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"What is the difference between a realist and a dreamer? The realist thinks that someday a UFO will come down and hover over the UN building, and that the aliens will come out of the UFO and offer to share their technology and solve all our world's problems.

The dreamer thinks maybe we can get our act together and do it ourselves."

Russian joke [It's a joke?] cited in William K. Hartmann, A Traveler's Guide to Mars.

15 October 2006

Dawkins is wrong about God

Please see my current blog (at molvray.com/acid-test) for this post. It's filed under the same name and date in the Archives.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Grow Up said...

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but your comments on Dawkins's pronouncements are just plain irrational.

"Using religion and God as an excuse to kill people is evil" is a thing Dawkins has said over and over again.

"But to say that religion is at fault because people make a pig's breakfast of it is like saying that love is evil because people can use it to hurt each other."

Unfortunately that's not what I understand Dawkins is saying. I have a very limited brain, but I thought he was saying that religion is at fault because it's based on nothing but superstition.

"The other thing is, where does he get off, making sweeping statements about God? He's just finished saying he doesn't think God exists. If God doesn't exist for him, he couldn't know anything about it."

You've got your epistemological knickers in a twist, here! How can anybody who can read, hear or see not know about god? Radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and books drone on endlessly about it, from a Christian, Jewish and Muslim point of view by turns. And just for a b it of variety, there's occasionally a Buddhist, Hindu, Jain or Sikh point of view, giving different brands of superstition. But all the droning does not prove a god exists, only that a whole lot of people believe it does—and tell us all so, endlessly.

"I would have thought he was smart enough to see the paradox."

There isn't a paradox. Dawkins isn't criticising a god, any more than Count Rumford criticised caloric. It's simply that there's no evidence for a god, and the mistaken belief that there is one is very harmful to all involved.

"Maybe he should stick to genetics, something he does have a clue about."

I'm so glad he hasn't! He has articulated a lot of things that a great many people have been wanting to say, and in his usual elegant, stylish way.

Sorry!

11/08/2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger quixote said...

I'm not sure you got the real point of what I was trying to say.

I couldn't agree more about being fed up, listening to people spout off about their damn religions. Especially because the spouting off is generally a prelude to telling me to participate. There's a difference between that, though, and saying God doesn't exist.

You're quite right that God's existence can't be proved. That means it can't be disproved either. It means one can never get anywhere in a "Yes, it is" "No, it isn't" argument on the subject. There's no evidence either way. It's in a whole class of things for which there is no tangible proof, such as love, truth, justice, and evil. That doesn't stop people from being passionate about them, or from experiencing them.

Part of what I was trying to say is that it's neither useful nor logically right to tell people that they're not feeling what they think they're feeling. A person, from the outside, has no way of knowing that. I was saying that if Dawkins has no experience of God, then he wouldn't know what people feel on the subject. Beliefs are something you have, not something you observe on TV.

The fallacy of mixing up the different kinds of knowledge, call them internal experiences and external facts, causes problems whether it's science or religion that's supposed to have all the answers. When the shoe is on the other foot, I'm just as vehemently opposed to this epistemological fallacy. Evolution, for instance, is based on tangible things, not on feelings. You can't "believe" in it any more than you'd believe in a light bulb. (I have a bit more on this in a post called, unsurprisingly, You can't believe in evolution.) Getting the two different types of knowledge mixed up is what's allowed creationists to pretend they have something to say on the subject. Mixing the two up does not mean the triumph of science and evidence. It means the logical fallacy leads to wrong conclusions, whoever uses it.

11/09/2006 4:12 PM  
Blogger Grow Up said...

Agreed up to a point.

But for millennia, religion has claimed that it does represent objective reality, and that a god exists, and that it intervenes before breakfast, lunch and dinner like Michael Heseltine! That is a genuine claim, or series of claims, and so bears examination.

Nobody would deny others the right to think or believe what they want to inside their own heads. It's when those beliefs impinge on their actions and on the freedoms of others that troubles begin. And as those beliefs and actions are based on millennia of fantasy, I consider them to be dangerous. And foisting them on others, especially children, is both wicked and stupid. Or do we want a world in which the words of the "Prophet" (Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, Mohammed or anybody else) are regarded as more important than verifiable reality?

I do agree with you: let's keep religion and science separate and in their proper places. We might not agree on what the proper places are, however—I'd vote for keeping religion inside the covers of books with the other fairy (or horror) stories ;-)=

What about you?

11/11/2006 9:34 AM  
Blogger quixote said...

Actually, I think we're in complete agreement. Religion relates to the sacred, which has the same root as secret for very good reason. As far as I'm concerned, religion is--or should be--as private as sex, and has no place at all in public. Except among consenting adults, of course.

The fact that people use it as an excuse to get in your face is entirely wrong. My point is that we should condemn that, and not, in effect, suffer from the same logical fallacy as they do because they've annoyed us so much.

(And, boy, do they annoy me. I take it, from the Heseltine reference that you're in the UK. Your loonies don't have the same sort of access to power as ours do, do they? I spent some time in the digestive tract of the USA (somewhere below the heartland) where the bible thumpers use it to justify torture. No different from Torquemada, I guess, but we're supposed to be several centuries beyond that!)

11/11/2006 4:09 PM  

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