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Richard Dawkin's God Delusion, I could not read it


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Hello everyone. I'd like to start off by saying that I'm agnostic. I'm looking for some reason to tip myself on either side of the line- I just need some kind of evidence.

 

I thought reading God Delusion by Richard Dawkins would provide some insight to this, but I ended up not being able to finish it! The entire time he is just smashing religion left and right calling believers stupid. I'm not even religious and I find this offensive.

I was hoping the book would say something along the lines of "This religion is false because of this reason.". Instead it was more like "This religion is stupid because anyone that believes this is stupid."

 

What do you guys think?

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I struggle to believe you've read any of it, because he did no such thing in that book. Perhaps you were reading a different book, like one by an apologist who was misrepresenting Dawkins' work?  

Dbaiba, As often seems to be the way, you missed a bit.   I said "If, on the other hand, supernatural things exist, please let me know what they are"   If you are so sure they exist, why didn't

Well, well   Where is that hypocrit moderator who accuses me of using offensive statements and insults ?????   He's gotta take a look at this latest post at least : vulgar below the waist non-sen

I thought reading God Delusion by Richard Dawkins would provide some insight to this, but I ended up not being able to finish it! The entire time he is just smashing religion left and right calling believers stupid.

 

I struggle to believe you've read any of it, because he did no such thing in that book. Perhaps you were reading a different book, like one by an apologist who was misrepresenting Dawkins' work?

 

I was hoping the book would say something along the lines of "This religion is false because of this reason."

 

The challenge here is that religious claims tend to be so vague and ambiguous that they cannot generally be falsified. I think perhaps a better approach is to ask, "which religions make claims that are supported by evidence and reason?" That question will lead you further along, as most religions don't care much about reason and evidence, but instead rely on faith... faith is essentially when people pretend to know something they cannot know (not to be confused with trust).

 

Now, there are many claims in the bible that are patently absurd, and those absurdities have been demonstrated. The bible is also internally inconsistent and says different things about the same exact subject depending on where you are in the book. This happens a lot when books are written by different people, which is clearly the case with the bible since it's more of an anthology with numerous different authors.

 

There is a lot of good material here if you're interested in exploring that: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

And here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

 

Instead it was more like "This religion is stupid because anyone that believes this is stupid."

 

Like I said above, it's rather obvious to me that you haven't bothered to actually read the book. If I were to guess, it sounds like you let someone else tell you what was in it, and that someone else is either ignorant of the books content or intentionally lying to you about it. Alternatively, you may have read some book by an apologist who misrepresented Dawkins. Either way, they don't appear to be trustworthy sources of information for you on this subject.

 

If you did read the book and you still think it does little more than say religion is stupid and theists are stupid, then I have to question your own biases and suspect perhaps there is an issue with the accuracy of your reading comprehension, but I want to give you the benefit of the doubt here which is why I've suggested maybe someone else has been telling you what the book said.

Edited by iNow
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Hello everyone. I'd like to start off by saying that I'm agnostic. I'm looking for some reason to tip myself on either side of the line- I just need some kind of evidence.

 

Why do you need evidence for absence? Isn't the lack of evidence enough?

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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Let's look at the very first prior-before ALL evidence. We call this the 'intrinsic probability'. Swinburne's criteria for intrinsic probabilities are basically that the more a hypothesis says and the more specific it is, the lower the intrinsic probability. This should be pretty obvious since P(a&b)<P(a) and P(a&b)<P(b).

 

So, how do we figure out the intrinsic probabilities? Well, we can talk some metaphysics. There are two ways for grounding reality. You can be like Bishop Berkeley and be what is called a Source Idealist. That means you believe all of the physical stuff comes from mind stuff. The other side of the coin is Source Physicalism. That means you believe all of the mind stuff comes from physical stuff. Those, by Swinburne's criteria, are equally intrinsically probable. There is, though, a third option that is less probable because it posits a third kind of stuff. Now, Theists (well, the one's I'm talking about, anyway) believe that there is a mind that created all of the physical stuff, so they're Source Idealists. However, theism doesn't take up the whole possibility space of Source Idealism since you can have New Agey atheistic Source Idealist belief systems. That means Theism is a proper subset of Source Idealism. Atheism on the other hand, is a superset of the other two kinds of metaphysics and has overlap with with the Source Idealism part of the probability space. If we are to draw out the probability space, it looks something like this.

