hoverFrog recommends…

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

If, like me, you think that the world would be a better place without religion then you should read this book.

If you’ve followed the faith of your parents automatically but don’t really know why then you should read this book.

If you are a religious person who wants to see what the counter arguments are, or just want to play devil’s advocate,  then you should read this book.

That doesn’t leave many people.  If you’re a fundamentalist who refuses to listen to the arguments of the “other side” then you won’t read this book….but you should.

So sayeth the frog.

Although followers of the Flying Spagetti Monster could probably get away with skipping the first chapter.

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31 Comments

Filed under Keen Scimitar +2, Reasons to be cheerful, You decide

31 responses to “hoverFrog recommends…

  1. I fall into the first category – so why should I read it?

  2. It’s very well written and will provide plenty of ammunition to shoot down the arguments of deists. From my point of view it was interesting to read a set of arguments that I’ve thought about quite often over the years. In a sense it does preach to the converted but it does so in a quite entertaining way.

  3. I think i might have spaghetti for dinner now

  4. Fabulous

    i dont think that i fall into any catagory. I follow faith but not becasue of my parents.

  5. J

    Thanks for all these recommendations, I’ll be sure to check them out on my next visit to Border. I also recommend Letter to a Christian Nation. Great book 🙂
    http://www.amazon.com/Letter-Christian-Nation-Sam-Harris/dp/0307265773

  6. I shall add it to my wish list Jaclyn, thanks.

  7. You cannot beat a bit of Richard Dawkins.

  8. Rich, I am very impressed with his writing.

    Soupy, I know. *claps*

  9. I remember the first time I read the Blind Watchmaker, it was a bit of a struggle as I was only 15 or so, but well worth it.

  10. Rih, reading this book actually makes me want to read more of his books. A good sign I think.

  11. Well seeing as I’m stuck for reading material at present, I may go purchase it via Amazon.

  12. I dislike Dawkins, he is himself what so many people say is wrong with religion. People say religion doesn’t accept others beliefs, etc, etc, niether does he. The world would be a better place if people accepted that people are free to make choices about what they believe, and that they’re no more or less of a person because they make that choice.

    The problem with the more militant aspects of atheism is that they take the same attitude that so many fundamentalist religion followers take, that they are the only ones who can be right, that everyone has to believe what they believe (or don’t as the case is) and as such are hypocrites.

    I’m not trying to start some debate on the existance of God, we’ve worn that track plenty on previous posts, I just think that people like Dawkins are not constructive to society at all, I think society would be a far better place not if everyone didn’t believe, but if everyone accepted that people believe different things.

  13. There’s a whole section on this argument, Pete. Honestly, it may not change your opinion but it is a good read. The key difference between atheism and religion is that if verifiable evidence of divinity were presented then most atheists would be willing to concede the point. The opposite cannot be said.

    I really don’t mind debating the existence of God again, it’s fun and doesn’t really cause any harm.

  14. Yes, but there is no verifiable evidence to say there is no God either, there is merely conjecture, and some people say that science means there is no God, when at best it means that some people could be wrong in what they think about God, it doesn’t exclude God itself. If all of science is correct, that does not mean there is no God, but it does mean that some peoples understanding of God is incorrect, the argument of providing verifiable evidence goes both ways, because we’re talking of a matter of faith and spirituality, which is, in the main primarily outside of the scope of science.

    Plus, I’m not keen on the argument that the world would be better without religion, religious followers have done some horrid things, don’t get me wrong, dispicable, and that includes so called “Christians”. However, likewise some great humaintarians have been inspired by religion, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, etc, etc. It’s a circular argument, because the real problem is not that a belief system exists, it’s what crazy people sometimes do with their beliefs, the problems lies not in the belief system itself, but in the extremes of human behaviour, which it’s a fair argument would find expression regardless of the thing they choose to label as their cause.

