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New Dawkins book: "The God Delusion"

#35: Jan. - Mar. 2007 (Non-Fiction)
Metaphorm

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Quote:This "oh well" attitude is part of what gets me. The support for this book among BookTalk atheists has been overwhelming. But there appears to be no attempt at reconciling Dawkins' caustic approach, nor his supposed misinformation, with that agreement. I'm not arguing that anyone should abandon their atheism simply because Dawkins' has put out a faulty, potentially offensive book. But why isn't there more of a general outcry for a book that more accurately represents your view of atheism? Nearly all of the responses I've seen seem to take his conclusion that religion ought to be abandoned as sufficiently right-minded to excuse all of his gaffs -- and none of the people in this thread who have actually started reading the book have denied that it contains those gaffs. In other words, "It's all right that he's probably going to get a lot of people angry at the atheist community, that he may have weakened public perception of the grounds of atheist arguments by backing them up with incomplete or uncertain information. We're both atheists, so he's got my support."By "oh well" I did not mean to communicate apathy or nonchalance, I simply meant to imply that I am not going to allow myself to be overly offended by Dawkin's particular brand of "insousance" or the failure of his book to meet rigorous academic standards. The book has a bright, shiny, metallic cover with a provocative title dwarfed only in size by his infidelic name. It's not meant to represent the cause of atheism. It's a 374 p pamphlet for the general public who for whatever reason will probably never take the time to digest the full spectrum of argument. If Dawkin's wants to whack the proverbial hornet's nest of belief in God with a stick, well good for him. It's not what my approach would be, but "oh well." It makes for good conversation which, perhaps, is what he hoped to achieve.
FiskeMiles

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Dear Mad:Quote:Usually a good idea. I hope you won't take it as an evasion if I say that we should be looking for a mutually agreeable restatement of the question.Not at all. Please offer a restatement of the question and let's see if I find it agreeable.Fiske
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I think we may do even better to take the discussion back at least one question. How does this sound: Given two positions about a supposed entity which, by definition, exists outside the realm of the natural, if it exists at all, what criteria do we use to determine the relative reasonableness of those positions?I'd say that there is no mutually agreeable criteria, and therefore, that neither position can be objectively (or at least consensibly) termed more reasonable.
FiskeMiles

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Dear Mad:You first need to establish that the conception of an entity, or anything for that matter (yes, a pun), existing outside the realm of the natural is coherent. Existence is a natural quality and applying the term beyond the natural world is meaningless except in imagination. And what we actually do in imagination is confer super-natural status to conceptions based on our sensory experience of the natural world.If super-natural existence is incoherent, it cannot be reasonably asserted and rejecting it is not only the more reasonable position, but the only reasonable position. Which, I think, is where we started... Fiske
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Chris OConnor

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Amem Fiske. Well said. The entire concept of something existing outside of the natural world is irrational.
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Not according to Dawkins Chris. Check out his conversation with Tim Collins in Time. Full of Porn*http://plainofpillars.blogspot.com
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FiskeQuote:And I'm not interested in converting anyone. I'm interested in working out my own ideas. If, along the way, through conversation, discussion, and debate, I can help others figure out what they believe or understand their beliefs more thoroughly, I'm happy to do so. I've gotten quite a bit of help myself.Oh, I wasn't talking about you, rather Dawkins when I said that some atheists seemed under the impression that all they'd have to do was mention a few counter-arguments to the "proofs" that Dawkins attacks, and that people would suddenly stop believing in God. Full of Porn*http://plainofpillars.blogspot.com
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And NIall, what you fail to grasp is that theists are more prolific at doing these such things when trying to show atheists the error of their ways. Like Asana and others like them, they feel that if they just can show us that prayer works, it will all follow from there to the light of Jesus Christ!I for one do NOT feel that presenting counter arguments against theist or faith will do one damn thing to the multitudes of brainswashed people out there...but I will keep restating these arguments when I find someone who is acutally open minded and truly freethinking!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. - AsanaThe 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
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Quote:Not according to Dawkins Chris. Check out his conversation with Tim Collins in Time. Is this online somewhere? Why not just fill us in Niall...I would appreciate it.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. - AsanaThe 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
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FiskeMiles: Existence is a natural quality and applying the term beyond the natural world is meaningless except in imagination.1) I'm not sure how you would demonstrate that existence is an exclusively "natural" quality -- even its conception as a "quality" is questionable -- except, perhaps, by defining the term so as to beg the question, so that point seems dubious. It also takes us into some rather heady metaphysical territory, which we would probably do well to avoid if we can. 2) What seems to really be at stake here is the dichotomy between natural and supernatural, and we're probably best served by examining that. It looks to me that, in this context, all that is mutually implied by the term natural is the aggregate of things which fit the methodological criteria set by the philosophy of science -- that is, any embodiment which is perceptible by the senses. To say that something supernatural exists, then, is only to say that there is some thing or things which are not routinely perceptible by human sensation. That claim in itself is not necessarily incoherent -- to make it coherent one need only assume that human perception is probably limited.That last bit is bordering on an epistemic claim, but the most part all I've proposed above is a semantic clarification. It's pretty low-level stuff, really, but I think it suffices to address the issue of coherency, and I'm hoping there's no need to delve into some of the more tangled branches of inquiry.Chris OConnor: The entire concept of something existing outside of the natural world is irrational.Only if you take the natural world to be coextensive with the whole of existence. I've seen no argument that rationally demonstrates that supposition. It seems entirely more reasonable to me to recognize that human perception is limited. More to the point, granted the premises of evolutionary anatomy, it's very much likely that human sense perception is distortive, since our sense organs were evolved to deal with a particular set of physical problems. The natural world is an idea that we've developed coextensive to the full set of human sense perceptions, and because of that coextensive development, the conception of the natural world shares any limitations that our sense perceptions might have.That does not, of course, prove the exsistence of something outside our perceptual range, but then, I'm not trying to prove any such existants. The point, rather, is that metaphysical naturalism is no more objectively reasonable nor grounded in "evidence" than supernaturalism per se (though you could almost certainly take particular instances of supernaturalism and demonstrate their unreasonableness). The reason, quite simply, is that any evidence which could be used to decide the point is, by definition, beyond our capacity for observing, so beyond merely out inability to evaluate the evidence, we're incapable of rationally or perceptually determining whether or not that evidence is there, nor do we have any criteria for determining whether or not it's likely. The terminology of natural and supernatural has stacked the cards against any answer being more reasonable than another -- we simply do not have the apparatus necessary to gather evidence for or against the supernatural.
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