 

TheismvsAtheismintrinsic_zpsafcdce50.png

 

So, Theism is FAR less likely than its negation intrinsically. And that's bare bones theism. The area of the possibility space shrinks more and more with each attribute the god in question has. Want this mind to be omnipotent? Then you have to shrink the area. Want it to be omniscient? Then you have to shrink the area. Want it to even care about humans? Then you have to shrink the area. Want it to be omnibenevolent? Then you have to shrink the area.What does this mean? Well, it means Arguments to the Best Explanation have absolutely no place as theistic arguments. It also means it's time for Sagam's Slogan!

 

For those that don't remember, here's "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence":

 

For two competing hypotheses h1 and h2:

  • Let P(h1|e)=P(h2|e) and let P(h1)>P(h2)
  • (P(e|h1)xP(h1))/P(e)=(P(e|h2)xP(h2))/P(e)

  • P(e|h1)xP(h1)=P(e|h2)xP(h2)

  • P(h1)=P(h2)x(P(e|h2)/(P(e|h1))

  • P(h2)x(P(e|h2)/(P(e|h1))>P(h2)

  • P(h2)xP(e|h2)>P(h2)xP(e|h1)

  • P(e|h2)>P(e|h1)

  • ((P(h1|e)=P(h2|e))&(P(h1)>P(h2)))⊃(P(e|h2)>P(e|h1))
So, the lower the prior, the more evidence is needed for a hypothesis to reach any given value. And we've seen that even the bare-bones Deistic Theism is far less likely intrinsicly than its negation. And making the god more specific lowers the intrinsic probability farther and farther. So, YHWH is indeed an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence.

 

The evidence, however just isn't there. Then there's a whole host of other problems. I can provide some deductive arguments if you'd like.

I struggle to believe you've read any of it, because he did no such thing in that book. Perhaps you were reading a different book, like one by an apologist who was misrepresenting Dawkins' work?

I may just be a cynic, but I have a sneaking suspicion that (s)he's just a dishonest theist.
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I may just be a cynic, but I have a sneaking suspicion that (s)he's just a dishonest theist.

 

I don't know. I read about half the book and walked away, though it's been long enough that I don't recall many details. I'm not a theist (and though I don't post often on the religion board, I think I have established that I'm no fan of organized religion) but I remember that I found many of the arguments unconvincing and I can see how one might call them condescending or appealing to ridicule. It seemed like he was preaching to the choir.

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I'm an agnostic too, but I'm quite content being so. Being agnostic doesn't mean sitting on the fence. The word agnostic, which was coined by the 19th century scientist Thomas Huxley, means to be without spiritual knowledge. Agnosticism is more an intellectual view on what is knowable. If someone is dithering between belief and disbelief in a deity then they are, to put it simply, just a ditherer - not an agnostic.

 

As Dawkins' book, I found it very interesting and agreed with much of what he had to say .... although I found the way he expresses his views somewhat strident at times. Nevertheless I think he makes a very good case for disbelief in a deity.

 

It somewhat surprised me that Dawkins doesn't seem to understand what agnosticism is either. He too seems to be under the mistaken impression that to be agnostic is to be undecided about the issue. Ironically of course, Dawkins is in some ways the modern equivalent of Huxley who in his day was a great proponent of Darwin's theory of evolution. Dawkins should at least have given his predecessor the courtesy of reading and understanding what he thought on the topic of spiritual matters.