  15. Pete, if you state a hypothesis (God exists) you must necessarily challenge that hypothesis in order to verify it. There is no evidence for the existence of a God, Goddess or pantheon of deities. The supporting text for the existence of God is inaccurate and contradictory. You can’t take the bible as evidence at all because either it is the true and accurate word of God but factually wrong or it is an analogy or set of stories in which case it is useless as a source of evidence.

    Now I’d like to make a distinction here, if you’ll allow me, between the biblical God and the “God” inherent in the wonder of nature and the universe. Einstein famously said that he believed “in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exist, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and actions of men.”

    Opposite this: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal. sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” – Richard Dawkins.

    The former makes sense except that the use of the word God is pointless because because it isn’t a personal god and therefore irrelevant to people. The latter is a deplorable monster.

    Saying that people’s understanding of God is incorrect is a circular argument. Which God, which interpretation of the holy texts is correct? If you accept the existence of God then the Torah, the Old and New Testament, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gītā, the Satanic Bible and a host of other books must all be correct. In fact it is just as valid to state that you are a worshipper of Wotan and must die in battle so that the Valkyries may carry you to Valhalla as it is to believe in Yahweh or Jehovah.

    It is in the name of this deplorable creator god or stories of those like him that religious wars are fought, that terrorists high jack planes and crash them into cities or blow themselves up in crowded trains and buses. More than that religion is the reason that communities in Northern Ireland don’t mix, that India and Pakistan are separate countries and that Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims hate one another.

    Your argument for humanitarianism inspired by religion is also invalid. Would not these people have done great works without religion as Einstein and other scientists have. Also wasn’t Mother Teresa the one who said “the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” even for the victims of rape?

    Without religion the extremist would have one less reason to wage war, The reason suicide bombers blow themselves up is not political or even personal. They genuinely believe that they will be sent to paradise if they die a martyr’s death. Surely you can see the absurdity in that?

  16. No, I disagree entirely, you place too much faith in human nature, without religion, bastards would find another reason to do deplorable things to each other, skin color, gender, sexuality. Blaming God or Religion is an easy way out, because it avoids the fact that blame is found in ourselves collectively, not in that you or I is doing that, but in the fact that humanity produces monsters, get rid of religion they’ll kill themselves and others for another reason, as history has repeatedly shown.

    Niether can we dismiss the humanitarian efforts of those people as detached from their beliefs, Ghandi was heavily influenced by religion, he talked in depth about it, and his belief in what God wanted him to do, you’re basically putting forward the argument that people would continue to do the same good things without religion, but stop doing the bad, I’d argue to the contrary that both would continue, but with different motivating forces. There will always be good people and bad people, that’s not religions fault, that is part of who we are as a species.

    Of course I believe it’s absurd to blow yourselves or others up for religion, but I believe that is down to psychotic people, not God. The God I serve does not condone and would certainly not reward such things. People say you can’t say all arabs are terrorists, etc, and I agree, yet it seems it’s acceptable to believe all religions are bad.

    Re: The Dawkins quote on God’s characteristics, because it’s pointless, as you’re coming from an angle that says God does not exist, I’m coming from one which believes Him to be all powerful and all knowing. We’re never going to agree, because of that different belief that effects how we view the events of the old testament. If you fundamentally believe none of it, then you’re not going to see anything as other than an isolated action or actions, whereas if you do believe, it’s part of a wider thing.

    However, post Jesus Christianity is very clear on all of these things, all of the characteristics and traits and responsibilities that are on Christians, and it’s clear that none of them are in any way dangerous, murderous or anything.

    All atheists come up with is that the burden of proof is on us, but there is an equal burden of proof on you. It’s a stupid pointless argument for me to tell you to prove it, or for you to tell me to prove it, because all we do is go in circles. If there is a burden of proof then it’s for both or none.

  17. hehe, strawberries.

  18. i tell you what is bad….fucking Scientologists, they really get my goat!

