Sunday, April 01, 2012

The God Delusion

I was going to attempt some 'witty' corruption of the title such as The Dawkins Delusion before realising that has probably been done a thousand times before.

I thought I would read The God Delusion before embarking on the World Religions module in September.  Acquaint yourself with the opposing view and all that.  I was, and still am, quite prepared to approach Dawkins' work with an open and fair mind and to see what the man has to say about belief and religion.

This later edition of the book opens with a series of reasons for why you cannot argue with Dawkins' conclusions.  This does strike me as a little defensive, but it is handy for getting your point across to the sort of reader who picks up a famous book but then finds they cannot actually read it al the way through.  This way they can pick up a handful of easy quotes and spurious conclusions from the introduction and then enter into pub and dinner debate as if they had read and considered the book in its entirety.

Dawkins' does write some appalling rubbish very early on.  Included in his list of things that only occurred because of religion he mentions the Troubles in NI/Ireland, well I would tend to the argument that the IRA (and other) campaigns were largely carried out because the IRA saw themselves as freedom fighters seeking to oust an invading army from their homeland and that as such religion played a very minor role. He also claims that the Gunpowder Plot could not have happened without religion, yet there have been numerous coups and assassinations (including the murder of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval) which have as their prime motivators politics, power, revenge or money.

"Atheism nearly always indicates...a healthy mind."

"Atheists tend to think independently and will not conform to authority."  Both quotes from The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

I presume Dawkins' will provide well substantiated research results later in the book to support these statements.  Taken as they are though, I can see no reason why either atheism or theism should create either a healthy mind or an unhealthy one.  The authority statement is similarly woolly and requires substantiating evidence.  In comments posted on the blog in response to earlier articles I have posted on religion writers have made the point that concerns of morality, welfare, honesty, politics and life goals are common to atheists and are not the sole province of theists. This would seem to indicate some commonality of thinking and it does rather seem as if Dawkins' is trying to apply his own traits to a larger section of the community.

I am only a short way into the book though, so perhaps all will be made clearer later on.

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