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← Review of Darwin's Angel: An Angelic Response to the God Delusion

Review of Darwin's Angel: An Angelic Response to the God Delusion - Comments

Quine's Avatar Comment 1 by Quine

Paper bag on head for humanity.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 20:47:00 UTC | #63466

Teapot_Believer's Avatar Comment 2 by Teapot_Believer

"He overlooks the big theologians altogether in favour of some pretty low-key, unknown figures."

Sorry ma'am, but are Anselm and Aquinas low-key, unknown figures today?

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 20:56:00 UTC | #63467

Sittingduck's Avatar Comment 3 by Sittingduck

Yikes!

It kicks Richard Dawkins's self-aggrandising polemic, The God Delusion,...

I read the God Delusion, but I must of missed the self-aggrandising part. Could someone clue me in?

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 21:07:00 UTC | #63470

Dr Benway's Avatar Comment 4 by Dr Benway

I've been reading these reviews for months now, and I've developed some sort of condition, manifest by overwhelming fatigue in the face of arguments like "lumped together all religion," "can't judge all by a few bad apples," nobody believes in the OT God," "science doesn't know everything." Might be an allergy to hay or something.

I've lost the will to respond. I feel only deep sympathy for Dawkins. Teachers don't enjoy patiently explaining ideas to rocks refusing to understand.

How do I send a bottle of something tasty to Dawkins? I'm not going to the thing in DC, but maybe there's a hotel that could receive and hold a small gift?

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 21:10:00 UTC | #63471

Disumbrationist's Avatar Comment 5 by Disumbrationist

Therefore, it is perfectly respectable to "pick and choose" when reading the Bible

Fine, as long as you then admit that the Bible was neither written by God nor divinely inspired, the Bible is not the source of morality (since it is your innate morality that is doing the "picking and choosing"), and that a majority of Christians (at least in America) would disagree with you.

You cannot criticise a theory until you have made some proper attempt to come to grips with it, and Dawkins hasn't; or doesn't show us that he has tried. He overlooks the big theologians altogether in favour of some pretty low-key, unknown figures.

You don't need to major in fashion to know that the Emperor has no clothes.
http://richarddawkins.net/article,463,The-Courtiers-Reply,PZ-Myers

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 21:14:00 UTC | #63472

Sittingduck's Avatar Comment 6 by Sittingduck

"For a start, only religious nutcases take the Creation story literally"

Obviously the reviewer hasn't been to the US where a huge majority of the population takes the story literally - including a lot of our presidential candidates. They may all be nutcases, but there sure are a lot of 'em

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 21:15:00 UTC | #63473

Quine's Avatar Comment 7 by Quine

In the time of Socrates, theologians studied Zeus and Athena. Today the difference between a professor of theology and a professor of mythology is that the professor of mythology understands his/her subject is a branch of fiction.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 21:25:00 UTC | #63475

Veronique's Avatar Comment 8 by Veronique

Isn't she supposed to be reviewing Cornwell's book? Why then have a vitriolic go at Dawkins.

Oh, Benway. I doubt that I have read as much as you have, but I haven't got the stomach for this continued onslaught. If you can find a way of commissioning a tasty gift, I'll join with you. Poor RD.

I feel as though I should add a comment to TimesOnLine, but sigh, I don't think I can drag up the energy.

How RD does it, I'll never know.

On the other hand I have just finished watching Flemming's The God who wasn't there and frightened myself all over again at the irrationality that is out there. I never wanted to watch Gibson's The Passion of the Christ but had to suffer through the excerpts that Flemming put into his movie. Frightened the shit out of me. Gratuitous violence, blood and guts. It has grossed $330M so far (2005) and according to Flemming is the jesus movie of choice amongst Christians. Horrifying.

Sam Harris is right when he says that humanity has had a long fascination with blood sacrifice and they haven't given it up yet. And it seems always to be associated with superstitious religious belief.

Back to silly Salley. Maybe I ought to make a comment after all.

Cheers
V

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:13:00 UTC | #63476

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 9 by Friend Giskard

angels are not wispy, winged beings in ethereal nightgowns, but something far more subtle and profound: archetypal images that dramatise the invisible realities. As such, they can act as symbols for the formless elements of physics; but also for the creative imagination.