    Also, it’s a lot more to do with fundamentalists and nut jobs these days than the real proper people! They know exactly who to prey on, the weak minded people who need something in their life to cling to and religion is perfect.
    It is the fundamentalist who bomb us and fly planes into buildings and it is them who need to be stopped… they interpret their holy scriptures in completely the wrong way and use that to justify their actions

    phoey.

  19. Without scriptures they wouldn’t be able to misinterpret them, LovelyJelly.

    Pete, mmm strawberries, yum.

    Scrumptious Soupy, raspberries, lovely.

    Oops, I’m working backwards here. I may take some time to cover all your points so, I dunno, make some tea or something……

    ……

    I am blaming religion because without it we would have no-one to blame but ourselves. If humanity produces deluded monsters we can lock them up in prison or special places for crazy people…parliament I think it’s called…If I think the Tooth Fairy is telling me to kill people and collect their teeth in jars that would be odd and very disturbing but if I say God tells me to knock on doors and get people out of bed in a Sunday when they want to be sleeping then that’s OK.

    On to the humanitarian effforts of the bible that I’d like to pour scorn on with my bucket of specially prepared scorn: Undoubtedly Ghandi and King and many others were lovely people who were also religious. However where is the motivation for people to perform good works in the name of religion? We have two options: Praise and reward from God, fear of punishment by God. The former is hardly selfless or a good motivator for genuinely helping other people and the latter is a horribly twisted form of mental torture akin to the worst kinds of mental abuse. I disagree that we are basically a selfish species. We’ve evolved as social animals to assist one. Look at how social animals hunt, they don’t hurt one another except when competition drives them to. Saying that human beings would suddenly start harming people if religion wasn’t restricting them is just wrong. Atheists don’t run around cutting off people’s heads. Not even when they hear the voice of the Tooth Fairy telling them to.

    Now the Dawkins quote was deliberately provocative and for that I make no apology. You’re saying that God is all powerful and all knowing. There are fairly simply games to show that this is a false presumption. If God is all powerful he can do anything. If omniscient he knows everything. Can God then ever cause himself to get lost? No and he’s not omnipotent, yes and he’s not omniscient. There are pelnty of other logic arguments along the same line as I’m sure you’re aware.

    Christian religion may not promote holy wars, burnt offerings or any of the vile stories of the Old Testament (although their are a few oddities) but it is still a divisive force. Catholics and Protestants worship the same god from the same holy book but have been killing each other since the 16th century over ‘interpretations’ of scripture.

    Your proof of God is the bible, without it there is no evidence. Yet the bible is filled with contradictions and flaws. Just as you would expect a book written by different people, translated from language to language and edited over the centuries to be. It’s not even complete as the recent Book of Judas shows. If you don’t take the Bible literally as, what’s the phrase?, as the infallible Word of God, then what is the point of it?

    The burden on science is to find the truth of the nature of the universe. Despite creationist arguments I see no requirement for any God in the universe. It is quite wonderful enough without it.

    As an aside…Ms Face what is it that you’ve got against the Scientologists? They’ve as much right to practice their religion as any other group, haven’t they?

  20. And whats so bad with the fact that humans have to blame themselves? They do, no one is saying it’s ok to harm another person for any reason, has an atheist never harmed someone? You act like religion is the only reason some bad people have done bad things, it’s not bad people of all different beliefs do bad things, thats life, no one is saying it’s OK, I’m not saying it’s ok, you’re not saying it’s ok, society is not saying it’s ok.

    You can’t divorce the work of someone like Gandhi from his religious beliefs because they were such a huge influence on what he did. Likewise you can’t say that only people acting on grounds or religion have ever done good things. Religious people have done good things and bad things, non religious people have done good things and bad things.

    You treat it as if anyone’s religion motivating them to do good works devalues the work, but with the utmost respect that is utter crap. I don’t try to do good things because I fear God will smite me, or because of the rewards, I do good things because of God’s love, and what I’ve learned from that about how we should behave towards others. While it’s hard for someone who doesn’t believe in God to accept that others can learn from His love, it’s perfectly possible. I am not alone, there are millions of people who do it far better than I do. That doesn’t mean that no one else can do good, but niether does it mean believers only do good out of self serving ideals, that’s a most ridiculous and horrible thing to say about people, to be honest.