Edited by Griffon
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I don't know. I read about half the book and walked away, though it's been long enough that I don't recall many details. I'm not a theist (and though I don't post often on the religion board, I think I have established that I'm no fan of organized religion) but I remember that I found many of the arguments unconvincing and I can see how one might call them condescending or appealing to ridicule. It seemed like he was preaching to the choir.

Yeah, the book was pretty bad. It's just that the OP smacks of those Amazon reviews written by people with axes to grind who obviously haven't read the book. Like I said, it's just a gut feeling.

 

As far as Dawkins goes, I'd not even bother with anything he does on religion. His biology works are another matter entirely. I particularly like The Blind Watchmaker.

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It took me some time to distinguish between acceptable mockery and unacceptable mockery.

 

I can't speak on Dawkins' writing because I haven't read any. Yet I was curious, so I posted here to get the thread into My Content.

I only know about Dawkins' controversial "Dear Muslima" comment. Yet the offended woman claimed to be an ex-Dawkins fan, even giving his books as gifts. So, poisoned wells and personal attacks aside, maybe they are worth reading.

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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It seemed like he was preaching to the choir.

I'm sure this was the case for many readers of his book, but clearly not all. There was even an entire section of his website dedicated to the posts of people who stopped being theists as a result of his work. It was called Convert's Corner, and had some great posts from people who were believers when they began reading, but whom were believers no longer by the time they were through. It could obviously be argued that they had doubts prior to picking up his book, but would be more of a challenge to argue they were the already converted in Dawkins' choir to whom he was preaching.

 

http://old.richarddawkins.net/letters/converts

Edited by iNow
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Let's look at the very first prior-before ALL evidence. We call this the 'intrinsic probability'. Swinburne's criteria for intrinsic probabilities are basically that the more a hypothesis says and the more specific it is, the lower the intrinsic probability. This should be pretty obvious since P(a&b)<P(a) and P(a&b)<P(b).

 

So, how do we figure out the intrinsic probabilities? Well, we can talk some metaphysics. There are two ways for grounding reality. You can be like Bishop Berkeley and be what is called a Source Idealist. That means you believe all of the physical stuff comes from mind stuff. The other side of the coin is Source Physicalism. That means you believe all of the mind stuff comes from physical stuff. Those, by Swinburne's criteria, are equally intrinsically probable. There is, though, a third option that is less probable because it posits a third kind of stuff. Now, Theists (well, the one's I'm talking about, anyway) believe that there is a mind that created all of the physical stuff, so they're Source Idealists. However, theism doesn't take up the whole possibility space of Source Idealism since you can have New Agey atheistic Source Idealist belief systems. That means Theism is a proper subset of Source Idealism. Atheism on the other hand, is a superset of the other two kinds of metaphysics and has overlap with with the Source Idealism part of the probability space. If we are to draw out the probability space, it looks something like this.

 

TheismvsAtheismintrinsic_zpsafcdce50.png

 

 

I'm going to challenge this. How is probability applicable when there is no repeatable experimental basis for it? For example, if I play out the Monty Hall problem over and over again, even through a simulation, I have an experimental basis for the values assigned to each door. Or with quantum mechanics, there is an experimental basis for each value assigned to each position in space.

In this instance, with "intrinsic probabilities," you appear to be giving various possibilities equal values only because you have no good information to go off of. Unless you give me some experimental basis for assigning certain values to certain possibilities, I don't believe it. There must be some general rule of probabilty that has been derived from prior observations.

I doubt that there could be an experimental basis. If the prior trials involved other sets of competing hypotheses, how could the hypothesis be given common labels across trials? It is not immediately obvious which should be A and which should be B.

Rather than assign source idealism and source physicalism equal values, I would not assign any values. Thus the greatly disproportionate image below is equally valid from my perspective.

 

equally-valid-until-proven-guilty_zpsf9d

 

Indeed, this image greatly exaggerates the probability of there being a god, but I could have made the opposite, one in which "theism" is only a teeny-tiny speck. I may have exaggerated it merely for the sake of swimming against the tide.

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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Dawkins gives the anti-religion lobby a bad name.