What on earth is this insane woman wittering on about here?
Not that any of this is likely to alter the minds of the antiGod squad. They "know" they are right – that least scientific of attitudes since it precludes changes of heart or openness of mind. If only Professor Dawkins and Co would remember that Socrates was deemed the wisest of men because he "knew that he didn't know".

Are there two people called Richard Dawkins who have written a book called the God Delusion? Because I don't recognise the character painted in this review. Our Richard Dawkins presents his conclusions in terms of probabilities, and has taken pains on numerous occasions to stress that he is open the possibility of changing his opinions in the light of new evidence.

Salley Vickers, like most of Dawkins' critics, is just a strawmandering nitwit.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:18:00 UTC | #63477

Tyrant007's Avatar Comment 10 by Tyrant007

Holy shit. Did she miss the first half of The God Delusion? The chapters "The God Hypothesis", "Why There Almost Certainly Is No God"? Her attack on Dawkins is the strawman of strawmen.

"Ha! Dawkins thinks there's no god because some people think God told them to do bad things. But MY nebulous conception of god doesn't!" Dang. She caught ya there, Dawkins. Gotta work on that logic, prof.

I'm starting to think that these reviews intentionally misrepresent Dawkins for selfish political reasons. This is just blatant dishonesty. I'm considering writing a letter to the editor calling for her resignation.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:39:00 UTC | #63480

Beachbum's Avatar Comment 11 by Beachbum

5. Comment #66870 by Dr Benway

" Might be an allergy to hay or something.


Could you be focusing on the wrong end of the Bull?

One of the books I have been reading lately is Kingdom Coming by Michelle Goldberg.

By Googling everything she writes about, I have found some very disturbing things on the web. But, because of circumstances beyond their control (the godbotherers don't have control, Hehe... sorry), the Religious-right, Moral majority (actually hurts to type that), and the Evangelicals are losing ground. They keep getting caught with their pants down, literally.

It is my humble opinion that our "Neo-cons" may be shooting for Neo-Nazi, in the same way the National Socialist were in pre-Hitler Germany of the 1930's.

So, we better not cut even this type of regurgitated fluff any slack.

Also, I do not care at all for the likes of these people knocking Prof. Dawkins eloquent approach to the fallacies of the bible and religion in general, or for that matter, Christopher Hitchens' "bitch-slap with a book" (my quotes) considering the revisionist Christian literalism and revisionist history being published in the US by the likes of David Barton, D. James Kennedy and many others.

Like Canaries to coalminers, frogs to the environment, when the teachers throughout history have had a problem with teaching "someones truth" bad things are going on.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:47:00 UTC | #63481

DavidMarsh's Avatar Comment 12 by DavidMarsh

...who appears to have no concept of the "reality" of a thought


This said about the man that coined the term "meme"? I think RD has a very good idea about how real a thought can be.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:48:00 UTC | #63482

windweaver's Avatar Comment 13 by windweaver

Here's Vickers on religion:


"I believe that higher dimensions unquestionably exist and make thmeselves felt, both within and without human consciousness and that our psyche includes a crucial "spiritual' (though I dislike the way that word has been highjacked) dimension, though that can - and often does - take the form of an anti God humanism. I often quote Christopher Isherwood's remark that he beleievd in God but hated the sort of people who did. Well, I don't "hate" the sort of people who who do but I often hate what they do in the name of their so-called "gods", which are usually just a projection of their own sense of moral righteousness - and, moral righteousness, as Mr Golightly will attest to, is a very dodgy thing indeed, most ungodly, in my view. That, i.e.the desire to avoid moral righteousness has influenced my writing"

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:53:00 UTC | #63483

DavidMarsh's Avatar Comment 14 by DavidMarsh

The life of Jesus is told in a series of stories to convey the essence of a life that, however you look at it, was demonstrably an influential one and continues to be so. (Where would Dawkins be without Jesus's extraordinary impact on the Western world? Quite a bit poorer, for one thing.)


Just because "Jesus" (or the idea of jesus?) has had an influence on western society doesn't mean he was (the son of) god, George W has had an influence as well and he certainly isn't, or any other famous person.

