acknowledge it or, if I feel there are interpretive errors, I'll try to explain why it is not a false dilemma.

I'm not really interested in defending Dawkins. He's just some guy, not some sort of atheist guru. More importantly, I'm not putting forth any arguments from Dawkins. I pointed out the fallacy from Lewis because it was presented in the discussion by Pan.

[ March 04, 2007, 04:31 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?
I think that's the wrong direction to approach the question. You can almost never establish whether or not a belief is "irrational" by stating the belief. You can almost always establish whether or not a belief is irrational by stating the reasons a belief is held.
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PanHeraclitean
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TomD, now I know why you ask me for reasons why I believe and why when I ask you I feel like I come up short.

So, if I say it is because of personal experience, you'll go after that personal experience and show how it is more likely to be a mental construction. How can I not use the same argument for you. That through habituation you have predisposed yourself to unbelief?

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Dawkins' quasi-straw-man is not in fact the "common Christian understanding," but the representation of the creeds, which most Christians do not actually fully accept if you quiz them on the atonement."

Perhaps, then, Xtians should relinquish those creeds. There are the foundation of the idea that there is a common Xtian understanding.

Having watched the interview video Pan provided, I think the issue with Dawkins is that he makes sense. He takes the claim that God exists as a valid scientific claim and then notes the grand history of zero evidence for that claim.

I think it just bugs some religious folks to hear someone come flat out and say they'r believing in something without substantiation.

Paul had no problem with this, but since Paul, Xtianity has (William Gibson twisted paraphrase alert) become so popular it's almost verified.

10 million Elvis fans can't be wrong and alla that.

Also, I hink Dawkins simply refers to omnipotence and omniscience as the normal parameters of divine attributes. Many folks modify these aspects in their opwn beliefs, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously.

After all, since God deigns not to clarify the record for us except through covert 'leaks' like the one Joseph Smith describes, we have considerable reign to adjust our notions of God according to our preferences. On a daily basis, even.

I like when he declares his own creed: that empirical truth is an even greater value than happiness. It shows him, too, to be a man of faith in absurd things. Truth better than happiness? If this were remotey so, people wouldn't believe in God despite the consistent lack of supporting evidence. I think he says this because he believes a) truth enhances happiness (indeed, he says as much) and b) he places the pursuit of empirical truth in the same part of our brain that others place the pursuit of God. It makes him happy. It itckles that wnderful wishbone of mystery that compels us to attempt an understanding of the Great Big Unavoidable Everything.

"God knows we're doomed from that first peek
Into the secret sacred place
Who wears such stars around his neck
But will not let us see His face."
(some 20th century poet, quoted from memory; second stanza probably slightly apocryphal)

"Is Free Will "supernatural"?

Is Free Will within the bounds of science, e.g., is it measurable?

Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?"

I doubt my existence therefore I exist. Free Will, seemingly self-directed consciousness, what have you, is the mystery that ponders the mystery. Consciousness is supernaturally transcendental, or transcendentally supernatural, or something.

I Am that I Am, and that's all I know.

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kenmeer livermaile
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Ah. Here 'tis:

Notes On A Girl

The half-moons of her calves eclipse
each other prettily as she walks,
and something photometric trips
the triggers of her heels whose clacks

acclaim each sweet occlusion. She
is vain, is vain. So much the worse
for us: Her swansthroat under-knee,
her thigh, torso -- an 'ipse-verse' --

are hidden, but are all her thought,
as Carmelites, they say, in prayers
hold the far earth's meridians taut.
Her thought is vain, but so is theirs.

God knows we're doomed from that first peek
that makes us hunt the secret place,
Who wears such stars around His neck
and will not let us see His face.

Peter Kane Dufault

A perfect poem per my sensibilities.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Matt, if you consider Lewis' argument a false dillemma, then how can you countenance Dawkins' dillemma that we either prove our religious belief empirically, give them up, or get labeled irrational?

If you can provide a Dawkins quote that presents this dilemma I'll happily acknowledge it or, if I feel there are interpretive errors, I'll try to explain why it is not a false dilemma.

I'm not really interested in defending Dawkins. He's just some guy, not some sort of atheist guru.