    I’m not saying human beings would suddenly start harming people without religion, I’m saying we’re already harming people, for a multitude of reasons, and they’d still find a multitude of reasons in the abscence of religion. The worlds woes won’t be fixed by getting rid of religion, millions of people around the world are inspired and motivated by religion to do good things, so don’t write everyone who has faith off just because of the view misguided dickheads who strap bombs to themselves.

    Niether, can you blame Chritianity for the problems in Ireland, you can blame some people who claim to be Christians, yes, but not Christianity itself. If a British person does something wrong and says they did it for Britian, does that mean no one should ever be British again? No, and neither does the fact that someone purporting to believe in Jesus has done something wrong mean no one else should believe.

    My proof of God is not solely the bible, my proof of God is also within me, and within others, but as I assume being an atheist you don’t accept that spiritual angle, you won’t accept that either. The fact is you can’t apply scientific hypothoses to something outside the realm of science. The bible is not my proof of God, my proof of God is that I know him to exist, that I feel Him, that my spirit connects with Him, the bible is an extension of that, it’d be just more words on a page if I didn’t know Him to exist.

    I like the way you duck the question of prooving His non-existence by saying that you don’t have too. Very convienient. Perhaps convienient because you know as well as I do it can’t be proved. However, as man has believed in Gods and Deities since the earliest civilisation, we can’t just arrive at a point and say it no longer makes sense to us, so scrap the whole thing.

    What confuses me is the point in our circular debates, we both know the arguments we’re treading here, but are we really getting anywhere?

  21. I’m saying that we should blame ourselves when things go wrong because their isn’t anyone else.

    “Religious people have done good things and bad things, non religious people have done good things and bad things. ” Basically people have done good things and bad things. Good. Then religion isn’t required.

    A Gandhi quote comes to mind “”I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    The point about religion in Northern Ireland is that without it the communities would have mixed and the hostilities defused. Not overnight but over time.

    The proof thing is important The Cosmic Teapot is another non-disprovable theory but do you honestly believe in a teapot floating around the cosmos? I don’t. It sounds to me that you follow Spinoza’s God rather than the Christian God. Or perhaps a mix of the two.

    I don’t think it’s a circular debate. I’d hope that you listen to my points and I know I listen to yours (if only to strengthen my own arguments)

  22. I’d like to point out that you cannot name a single instance where evil has been done in the name of atheism. Military secularism was a by-product of the horror that is Communism, but Stalin did not kill priests because they were priests. He killed priests because they were a threat to his power, as were all the other people he put to death (at least in his sick mind).
    Great evil has been done, however, under the close supervision and sponsorship of organised religions. It’s a powerful asymmetry.
    Lack of evidence against a God, Pete, does not make the chance of God existing 50/50. I challenge you to disprove there is an invisible teapot orbiting the Sun. I cannot prove it either, but you cannot say the chances of it existing versus it not existing are 50/50.

  23. M

    eltower: actually, science could prove or disprove the possible existance of an invisible teapot orbiting the sun by observation of the reaction of other objects around the area and seeing how their orbits are disrupted by objects unseen. Personally, I don’t have the time or equipment to monitor such a thing, but it isn’t something that couldn’t be monitored and determined.
    I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Religion exists to draw people together and “be better people” based on the direction those who dictate the religion believe “better people” are; in the time of global isolation this wasn’t a problem; conflicting beliefs would have rarely encountered each other and questions of “my god being better than yours” would never have come up. But the world seemingly shrinks as the population grows. As technology gives us more and more ways to communicate with the rest of mankind. And problems occur. In the belief that they are more right than their neighbours, much is done “in the name of God” – they never embrace the similarities. They never notice that the names have changed but the stories are (essentially) the same.

  24. Exactly, we should blame ourselves, not religion, blaming religion is a cop out to explain why some people are evil, but it’s not the solution at all.

