Sunday, November 05, 2006

The God Delusion

I really liked Dawkins' book. I have to confess I've had The Selfish Gene on my "to-read" list for years, but still have not read it. I remember making a note to read it after many mentions of it on Usenet, etc., and it definitely had a place on the list after seeing it on my AI professor's bookshelf. I need to bump that up on the list and read it very soon.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, and I really enjoy hearing Dawkins come out and say things that have ALWAYS annoyed me. Things he directly attacks are:

1. The privileging of religion. This has annoyed me since day one. We are supposed to tip-toe around people's superstitions? Why? We tip-toe around virtually nothing else. We don't say things like, "well, you're a Democrat, that's your faith and I cannot talk about it". I've always suspected that this is permitted and encouraged because religion is a house of cards which quickly falls apart when the beliefs of any religion are taken to task and have to "stand and deliver". It's not childish as some "reviewers" of his book have claimed (the quotes are there because I doubt many of these people have even read it).

In addition to skeptics supposedly having to tip-toe around people's superstitions, they also have other privileges: tax breaks, for example. Another one: the idea that something that is otherwise a scheduled drug can be permitted, if it's for religious purposes? What the hell is that about?

2. Naming children of parents who have a certain belief system "Catholic", "Baptist", "Muslim" etc. Again, kudos on pointing out a very real problem. Children are too young to have made a choice about their beliefs and labeling them as such is atrocious. I know, I know, it's "just words", but words guide one's thinking and no one would call children "Republicans" or "Democrats", etc.

3. Subjecting children to their parents' indoctrination - this is a very tough one in free societies. Somehow, we have to balance freedom against terrible beliefs. The idea that children are chattel that have to be subjected to this is prevalent right now, and there is simply no way anything else would fly. It's only when it comes to "cults" (religions that don't have large enough numbers, in other words) that society condones protecting children from religious indoctrination. Since I still have a lot of libertarian sympathies, I cannot really condone government intervention, even though I find the poisoning of young minds just terrible. One can only hope that with education, these practices will wither away, but we know more than ever, and in America anyway, religious fervor is on the rise. In the 21st century. So I don't know what the answer is to this problem.

4. The idea of "belief in belief" - that some people contest people attacking religious dogma over their belief that it gives condolence, etc. Again, Dawkins slices and dices up this notion until it looks, well, stupid.

5. Most importantly, he questions the idea that no one but theologians can discuss religious matters and science is to stay out.. That's just silly, and he even questions whether theology is a legitimate field of study in the first place - good point. And, back to point 1 - Creationists feel they can constantly question science which *IS* a legitimate field of inquiry and then cry foul when scientists have the gall to question dogma - that really is presumptuous, and as a society, we must put an end to that - especially if religion is trying to poke its nose into matters beyond its alleged field of inquiry, or worse yet, trying to influence governments and education (as we are seeing in America for sure) and force their beliefs on others - something they have a long history of doing.

6. And lastly, there is the whammy that virtually everyone is an atheist when it comes to ALL religions but the one they chose (either actively or by an accident of birth which is the way most "choose" their religion). For example, Christians would find it silly if they ran into someone that believes in Zeus - they surely don't believe in Zeus.

In conclusion, go read this book. :) I'd like to also add that Dawkins also had a two-part special on BBC's Channel 4 called "The Root of All Evil?" - check it out.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?