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Old 25th Sep 2006, 13:05   #1
John Self
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Default Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

It's preaching to the converted time, as I picked up Richard Dawkins' new book The God Delusion today, and will be reading it next. He says:

Quote:
If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down. What presumptuous optimism! Of course, dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods that took centuries to mature (whether by evolution or design). Among the more effective immunological devices is a dire warning to avoid even opening a book like this, which is surely a work of Satan.
May I put in a humble request for this thread not to turn into a believers v atheists debate? We've had several of those before, and the threads are still open for those who want to add to them.

Anyone interested can read an extract from The God Delusion and see an interview with Dawkins about it on Newsnight's site here.
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 13:29   #2
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

That's a great extract JS. Having just spent some time in the US (mid-west to be precise), I can confirm that Pat Robertson is not alone! I think there's probably a higher percentage of creationists etc. in Missouri as opposed to New York State, but it's quite frightening when you're having a 'normal' conversation with someone and all of a sudden they slip God into it. Anyway, I'll definitely give the book a go.
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 14:48   #3
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

I have Steven Rose's Lifelines lined up after I finish the MacDonald tonight. It's more an explanation of why ultra-Darwinism cannot answer everything in evolutionary biology, rather than any kind of commentary on matters of religion (Rose is a humanist) - but I'm expecting a good read.
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 14:48   #4
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

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Originally Posted by Flutty
There have been secular tyrants, genocides, wars... etc.
Keeping the discussion to the book in question, I suspect Prof Dawkins would refer you to the subheading of Chapter 7: "What about Hitler and Stalin? Weren't they Atheists?"

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The question comes up after just about every public lecture that I ever give on the subject of religion. It is put in a truculent way, indignantly freighted with two assumptions: (1) not only were Hitler and Stalin atheists, but (2) they did their terrible deeds because they were atheists. Assumption (1) is true for Stalin and dubious for Hitler. But assumption (1) is irrelevant anyway, because assumption (2) is false. It is certainly illogical if it is thought to follow from (1). Even if we accept that Hitler and Stalin shared atheism in common, they both also had moustaches, as had Saddam Hussein. So what? The interesting question is not whether evil (or good) individual human beings were religious or were atheists. We are not in the business of counting evil heads and compiling two rival roll calls of iniquity. The fact that Nazi belt buckles were inscribed with 'Gott mit uns' doesn't prove anything, at least not without a lot more discussion. What matters is not whether Hitler and Stalin were atheists, but whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things. There is not the smallest evidence that it does.
Etc. etc. for another six pages...
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 14:57   #5
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

Definitely interesting, John. I read Joan Bakewell's review of this a few days ago, and will fully admit I was arguing out loud with the newspaper. But then according to Dawkins, I'm a deluded faith-head and presumably am not rational enough to comment (or else, too indoctrinated since my birth to be able to escape my own corrupted thought processes).

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whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things
I presume he examines this, and whether religion per se does the same.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the review - genuinely . It sounds eminently readable ie. not over-dense in subject matter.
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 14:59   #6
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

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Originally Posted by John Self View Post
Keeping the discussion to the book in question, I suspect Prof Dawkins would refer you to the subheading of Chapter 7: "What about Hitler and Stalin? Weren't they Atheists?"
I agree. I do not blame aetheists nor do I blame religious types for starting wars.

I think the urge to go to war is a fundamental part of us. We find rationalities for them later.
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 15:10   #7
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

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Originally Posted by Col
It sounds eminently readable ie. not over-dense in subject matter.
Yes, it certainly has very frequent chapter sub-breaks. Jeremy Paxman in his interview called it "very entertaining."
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 15:14   #8
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

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Even if we accept that Hitler and Stalin shared atheism in common, they both also had moustaches, as had Saddam Hussein. So what?
Well Stalin and Mussolini may have been atheists but Hussein is a Muslim, so it must be the moustaches, then
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 15:18   #9
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

Incidentally Dawkins really does intend the book (however unrealistically) to be, as he said in the Newsnight interview, "a self-help book to atheism." The appendix at the back is headed:

A partial list of friendly addresses, for individuals needing support in escaping from religion
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Old 25th Sep 2006, 15:24   #10
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Default Re: Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

I suppose he's meaning humanist ceremonies for life events, yes? And other things?
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