    The fact that people have done good and bad things doesn’t mean religion is irrelevant or unrequired, it merely negates the argument altogether, because people are, independent of religion, capable and doing the bad things still.

    Your logic that religion isn’t required only works if there is no God.

    The Ghandi quote is a good one, and I think very relevant, there is a whole lot of room for improvment in most Christians, but in that the problem is not with the faith but with some of the faithful.

    I think to suggest that the Northern Ireland problem is solely about religion is to over simplify it a lot, yes it’s a big factor, but there are a lot of other factors that hang on it, removing religion doesn’t remove the question of home rule or union rule. Removing religion merely removes one obstacle, the hatred is rooted far deeper than that, although thankfully solutions are being found.

    The Cosmic Teapot is not disprovable, you’re right, but there is a difference between something made up on the spot, and something that has many thousands of years of belief. Thousands of years of people believing, people having a spiritual connection with God, that gives it more credibility than something made up on the spot to demonstrate a point.

    I do belief in the Christian God, because I believe that God is very much concerned in what we do and how we live. I just don’t believe that he encourages us in any way to hate others, and object to the human flaw of hatred being blamed on Him. I believe God so loved the world that he sent His only Son, if He wasn’t interested in how it all turned out, He’d not have bothered.

    I do listen to your points, it’s just I think that as opposed to religion, What’s wrong is people not accepting other people, for any reason, that’s what needs to change, not accepting people on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, these are all reasons people use to hate, but the problem is with non acceptance as opposed to the reasons people say they’re hating. The way to get rid of hatred is not to make everyone believe the same, it’s to make people accept that people have other beliefs than their own. We aren’t going to And saying we should be rid of religions is just as non-accepting as religions saying they should be rid of each other.

  25. eltower, your point about evil being done in the name of atheism is very true. You don’t even get atheists and agnostics getting into wars over religious disagreement and the two ideas are not that far apart. Yet Catholics and Protestants have the same holy book and still manage to hate each other.

    Mas, current science could not prove or disprove the possible existence of an invisible teapot orbiting the sun. It would be too small and lack the mass to be detectable as anything other than another bit of space junk.

    You have a point about humanity looking for differences rather than similarities. Surely religion is a difference that we could do without. I disagree that religion exists to draw people together. I think that it has been used to force social cohesion on groups but I don’t think that this is necessarily a good thing.

    Pete, you say that religion is irrelevant to the subject of whether or not people commit good or evil acts. What then is the point of it?

    “Your logic that religion isn’t required only works if there is no God. ” Exactly.

    Ont he subject of Northern Ireland I’m not suggesting that it is solely about religion but I do suggest that it would not have lasted as long or been as intense if religion were taken out of the equation. As you say removing religion removes one obstacle.

    As for the Cosmic Teapot, are you seriously suggesting that it is less valid simply because it is a younger idea? Just because Christianity is about 2000 years old does not make it right. I mean people thought the world was flat for most of that time but it clearly isn’t. Also by the same token the Egyptian ancestor worship is thousands of years older than Christianity but I don’t see people claiming that Horus or Ptah are truer gods that Yahweh.

    I don’t believe that the Christian God (that I don’t believe in) can be concerned with the goings on of his worshippers. Here is why: Intervention. I love my kids but I allow them to make mistakes in order that they learn from them. I offer guidance when they are going in the wrong direction and I directly intervene when they are in danger. I see no evidence of divine intervention.

    On the matter of the crucifixion story I have to say how utterly ridiculous it is. God sent his only son (who was also him) down to Earth to be killed so that we could be forgiven our sins. Why not just forgive us our sins and save all the theatrics? Surely such an action would be possible for an omnipotent being? And forgiven for what precisely? Human frailty? Surely a benevolent and omniscient designer would have made a better job of his creation?

    People do need to change and I believe that religion is one big thing that stops up from changing. Obviously the process of shedding this indoctrination is a slow one but I hope that more and more people will as the centuries pass.

