Philosophy Discussion Group – Religion – Tuesday 16th

The Socratic Society’s Philosophy Discussion Group meets again on Tuesday, September 16th in Morven Brown 308B (this week only) from midday until 2pm. Anyone with an interest in the topic is welcome, and you can come and go at any time; you don’t need to be there for the whole two hours. Light refreshments will be provided.

The topic is: “Religion.”

New location:  For this week only the discussion group will meet in Morven Brown 308B.

Possible variation: Prof. James Franklin will be giving a talk titled “Why atheism is irrational?” in Mathews 310 at 1:10pm. The discussion group participants may decide to finish early and head over to hear this talk.

Religion

One of the rules for avoiding conflict in conversation is to avoid discussing religion and politics, but the Socratic Society say ‘bah!’ to such pussy-footing. This fortnights discussion topic is Religion.

I think it best that the discussion be as free ranging as possible so anything goes. Is God dead? Is God a useful concept? Is God just a concept? Do some people need to believe in God? Are believers more stupid than non believers? Can one be moral without God? Can life be meaningful without God?

These are some issues that I’m personally interested in with regard to religion:

1.      Is there a creator of the universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? Does the fact that there is something mean that a intelligent agent had to do the creating? Are there alternatives?

2.      If there is a God, does the Jewish, Christian, Muslim God have anything to do with it? It is my position that the God of the Old and New Testament and the Koran is a human invention in the same way that Batman or Sherlock Holmes is a human invention.

3.      Richard Dawkins wants to ‘raise consciousness’ on the issue of labelling children as ‘a Muslim child’ or a ‘Christian girl’. He thinks this is a form of child abuse because they are too young to make rational choices in matters of religion and because they have very impressionable minds vulnerable to indoctrination.

4.      Christopher Hitchens believes it is important to separate the supernatural from the numinous (where numinous means something like a sense/experience of reality that transcends the mundane). Do we hunger for the numinous? Is this why despite material prosperity in western countries, many feel unhappy?

5.      The Roman Catholic academic scholar of secularism and religion Charles Taylor points out that everyone has a set of values and ideas that give life meaning, and that they will naturally defend those values and ideas if they are attacked. People will defend that which they value, and what gives life meaning they will defend even with their lives. This can explain the conflict between two religious groups (Jews and Muslims for example), but also between secular groups (e.g. the west vs. communism). The danger here is that both sides see the other as a threat to what they value.

6.      One of the major problems with religion as I see it is that it encourages division of mankind into subgroups, each of which thinks have the superior in morality, piousness, purity, etc.

7.      Dan Dennett thinks rather than attempting to rid ourselves of religion, we should shape the evolution of the various religious communities so they are benign, tame, and useful for society as a whole and for the members of those religious communities. We should ‘breed’ religions just as we breed strains of wheat or breeds of dog.

8.      Sam Harris thinks it is a tactical mistake to call oneself an ‘atheist’. People who don’t believe in astrology don’t have a label for themselves, so why should people who don’t believe in theism?

9.      Should churches and church owned businesses get tax breaks?

Please feel free to post a comment on any of the above or post your own question concerning religion. See you on Tuesday!

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37 responses to “Philosophy Discussion Group – Religion – Tuesday 16th

  1. How is spirit warranted or not, acknowledging that God is a spirit?

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky.wordpress.com

  2. I wonder more if we are warranted… Nothing is more evident to me than God.. I think therefore I am.. I am therefore God is. What ‘is’ implies what brought it into being.. thought – brain… existence – creator of existence. This is undeniably fundamental to me whether you approach it from a place of belief or unbelief; and I have done both.

    Since I can’t stick my thumb in the pie of the creator and pull out a plum, I call the creator’s make up ‘spirit’ (for lack of a better term).

    Now, does anything about ‘me’ warrant being called ‘spirit’? From a purely scientific analysis, I don’t see it. By deduction, I think so; not just me but all people.

    I observe the natural state of children being they desire to love and be loved. A Neo-Darwinist would have something to say about instincts and survival but Neo-Darwinist theory is thoroughly refutable and without basis in fact. I don’t know how we got to be where we are but I know how it has never been scientifically shown to happen and that is by Darwinism. To me it takes more faith than all religion combined to jump across the chasm of missing fossil records and links and continue repeating a theory as fact. To the Darwinist, discussion about humans and spirits is indeed pulling a plum out of the pie of a God they don’t believe in anyway.