Just because someone claims to be a god and others share that belief does not make him so.

Edit: Without proof etc etc.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:55:00 UTC | #63484

Tyrant007's Avatar Comment 15 by Tyrant007

I'd also like to ask just what the hell she's talking about here.

"Cornwell clearly believes, as I do, that angels are not wispy, winged beings in ethereal nightgowns, but something far more subtle and profound: archetypal images that dramatise the invisible realities. As such, they can act as symbols for the formless elements of physics; but also for the creative imagination."

Okay, I thought she was trying to say that her conception of 'angels' is more abstract than that of the average layperson. Typical theological snobbery. But wait--"archetypal images that dramatise the invisible realities"? What does this mean? What invisible realities is she talking about?

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 22:56:00 UTC | #63485

BicycleRepairMan's Avatar Comment 16 by BicycleRepairMan

Well, atleast this flea has a slightly more inventive and original title than the previous fleas, maybe I'll have a go at it, but it sounds as the same pseudo-abstract nonsense that basically defines god all but out of existence and explains that God is just everything we feel when we're standing on a mountaintop and voila, the two testaments are both true, but only half the time, of course, and only in the metaphorical, symbolic sense, of course.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:02:00 UTC | #63486

atp's Avatar Comment 17 by atp

If only Professor Dawkins and Co would remember that Socrates was deemed the wisest of men because he "knew that he didn't know".


Personally I think it is people who know there is a God who should think more about what Socrates was saying here.

Science is never (idealy any way) claiming to know what cannot be known. Religion, on the other hand, knows a lot about what is supposed to be outside our universe, who created it, what comes after death and so forth. And this "knowledge" is not based on facts at all.

I think if people really took Socrates to heart on this, they would see the illogical of believing in religious "knowledge".

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:04:00 UTC | #63487

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 18 by Richard Dawkins

I have just posted as follows to The Times website. There seems to be a delay before such postings go up, perhaps so that they can be censored?
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article2361294.ece
Richard

'If anybody finds this review remotely persuasive, I am entirely content for them to read The God Delusion for themselves (as Salley Vickers very obviously has not) and make up their own minds. They will find that every single one of her allegations about it is either false or comprehensively dealt with in The God Delusion itself. Her statement that "only religious nutcases take the Creation story literally" may be true, but she must then write off as nutcases nearly half the population of the most powerful nation on earth, and most of the Islamic world.'

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:15:00 UTC | #63488

nothing's Avatar Comment 19 by nothing

I've lost the will to respond. I feel only deep sympathy for Dawkins.


Two words: me too.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:19:00 UTC | #63489

Tyrant007's Avatar Comment 20 by Tyrant007

I posted a comment as well and spent about fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to access the comments section. Maybe it's just a data-eating form that doesn't actually make comments public.

I'll be writing a letter to the editor in any case. This is either the work of a fraud or a total buffoon. Or perhaps both. We'll see.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:24:00 UTC | #63490

Veronique's Avatar Comment 21 by Veronique

OK Benway and RD. I may be somewhat less than rational but this is what I posted onto the TimesOnLine site (took three posts to get it all up there).

RD I don't think the moderators check for censorship, they just have a process to go through:-). I am so glad this site is un-moderated. I say some silly things but, at least, I am able to say them:-) Thank you and Josh immensely. Please don't be too cross with my post to silly Salley.

So Salley, you think Dawkins is self-aggrandising eh? Just where did you pick that up from? Certainly not from the book I read. Have you actually read The God Delusion? I started reading Dawkins in the early '80s. His name and views are not new to me. You sound as though you are the first (together with Cornwell) to write scathingly of Dawkins.

I thought you were reviewing Cornwell's book. Seems not. Instead you write a cheap piece that takes pot shots at Dawkins. I can tell you he has far more stamina that you have my little dear. He will still be around when you have run out of steam and words.

Call yourself a reviewer? You are not even a reviewer's bootlace. Since my interest in religion was piqued last year, I have learnt a lot. My religious friends tell me I now know more about their holy book than they do.

"…nailing Dawkins's first sleight of hand which, as loads of people have now pointed out, dishonestly bundles all religious belief and practice into one crude bag that supposedly equals fanaticism."

