Outline and review of arguments and controversies generated by Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion:

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Right from the publication of his first major work “The Selfish Gene Theory”, Richard Dawkins is never free of controversy.  While Dawkins is impeccable as a scholar and an academic, most of his detractors are from the religious and conservative sections of the population.  Over the years, Dawkins’ works on evolutionary biology have drawn equally vociferous applause and protest.  The last in the sequence of his seminal works is “The God Delusion”.  In this book, Dawkins strings together powerful arguments in support of a god-free or atheistic way of life.  The rest of the essay will delve into the different faces of this scholarly piece of literature in an attempt to gain insights into the arguments and controversies raised by it.

Dawkins writes with such passion that he declares that to be an atheist is a “brave and splendid aspiration”.  He argues that belief in a religious faith is not only a folly but a sinful one.  When explaining to his readers where he stands in the atheist/theist spectrum, Dawkins states “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”  In other words, Dawkins’ atheism borders on agnosticism.  An informed reader will find parallels between Dawkins and Bertrand Russell, the latter being an avowed agnostic.  Similar to the yesteryear intellectual, Dawkins reasons that all suppositions for the existence of God need to be discredited.  Once this is done, arguments supporting the opposing belief (that God does not exist) can be much easier to construct.  Following this logical step, the transcendent qualifiers of religious beginnings need to be questioned.  Finally, Dawkins proposes that the highest meaning and purpose to a human life could be achieved without involving supernatural conceptions.  Further, religion has been the root of much violence and conflict in the history of mankind than any other institution (Baltimore, 2007).

However, not all of Dawkins’ arguments are acceptable to all sections of his audience.  For example, two arguments in support of traditional views on existence of God are: 1.the “ontological argument”, which says that God exists as a perfect entity by default; 2.and the “cosmological argument” which states that God is the ultimate cause of this universe.  Dawkins’ counter arguments to both these points of view are relatively weak in what is otherwise an excellently constructed set of arguments in the book.  So is his engagement in opposition to the “design argument”.  Similarly, Dawkins makes the mistake of presuming that people come to believe in religious faiths based on rationality and logical thinking.  So, while Dawkins’ logic is brilliant and impregnable, the subject being dealt with is not strictly confined to the scientific realm (Matthies, 2006).

Written By: M
continue to source article at jottedlines.com

32 COMMENTS

  1. It’s the staggering arrogance of claims to know what a cosmic brain wants that I find wholly repulsive about theistic exploiters everywhere. They make emotional claims to have grown to love something that refuses scrutiny and refuses any analysis whatsoever in relation to ANY INDIVIDUAL who is genuine and sincere about desiring to understand whether such a god brain is even possible , let alone probable.

    Dawkins position is thus: 

    1) Take no rubbish (ideas based upon a feeling or some ancient claim) and enable it to have authority over your self or all humanity; 

    2) Take no guesstimates from others, or history as to what everyone ought, mindlessly, to grant everlasting respect to; 

    3) Question everything and expect to be respected for so doing because through this, everyone might be granted an inheritance which values them as equals, at least in respects of how they think and can be encouraged to think!

    We need the above to render our species deserved protection – absent the oppressive, repressive demands and insistences that we each; think constantly about, and feel constantly in behalf of; some GOD which in truth is other HUMAN BRAIN/S (POSING AS COSMIC REPRESENTATIVES) that aided and abetted the enslavement of countless lives and minds through all the myths of history , right up to and including those present in our midst. This effluent, of past mindedness, has gone on too long already and does us all, collectively, a great injustice whilst demanding we be thankful for the pain of this, just so the few can bask in its placebo emotions and delusory imaginings. Too long by far! The cost to us all , of the delusions of the few – and many of those never knowing their potential betterment due the alternative – is too great, too cruel and too arrogant by far to be tolerated by us, a collective, THE HUMAN RACE! 

    This is hardly a controversy, more an absolute kindness, to enable the individual to think and  know, FOR THEMSELVES, about the life they are in absent all the guilt offerings and fears of being alive that the poisons and shenanigans of religious propaganda inflict due their pseudoscience of holy and evil upon the mind per se. 

    Religion – YOU TWATS! My head still feels the pains of your labia; from minora to majora!

    If religion were; DEAD, DEAD, DEAD, I consider humanity would applaud it relentlessly!

  2. Well.  Where to start.  The author needs an editor, for a start. Bad grammar all over de place.  Second, he confuses so many things it is a wonder the straw didn’t catch fire.  Recommendation:  Maybe you shouldn’t bother reading it.