    So, for those with eyes open – is thought kind of an ethereal cloud around the brain? Chemical, electrical, yet somehow separate? Are children part of the parents genetically, DNA, personality traits, tics, demeanor… yet separate? Are we part of God yet separate? Some personality trait?

    I would say yes. If there is anything non-human like in children, that is precious and God-like, it is their pure desire to love and be loved. Invisible as it is, and imparted into existence by the maker of existence. God has children. God is spirit and God’s children inherit God’s spirit. What happens after we’re born is another story.

  3. There is the theory of natural selection and there is the fact that evolution occurred. The theory is used to account for the fact that evolution occurred. One can (ignorantly) deny the theory without denying the fact. Before Darwin published his theory, there was evidence to support the claim that evolution had occurred, and educated people found that evidence convincing. Since then the evidence for the fact of evolution has growth by several orders of magnitude and is found via multiple approaches (not just fossil evidence but DNA informational analysis for example).

    P.S. Didn’t your mother tell you to keep your thumbs out of pies?

  4. Taking as granted that existence implies a cause of existence and that we label that cause ‘God’, I completely deny that anyone has anything to say on the subject that is worth listening to or worth knowing. To claim that one knows anything at all of the mind of God is pure conceit.

  5. I should add that we can discuss the religious ideologies and deities invented by human beings. So one can investigate the ‘Christian God’ because it is an abstract human artifact much like a fictional character (e.g. Neo from the Matrix, Homer Simpson or King Arthur).

    Beside the content of religious ideologies one can say interesting things about the psychology and sociology of religion.

  6. If there is a God, does the Jewish, Christian, Muslim God have anything to do with it? It is my position that the God of the Old and New Testament and the Koran is a human invention in the same way that Batman or Sherlock Holmes is a human invention.

    Really? Do you really think that the Qu’ran and the Bible were invented in the same way that Arthur Doyle invented the Sherlock Holmes series?

    Tell me more…

  7. Personally I feel that the investigation of life is not just about truth and falsity about about meaning and significance.

    Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize winning book ‘The Denial of Death’ is a superb investigation into the human need for life to have meaning’.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Denial_of_Death

    Sam Harris’ ‘Killing the Buddha’ is an excellent article where Sam argues that the insights and value of Buddhism will eventually be absorbed into science with the absurd content stripped out. The various sciences that investigate Buddhism (such as psychology) will be changed by the investigation and will take what is valuable in Buddhism and take it to new heights.
    http://www.samharris.org/media/killing-the-buddha.pdf

    A similar process has, is and will occur with the content of other religions. I have read many arguments where people will claim that everything from ethics to science owes a debt of gratitude to Judeo-Christian thought. This should hardly be threatening to the secular minded as from a secular point of view Judeo-Christian thought is completely human-made, with no contribution from a non-human entity. Religious thoughts are just like other thoughts that have taken on airs 😉

    I find it fact that all the good in religion stems from us, from human beings, completely uplifting, don’t you?

  8. Chris,

    Well to be more precise Holy books such as the Bible are more like the tales of King Arthur than Batman because the author isn’t necessarily one person but many people spread out over time and space.

  9. Kai,

    Ok so are you saying that the Qu’ran and the Bible aren’t like Sherlock Holmes or Batman but they are like the tales of King Arthur?

    Do you think the similarity between the tales of King Arthur and the Qu’ran/Bible is a defining characteristic of the Qu’ran/Bible? Because you could say that the Bible is like The God Delusion because they are both sold in books shops, but that similarity doesn’t really shed much light on the nature or content of either.

    So what say ye is the relevant similarity between King Arthur and the Bible/Qu’ran? That they both were written over time? Or that they were invented by humans?

    Is the similarity (whatever that might be) of more hermeneutic value than the differences? It would be more than a little foolish to base our understanding of the Bible/Qu’ran on a similarity with another book/tradition when there were a mountain of differences that carried a lot more weight than the similarity, wouldn’t it?