Wrong and cowardly. Dawkins points to the fact that every religion is delusional because each one is based on unevidenced superstition and none of them has produced any evidence for any of their tenets. He thesis is that 'moderate religion' acts as a springboard for religious fanaticism. Be honest Salley. I hate to see people who write publicly lying through their teeth in an attempt to substantiate their own particular polemic.

"Does it follow that I should not have attended primary school? Is psychiatry a bad thing because schizophrenics were once made to take bromide?"

Don't be so precious and ridiculous.

"Next the seraph gently takes Dawkins to task for his breezy disregard for – some might say ignorance of – serious theology."

He wasn't writing a serious theological book. As I intimated above, most believers know virtually nothing about theology; they just believe because they were indoctrinated as children. Pretty much like you, I would guess.

"Hence it especially behoves the professional spreader of ideas to watch his or her language."

Pity that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John didn't watch their language and neither did Paul who started the whole thing some forty years after no one had noticed that Jesus lived and died.

"They "know" they are right – that least scientific of attitudes since it precludes changes of heart or openness of mind"

Wrong again. If you were to come up with proper, testable evidence for the existence of your sky god and his other personas, we would welcome it. All we don't do is keep such an open mind that our brains fall out. We operate on probabilities and the probability of your sky god existing is very, very small indeed.

Angelic Ripostes? Angels? You have to be taking the mickey. If not, then I fear for both your and Cornwell's sanity. See, I can cherry-pick as well. And you 'review' leaves you so open to cherry-picking.

V

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:26:00 UTC | #63491

Tyrant007's Avatar Comment 22 by Tyrant007

Careful, Veronique--'tis not a sky god that our Sally believes in, but rather a mysterious higher force of dramatic invisible realities that counts amongst its abilities the power to transform in order to evade any criticism. Wouldn't want to lump all gods together now, would you?

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:32:00 UTC | #63492

epeeist's Avatar Comment 23 by epeeist

My response:
The standard response "Ah, but the god that Dawkins describes isn't my god". Here we seem to have a god created by picking the bits we like out of the bible and discarding the nastier bits. In other words, a god created by man.

I am not sure what the theists are getting all a twitter about. For the last 1500 years that have preached their message in the UK, the last 500 with the help from the state. They have centres and personnel in every town to accomplish their indoctrination, their schools are largely stated funded. They get prime spots in the media and their views are treated with uncritical deference.

When a few people publish books questioning the veracity of their beliefs and pointing out some of their consequences they take this as a personal affront.

To repudiate the atheist position (which is both testable and falsifiable) all they need to do is produce some concrete evidence of the existence of their god, that is all we are asking.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:33:00 UTC | #63493

BicycleRepairMan's Avatar Comment 24 by BicycleRepairMan

perhaps so that they can be censored?


Yes, mainstream sites get hundreds of spam messages, poker/casino/porn viral advertisers etc. just look at the comments at the more popular YouTube videos. As much as I want your campaign and this site to succeed, lets secretly hope it doesnt come to that over here as well.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:41:00 UTC | #63496

Janus's Avatar Comment 25 by Janus

angels are not wispy, winged beings in ethereal nightgowns, but something far more subtle and profound: archetypal images that dramatise the invisible realities. As such, they can act as symbols for the formless elements of physics; but also for the creative imagination.


I must say I like "wispy, winged beings in ethereal nightgowns" better. At least it means something. Something ridiculous, yes, but _something_ nevertheless.


The seraph begins by politely nailing

Dawkins's first sleight of hand which, as loads of people have now pointed out, dishonestly bundles all religious belief and practice into one crude bag that supposedly equals fanaticism.


Strawman, Dawkins does not do this.


Next the seraph gently takes Dawkins to task for his breezy disregard for – some might say ignorance of – serious theology. You cannot criticise a theory until you have made some proper attempt to come to grips with it, and Dawkins hasn't; or doesn't show us that he has tried. He overlooks the big theologians altogether in favour of some pretty low-key, unknown figures.


In science, it is silly to come to grips with the theories of laymen on a subject instead of coming to grips with the theories of scientists working in that field. Why? Because they're experts: They know more about the evidence and the theories based on the evidence than other people do.

