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Ch. 1 - A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS NON-BELIEVER 
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So you are saying that it indeed did matter what religion the supposed atheist was from then....right? They still would have killed him based on his OLD religion?


The point of the joke was that the man was damned/saved by his racial/cultural/national heritage, not his beliefs or opinions. The usefulness of labels like Catholic/Protestant when examining the conflict is minimal and it's certainly wrong to do as Dawkins does, and say that the cause of the conflict is religion. It would be a little like saying that the cause of the South African conflict was skin colour, and not inequality etc.

15 years ago, there would have been a handful of places up North where I could have met a nasty end, simply because of my heritage. Those people would have not cared if I had become a Protestant, if I still believed in a 32 country Republic, they'd still have gutted me. When people say Protestant or Catholic when speaking about the North, what they usually mean is Unionist or Nationalist, quite the opposite of what Dawkins said.

If every person in Northern Ireland became an atheist in the morning, then nothing would change. Hell, Marxism was pretty popular within Republican circles.

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Edited by: Niall001 at: 1/3/07 11:28 am



Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:26 am
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Niall: When people say Protestant or Catholic when speaking about the North, what they usually mean is Unionist or Nationalist, quite the opposite of what Dawkins said.

And to clarify further, Mr. P., Unionism and Nationalism did not arise from religious beliefs. Rather, Unionists tend to be Protestant, while Nationalists tend to be Catholic, hence the labeling. That's always how I understood the joke to be funny. It didn't matter if you were Protestant or Catholic; it mattered that you were a Unionist or Nationalist. That's why saying atheist wouldn't get you out of the dark alley alive, religion doesn't really matter, it's just used as a distraction. For example, my family hosted children from North Ireland a couple summers during the troubles. An observant Catholic family easily hosted both Protestant and Catholic children, and vice versa.

Edited by: irishrosem at: 1/3/07 11:39 am



Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:35 am
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Niall: The major problem that I have with Dawkins' approach is that his words never match his deeds.

Well I wouldn't say "never." But, in the context of The God Delusion, largely yes. Consider, however, the significant contributions Dawkins has made to the public consumption of biology, genetics and evolution. His work is noteworthy, and it is a momentous contribution to the atheist discussion. That is why I am so disappointed with The God Delusion. He fell out of his expertise to give a nod to philosophy, law, theology and sociology. Fields I don't think he has much experience in, and with which he doesn't seem to bother to acquaint himself.

He argues that religion is bad because it teaches people to accept beliefs without subjecting them to critical thought and atheism is good because it is the only rational conclusion one can arrive at following a critical examination of all available data.

I don't think he ever directly makes this argument. He claims (at least how I interpret his writing, and this is a very loose reference) that all conclusions are poor if they do not follow a logical progression of thought. He does not see a logical (truthful/honest) progression of thought possibly leading to a god conclusion. Likewise, he has no love for the indoctrinated atheist.

Dawkins, of all people, should not be writing a book to make atheists feel good about themselves.

I'm not sure about that, or if that is even the intent of the book. (I do realize that is what I actually wrote, but it was a flippant statement used to make a different point.) I think, instead and more accurately, Dawkins wrote a book that makes atheists feel secure in their conclusion (which makes them feel good). He also wrote a book to make atheists feel justifiably indignant about the special consideration theists receive socially. (I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm guessing he also wrote a book that justifies the harsh criticism directed at religion.)

Dawkins isn't just promoting the book to an atheist audience. He's engaging in a really awe-inspiring mass marketing effort.

I have absolutely no problem with this. As I said before, I don't want a book like The God Delusion to "represent" atheism, but he's entitled to market his book. I saw Dawkins when he came to speak here; he is an engaging and witty public speaker. My hope is that this opens the door to his other more distinguished works. (I hope that is Dawkins' intent too.)

Now I don't mean to suggest that he's simply trying to make money for himself, I mean he's really putting a lot of effort into getting his message out there to the kind of people who don't normally read these kind of books.