  10. Chris,

    My claim is simple, that the Bible and other religious texts are writtten by people, not any deities and that any deities mentioned in such books are also man made and such deities exist in EXACTLY they same way as Ra, Thor, Ents, Hobbits and Ewoks exist – i.e. in the human mind and in our artifacts.

    I don’t want to get into the business of ranking characteristics in holy books in order of importance. I’ll just say whether the author(s) of a book are a person(s) or God(s) is ‘up there’.

  11. Typos in that last sentence have made it unreadable. So I’ll try again:

    I’ll just say whether a book is written by one or more people rather than one or more gods is ‘up there’ in importance.

  12. Kai, I would submit that your constant nagging use of the rarely upper or usually lower case “g” in “God” displays your own doubts, which are equally nagging, as to your atheistic assertations.

    I see it all the time, it’s purposeful, and it’s quite revealing.

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky.wordpress.com

  13. Romansky,
    This is a forum for discussion of ideas which means that you should discuss the ideas. You should not attack the person behind the ideas subtly or not, neither should you come to conclusions about their inner mind based on nothing but lazy spelling.

  14. RevRomansky, you’ll note that the single case (which you rather disingenuously referred to as ‘constant’) in which Kai used a lower case ‘g’ was when pluralising, which is the convention which I’d normally adhere to myself (and which I’d imagine you would when describing polytheism if you referred to its subjects as ‘gods’ at all). The capital-G-singular God, meanwhile, refers very specifically to the (implicitly monotheistic, of course ;)) ‘character’ of the Abrahamic tradition — the conception of a monotheistic deity which any English-speaking person is likely to be most familiar with.

    I myself find it telling that it is those who display absolute certainty on the ambiguous question of the existence of a deity who also display absolute certainty regarding the not-at-all ambiguous question of the occurrence of evolution, and raise long-debunked fictions about ‘gaps the the fossil record’.

    And while I respect that, with your belief system and (what is presumably, given your nick and avatar) you position, evangelism is your raison d’être, as Theo has already pointed out reasoned discussion is the raison d’être for this society. As a result of that, you best fulfill your stated purpose by trying to fulfill ours 😉 — people come here to be convinced of things, not coerced.

  15. “Neo-Darwinist theory is thoroughly refutable and without basis in fact”. Well, that’s something new.

  16. Thank you Al King, well articulated.
    Romansky, I understand why you as a true believer want to usurp the name ‘God’ for your ‘god’ it’s a Good Trick but I reluctantly use ‘God’ only to follow convention (and if I’m in a good mood out of a sense of propriety). If I was to meet the pope a similar situation would arise: do I be POLITE and call him ‘his holiness’ (or something similar) when I don’t think he has anything to do with holiness? If I follow convention and propriety I should use ‘God’, if I follow my own thought process I should use ‘Christian god’. No hidden doubts so lay off the clumsy psychological detective work and address my arguments and not my mental state.
    I’m tempted to say that ‘Atheistic assertions’ betrays that you don’t understand my point. My position is not best described as atheistic but as a form of agnosticism or scepticism. My LAST attempt to make this as CLEAR as possible:
    1. I’m agnostic about ‘God’ with an uppercase G. I am sceptical (in the philosophical sense) about ANY verbal or written statements about ‘God’, indeed I’m sceptical of any knowledge of God being possible.
    2. I’m atheistic about ‘gods’ with a lowercase g. The Christian god I include with all the other false idols (newsflash: all idols are false idols and idols aren’t necessarily made out of matter but can be made out of words, mental images and thoughts) The Christian god, the Christian religious officials, the Christian religious texts simply have nothing to do ‘God’ with an uppercase G. Of course the same applies to all the other religions.
    3. Lastly, though I think the ‘god’ or ‘gods’ with a lower case g have nothing to do with ‘God’ with a capital G, I think its important to not to write them off as ‘nonsense’ or ‘absurd’ but to simply DISENCHANT them include them amongst the rest of the natural universe – i.e. they exist but not as supernatural beings but as fictional characters in one or more stories like Ra, Thor or Zeus.

  17. Philosophizing without including the third leg of the stool so willingly included by philosophies founders will only lead to an imbalanced conclusion.

