I first wanted to add this nice overview of logical fallacies to another thread but then chose not to bump it. I recognised everything on it and thought it may print off nicely as reference for further heated on- (and off-)line discussions.
Very good. Couldn't help noticing that many religious types use plenty of those when trying to justify what they believe.
I think Richard Dawkins is as guilty of these foibles as any born-again, and I'm more on his side than theirs. Foucault would say it's all discourse. The thinker thinks and the prover proves. No one has perfect logic, it is shaped by upbringing, hate, love, class, race, age, situation.....endless dialogue.
I think of Dawkins as being as fundamentalist as those he's arguing against. I have a similar problem with Michael Moore. While I agree with much of what he says, the way he says it is as tub thumping and manipulative as the people he's criticising.
No, not at all.Nothing wrong with fundamentalism if it's based on good reason, definitely something wrong if it's based on a magic sky wizard.
Anyone who puts Richard Dawkins and Michael Moore in the same category knows nothing about either man or their work.
Foucault's an idiot. Never trust a french philosopher.
@Kreuzkav: “I think Richard Dawkins is as guilty of these foibles as any born-again”I’ll call you on that. Give one example of Dawkins making any of the errors of logic listed above. Just one.@Idoru: “I think of Dawkins as being as fundamentalist as those he's arguing against”As Odd Stewart points out, this misses the point. It suggests that relying exclusively on a set of principles is inherently wrong. When those principles are reason and evidence then such ‘fundamentalism’ is admirable – it leads to real, useful knowledge. The inherent problem with religious fundamentalism is not the fundamentalism, but the religion that is being literally interpreted. After all, religious texts do actually say the unpleasant, immoral things that are being so interpreted.
Anyone see Made in Chelsea last night? If Louise gets with Spencer again i'll be furious....
Even for an academic Dawkins is pompous and convinced of his own infallibility. At least Michael Moore is occasionally amusing (even if it is largely of the 'laugh at' rather than 'laugh with' variety).
I'd rather be pompous and right than funny and wrong.
But is he right? He used to be - or at least appear - somewhat more open-minded than he is now... And I don't think Wal-Mart should have been selling bullets either!
Dawkins? If anything I'd say he's softened his approach recently. He came across as a real arsehole in some of his early series, but these days he seems to have grasped that it's better to appear as a kindly old professor.As for whether he's right, well you'd have to be more specific. Why don't you start with where you think he's wrong?
That's the spirit, Arkady. Up and at 'em! Have any of the above actually read The God Delusion? A friend also obliged me to read The Dawkins Delusion, written by some Catholic, I think, name now forgotten. Worth reading, for an unwitting demonstration of the sort of illogicality that Dawkins so powerfully disposes of in his book. Admittedly, there is a bit of piss-taking here and there, which has given him a bad name with the opposition, but it's the arguments that count. I second Arkady: show us where in the book you think he got it wrong.
Notes deathly silence from Dawkins detractors
I didn't say that I thought Dawkins was wrong. I agree with much of what he says, I also disagree with much of it. I wasn't really referring to the content of his work. It's more his approach, I get the impression that he's as dogmatic and fundamentalist in his approach as the theists he criticises. This is based on his books, rather than any TV appearances or essays, and I'm going right back to The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker here - both of which I enjoyed very much - so if more recent works have been less so maybe he's changed his style. I don't think that kind of dogmatic adherence to any set of principles is a good thing even if those princples are reason and evidence. It blinds you to anything outside of your own theories. AJ Ayer spent most of his working life trying to defend his verificationism principle, which was entirely based on experience, and couldn't. That kind of closed mindedness isn't productive for scientific or rational thought, in my opinion.