Again, this is totally his prerogative. But, I have to say I feel some sympathy for Dawkins. I can't imagine the constant bombardment he gets from theists who try to refute his writing with their inept and inarticulate arguments. It must be incredibly frustrating. I get the image of a master martial artist who is constantly challenged to fights by people less equipped to do battle. I imagine Dawkins is constantly forced to engage these mental twits (please note, I am not claiming that all theists are mental twits, just that Dawkins must encounter his fair share of them). If his reaction to this culminating frustration is The God Delusion, then so be it. I don't think it reflects well on Dawkins or his other scholarship, but I don't think he really cares about my puny opinion anyway.




Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:56 am
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Niall (from your blog):

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I apologise in advance for breaking on of my own principles to explain the joke but if in the above situation the man's assailants were Protestant Loyalists paramilitaries, he would have been let go if he declared that he was a lapsed Protestant, while a lapsed Catholic would most likely have been butchered. Similarly, if the assailants were Republican Catholic paramilitaries and the man happened to be a lapsed Protestant, he would have been killed, while a lapsed Catholic would have been allowed to walk free.


So you are saying that it indeed did matter what religion the supposed atheist was from then....right? They still would have killed him based on his OLD religion?

I dont get your point.

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Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:04 pm
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I am just saying that from Niall's explanation, it still seemed that the killing would have been based on the religion...so it seemed like a bad example.

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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:43 pm
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Well I wouldn't say "never." But, in the context of The God Delusion, largely yes. Consider, however, the significant contributions Dawkins has made to the public consumption of biology, genetics and evolution. His work is noteworthy, and it is a momentous contribution to the atheist discussion. That is why I am so disappointed with The God Delusion. He fell out of his expertise to give a nod to philosophy, law, theology and sociology. Fields I don't think he has much experience in, and with which he doesn't seem to bother to acquaint himself.


To be honest, and I don't want to overstate this because Dawkins has made significant contributions to, as you put it, "the public consumption of biology, genetics and evolution", but he really has had very few original ideas. He's more of a populariser of other people's ideas than an individual who comes up with any great new ideas, the one important exception being the meme. Wilson, Hamilton, Pinker, Tooby and Cosmides have all probably contributed more than him, but he gets the publicity.

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I'm not sure about that, or if that is even the intent of the book. (I do realize that is what I actually wrote, but it was a flippant statement used to make a different point.) I think, instead and more accurately, Dawkins wrote a book that makes atheists feel secure in their conclusion (which makes them feel good). He also wrote a book to make atheists feel justifiably indignant about the special consideration theists receive socially. (I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm guessing he also wrote a book that justifies the harsh criticism directed at religion.)


The problem I'm finding with the book is that it should not make atheists feel secure in their conclusion and it should not make them all that indignant. The reason I say this is that Dawkins doesn't make great arguments a lot of the time, or at least, his treatment of the counter-arguments is less that what is required. Now maybe atheists should feel secure in their conclusions, and maybe they should be indignant about the special treatment given to certain religions, but The God Delusion does not support these assertions particularly well. It's all very shallow.


Quote:
I have absolutely no problem with this. As I said before, I don't want a book like The God Delusion to "represent" atheism, but he's entitled to market his book. I saw Dawkins when he came to speak here; he is an engaging and witty public speaker. My hope is that this opens the door to his other more distinguished works. (I hope that is Dawkins' intent too.)


Of course he's entitled to market his book, but if people become atheists because of solely because of Dawkins work, well then they aren't really great critical thinkers. In fact, Dawkins is pursuiting a form of indoctrination. It's like he's said already he's abandoned the "even-handed, BBC approach" and he's depending on things other than the strength of his argument to persuade people that his conclusion is the only rational one.

Quote:
I get the image of a master martial artist who is constantly challenged to fights by people less equipped to do battle. I imagine Dawkins is constantly forced to engage these mental twits (please note, I am not claiming that all theists are mental twits, just that Dawkins must encounter his fair share of them). If his reaction to this culminating frustration is The God Delusion, then so be it. I don't think it reflects well on Dawkins or his other scholarship, but I don't think he really cares about my puny opinion anyway.


Nice image, but I'm seriously starting to revise my opinion of Dawkins intelligence. In my eyes, he's less some sort of Master-Ninja and more like Enemy-Thug#3. He might not care much about your puny opinion, but given what I've seen Dawkin's debating skills, you'd most likely kick his scrawny ass!