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky@wordpress.com

  18. Kai

    My claim is simple, that the Bible and other religious texts are writtten by people, not any deities and that any deities mentioned in such books are also man made and such deities exist in EXACTLY they same way as Ra, Thor, Ents, Hobbits and Ewoks exist – i.e. in the human mind and in our artifacts.

    This doesn’t address the questions that I raised in my second comment – it is merely a reassertion of your original claim but using different words.

    You have used the word artefact several times – I am not sure what you mean by this – I am assuming you are drawing it from Foucault. Assuming I am correct, you should pay more attention to the way Foucault deals with historical texts and artefacts – the comparisons and analogies you draw between texts are worse the philosophically useless – they are misleading.

    In your latest list you have Ra, Thor and Ewoks – to compare these three as “EXACTLY the same” is naive in the extreme, let alone to throw in the God of the Bible or Allah of the Qu’ran.

    You said: I don’t want to get into the business of ranking characteristics in holy books in order of importance.

    This confused me a lot – where did I suggest that we should do such a thing? I don’t want you to rank the characteristics of holy books – I want you to provide an adequate and reasonable defence for drawing comparisons between the Bible/Qu’ran and works of (bad) fiction. You have said that neither are written by deities – fine – but the difference between such a comparison far out weighs this similarity, making the comparison worthless/meaningless.

    You might wonder why I care so make about this – well I care about philosophy and I care about reasoned arguments. Such comparisons might be good enough for “popular” scientists masquerading as theologians but they are not good enough for philosophical debate.

  19. I’m using artifact in the standard sense.

    object made by human: an object made by a human being, e.g. a tool or ornament, especially one that has archaeological or cultural interest

    [Early 19th century. < Latin arte, a form of ars “skill” (see art1) + factum “thing made” (see fact)]
    http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/artifact.html

  20. Chris,

    “In your latest list you have Ra, Thor and Ewoks – to compare these three as “EXACTLY the same” is naive in the extreme, let alone to throw in the God of the Bible or Allah of the Qu’ran.”

    Well you’ve done some slippery quoting there, here is the original quote:
    “My claim is simple, that the Bible and other religious texts are writtten by people, not any deities and that any deities mentioned in such books are also man made and such deities exist in EXACTLY they same way as Ra, Thor, Ents, Hobbits and Ewoks exist – i.e. in the human mind and in our artifacts.”

    I’m claiming they exist in the same way, not that they are exactly the same.

    I think it’s time you adress my assertions rather than calling them bad names. Please start with this one:

    How does Ra exist, and how is the way he exist different from the way King Arthur exists? RevRomansky, please feel free to make your own contribution.

  21. Your clarification of my “slippery quoting” doesn’t really add much (especially considering that I quoted you in entirity earlier) – ok so you think that the Bible/Qu’ran exist in EXACTLY the same way as Ra, Thor, Ents, Hobbits and Ewoks exist – i.e. in the human mind and in our artifacts – this is still naive in the extreme and doesn’t really say much. In addition you are sliding from texts to deities to literary figures to cinematic characters. So for starters these different categories do not exist in the same way.

    I think it’s time you address my assertions rather than calling them bad names.

    Before I address your assertions (which I have been doing – I would hardly say that I have just been calling them names, I have written a lot of words thus far) the space around them needs to be cleared. I asked you a number of questions of clarification and you have failed to address them adequately. At this stage your assertions are sliding around. Once we have them pinned down – or at least a clear idea of what they are – then we can begin to address them.

    How does Ra exist, and how is the way he exist different from the way King Arthur exists?RevRomansky, please feel free to make your own contribution

    I think it would be best if RevRomansky stuck to his own truck with you – and didn’t muddy the increasingly murky waters of what we are discussing.

    I don’t know if I want to start to answer your question until I am sure you are settled on what your assertion is. So far we have had:

    1. It is my position that the God of the Old and New Testament and the Koran is a human invention in the same way that Batman or Sherlock Holmes is a human invention.

    Summary: God of the Bible is invented in the same way as Batman or S. Holmes.

    2.Well to be more precise Holy books such as the Bible are more like the tales of King Arthur than Batman because the author isn’t necessarily one person but many people spread out over time and space.

    Summary: The Bible is like the tales of King Arthur because both have multiple authors.