I'm glad that's how you see him. Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian.

quote:
More importantly, I'm not putting forth any arguments from Dawkins.
You've surprised me a few times by responding to some of my complaints against Dawkins as if they were attacks on you, otherwise I'd not have addressed you. Glad I misunderstood, because you don't seem a very likely Dawkins proxy.
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kenmeer livermaile
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I find the best evidence for the irrationality of some religious believers is found in the insistent arguments by some religious believers that 'they are so rational.
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kenmeer livermaile
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"I'm glad that's how you see him. Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian."

Poor Dawkins. Deified by his critics.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Is someone who believes in Free Will "irrational"?
I think that's the wrong direction to approach the question. You can almost never establish whether or not a belief is "irrational" by stating the belief. You can almost always establish whether or not a belief is irrational by stating the reasons a belief is held.
What if you're completely clueless as to why the belief is held, as Dawkins seems to be with religion? Does it suffice to just speculate and pull the other person's motives out of your ass, like Dawkins does with religion? Make up the statistic that 99.99% of people raised by people with free will believe in free will, ergo their belief in free will is instilled by social programming? [Big Grin]
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
"I'm glad that's how you see him. Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian."

Poor Dawkins. Deified by his critics.

Origen =/=Origin. Origen is an historical person, Kenmeer. The first theologian of proto-orthodox Christianity, although his specific conclusions about the preexistence and other startlingly LDS-like opinions were rejected as heretical by the Niceans.

[ March 04, 2007, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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I know who Origen is. I should, however, have said sanctified not deified.

[ March 04, 2007, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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PanHeraclitean
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Origen is a good example of how orthodox christianity by no means swallowed what the Greek philosophers believed. This is why whenever I hear someone say "orthodox Christianity" was defiled by the Greeks I just have to laugh. Pre-existence is on of the most Greek philosophy/theology I can think of yet the Christians who fall for Greek philosophy/theology reject this one out right. [Wink]
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kenmeer livermaile
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"What if you're completely clueless as to why the belief is held, as Dawkins seems to be with religion?"

The Dawkins I know is not at all clueless as to why folks hold religious beliefs.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by PanHeraclitean:
Origen is a good example of how orthodox christianity by no means swallowed what the Greek philosophers believed. This is why whenever I hear someone say "orthodox Christianity" was defiled by the Greeks I just have to laugh. Pre-existence is on of the most Greek philosophy/theology I can think of yet the Christians who fall for Greek philosophy/theology reject this one out right. [Wink]

Origen's explanation of the relationship between God and Jesus is right out of John Chapter One. Influence by Greek Philosophy can run both ways, Pan. In the eternal scheme, rejecting scripture and revelation in order to reject Greek Philosophy, is no different than rejecting scripture and revelation in order to follow Greek Philosophy.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
"What if you're completely clueless as to why the belief is held, as Dawkins seems to be with religion?"

The Dawkins I know is not at all clueless as to why folks hold religious beliefs.

[LOL] OK, now that we've established that Kenmeer's personal Dawkins is omniscient, where do we go from there?
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kenmeer livermaile
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I'm looking forward to your explanation of why omniscience applies here.
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MattP
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quote:
You've surprised me a few times by responding to some of my complaints against Dawkins as if they were attacks on you, otherwise I'd not have addressed you. Glad I misunderstood, because you don't seem a very likely Dawkins proxy.
I only recall correcting misrepresentations of arguments which I was familiar with. I'd be surprised if I actually got angry at someone for dissin' Dawkins.

I'm writing this in church right now. If I don't reply again, suspect a smiting.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
I know who Origen is. I should, however, have said sanctified not deified.

Not knowing your mind, I can only go by what you say, Kenmeer.

As for "sanctified," I'm unaware of anyone who calls Origen a saint. Although he was the first real theologian of the proto-Catholic church, he was declared an heretic in 553 AD, Origen's name was struck from the church rolls and his books were burnt and their contents misrepresented. (For example, later theologians falsely claimed that Origen had taught reincarnation, but more recent historians have since shown that he rejected that doctrine.)