“I wasn't really referring to the content of his work. It's more his approach, I get the impression that he's as dogmatic and fundamentalist in his approach as the theists he criticises”.“I don't think that kind of dogmatic adherence to any set of principles is a good thing even if those principles are reason and evidence.”Dogmatic in the main sense, pertaining to dogma? All the primary definitions of dogma pertain to faith, of which Dawkins has none whatsoever. Science is the opposite of dogma, by definition. Again, what do you mean by fundamentalist? Religious fundamentalism is the absolute literal reading of a religious text, the text being an article of faith. In what sense is Dawkins doing that? Dawkins insists that certainty is impossible, that we must always be open to new evidence. How is that dogmatic or fundamentalist?“That kind of closed mindedness isn't productive for scientific or rational thought, in my opinion.”How is insisting that evidence is the only meaningful source of knowledge unproductive for scientific or rational thought? I’m genuinely fascinated.It strikes me that you are recycling the old chestnut that ‘atheism is another religion’, which is rather like saying that not being interested in football is a kind of football team. Insisting that we should reject faith is not a kind of faith. Insisting on rejecting dogma is not a kind of dogma. Insisting that people maintain an open mind to new evidence is not a form of closed-mindedness.I’m seriously, genuinely, and open-handedly fascinated as to how you come to a different conclusion… where am I going wrong?Or is this like the election thread – some people may agree with what someone is saying, but decide to act like they don’t agree because they dislike they way it was said?
Deathly silence = deadline = money; debating for fun is taking a back seat, as I would like to go to bed somewhat before 5am tonight! Brief tea break now...
No debating for fun here!"Neither evolution nor religion explain eveything"I don't think those two are necessarily in opposition, or so I'm told by Anglicans and Catholics. A better opposition would be between religion and philosophical materialism. The latter is a framework to explain everthing that exists. The former is a framework that explains most things incorrectly or without evidential foundation, and a few things correctly by coincidence. Can you give an example of something that religion explains that is a) true and b) cannot be equally or better explained by materialist arguments?"I don't think religion is the root of all evil"No-one seriously claims this, even Hitchens. But what morality religion has it takes from humans (not the other way around), and much of the rest is actively poisonous. Look at the 10 commandments: a few truisms for any socialised human, the rest mostly nonsense about false idols, and even the reasonably good stuff (respect your parents) is spoiled by bribes (and you will be blessed to the nth generation, yadda yadda)."Is there a God? I don't know; but nor does he!"I never get this point. Dawkins doesn't claim to know - knowlege requires overwhelming evidence, belief should require sufficient evidence. His claim is that in order to know or believe something you should have some evidence. You have no evidence that a god exists. What are you doing believing in things for which you have no evidence? This is the thing that leaves me perenially baffled about theists and deists. You don't have any evidence that there isn't a giant clone of my penis orbiting Betelguese, but I bet you don't give any credence to that theory. Not until spaffmaggeddon anyway.
"I don't think that kind of dogmatic adherence to any set of principles is a good thing even if those princples are reason and evidence."
Thanks for that. Who was it who was sucked into the 'Shatner's Bassoon' gaff? That was the funniest bit.
Anyone read Religion for Atheists?
I was chatting to Alain de Botton at a do the other week, the conversation naturally came round to his book. He said he recieved very little correspondence from religious (any faith) people after publication but huge, steaming mounds of abusive letters from atheists.
I'm curious about the thoughts of SG'ers on the points he makes. I'm going to a party at the School of Life next week and would like to be a bit more informed about the thoughts of people that quite clearly care deeply about these matters.
Arkady, Sorry, I'm obviously not expressing myself very well, because I'm not trying to say that athiesm is another religion, which is a claim I don't agree with (great analogy btw). I think that an unwavering attachment - which is what I meant by dogmatic, I'm now trying to avoid language that generally pertains to faith - to any set of principles is a bad thing. And this is what I think Dawkins displayed in the two books I mentioned above. I think that by doing so, you are closed to the idea of change as new information comes to light. So at the moment we don't believe that a giant clone of your penis orbits Betelguese, based on the fact we have no evidence for it. But say in however many years' time someone goes there and photos said clone, anyone who carries on not believing is now ignoring the evidence. miss annie, I've followed AdB's tweets about the book and I think it sounds great. Like vetski says, there are good things about religion that we atheists can adopt. I really like the atheist cathedrals idea. Why should the religious get all the best architecture? I really want to buy the book, actually, so maybe a visit to your Waterstones will be in order this weekend.
The generally accepted definition of knowledge is justified true belief.