  3. To summarise and with respect to the discerning thinker: 

    1) Religion imposes permanent consciousness sufferings ipso facto! By definition, religion causes the human mind to endure unnecessary sufferings. It is a vehicle for self torture that will build till breaking points ensue. This is why I detest it so much!2) To add to this, it then offers carrots of remedy to all these ills as if it is “The great kindness.”, rather than the poison it so obviously is.3) The final evil lies in how it has conspired to trick human minds and feelings into having no idea about how to combat all this misinformation and emotion it has fed them, to an extent they recycle it due its labotomy effectiveness – fucking up how humans think!

    If religion/superstition were none existent, humanity could  far more easily bypass the psychological pain and evil this demands of their minds and emotions.

  4. To me it is quite straight forward, It’s all about the truth!
    Prof Dawkins argues for a scientific understanding of human condition. And that is a cause worth more than anything else. If humanity has to survive another millenia, it will be only through common principles dervied through science. Not through tribal allegiances and piety to bronze age mythologies.

  5. This is pretty confused writing. Just a couple of examples to demonstrate: it’s “The Selfish Gene” (no “theory” in the title); TGD is not his latest book, since The Greatest Show On Earth and The Magic Of Reality came later. I think saying that “
    He argues that belief in a religious faith is not only a folly but a sinful one.” is just a bit weird, since there’s a specific bit where Dawkins points out how stupid it is that obsessed religious people are with sin.

    By the end of the 3rd paragraph I’d realised the rest was probably rubbish but I finished it anyway :-(

  6. “For example, two arguments in support of traditional views on existence
    of God are: 1.the “ontological argument”, which says that God exists as a
    perfect entity by default; 2.and the “cosmological argument” which
    states that God is the ultimate cause of this universe.  Dawkins’
    counter arguments to both these points of view are relatively weak in
    what is otherwise an excellently constructed set of arguments in the
    book.”

    It would be nice to know why Dawkins’ counter arguments qualify as weak (they are not).

  7. “A sentiment expressed by many reviewers is the lack of reverence Dawkins shows to the religious philosophers in general and Judeo-Christian luminaries in particular.”

    That’s a good one, eh?

  8. ,blockquote>  However, not all of Dawkins’ arguments are acceptable to all sections of
    his audience.

    Facts are facts!  Who cares what an audience thinks?

     

    For example, two arguments in support of traditional
    views on existence of God are: 1.the “ontological argument”, which says
    that God exists as a perfect entity by default; 2.and the “cosmological
    argument” which states that God is the ultimate cause of this universe. 
    Dawkins’ counter arguments to both these points of view are relatively
    weak in what is otherwise an excellently constructed set of arguments in
    the book.

    Assertion of weakness – but no explanation!  Zilch explanation is as weak as it comes!

    God exists as a perfect entity by default;

    This is baseless semantic drivel!  No argument is won by asserted default, and I have yet to see a credible theist definition of “perfection”, or any theist evidence to explain the origins of the universe.

    Nevertheless, this is not understood by the large number of critics who
    accuse him of hurting the sentiments of millions of people through the
    accusations that he makes of their religious faith

    They clearly need to grow up, face facts, and actually read the books they proclaim as moral guidance!  Richard’s descriptions are accurate.  If the illiterate deluded don’t like them – go learn to read and comprehend what is written.  Accuracy is not determined by the likes of illiterates!

  9. The author should know that an opinion or assertion does not get invalidated by how offensive it’s perceived to be.

    If the author has any sense of fairness, then at the very least, he should also discredit the Catholic church for its institutional protection of child molesters and Islam for its killings of female rape victims. I he doesn’t find these offensive, then Glob help us all.

  10.  
    Further, Dawkins puts forth what could be called the central argument of this polemical work.  Dawkins challenges the theologians with this question:

    The implication being if only we challenge the theologians we will find some gaping holes, when in reality, theology is the gaping hole itself. 

  11. 1.the “ontological argument”, which says that God exists as a perfect entity by default;

    Perfect : being entirely without fault or defect

    Hmmm, let’s see……

    1Genesis 1:7 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 

    ….but….

    Genesis 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. 

    So God lied? I thought it was wrong to lie. How could a perfect God without fault or defect be wrong?

  12. Scarcely anything in this article worth mention. Different day, same shit.  

    When explaining to his readers where he stands in the atheist/theist spectrum, Dawkins states “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.” In other words, Dawkins’ atheism borders on agnosticism.