    3. My claim is simple, that the Bible and other religious texts are writtten by people, not any deities and that any deities mentioned in such books are also man made and such deities exist in EXACTLY they same way as Ra, Thor, Ents, Hobbits and Ewoks exist – i.e. in the human mind and in our artifacts.

    Summary: (1)The Bible was written by people not deities. (2) Deities that are mentioned in the Bible exist in EXACTLY the same way as Ra, Thor, Ents, Hobbits and Ewoks exist in the human mind and in our artifacts.

    So you see each response has been different, this makes it very difficult to begin to address your assertion. So if you could choose one I will have a go at addressing it. But I don’t want to start addressing an assertion of yours only to have a different assertion thrown at me in the next comment.

  22. Chris,

    As you point out point 1 is loosely worded and I incorrectly equate religious texts with fictional characters. However I don’t know why you’re bringing this up as I did clear this up by using the TALES of King Arthur as a better example. You can’t punish me for being SLIGHTLY inconsistent with a previous post when the intention of the new post is to correct and clarify!

    Your summary of point two should read:
    Summary: The Bible is like the tales of King Arthur because both have multiple authors and more importantly because they are both written by human beings not a deity.

    That post was a response to your post and my answer has to be seen in the context of my last post and your last post. As you posts indicate that you were getting distracted by the minor point of number of authors so I posted again a repeated statement of my position this time worded to make misunderstanding less likely. Your implication that I’m changing my position as I go along is disingenuous.

    The central point of that and all my other posts has been that religious books don’t have divine authors, and that the characters inside those books exist in the same way that other fictional characters exist. I think you fairly summaries my position as stated in point 3. So, if you would be so kind:

    How does Ra exist, and how is the way he exists different from the way King Arthur exists?

  23. I should also point out that you made the same clumsy mistake I did of equating texts with fictional characters :

    “ok so you think that the Bible/Qu’ran exist in EXACTLY the same way as Ra, Thor, Ents, Hobbits and Ewoks exist”

    But don’t worry Chris, I’m sure where on the same page now. How’s that answer coming along?

  24. Sorry for my absence – life occasionally gets in the way of blog discussions.

    Firstly, the last comment of yours is a little peculiar as I was quoting your position and previous statement, not putting forward my own view.

    Secondly, I am not sure why you feel I am obliged to answer your question about the ontological status of Ra and King Arthur. My concern right from the start has been your use of comparison (if you read back all my comments come back to this). Ra and King Arthur may very well have a similar or even “exactly the same” ontological status; but what I am arguing is that the differences – not ontological but holistically – are greater than the similarities and therefore making such comparisons are useless and misleading.

    So as far as being useless you are saying that texts, gods, literary figures and cinematic characters only exist in people’s minds or in artefacts. This is no great claim, although one could argue that the difference between gods like Ra and literary figures like King Arthur is that the former existed in social relations and institutions – but I am not particularly interested in this argument.

    What I find misleading about your use of comparison is that focuses on one element at the expense of other more significant elements. Your purpose of this is clearly for rhetorical force or to take it down a level – schoolyard bravado.

    To say that the God of the Bible is the same as Santa Claus or the Tooth fairy (Dawkins’s claims) or that Ra is the same as King Arthur (your comparison). Is merely an attempt to trivialise and belittle the former by reducing it to the latter. The problem with this is that it is misleading. Spirituality aside, the God of the Bible (or Ra in the case of Ancient Egypt) has undeniably and incomparably influenced and shaped the world that we live in – regardless of whether that God really exists or not. Unlike Ra, however, the God of the Bible is a “living” God in the sense that he still has tremendous influence over the way that several countries and billions of people live their lives – he is a present and active part of social and individual narratives.

    While there may be ontological similarities between the categories you mentioned – to emphasise those over the differences says nothing at best and is misleading at worst. Such comparisons ignore meaning, significance and history. In short such comparisons are ignorant about the way historical texts develop, the way that human societies function and the intricate role that religion plays in social and individual existence.

  25. To quote:

    useless
    misleading
    useless
    schoolyard bravado
    trivialise
    belittle
    says nothing
    misleading
    ignorant

    These are evaluative statesments, and here is my evaluation of them: rude and arrogant.