Can anyone give it a good name in the US? You have to accommodate religion in order to be tolerated. I found Hitchens to be way too much of a dick, like a four year old acting out. Dawkins on the other hand doesn't talk over people, interrupt, etc. He does tend to ridicule a little much and he is British. Other than those two flaws, seems great to me.

 

So yeah, Dawkins is a little acidic and does best when fighting the anti-science/education aspects of the main culture instead of jousting with people who say nothing with charisma.

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Can anyone give it a good name in the US? You have to accommodate religion in order to be tolerated. I found Hitchens to be way too much of a dick, like a four year old acting out. Dawkins on the other hand doesn't talk over people, interrupt, etc. He does tend to ridicule a little much and he is British. Other than those two flaws, seems great to me.

 

So yeah, Dawkins is a little acidic and does best when fighting the anti-science/education aspects of the main culture instead of jousting with people who say nothing with charisma.

 

 

One thing to remember about Dawkins is that at least one of his primary motivations is to sell books, and controversy generates publicity. A lot of the controversy Dawkins whips up around him is essentially for the purposes of entertainment - in the form of TV appearances, etc and so on. I believe the vigor and vitriolic nature of a lot of what he says in such appearances is unnecessary "preaching to the choir" and damages the actual persuasiveness of the arguments he puts forth, but it moves people like the OP to post about it, generating publicity.

 

It kind of annoys me, as offending potential rational thinkers who happen to be theists by ridiculing their position ultimately pushes them away and results in more supporters for the anti-science lobby.

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I'm going to challenge this. How is probability applicable when there is no repeatable experimental basis for it?

Easily. It's been proven mathematically several slightly different ways that the rules governing credulity (if the agent is being rational) is isomorphic to probability theory.

 

And intrinsic probability is based on two things: coherence and simplicity. Source idealism and source physicalism are equally coherent and equally simple, so they are equally intrinsically probable. Your dividing of the probability space is unjustifiable.

In this instance, with "intrinsic probabilities," you appear to be giving various possibilities equal values only because you have no good information to go off of.

Nope. I'm basing them off of how we assess intrinsic probability.
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Ahh, I was itnerested, but "intrinsic probability" wasn't an easy Googling. Could you link me?

 

And intrinsic probability is based on two things: coherence and simplicity. Source idealism and source physicalism are equally coherent and equally simple, so they are equally intrinsically probable.

 

Is this right? Justification can be found in instances where the competing concepts vary in their level of complexity. This bypasses my proposed labeling problem (e.g. in each trial, the simpler is A and the less simple is B). Then, if there is a direct relation between relative simplicity and relative probability, the relation could be assumed to apply even when simplicity does not vary.

I feel stupid for not thinking of that...

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Try Richard Swinburne's "Epistemic Justification". He details several factors that are derived from simplicity and coherence, but he doesn't say that they're derived from them in that book, iirc.

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I believe the vigor and vitriolic nature of a lot of what he says in such appearances

Vigor, occasionally, but no one has ever managed to link me to vitriol from Dawkins. Can you be the first? A transcript, please, or quote from his writings.

 

 

Dawkins gives the anti-religion lobby a bad name.

The name, such as it is, was hardly given by Dawkins.

 

He is not responsible for the weirdly fanatical and rabid misrepresentations of his books and writings, for example. In modern discourse involving recent intellectual efforts, how many authors have had their person as author of their writings so intensively and publicly vilified by entire cadres of people who hadn't read thos writings, hadn't followed their arguments, hadn't a clue as to their contents? It's a short list of possibilities: Chomsky comes to mind.

 

 

And intrinsic probability is based on two things: coherence and simplicity.

Intrinsic probablity is based on failure to recognize the range and significance of one's assumptions.

 

Human beings do not handle probability easily or reliably - it's not our strength, as intellectual beings.

Edited by overtone
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Dawkins gives the anti-religion lobby a bad name.