    This is such a moronic statement. Atheism and theism both border on agnosticism, by definition; not just “Dawkins’ atheism”. So in other words, the authors’ own ignorance borders on unadulterated stupidity. 

    I realize of course that religious people revel in redundancy but good grief. Agnostic is “I don’t know whether or not god exist to any discernible degree. Atheism is “I don’t know for certain but I’m inclined to not believe in the existence of a god. Theism is the alternative to Atheism. Many times I’ve watched and listened as Richard, Hitch, and others have had to waste their time and ours by re-summarizing that distinction. Are the theist really so thick headed or is this, in most cases, a diversionary tactic?

  13. ” the large number of critics who accuse him of hurting the sentiments of millions of people through the accusations that he makes of their religious faith “

    Isn’t it strange how these insidious organisations……responsible for the burning of witches and the shooting dead of victims of rape…..are so thin skinned.

  14. Is this machine translation, or written by someone who’s first language is not English? The sentence opening: “Similar to the yesteryear intellectual… ” jumped up and socked me in the eye. On what planet is this normal usage?

  15. “He pinpoints to the long-running Israel-Palestinian conflict, the India-Pakistan rivalry, and the causes of terror strikes on September the 11th, 2001.  But the roots for all these international conflicts lay in cultural, ethnic and socio-economic foundations, and not strictly a religious one.”

    I should have thought that it was the Torah versus the Koran, and their secondary territorial squabbles over which religion was entitled to take over Palestine that was the main cause of conflict.
    Surely the religious difference between Islam and Hinduism was the primary cause in India?
    Other points.1.
     We are all “agnostic”, because nobody knows everything about everything; we don’t even know what “everything” is. That does not mean we cannot also be staunch atheists over the God question.
    2. Maybe there is some weakness in the argument that Stalin etc did not persecute on account of being atheist.  On the other hand, Stalin etc and also the French Revolution terror can be viewed as
    short-lived historical aberrations; ie a few decades or less, – a flash in the pan compared with systematic repression by the Catholic Church over 2000 years. Regrettable incidents that atheists should not have subscribed to.
    3. These atheistic regimes were a violent revolt against centuries of corrupt monarchical regimes and their Church accomplices, who were mainly interested in their own power-base, 
    4. It is no good to compare body counts between atheist regime atrocities and those of the Abrahamic religions. Christianity in particular, being the “religion of love”, should not have killed or persecuted anyone ever,–not one. It is no excuse for them to claim that the Crusades etc were an expression of the general brutality of the times, and that the Church was only doing what everyone else did.  The Church of God is supposed to lead, not follow, and to produce civilised behaviour and lead by example. Building Cathedrals and endless religious art is no substitute for enlightened behaviour  by Gods’s representative on Earth.

  16. About Stalin and “atheist warfare”: while Stalin himself, expelled from an Orthodox seminary in his youth, was probably just a rather ignorant, poorly educated, superstitious man, all of his (and his government’s) political actions were caused by one reason only: keeping the power to themselves. For this reason, in the beginning, the bolsheviks persecuted Russian Orthodox church just the same as they persecuted the old Russian nobility, merchants, rich peasants: it was the struggle for power, the struggle against whole classes of society which would not support Bolshevism (and it started under Lenin, before Stalin himself came to power). The church and the priests were just one of the enemy classes, and atheism was but a slogan to Bolsheviks – they couldn’t care less about God or God’s absence.
    In the same way, when World War II began and USSR was losing miserably in the first years, Stalin called back the priests and reintroduced much of the Church’s autonomy and some of its power and privileges. He needed it to gain the popularity among people who were still largely religious (and who knows, perhaps, he also did it because he himself still regained some religious fear). In any case, he just used the Church because he needed it, same as previously he fought the Church because he needed it away.
    If there ever was any idea that motivated the Bolsheviks, it was the idea of Communism, not atheism. Communism was their faith, and there is plenty of reason to compare it with “classical” religions. As such, this new religion needed space and power, and for that it had to remove the old religions which were in its way.
    Look at it as you like, a struggle for power between people or between ideas, it was Communists and Communism, not atheists and atheism that fought the church in Russia.

  17. I disagree with your assertion that “all agnostics are also atheists”. 

    There are many agnostics who are not atheists.  Some of them view the God hypothesis as a 50/50 proposition, or treat any attempt at assigning odds as vulgar or hopelessly imprecise and unknowable. 

    Some agnostics are even inclined to think that some form of higher power is more likely than not;  to them, the God hypothesis is appealing and somewhat convincing, but view the hypothesis as either unproven or unprovable. 

