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Ch. 2 - THE GOD HYPOTHESIS 
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Post Re: Ch. 2 - THE GOD HYPOTHESIS
garicker:...there is a strong effort by some to enshrine a particular variant of monotheism, Christianity, as the unofficial official state religion here in the United States. (He doesn't state this, by the way. This as my interpretation of what he is attempting.)

I think that is a pretty safe interpretation both of Dawkins' and the current political climate. After introducing U.S. secularism, Dawkins also compares religious influence in England with the U.S., claiming that for the English "religion under the aegis of the established church has become little more than a pleasant social pastime, scarcely recognizable as religious at all" (41). The description of religion as a "pleasant social pastime" is demonstrative of many of the people I know here in the U.S. And, yet, for the past ten years, the religious fervor of many elected officials has taken on a more fundamental tone. Dawkins offers a couple theories why this might be so: notably that the "religiosity of America stems paradoxically from the secularism of its constitution." That the fervor in the U.S. comes from competing religions with equal legal clout, as opposed to the one dominant Church of England, which dictates its religion. It's an interesting theory. Could it also come from the overwhelming and distorted influence the religious right has in elections, as opposed to a manifestation of how religion is valued among U.S. citizens as a whole?




Tue Jan 09, 2007 3:28 pm
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Tue Mar 06, 2007 3:12 pm
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Post Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
Rose: As for how Christians try to justify the Treaty of Tripoli, or the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, or Madison's writings, or Jefferson's writings, or a host of Supreme Court decisions when claiming the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation is unclear to me. I've never heard a sound, reasoned argument to justify this claim.

It's slow reading, but a good candidate for the best explanation (by analogy) would probably be Paul Veyne's "Did the Greeks Believe Their Myths".




Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:44 am
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Post Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
Leave it to you, Mad, to come up with a book for that question...::09

Now I'm going have to, at least, look up that title. I just can't see where the argument could be truly convincing. Sooner or later I'll open my mind to the possibility and look up the book.




Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:36 am
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Post Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
I have that book. I tried to start it once, but put it down.

I did not, from perusing it, see how it would offer any explanation to the foudning of the US constitution.

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Post Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
I think Mad was offering the title as an explanation of how people justify claims that the U.S. was intended to be a Christian nation. Does that make more sense, Mr.P.?




Thu Mar 08, 2007 10:51 am
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Post Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
To be more exact, I was offering the book as an explanation for how people reconcile Christian doctrine and their civic faith -- that is, their conviction that the values and ideals set forth by various canonized American documents are comendable as a way of life -- particularly when the Christian and civic faiths come into apparant conflict. "Did the Greeks Believe In Their Myths?" is the long answer. The paraphrased answer would be that people are prone to believing contradictory things depending on the context of their behavior at that moment, and that most of the time they transition between those contexts so fluidly that they rarely feel the need to reconcile them.




Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:30 pm
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Post Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
Quote:
The paraphrased answer would be that people are prone to believing contradictory things depending on the context of their behavior at that moment, and that most of the time they transition between those contexts so fluidly that they rarely feel the need to reconcile them.


And this many of us classify as delusional behavior. And please explain "context of their behavior at that moment".

Thanks,
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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 Boditharta (former booktalk troll)

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What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George Carlin

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




Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:37 pm
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Post Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
me: The paraphrased answer would be that people are prone to believing contradictory things depending on the context of their behavior at that moment, and that most of the time they transition between those contexts so fluidly that they rarely feel the need to reconcile them.
Mr P.: And this many of us classify as delusional behavior.

You can classify it however you want. Psychology shows this to be pretty typical behavior for just about everyone.

And please explain "context of their behavior at that moment".

It's all about how you categorize what you're doing. We don't always articulate it, but most of us behave as though our actions were easily compartmentalized from one another. So a lawyer may behave one way in his home life, and in a contradictory way while practicing law, and will feel no particular need to reconcile the two unless the congnitive walls of those two compartments break down for some reason.

To give a more pertinent example, a practicing scientist can believe in God whenever that belief is operative -- at church, say, or on a hike -- but suspend that belief when it's unnecessary -- eg. when he's looking for natural causes to laboratory phenomenon.

George Steiner has pointed out ("In Bluebeard's Castle") that one of the most startling aspects of monotheism is the claim to absolute importance that it makes. He characterizes it as an impossible ideal, but one with an obvious attraction (obvious because, well, look how many monotheists there are). Paul Veyne's book would seem to suggest that that sort of absolutism is alien to the way humans usually handle their beliefs, and that seems to bear out in our observations of monotheists. Some of them are damn intent on not compartmentalizing their beliefs, but few, if any, actually attain that ideal.




Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:55 pm
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Post chapter 2
garicker, that was a great synopsis of the chapter. Thanks! ::80

did you have any specific suggestions on how Dawkins might have organized it better?




Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:09 am
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Post Re: chapter 2
Ginof: garicker, that was a great synopsis of the chapter. Thanks!

You're welcome. I just had to go back and reread it to refresh my memory. :)

did you have any specific suggestions on how Dawkins might have organized it better?

I think he might have been better served to have organized the material into two chapters--one that dealt specifically with religious approaches to the god hypothesis and another that dealt with agnosticism, NOMA and some of the other issues he raised.

Of course, it's always easy to pick another writer's work apart, and, as I noted, I think the chapter is useful. I just had the feeling it was rushed, as though Dawkins was anxious to get to other matters and consequently was giving only cursory attention to some areas that deserved more thorough treatment.

George

"Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."

Godless in America by George A. Ricker




Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:13 am
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Post Re:
You know, looking back, I think that is the quote I was responding to, but it doesn't say what I thought it said. What I thought you were asking is, how do some Christians reconcile their historical, moral and cosmological beliefs with some of the political demands they make. How I got that out of the quoted text is beyond me. I must have been pretty hungry or tired at the time.




Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:22 pm
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