@Idoru - "I think that an unwavering attachment - which is what I meant by
dogmatic, I'm now trying to avoid language that generally pertains to
faith - to any set of principles is a bad thing. And this is what I
think Dawkins displayed in the two books I mentioned above."Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think the quote above is the crux of your point. I'd suggest this: Dawkins only relevant 'unwavering attachment' is to the scientific method. In other words, to the objective (through scientific scrutiny) assessment of evidence. In order for your point to be correct, you would have to give an example of Dawkins saying that he would ignore evidence, or that there are forms of material evidence that he would actively reject. I wager that you will find no such claim. Indeed, there is a whole chapter in the God Delusion dedicated to the sort of things that could prove him wrong "'Rabbits in the pre-Cambrian", etc.).My suggestion is that you are allowing your dislike of his tone to sully your analysis of his argument.@Miss Annie: I've not read it. I understand the central thesis to be the useful function of the form, rather than the content of religion. For instance: rituals, especially ritual gatherings; communal architectural projects. I can buy into the usefulness of those things, but as you know I take a considerable interest in those things particular without needing to claim that I'm aping religion.@Andy: "People of faith will say that it is EXACTLY BECAUSE the truth is
unknowable, and that this is what faith is. If you didn't need to
believe it, you'd know it, so it wouldn't be faith**. It's sort of key
to the whole thing. Faith is justifiable belief. The religious bit is
the trust in the faith that lets you take the logical leap over the
truth test."Agreed that this is key. The bit that I'm entirely able to comprehend is why people would consider faith to be a useful, positive thing at all, rather than a psychological foible. I've been struggling for ages trying to craft a sentence explaining my failure to get this, and each attempt only reinforces my awareness of the gaping hole in my comprehension."The religious bit is the trust in the faith that lets you take the logical leap over the truth test."Leaping over truth tests. Crikey.
Thing is you don't have to justify faith, that is why it's called faith. In let's say, the Catholic faith as that's something I know about, you have faith that God is taking care of you and that if you live a good life and keep your faith St. Peter will let you through the pearly gates and you will get your reward in heaven. I can't justify or prove that, nor can anyone else but plenty of people just believe it. That's fine. Plenty of people don't, that's fine too.
I'm happy to believe in evolution for most things but I honestly don't believe that a giraffe can have evolved. It just seems bizarre to me so I muddle through on some kind of middle ground and I'm quite happy with that.
I also have no real concept of where electricity comes from and I think it's amazing that someone can dig around in a wall and find it so I mostly think it's just magic.
@andy. In the first 7 lines of your last post, you switch from belief to hope. I would like to suggest that they are not the same, and that reason is the the important distinguisher
I want to catch a bus. It stops a few yards ahead. I KNOW, based on previous experience that, unless I suddenly drop down dead, I will catch it.
On another occasion, the bus stops 50 yards ahead. Given the amount of traffic congestion, and the number of people waiting, I BELIEVE I will catch it. I have EVIDENCE to support that REASONABLE belief.
But what if the bus stops 200 - 300 yards ahead? Reason tells me I won't make it - but you never know your luck. It is vital I catch that bus, and HOPE I make it.
If the buses are on strike that day I KNOW I will have to walk.
A religious believer surely does the equivalent of BELIEVING, or even KNOWING, without evidence, that he will make it. If he has faith, God might send him a winged chariot. A reasonable person almost knows, based on EXPERIENCE, that there are no winged chariots, and resigns himself to to defeat, in the bus-catching project.
I'll settle for reasonable HOPE.
I haven't read Alain de Botton's most recent book, but I have heard him speak on the subject. Like de Botton, I enjoy a lot of aspects of organised religion, though I don't believe in god. I like traditions. They bring together families and communities. They connect you to where you came from. I like the pageantry of a midnight mass, though I don't believe in Jesus. We have a mezuzah on our door frame, though I don't believe the words it contains. I like cathedrals, with their towering ceilings, though I don't believe what is preached within them. I like the outfits, the incense, the hymns. But I don't believe in a higher power. And I know how giraffes evolved.What I don't like is religion being taught in schools. Religious day schools should be banned. Every child should have to attend a secular school 5 days a week, where teachers teach logic and history and the scientific method, and not that all gays go to hell. If you want to send your child to Sunday school, that's fine. But everyone should have the opportunity to get a decent education to balance out the brainwashing. Forcing a child to grow up religious is child abuse. Belief should be a choice. It's incredibly difficult for someone who's been brought up in a faith to change his mind. Most of my friends are atheists. Those that grew up in secular households are fine. Those that grew up in religious families are wrecked with all kinds of bitterness and guilt. They no longer believe in god, but they can't just erase all the things that they've been taught over the years. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
I began wondering about 3am if a religious believer is so very different from a mathematician...the various versions of God may well be theoretical constructs, invented to explain things which may be unexplainable, but so is the square root of -1.
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