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acme (189)

acme
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http://www.astray.com/

Leon Brocard (aka acme) is an orange-loving Perl eurohacker with many varied contributions to the Perl community, including the GraphViz module on the CPAN. YAPC::Europe was all his fault. He is still looking for a Perl Monger group he can start which begins with the letter 'D'.

Journal of acme (189)

Tuesday March 13, 2007
04:52 PM

The God Delusion

[ #32679 ]

I've just finished reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. The Wikipedia page summarises it very well. I highly recommend you read the book and see how truly terrible all religion is.

The crucial argument for me is that people believe what their parents and religious teachers teach them. If you are religious and believe in one particular religion, it is just because you happened to be born then and there - your religion is not the only one and you would have had another religion if you were born somewhere else. So stop having blind faith and stop indoctrinating your children and stop harassing everyone else and stop insulting and killing other people.

From now on read "ethnic cleansing" as "religious cleansing" and cringe whenever anyone says "Christian child". It's time to go on the offensive. Just say no to religion.

In school we had Religious Studies (only about the bible), put on plays based on biblical stories and had Latin prayers twice a week in Westminster Abbey. In school I was a scientist. Please read the book and enjoy Dave's writings - I particularly enjoyed Worthless Religions.

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  • I highly recommend you read the book and see how truly terrible all religion is.

    Man, there ought to be a law.

    The crucial argument for me is that people believe what their parents and religious teachers teach them.

    I haven't read this book, but the reason I haven't and likely won't is due to time constraints rather than just not wanting to read it. But surely Dawkins has something more intelligent to say than this? Because it's simply not universally true. I'll freely concede that for something like 9

    --
    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • Reading the Wikipedia summary makes me want to take a look at the book, and my library has a copy, so I may do just that within the next year or so. But looking at the summary of each chapter I'm not seeing much there that meaningfully challenges my faith. I am, however, wishing that Dawkins would at least adhere to the basic morality of the Wiccan rede: "An it harm noone, do what you will." I stand with Dawkins in asserting that one does not need religion to be good and moral (and I hope that my citatio

      --
      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • I think this is more of a soundbite than the crux of the argument.

      Religions conflict. You can't believe in Zeus and the Christian God. Heck, even some Catholics believe that Protestants are kidding themselves.

      So the point is really about which religion do you pick? Since there is no empirical evidence for any religion, it really doesn't matter which you pick, and that's enough evidence for Dawkins (and myself) that religion is just a crock of manure.

      It's just that most people don't pick their religion. They
      • Religions conflict. You can't believe in Zeus and the Christian God. Heck, even some Catholics believe that Protestants are kidding themselves.

        Of course.

        So the point is really about which religion do you pick? Since there is no empirical evidence for any religion, it really doesn't matter which you pick

        That is, quite simply, not a logical conclusion. There are other things besides empiricism, such as philosophy. Indeed, without philosophy, empiricism would not be considered a standard for scientific study in the first place, because on what empirical basis could you divine the scientific method? You can't do it.

        To come up with the scientific method, people philosophically evaluated the different methods by which one can come to truth. For the physical sciences, the scientific method was ar

        • To come up with the scientific method, people philosophically evaluated the different methods by which one can come to truth. For the physical sciences, the scientific method was arrived at, and it has continued to serve us very well. But empiricism as a method of arriving at truth is not applicable to something like religion, or politics, or art.

          Art is a good example here, because those who consider themselves experts on art tend to recognise that appreciation of art is very subjective. What Dawkins and I object to is the lack of subjectiveness in religion - the "If you don't believe in this you will go to hell" attitude. Dawkins' soundbites tend to paint everyone with the same brush, yet this is just a soundbite to get people's hackles up - partly to encourage debate, albeit in a flamebait manner. I think he's found flamebait necessary because in

          • Art is a good example here, because those who consider themselves experts on art tend to recognise that appreciation of art is very subjective.

            It is very subjective, but not wholly so. But subjective is not the opposite of empirical. You can have objective truth that is not empirical, such as mathematical truths which are more philosophical than empirical.