    Only some agnostics are like myself (and, I would say, like Richard)–functional atheists in that the God hypothesis is viewed as so improbable that their agnosticism is a mere semantic technicality.  We round ourselves up to atheist since for all practical purposes we are.

    I also dislike the smugness of “some atheists…do know what they believe.”  Having the humility to differentiate what I believe from what is absolutely proven does not mean I do not “know what I believe.”  I believe there is no god or higher power.  That I do not then extend that belief to an absolute assertion of fact is not the flaw that you seem to imply.

  18.  Agnostic atheism is a the only reasonable position as far as I can tell, but, as you quite rightly point out, this doesn’t mean that the confused don’t try to defend unreasonable positions.

  19. FA:

    There are many agnostics who are not atheists.  Some of them view the God hypothesis as a 50/50 proposition, or treat any attempt at assigning odds as vulgar or hopelessly imprecise and unknowable.

    There are many agnostics who don’t want to admit that they are also atheists. We have had this argument many times over the years, here, so I will leave it to others to rehash as desired, but briefly, it is about the existence of belief, not entities. If you lack a belief in a given deity or pantheon of deities, you are an atheist re that one or those. If you put the odds of the existence of some deity at 50/50 you are still an atheist if you don’t believe (even recognizing that there is a 50/50 chance of being wrong) in that deity.

    Of course, there is often the deist/theist complication, but given that both groups have faith in supernatural beings, I lump them together. You were born an atheist, and may have acquired faith at some point, and lost it at another, but it still boils down to you either believe or you don’t. In my book, an honest agnostic is someone who really does not know if he or she has faith, and such not being a positive assertion of faith, is still lacking, and therefore still an atheist.

    Only some agnostics are like myself (and, I would say, like Richard)–functional atheists in that the God hypothesis is viewed as so improbable that their agnosticism is a mere semantic technicality.  We round ourselves up to atheist since for all practical purposes we are.

    I think Richard uses “agnostic” because he can’t rely on the public to know the difference between an assertion of existence and an assertion of the belief thereof. He can speak for himself, but if that is the case, I would grant that he is correct. We have had long discussions about how the public does not understand the term “atheist” and what baggage it has (remember the Sam Harris presentation that set so many people’s hair on fire?). I tell strangers I meet that I am “not a person of faith” to keep it straight until I can determine what the term “atheist” would mean to them.

    However, some assertions of non-existence are possible in the cases where attributes are assigned to a given deity that contradict each other, or known facts. For example the Zeus that was believed to live on Olympus and throw lightning bolts contradicts demonstrable facts, so in that case a reasonable assertion of non-existence can be made. Now, if someone comes along and tells me that another attribute of Zeus is that He was just visiting and has now left the solar system after doing an environmental cleanup so we can’t find any evidence, then I can’t make a positive assertion of non-existence, but still am an atheist re that Zeus because I still have no faith in Him. As it stands, I have been able to construct non-existence chains of reason for every deity anyone has ever described that has attributes that are testable. Of course, that still leaves Russell’s Teapot orbiting along.

    I also dislike the smugness of “some atheists…do know what they believe.”  Having the humility to differentiate what I believe from what is absolutely proven does not mean I do not “know what I believe.”  I believe there is no god or higher power.  That I do not then extend that belief to an absolute assertion of fact is not the flaw that you seem to imply.

    Yes, I was needling those who call themselves “agnostics” a bit, but look, made you think! ;-) If you do think it through, I hope you will see the difference. If you want to keep avoiding the usual problems explaining that your lack of belief is not an assertion of absolute knowledge of non-existence of any deity or deities, go ahead, we understand.

  20. Gnostics believe in revelation. I do not. Therefore I am a-gnostic.

    Theists believe in God. I do not. Therefore I am a-theist.

    I also think “God” is a stupid and harmful idea. Therefore I am anti-theist.

  21. ” Later in the book, he asks, “Why would anyone go to war for the sake of an absence of religious beliefs (atheism)?”  But in the context of modern history many a war, revolt and revolution were started independent of religious grounds.  The French Revolution and the Chinese invasion of Tibet serve as cases that expose Dawkins’ factual error.”
    There is no factual error. Dawkins’ point still stands.
    The fact that wars have been started for political and revolutionary ideals as well as for religious reasons, in no way negates the point that no-one would go to war for the sake of atheism (alone). Perhaps because atheism is not a means to attain power, but religion is.

    If Stalin abolished the orthodox priesthood, it was surely to try and assume for Bolshevism, the authority which the church had previously arrogated to themselves. Atheism was not the point. 

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