 

It doesn't matter since (irreligious) atheism doesn't depend on credibility. When people arrive at atheism, it isn't atheism for the sake of atheism. They are usually brought to atheism by analytical thought. Analytical thinkers reject such fallacies as 'poisoning the well', 'Ad Hominem', and 'hasty generalization'.

Whereas a Catholic who comes to distrust their church leaders may stop identifying as Catholic or stop believing in Catholic doctrine, an atheist who comes to distrust atheistic figures will probably remain an atheist. Although we may wish for Dawkins to be more sensitive, sensitivity and gentleness aren't of central importance for the role he plays.

Besides, if an atheist would stop identifying as such because the well has been poisoned, they never really embraced the freedom of thought that should be our ultimate goal.

 

EDIT: Plus, making an effort to appear nice isn't necessarily the same as having benevolent actions. For what it's worth, Dawkins does have a charity, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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He is not responsible for the weirdly fanatical and rabid misrepresentations of his books and writings, for example. In modern discourse involving recent intellectual efforts, how many authors have had their person as author of their writings so intensively and publicly vilified by entire cadres of people who hadn't read thos writings, hadn't followed their arguments, hadn't a clue as to their contents? It's a short list of possibilities: Chomsky comes to mind.

I have read his writings. I have followed his arguments. I have much more than a clue to their contents. And I stand by my observation that his approach is extremist and thus, in a scientific context, seriously unhelpful. I am not interested in the ramblings and ravings of anyone who has reached an uninformed opinion about him. Mine is informed and it stands.

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I have read his writings. I have followed his arguments. I have much more than a clue to their contents. And I stand by my observation that his approach is extremist and thus, in a scientific context, seriously unhelpful. I am not interested in the ramblings and ravings of anyone who has reached an uninformed opinion about him. Mine is informed and it stands.

 

Your take on Dawkins is interesting, i find him to be pretty much exactly the opposite but then I see him as mostly jousting with the religious extremists so I find his approach to be pretty much spot on.

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Hello everyone. I'd like to start off by saying that I'm agnostic. I'm looking for some reason to tip myself on either side of the line- I just need some kind of evidence.

 

I thought reading God Delusion by Richard Dawkins would provide some insight to this, but I ended up not being able to finish it! The entire time he is just smashing religion left and right calling believers stupid. I'm not even religious and I find this offensive.

 

I was hoping the book would say something along the lines of "This religion is false because of this reason.". Instead it was more like "This religion is stupid because anyone that believes this is stupid."

 

What do you guys think?

Well, Dawkins could indeed prove nothing against religion in that book of his ,that's why he just resorted to many judgements of value instead of facts ...a weird behaviour from a scientist .

He's just a pissed off guy not able to deliver what he pretends to do against religion .

 

I think that people should take a look at the following to broaden their horizon on the matter of religion and science :

 

I wish i could send this to Dawkins and co. indeed :

<link snipped>

Thanks

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!

Moderator Note

Stop posting merely to advertise the book.

Hi there :

I am not advertising the book : but i just use it to make my point .

That book contains a lots of marxist ideas i absolutely do not agree with for example,so.

 

P.S.: Would you, please , tell me where is my first topic concerning the scientific method under the same subject i just posted ?

If you happened to remove it , would you, be kind enough to tell me why ? because i see no reason why it should be removed in the first place to begin with .

 

Did you, at least , take a close look at the link i provided ?

Why did you remove it without even taking a close look at it ? Weird

Thanks , appreciate indeed .

Edited by Dbaiba
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Hi there :

I am not advertising the book : but i just use it to make my point .

That book contains a lots of marxist ideas i absolutely do not agree with for example,so.

 

P.S.: Would you, please , tell me where is my first topic concerning the scientific method under the same subject i just posted ?

If you happened to remove it , would you, be kind enough to tell me why ? because i see no reason why it should be removed in the first place to begin with .

Thanks , appreciate indeed .

Both of your posts have amounted to nothing but linkspam for the book, so the first one is gone (at least temporarily). This one had the tiniest bit of on-topic material in it, so I just snipped the link.
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