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The Dawkins Delusion
Posted: 13 January 2007 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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There is a book soon to come out that some of you might be interested in.  It's called The Dawkins Delusion – a response to Richard Dawkins and it will hit stores in February of 2007.  It was written by Alister McGrath in response to Dawkins book, The God Delusion.  McGrath has been highly critical of Richard Dawkins, calling him "embarrassingly ignorant of Christian theology". He has wanted to have a public discussion with Dawkins but Dawkins has declined.

Alister E. McGrath is a biochemist and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is currently Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford.  I don't know all that much about him but after hearing some of his lectures I think he is an interesting guy.  Many of you will likely disagree with him before even listening to what he has to say.  If that is you then don't bother reading the book.  But many of you are not afraid to listen to a differing worldview.  And for those who enjoyed Dawkins' book you owe it to yourself to hear what McGrath has to say. 

To listen to a recent lecture of his click on the following link:

 

I hope to finish Dawkins book and follow it up with McGrath's.  It will be interesting to hear what these guys have to say.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Well, lets look at his arguments.

1. He spends quite a bit of time discussing how believing in god is not like believing in santa clause.  His argument is fallacious.  NO adult believes in santa clause and if one did they would be considered mentally ill.  However, many people push the belief that god is real throughout their life.  He then said that it was an unfair analogy (myth v myth sounds like a fair analogy to me).

2. He says atheism is a belief system where it is actually a denial of many beliefs system.

3.  ‘does wishing something so make it not so has no bearing on whether it is real or not.’  This is very true, however, he totally avoids whether or not there is any proof of god.

4. Concentrates on the meme theory by comparing it with a physical virus.  He asks whether all ideas are virus’ of the mind.  Dawkins actually touched on this in the book and said that many ideas are indeed virus’ (memes) including oral ideas such as jokes and stories that evolve over time.

5. He discusses other books such as collin’s (whose religion is based on faith) whose ideas are discussed in the god delusion.  However, he provides no evidence as to why their views trump dawkins’. 

6. How do you interpret nature in a christian way?  Either the bible is right and the world was created 6000 years ago or it is wrong and the earth was created over 4 billion years ago.  Otherwise you have to pick and choose what you want to believe.

7. He denies that ‘real scientists are atheists’ but never touches on those studies that reveal that most scientists are atheists.

8. He basically calls dawkins an antisemite, which is totally false.  I’ve read the book and this is not true.  I think he must be talking about a study that utilized israeli children.

9. He says that jesus is all about non violence. Thessalonians 1: In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

10.  In discussing history, he touches on the french revolution but never speaks about how it occurred, in large part, because of injustice by the church.

11. He avoids almost all of the evidence that Dawkins puts forward to raise doubt about the existence of god, such as the first cause.  He does not talk about the variety of religious belief or many other numerous subjects talked about in the book.  He picks out several subjects that do not actually deal with whether or not god exists but how dawkins speaks about religion.  In other words, he misdirects the audience by utilizing an ad hominem attack on Dawkins.  There are so many fallacious arguments in his speech, I could not keep up with them all.  I may read his book, but if all of his reasoning is this circular, whats the point.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Sorry, I stopped after your first rebuttal of his argument because I think your argument defeated itself.  Are you familiar with the fallacy of Argument from Analogy?  I have not read Dawkins book but if that was in fact an analogy he made then McGrath is correct in his critique of the analogy.  It sounds like Dawkins was trying to make the point that belief in God is childish just like belief in Santa Clause, only we don’t grow out of the former while no one accepts the latter as rational.  If that is the analogy then McGrath is right to point out its fallacies since the two examples are not analogous.

You say, “NO adult believes in santa clause.”  That is the very point McGrath is trying to make!  That is why the analogy falls short; because while no adult believes in Santa Clause, there are millions of adults that, which they don’t believe in God as children, do come to believe in God later in life.  That paradigm is the exact opposite of the Santa Clause example which is why they are not analogous.  Dawkins wants to call all of these people ill as though they are infected with some kind of virus.  What is the scientific proof for this?  Its nonextant.  To say they are ill is merely an assumption based on worldview preference and dogmatic intellectualism, not scientific evidence.  At any rate, the point was that the analogy is severly flawed and that much is obvious (by your own admission). 

As for the rest of what you said, I’m sure the criticism will be shared by many who agree with your worldview.  Psychology might say that you disagree (and I agree) not because of the actual arguments but because of the presuppositions we bring to the conversation.  Funny how that works.  But its a tough thing, to separate your presuppositions and objectively listen to something.  That is one of the critiques McGrath has of Dawkins whom he feels to be incredibly, even embarassingly non-objective and misrepresentative.  Whether he is right about that I don’t know.  I don’t know much about either one of these guys but I hope to read both of them shortly.

Hopefully you will do more than listen to his lecture which is but an introduction to his book.  You know, like one of those book tours designed to get people interested.

[ Edited: 13 January 2007 05:35 PM by ]
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Posted: 13 January 2007 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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You know… this guy has it all right. We should all be Muslim. When I can I expect you to sign up to be a Muslim?