            You simply cannot say that because there is no empirical standard, that therefore none is better than another. Otherwise, we can say that a philosophy that says killing babies for fun is no worse than a philosophy that says all killing is wrong, and I don't think you really want to go down th

            • He says religion is wrong. He says religion is harmful.

              I'd appreciate if someone could clarify this for me. Does he say it like someone who says, "Smoking is harmful. You shouldn't smoke. But I respect your right to do so."? Or does he say it like someone who says, "Smoking is harmful. Tobacco should be outlawed. And all smokers (or all tobacco sellers) should be put in prison."?

              There's a world of difference, although this distinction is lost on a lot of people in a lot of discussions on a lot of

              --
              J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
              • He says religion is wrong. He says religion is harmful.

                I'd appreciate if someone could clarify this for me. Does he say it like someone who says, "Smoking is harmful. You shouldn't smoke. But I respect your right to do so."? Or does he say it like someone who says, "Smoking is harmful. Tobacco should be outlawed. And all smokers (or all tobacco sellers) should be put in prison."?

                Both. But in this context it doesn't matter: I was saying that he makes blanket statements about religion that do not apply to all religion.

                If you really want to see just how crazy Dawkins is, read this [richarddawkins.net]. Especially this line: "... just because some pedophile assaults are violent and painful, it doesn't mean that all are. A child too young to notice what is happening at the hands of a gentle pedophile will have no difficulty at all in noticing the pain inflicted by a violent one. Phrases like 'predatory m

                • One of his main points seems to be that the problem at the core of religion is Faith, belief without proof.

                  I don't see how that is a problem at all, if by "problem" you mean "something wrong." Science requires faith. Faith that you are more than a brain in a box and that the world around you exists; faith in the other scientists whose work you are incapable of proving (either because of lack of expertise or lack of time); faith in the scientific method, which is unprovable (with any sort of scientific proof, anyway).

                  Yes, religion requires a different degree of belief. But that is not a problem, that is just

                    • I don't know about that. Just down the street, three hospitals (St. Voltaire, St. Nietzsche, and St. Madalyn Murray O'Hair) regularly compete to outdo each other providing job training, low-income assistance, housing assistance, free medical care, and counseling services. The only catch is that you have to not listen to a sermon. That seems like a fair trade to me.
                      I am confused as to how this detracts from what I wrote (as apparently implied by "I don't know about that").
            • Many of us Christians have fought long and hard, and even convinced many of our fellow Christians, to act differently (read: nicer) toward non-Christians. And it's a nice slap in the face to have people accuse us of being intolerant for our religion, when we are, in fact -- and BECAUSE of our religion -- far more tolerant than Dawkins, and doing far more than him to foster tolerance.

              Wow. I couldn't agree more, or express it better.

              I am daily preaching the Gospel to Christians that if they want to love

              --
              J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
      • Also, I'd like to give a nod to South Park:

        Let us not forget the great Richard Dawkins, who finally freed the world of religion long ago. Dawkins knew that logic and reason were the way of the future. But it wasn't until he met his beautiful wife that he learned using logic and reason isn't enough: you have to be a dick to everyone who doesn't think like you.
        -- Shpeck, of the United Atheist League, in the year 2546
        • Yes, I do like that quote :-)

          Dawkins is a dick. But at least he's got to the point where atheists can stand up and say "Damnit, I have a right to voice my opinion too".
          • Dawkins is a dick. But at least he's got to the point where atheists can stand up and say "Damnit, I have a right to voice my opinion too".

            And I have no problem with that. Absolutely, atheists have a right -- hell, an obligation -- to voice their opinion.

            All I ask -- not require, just ask -- is that their opinion doesn't push for the exclusion of other views (yes, I know I am a bit hypocritical here: I am intolerant of intolerance, although, more broadly, it is not intolerance so much as subjugation of liberty).