    When someone concedes the point I am arguing and then dismissing it with the ‘wholistic’ rhetorical card, I now when to cash my chips in and be satisfied with the nights winnings 😉

  26. Well Kai good luck with your future endeavours and trying to cash in those hypothetical arguments.

    “rude and arrogant” well no one has felt the need to moderate this discussion or any of my comments – unlike some of your other more colourful arguments when you felt a little more comfortable.

    Had I said something along the lines of “you are too stupid to understand my arguments” I would agree that I was being rude and arrogant – however at this stage all that I can see is you ducking, weaving and avoiding the issues.

    And to paraphrase Dawkins – to call someone ignorant is a complement because it means that you don’t think they are stupid just that they are yet to understand.

  27. That should read hypothetical chips – but hey it is all exactly the same thing

  28. We’ve all had just about enough of this.
    Attack the argument, not the person. Anyone who cannot play by these rules, will be deleted.

  29. Kai,

    You have already been warned elsewhere.

    Philosophy is very much about evaluating other people’s positions. Listing Chris’ ‘evaluative statements’ served little purpose. Chris did not call you eg “useless”, “misleading” and “ignorant”. He wrote “making such comparisons [is] useless”, “What I find misleading about your use of comparison” and “In short such comparisons are ignorant about the way historical texts develop” – all of which are valid evaluations of arguments. (Whether they are true or not is another matter.)

    You cannot take comments out of context and twist them to a different meaning. Please focus on the other person’s arguments and do not assume that a negative evaluation of what you have said necessarily counts as a personal assessment of – or attack on – you. If we have to warn you again, you will be removed from the blog.

    Chris,

    By a similar token, that last comment of yours was not about philosophy and should not have been posted.

  30. I respectfully disagree. Hopefully this is a forum where I am able to do that. Firstly I’ll address your comment that “You cannot take comments out of context and twist them to a different meaning.” I agree I was taking them out of context; however simply listing them is not twisting them but making it clear how frequently Chris used such terms in a single post. Such terms have a descriptive and an evaluative component and some are closer to being purely descriptive and others are highly evaluative (i.e. value laden). An example would be to describe a post as “tedious” as opposed to “long and repetitive”. Chris’ statements are obviously highly-evaluative. However that is beside the point: even if I was twisting them, it is not appropriate that I be threatened with censor and exile. Being slippery can not be grounds for censure. What is appropriate for Chris, you or anyone else to do is what you did in the paragraph before the threats: to make a case that I was doing something slippery. Secondly, you are correct in stating that arguments not people should be attacked, however you are incorrect in assuming that I was taking Chris’ evaluative statements as attacks on me and that I was attacking Chris personally. Indeed, I EXPLICITLY stated that what I had evaluated as rude and arrogant was Chris’ statements. The occasional evaluation is fine, but as they are value laden and this is a philosophical discussion the focus should be on facts and logic otherwise the discussion will be reduced to the exchange of mere opinion. I learn quickly learnt from my posts on the vegetarian thread on this blog that one’s case can be better made by editing out the majority of these statements and replacing them with more descriptive terms.

    Now that I’ve made my case for why I think warnings of censure and exile were completely inappropriate, I think it is important to provide an quick analysis of Chris’ approach and my strategy to get around his Obsurantist ploys. Chris relies heavily on pejoratives (i.e. mere expression of disapproval) and rhetoric in making his points, which he used to avoid providing of reasons or evidence for why my specific hypothesis was false.

    The Structure of Chris’ argument:
    The bible may very well have been written by human beings and have nothing to do with the divine but that’s and besides this other fact is far more important. (Note that my argument centred on characters rather than books but that was for strategic reasons and books work almost as well. I use book here so a reader can understand my approach to the argument without having to read all the preceding posts). So Chris’ case is that the truth or falsity of my hypothesis is irrelevant to how significant my hypothesis is to the subject matter.

    I of course disagree. Granted that I have the right to reply, what are the moves available to me in this discussion? I can see no way around this: my first step is to see if I can get Chris on record stating that he thinks my hypothesis is false or that it is true. What is my second step? If he states it is false then my second step is to ask him to provide reasons or evidence for thinking it false, if he states it is true then my next step is to put him on the hot seat and ask him to give reason as to why he thinks if a book is not written by a deity but by a human being without help from a deity is not incredibly significant.