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Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:48 pm
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Minor update on Dawkins and Northern Ireland: In last weeks Sunday Independent there was an interview with Dawkins. In it, he makes a comment where he says that in the Northern Ireland conflict, labels like Catholic and Protestants were just convenient labels and not the cause of the conflict.

Now that confuses me a little. Maybe he's only just recently researched the conflict (I suspect he may have been forced to after reviews like that of Terry Eaglton) or maybe he was just exaggerating in The God Delusion. Either way, hopefully, he'll edit such blunders in future versions of The God Delusion.

You know, there's the skeleton of a really good book in The God Delusion. It's a pity Dawkins hadn't let the dust settle on his first draft before publishing the book.




Wed Jan 17, 2007 5:32 pm
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Niall:

It does read like a rough draft. :)

Fiske

I especially laughed at the bit (chapter 3) where he claims to have stymied a group of theologians with an ontological proof that pigs can fly but had unfortunately forgotten the details of his proof. If the book's editor was paid at all, the publisher has grounds for a lawsuit in my opinion...




Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:02 pm
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Garicker: However, I also think it's worth noting that the Court could have ruled on the constitutionality of the law, whether it was addressed in the government's brief or not. By failing to do so, the Court enabled the privileging of religion under RFRA.

I know this is a bit late, and I don't want to harp on this point (I'm sometimes known as a harpy among my friends). After a bit of research (hence the delay in responding), I'm pretty confident that the Court would not rule on constitutionality in this particular case. It is true, the Court can rule on constitutionality issues even if they are not raised by counsel. However, they are highly unlikely to do so, primarily because counsel would be unprepared to argue on the issues if they had no intention to raise the issues in the first place. The most likely course of action for the Supreme Court to take in such cases is to make a dictum at the end of their Opinion stating what they feel the constitutionality issue is. This has two purposes. First, it declares that they are not making a ruling on constitutionality, merely on the facts presented; second, it notes the constitutionality issue in the event it was missed.

In UDV, the appeal taken to the Supreme Court was predominantly a procedural issue. The Supreme Court would not rule on constitutionality, would not even issue a dictum, on a case that was brought to them on minor procedural issues. This is especially so when the constitutionality of RFRA was already being challenged in the courts. I still hold, this is not a case where the courts granted religious privileging. Until RFRA makes it before the Supreme Court in a solid case arguing the violation of an individual's constitutional rights, RFRA will stand. This is especially hard to do because RFRA does not directly violate anyone's rights. It indirectly violates the rights of those who don't benefit from RFRA. This goes back to garicker's point in a different thread, the Court's are not solely responsible in upholding the Constitution; it needs to be a focus in the legislature too.




Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:21 pm
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Niall, I meant to post this weeks ago and just forgot. Have you gotten to page 259 yet? Dawkins readdresses Ireland's troubles: "Yes yes, of course the troubles in Northern Ireland are political." Just wondering what you felt about his additional points.




Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:25 pm
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I think Dawkins and Harris' main point is that religion gives a shroud of legitimacy to the violence and makes it more bitter. I for one do not think that if religion goes away, all violence ends. Please.

But I am for getting rid of anything that makes violence less likely. Religion makes violence more likely and more acceptable when the violence is done in the name of a supposedly infallaile creator, of which every religion seems to have a different version.

Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

Mr. P's Bookshelf.

I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:42 pm
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Twice! Twice I wrote a fucking post and the board ate them both ::97

Damn Damn Damn Damn

I'll try again later




Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:30 am
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Crap. Lost my post.

Irish:
Quote:

Niall, I meant to post this weeks ago and just forgot. Have you gotten to page 259 yet? Dawkins readdresses Ireland's troubles: "Yes yes, of course the troubles in Northern Ireland are political." Just wondering what you felt about his additional points.


No actually I hadn't. But when you mentioned it, I ran through and looked up all the references to NI.

The section you quoted from, if my memory serves me, goes something along the lines of:

Yes, the NI conflict is political, but the conflict would not be possible without the presence of religion, as religion lends itself as a label.