You are a smart guy, Sean.  Why don’t you try out Islam and tell me what you think first.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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First thing I notice is that everything he says is based on the notion that atheism is a religion. Every point made up until 20 minutes (so far) has relied on this fact. His common concluding analysis suggests that if Christianity is wrong, then by the same principles, atheism is wrong as well. He has refuted atheism for mischaracterizing it in the first 5 minutes. He said he would come back to the reasons why he characterizes atheism as a religion, but until I hear that argument, I can’t possibly agree with anything he’s said thus far. And this is not because his reason’s are lacking or his arguments aren’t compelling, but they simply rest on the notion atheism is invalid by its own merits of criticizing Christianity. This is obviously very easy to do once you turn something into a belief system like Christianity. That is at least what I got out of it; He’s proved Christianity true by saying if Dawkins’ assertions against God were true then, they would be falsify themselves.

It’s very clever and it sounds like it makes sense if you want to believe it. However, I think most atheists would listen to this guy and know there was something fallacious in his reasoning, even though they might not be able to put it into words. This is a good talk for people who already agree with the speaker’s ideas. But so far, for me, it has done nothing but make me long for the same critical thinking abilities when I listen to the propaganda that I believe in.

So far, 20 minutes into the talk, he hasn’t been enlightening. We’ll see if he gets better and convinces me how atheism is a belief system that can easily be dismantled so that it’s claims—apparently consisting of just the one—are essentially refuted.

(He also made a terrible criticism of Dawkins’ metaphor (I’m assuming) of religion being like a “virus of the mind.” The speaker goes on to say that he can show you pictures of real viruses, but there’s no picture evidence to suggest that religion is a “virus of the mind.” I thought that was very childish and insulting. If he really wanted to make a valid argument, he should have criticized Dawkins for not being able to produce pictures of the mind.)

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Posted: 13 January 2007 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Snapshot, I hope you paused the lecture when writing that post.

LOL

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Posted: 13 January 2007 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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BTW, I hope you guys that are listening take the time to listen to the Q&A after his speech.  There are a couple of atheists that ask questions I found interesting.  McGrath also talks some about science and faith and how they are related.  Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed listening to a different opinion.  Agree or disagree, it is always good to hear both sides.  That’s why I appreciate atheism and skepticism so much.  At the very least they challenge the way theists think and force them to ask important questions about their worldview.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“JGrice02”]BTW, I hope you guys that are listening take the time to listen to the Q&A after his speech.  There are a couple of atheists that ask questions I found interesting.  McGrath also talks some about science and faith and how they are related.  Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed listening to a different opinion.  Agree or disagree, it is always good to hear both sides.  That’s why I appreciate atheism and skepticism so much.  At the very least they challenge the way theists think and force them to ask important questions about their worldview.

At least you’re a pluralist.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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At least you’re a pluralist.

Pluralistic in the sense that I think dialogue between varying worldviews is important and beneficial, yes.  Pluralistic in the sense that Christianity is not the sole and exclusive truth, no.  There is no doubt a sense in which I do not fully understand Christianity and the implications of holding to that worldview.  As such I have a great deal to learn by the critical analysis of varying positions.  Reflecting on this analysis allows me to better understand my own worldview.  For that reason I am extremely thankful and open to discussion with other worldviews.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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You know… this guy has it all right. We should all be Muslim. When I can I expect you to sign up to be a Muslim?

When the war in Iraq is all but lost.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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You get the idea.


In my opinion, the only person who makes me feel like believing in God is logical due to its incomprehensibility is Denys Turner. I feel like McGrath relies on strawmen. He’ll convince everyone who already agrees with him but he won’t convert anyone. He makes logical, Christian sense. It’s probably a lot like what happens when people agree with everything Sam Harris says. He’s so smart and has so much to say that we thoughtfully agree with that that we sometimes let him doing our thinking for us.

Denys Turner was on the Atheism Tapes and I liked his mode of thought. I think I might believe in God if I believed it like that guy did. Thus, going to show that I think that this is an intellectual matter, and people shouldn’t just start believing in God without good reasons. And people shouldn’t be backing up evolution except the people who are educated it.

That’s what we need. More educated people expressing their ideas about how the world should be run.

We also need a lot more educated atheists if we want them to take over the culture someday. God-willing. *fingers crossed*

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Posted: 13 January 2007 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I really like the Star Trek story at the end by the host.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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That’s what we need. More educated people expressing their ideas about how the world should be run.

And if they’re wrong?

Are you just going to put all your money in one bank and assume it will never go bankrupt?

There are too many variables to cross your fingers and make a conclusion today.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Denys Turner was on the Atheism Tapes and I liked his mode of thought. I think I might believe in God if I believed it like that guy did.

Just got done listening to Turner’s interview.  Fascinating guy; truly fascinating.  I need to read more about him when I have time.  Thanks for the reference.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 07:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Dawkins analogy that belief in God is the same as belief in Santa is absolutely correct.

People of the chronological age that defines them as legally adult might believe in God.
But any belief in invisible friends is childish.

McGrath criticises Dawkins for not being an expert theologian. So what?

I can argue that Superman doesn’t exist without having to read every Superman comic.

The fact is that theology is 100% IRRELEVANT to discussions of God.

All theology is false because it is self-referential. A theologist is just a member of the god fan club. He is identical to a member of the Micheal Jackson fan club…..just more obnoxious.
Debating salvation is identical to debating the hidden meaning in the lyrics to “Thriller”.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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I’m impressed that you listened, Joad.  Not at all surprised with your response but impressed that you listened.  Thanks.

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