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
I find the best evidence for the irrationality of some religious believers is found in the insistent arguments by some religious believers that 'they are so rational.

You should have been a cop, KM. "You must be guilty since you say you didn't do it" is logic that only a cop could love.
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kenmeer livermaile
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Martin Luther had his bad days too, but he has his fans.

Why the Catholics preferred eternal damnation over eventual purification is one of them things that makes Catholics so interesting.

Personally, anyone who promotes chiliasm is saintly by me. I've had chili *that* good once or twice and long to do so again.

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kenmeer livermaile
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" a) I find the best evidence for the irrationality of some religious believers is found in the insistent arguments by some religious believers that 'they are so rational.

b) You should have been a cop, KM. "You must be guilty since you say you didn't do it" is logic that only a cop could love."

More like "If you're gonna make up a buncha bull**** at least make it sound convincing."

[ March 04, 2007, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
Pete wrote:
Dawkins' only argues against an absolutely omnipotent God, and only defeats the God of the Creeds, which is a product of theology, not of religion. The effect is akin to a straw man, since most Christians beleive in the God described in the New Testament, not the God described in the creeds.

It's not Dawkins' fault that most Christians subscribe to an official creed that they don't completely believe in. But he really should have put a little more thought into his work. Better to understand a world-view before setting out to debunk it.

Pete, from your depiction of Dawkin's beliefs I must conclude that you have no more than a passing familiarity with them. Dawkin's arguments are not based on any particular belief system.

quote:

The God of the Old Testement is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Those of us schooled from infancy in his ways can become desensitized to their horror.
...
It is unfair to attack such an easy target. The God Hypothesis should not stand or fall with its most unlovely instantiation, Yahweh, nor his insipidly opposite Christian face, 'Gentle Jesus meek and mild'.
...
I am not attacking the particular qualities of Yahweh, or Jesus, or Allah, or any other specific god such as Baal, Zeus, or Wotan. Instead I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it. God, in the sense defined, is a delusion; and, as later chapters will show, a pernicious delusion.

(The God Delusion, pp. 31) [emphasis mine]

He certainly has strong words to say about the Judeo-Christian God, but his statements are directly referential to Christian scripture.

quote:
PanHeraclitean wrote:
the man clearly has it out for any sense of a diety. Not only that but that anyone who believes in a God is ultimately lying to themselves and that rational people just don't do that.

So what if he does? Your statement takes as given that this is a bad thing. He believes that belief in a personal God is a delusion, and he wrote an entire book that makes a compelling argument for this position.

quote:
Such a thing would not be the contemporary God which he spends 9/10 of the booking refuting.
If you are referring to The God Delusion, wrong. By my count he spends only 45 pages discussing specific belief systems in a total of 374 pages, or about 13%.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Instead I shall define the God Hypothesis more defensibly: there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.
And I'm saying that's a false dichotomy.

For one thing, the Bible, if Dawkins had bothered to read it, says specifically that God made "everything that was made." That qualification strongly suggests that parts and/or aspects of the universe were not "made" i.e. produced by intelligent design

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Everard
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Its not a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy says "It is X or Y only." Dawkins lays out the position taken by X number of christians (I would argue most. Certainly most sects. If you think its only many christians, and most sects, fine), and indeed most monotheists, which is that God made the universe and everything in it. He then, as he says presents "an alternative view." Certainly there are other views. "an" used the way Adam quotes Dawkins as having used it means "one of several." Dawkins doesn't concern himself with those in his book... which does not mean they are not other alternatives. It simply means he is not addressing them.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
How can I not use the same argument for you. That through habituation you have predisposed yourself to unbelief?
Through habituation I have also predisposed myself to, say, reading English. I could keep an open mind and look at every letter as a new surprise, fraught with hidden and revolutionary meanings, but one of the things about "learning" is that you tend to eventually discard the chaff.

-------

quote:
Others seem to treat him, well, as the Origen of Atheism, as the first atheist theologian.
The only people I know who do that are Christians, actually. I don't know any atheists who do. I do know a few people whose lives were changed forever by encountering the meme meme, though.

[ March 04, 2007, 07:00 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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