Dawkins' arguments seems based on the notion, that apart from religion, there are no differences between the Nationalist and Unionist communities. Which is just plain wrong.

The single most important difference between the communities is their national identity, something just as heritable as religion. Ask a nationalist kid what nationality they are, and they will answer Irish. Ask a unionist, and they'll tell you British. Dawkins' also seems rather ignorant of the fact, that generally, Nationalists and Unionists can tell the difference between each other at sight. The same geographical differences have existed betweem Nationalists and Unionists since the Ulster Plantation. Both have different cultural histories and past-times. The language differences only died out during the late nineteenth century (though of course, there are parts of Ulster where Irish is still spoken as the native tounge) but Irish speaking Gaeltachts are turning up in areas of Belfast that Irish has not be spoken in for centuries.And of course, you can generally tell whether one is a Nationalist or Unionist by looking at their name. And indeed, apart from the National question, the two groups have other political differences. Nationalists tend to lean more toward socialism than Unionists, and while the Unionists tend to have a more traditional Protestant work ethic, Nationalists tend to value education more highly.

That's not to say that religion doesn't help to reinforce the conception that the other tribe is different, it's just to say that in the absence of religion, the groups have plenty of other ways to define themselves.

Now other problems Dawkins' has in relation to the NI conflict, is that I see he makes his silly blunder regarding ignorance of Loyalism again. Loyalism differs in important ways from Unionism. There are approx. 800000 Protestants in NI. Only a small portion of these would be considered loyalists. Loyalist is a label generally used for militant unionists and their supporters. In the same way, he confuses Republicanism and Nationalism.

And trust a Brit to manage to talk about the NI conflict without once recognising the fact that Republican violence was (at least in principle if not always in practice) aimed at the British Army and not Protestants.

Ho Hum, I wonder if those natives are a little pissed off because we colonised part of their country? No, no, it's got to be because they have a different religion to those folks we gave their land to. Not our fault at all!

Nick
Quote:

I think Dawkins and Harris' main point is that religion gives a shroud of legitimacy to the violence and makes it more bitter. I for one do not think that if religion goes away, all violence ends. Please.

But I am for getting rid of anything that makes violence less likely. Religion makes violence more likely and more acceptable when the violence is done in the name of a supposedly infallaile creator, of which every religion seems to have a different version.



I'm not certain if you were addressing this in response to the above threads but in the context of the NI conflict, God had sweet fuck all involvement, not even in the minds of those who were fighting.

Either way, I think you neglect the fact that religion swings both ways. In the absence of the religion, the Northern conflict would have occurred anyway. But what if all members had one single religion? It could have provided a context within which dialogue could have happened. Indeed, that is what happened in Northen Ireland within the context of Unionism (which is made up of many different Protestant sects).




Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:45 am
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I've gotten into the habit of saving my posts to my clipboard before hitting the Add Reply button each and every time. I recommend this practice to all of you.




Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:07 am
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Niall: Yes, the NI conflict is political, but the conflict would not be possible without the presence of religion, as religion lends itself as a label.

I'm not sure that he says that exactly. In fact Dawkins does state: "There really are genuine grievances and injustices, and these seem to have little to do with religion..." (259). But he goes on to theorize that the conflict could not have been so easily propelled, through the generations, without the religious label. This involves his repulsion at children being labeled Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jew, etc. Would it have been as easy to label a child, too young to make ideological choices, a Unionist or Nationalist, as it is to label them Catholic and Protestant? Or would such labels have given pause, without the religious bend? Would those tykes more likely have been referred to as children of Unionist parents/children of Nationalist parents? And if such religious labels did not exist, would it have been, perhaps, easier for younger generations to work their way toward a middle ground, a compromise, peace? Or is it just as easy to refer to Ireland's kids as Unionist and Nationalist as it is to call them Protestant or Catholic? If you don't mind giving your first-hand account.

BTW, sorry you lost your post, that is so annoying trying to recreate your thoughts. I usually type in a word program now and copy and paste it to the board. This has the bonus of spellcheck highlighting all spelling errors.




Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:56 pm
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Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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