            We cannot have a functional pluralistic society if everyone's opinion -- so long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others -- i

            • yes, I know I am a bit hypocritical here: I am intolerant of intolerance, although, more broadly, it is not intolerance so much as subjugation of liberty

              You're not hypocritical; just dealing with two definitions of tolerance. You're consistently pushing the belief that you don't think people should use force (whether on their own, or through government) to restrict the rights of others based on their beliefs. That's tolerance as I see it, and that's all we can require of each other. To require more is

              --
              J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
  • Yay! My most commented post is a non-techy one! It's nice to see everyone responding with views on how Christianity has never persecuted anyone [wikipedia.org]. It's just nice to finally be able to criticize a topic which is growing in power and yet it is somehow not cricket to criticize. It was tricky to write my post and maybe I should have written it as Matts did [perl.org].
    • It's just nice to finally be able to criticize a topic which is growing in power and yet it is somehow not cricket to criticize.

      I'm not sure how it is in Europe, but criticizing religion is all the vogue today over here. BTW, in this comment [perl.org] I mentioned two things on which I stand with Dawkins. The truth is I left one out which I intended to mention: I stand with Dawkins in thinking that all subjects should be subject to criticism and evaluation, with no special hallowness for religion. As I said, "I d

      --
      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • It's nice to see everyone responding with views on how Christianity has never persecuted anyone

      I just reread this and realized you made an even stronger statement than I read it for at first.

      Seriously ... are you literate?

      Since "everybody" made this assertion, surely it shouldn't tax you too much if I challenge you to name one person, and quote the relevant sentence. Thank you.

      --
      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • Hmmm, I obviously still wasn't clear enough. I mentioned Christianity as it's the major religion that I have a good grasp of, and the sarcastic comment was aimed at those defending religions as vessels incapable of anything but good. Ignore my ramblings as they are obviously not effective, but please read the book.
      • and the sarcastic comment was aimed at those defending religions as vessels incapable of anything but good

        Which would be who, exactly?

        Ignore my ramblings as they are obviously not effective,

        Yes, I'll agree that making a misrepresentation of facts such as "everybody has their religion solely because they inherited it from their parents" is not very effective. If you want to be effective with me, you have to show that you actually deal with data points that do not fit your theory, rather than excluding

        --
        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • and the sarcastic comment was aimed at those defending religions as vessels incapable of anything but good
          Which would be who, exactly?
          No one. Not in this discussion, anyway.
          • It's very telling he won't respond to my request to cite and quote somebody.

            Or even respond to most of the religious folks in this thread, for that matter. acme, the main thing I'm getting out of this is that Dawkins has made you a spectacular bigot. You could change that perception, if you chose.

            It's not the religious people here who are refusing to engage in dialogue and holding certain subjects up as not subject to question or criticism.

            --
            J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • The unfortunate thing is that Dawkins doesn't understand his subject well enough to write an essay, let alone a book. He has extremely little understanding of religion in general, or Christianity in particular. Most of his attacks are straw men or red herrings or question-begging or simple ad hominem. acme wrote:

      If you are religious and believe in one particular religion, it is just because you happened to be born then and there - your religion is not the only one and you would have had another religion if you were born somewhere else.

      Except, of course, that this is a very illogical argument. One may wish to think that there is not one correct religion, but even if that's the case, this wouldn't be evidence of it, at all.

      So stop having blind faith and stop indoctrinating your children

      My

      • The unfortunate thing is that Dawkins doesn't understand his subject well enough to write an essay, let alone a book.

        I've got to say that if so, it truly is unfortunate. I want to see the decent arguments against religion. Maybe I should check out The Blind Watchmaker, instead. As I said in my previous post, it sounds like Dawkins is interested in rectifying thousands of years of violation of liberty on the part of religious people by now violating the liberty of other religious people, people who are

        --
        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • I first read about Dawkins in a NewsWeek article, I think it was NewsWeek. The article was an interview with Dawkins & Francis Collins. What I found fascinating is that Collins was an atheist until 27, then became a Christian. ... Ah, I found the article, it was Time not NewsWeek. You can read it here,

      http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132-1,00.html [time.com]

      I found some of this interview to be quite funny, as it exposes Dawkins as having an extremely limited and narrow mind for this sort of thing. For example:

      DAWKINS: People who believe in God conclude there must have been a divine knob twiddler who twiddled the knobs of these half-dozen constants to get them exactly right. The problem is that this says, because something is vastly improbable, we need a God to explain it. But that God himself would be even more improbable.

      There is, of course, no scientific b