    So to conclude I think I was justified to asking Chris the question if I was saying was true or false because whether a hypothesis is true or false always has a huge impact on the importance that hypothesis has to the subject matter. His repeated refusal to answer the question is a classic case of Obscurantism.

  31. My apologies: The 1st sentence of the 3rd paragraph should read:

    The bible may very well have been written by human beings and have nothing to do with the divine but that’s *insert pejorative* and besides this other fact is far more important.

  32. The Greek founders of philosophy included theism as intrinsic. Philosophy remained inclusive of such until fairly recent history. Several schools developed anti-theistic systems that removed God from the mix. In actuality, they removed themselves from the philosophical table, becoming a bastardized and incomplete form.

    Kai insists that atheism is a legitimate philosophical paradigm from which to expound. It’s not. Atheism has denied philosophy and its bases. How can anyone enter a philosophical debate while denying the opposing side a long established and foundaional premise? It’s just shooting fish in a barrel, and typifies the failure of atheism to present a complete argument.

    Kai, you can’t enter a conversation about God with such prejudice and expect to gain any points in the debate.

    Chris, I was addressing Kai’s use of the lower case “g” as a pejorative, with unspoken and snide implication attached. I at least spell Dawkins with a capital “D”, even if he does believe aliens are the force behind intelligent design.

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky.worpress.com

  33. Hey Romanksy,

    What you are saying is factually false. Doubt and scepticism have been part of philosophy from the very beginning of Greek Philosophy:

    “For instance, Xenophanes, another of the pre-Socratics, argued that the gods of mythology must be human inventions. The Ethiopians posited black gods, while the gods of the red-haired Thracians were, unsurprisingly, red-haired. If horses and oxen had hands and could draw, he dryly remarked, they would draw their gods as great horses and oxen. Xenophanes suggested what Montaigne insisted on 2,000 years later: The exclusive authority claimed by competing religions cannot be taken seriously; their myths derive from obviously local sources, and their truth claims cancel each other out.”

    From The Washington Post review of Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson

    http://www.amazon.com/Doubt-Doubters-Innovation-Jefferson-Dickinson/dp/0060097957/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222402829&sr=1-1

  34. RevRomansky, as Kai has explained, it is inaccurate to state that the Greeks held the existence of a god as a central assumption. There also is not a historical philosophical reliance upon religion.
    Even Descartes, a famously Christian philosopher, did not *assume* the existence of a God (he did make a fairly weak ontological argument to reach the conclusion that God exists from a stance of methodological skepticism, but that’s for another thread, unless you would like me to elaborate).

    Furthermore, you grossly misrepresent Dawkins’s ideas. You state that “…even if he does believe aliens are the force behind intelligent design.” On a fundamental level, he doesn’t believe in intelligent design, and so he does not believe that aliens are a force behind it, any more than you believe that natural selection is the force behind evolution. (And can I just say, I’m really quite disappointed that you’d be a proponent of intelligent design, as there is simultaneously good evidence for evolution and no incompatibility between religion and evolution. Their opposition is just as constructed and unnecessary as the conflict between Copernicanism and the Catholic Church in the 17th century. If God exists and is clever enough to design creatures from the ground up, He is clever enough to create beings which adapt to their environment, and even to direct their evolution.)
    Nor does Dawkins believe in (i.e. assume the existence of) aliens. What he has stated is that in the unlikely event that some other beings ‘seeded’ Earth with life, they themselves would have had to evolve — that is, he believes that organised complexity must ultimately be explained by a process such as evolution. Frankly, I’m a little irritated by Dawkins’s militant stance regarding religion, but to dismiss his ideas on this basis is the very definition of the ‘ad hominem’ fallacy.

  35. An excellent interview with philosopher Daniel Dennett who argues that religion is a natural phenomenon.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5640093862168820605

  36. Video of Noah Feldman makes a case that politics and religion — whatever their differences — are technologies, both designed to efficiently connect and manage people.

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/noah_feldman_says_politics_and_religion_are_technologies.html

  37. A new paper in one of the top two scientific journals ‘Science’ suggests that Christianity itself may be a function of evolution.

    http://www.thestar.com/article/510711

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