  26. M

    Christ on a cross. It’s all about death of sin and angelic rebirth. And definately it is theatrics. Slight of hand and illusion over substance. But the stuff of which those who were there could turn and say “bugger me if that Jesus bloke wasn’t right about being the son of God. If he hadn’t died for my ignorance I’d be pretty fucked now” ; legends being born.
    An allusion to human parenting and the work of God can be made; in fact, it’s the direction I was always pointed in growing up. That God lets us make our own way through life, right or wrong. We are given choice. We have “free will” to make our own mistakes and learn from them. Jesus was sent for the sinners. An assumption has been made that it is for all sinners, for all time. I don’t know if this is the case. Through the bible we can see that God has been pretty pissed off with the acts of his creation from time to time. Sending down floods. Sending down death. All to no avail. Each time sin is wiped out, it begins anew. Maybe Jesus is the equiv. of a modern-day “softly softly” approach. Instead of corporal punishment, we say “isn’t it interesting you’re being such a horrible little shit”. Instead of God wiping out … God sends down himself in human form and says “here I am world, come and get some” Or something like that. And the world comes and gets some. And Jesus gets cross…

    … I would have to say that we have the knowledge to determine the existance of something invisible orbiting the sun; however, the timescales involved with the technologies we have at this time – and the lack of importance places on extraterrestrial matters when it comes to budgets – would make it largely unfeasible to implement in practice. But in theory, it is possible….

    I think there is nothing wrong in people having a faith. People need to realise though that there are many roads through this life, but ultimately we are judged on the journey we make – be it by a “God” or be it just by those around us. And ultimately, all roads lead to the same place.

    Religion needs to recognise and accept differences; and realise the similarities that lie there. To not persecute people for those differences, but embrace the similarities. To see that, at the end of the day, we’re all the same.
    But religion is just one of many excuses used for evil. But without it, we would find reasons. Their skin is the wrong colour. They’re stupider than us. We cannot understand what they say. We like those trees they live under. etc. etc. etc.
    M

  27. You’ve got a point. Putting aside mythology we should all be excellent to one another but people prefer cliques. You see faith as a unifying force but I see it as divisive. Eliminate religion as a reason for people doing all manner of unpleasantness and you have one less reason. It doesn’t make the other reasons stronger.

    I prefer to live under oak trees. The leaves are better suited to keeping off the rain than pine trees.

  28. M

    Like all things which are shared, faith brings those together of a similar persuasion but excludes those that do not share the faith. In isolation, this is not a problem (my earlier point) but in the world we live in, communities are mixed; the world is a smaller place, and the existence of isolated regions of single faith are less likely to come across than they were, say 20, 30, 40 years ago. So we have situations where we see the differences and social exclusion (not sexclusion… my erased one-tracked-mind typo) occurs. Your point of faith being divisive being very true in the current climate. You’re either with us or against us. Same or different. Friend or Foe.

    The problem with religion vs other reasons for unpleasentness… it’s all about belief. If you believe you are right, that is one thing. If you think you are right and have the power of a being that is able to create and destroy in less than a heartbeat… it gives you a conviction of truth to your views. A belief that your views are divine and therefore truth, righteousness and all that is good. If God were my right-hand man there would be nothing in this world I could not do; the support of the creator being paramount to my righteous opinions and views. You have that, you can do no wrong.

    People will always have reasons for ill deeds. Justifications. Religion is an easy justification of irrational xenophobia. (not that there is rational xenophobia… but… you know what I mean!)

    However, faith. Our beliefs. We are driven by them. Whether we believe in the divine (of whichever flavour we choose) or whether we believe in the innate ability to control and form our own destiny based on our actions and decisions; or whether we believe superstitions, supernatural, or anything; however irrational. It drives us and gives us reasons for the things that happen. Good and bad. And we need a belief in something; religion just provides a belief for those who don’t want to look too hard to find something. Something that is established. Something that is taken as a norm.

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