But in theology, the theories of laymen are worth exactly as much as the theories of theologians. They call themselves experts, but in what sense can a theologian be an expert? They cannot know anything about the evidence for God, because there is none. And whatever they know about theological "theories" is worthless, because these "theories" are not based on evidence. Without evidence, how does one differentiate true claims from false ones? In other words, without evidence, what is it that makes the claims of theologians better than the claims of the most theologically-inept layman?

Why, nothing.

So why does Dawkins focus on the claims of laymen? I've demonstrated that he shouldn't focus on the claims of theologians, but shouldn't he give the claims of laymen and those of theologians equal attention, at least?

No, because while the claims coming from both groups are equally worthless, they are not equally important from a societal point of view. One of the reasons Dawkins is so worried by religion is that it has an immense impact on society and on the lives of the individuals it's composed of. But religion, in and of itself, is just an idea, it can only make an impact through those who believe in it, and that impact will only be significant if the believers are numerous. Theologians are a tiny, tiny elite living in their ivory towers, and their writings, with a few extremely rare exceptions, are seldom read by the majority of laymen. The claims of laymen are significant because they make up the overwhelming majority of believers. The claims of theologians, however, are utterly insignificant.


As I used to ask students, is Hamlet real?


No, he isn't.

Is the Judeo-Christian God real?
Is Heaven real?
Is Jesus real?


Nor is the Bible "a book" but, as the affable seraph points out, a miscellany of stories, letters, polemic, histories, fables and certainly some great moral teachings, as well as some outmoded and unacceptable social prejudices.

Therefore, it is perfectly respectable to "pick and choose" when reading the Bible


How do you know which parts are fables, and which parts are histories?
How do you know which parts are outmoded and unacceptable social prejudices, and which parts are great moral teachings?


It doesn't follow that they are false because they are stories


Why do you dismiss angels as winged human-like beings? Because there's no evidence for them, and because it's obviously a silly superstition. Why do we dismiss the stories about Jesus? Because there's no evidence for them, and because they're full of claims which are obviously silly superstitions.


Religion as disease, and more pertinently, the religiously inclined as disease-carriers, this is dangerous talk. Dawkins might try substituting "Jews" or "blacks" for "religiously inclined" and he would see why.


If Jews and blacks, as groups, did carry a mental virus, I'm sure Dawkins would say so. But they don't.
Religious people, on the other hand, do carry a mental virus, which is why Dawkins says they do.

See how evidence-based thinking works? If there's evidence for something, you believe it and act on it; if there isn't, you don't.


Not that any of this is likely to alter the minds of the antiGod squad. They "know" they are right – that least scientific of attitudes since it precludes changes of heart or openness of mind.


I wonder where it comes from, this dogma that being certain about something is a sign of close-mindedness.

Do you think physicists are showing "that least scientific of attitudes" when they say they "know" electrons exist?
Do you think biologists are being close-minded when they say they "know" humans and monkeys share a common ancestor?

Do you think that because they "know" these things, they would not change their minds if contradictory evidence was presented?

Being certain about something is only a bad thing if your certainty is not proportional to the quantity and quality of the evidence... or the lack of it.

You claim to know your God exists, you claim to know he has created this universe, you claim to know he is at least somewhat accurately described by Christian scripture and dogma and not by, say, ancient Babylonian mythology, you claim to know that he and listens to our thoughts and answers prayers and countless other things.

There isn't a shred of evidence to support your claims, and yet you haven't stopped believing in them.

Why is that?

Because you're close-minded, dogmatic, and irrational.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:42:00 UTC | #63497

Veronique's Avatar Comment 26 by Veronique

Wow, you guys are quick!! I am impressed. I am only an accountant and a two finger typist.

Tyrant I had only just posted that and there you are. Golly!!

My best:-)
V

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:44:00 UTC | #63498

Pythagoras's Avatar Comment 27 by Pythagoras

I agree totally with the review.

Religious people are crazy if they really believe anything that the Bible actually says. It's only the fanatical ones that actually believe in God and what the Bible says (e.g. like at least 40% of the US population) that Dawkins disagrees with, so Dawkins is completely misleading everyone by criticizing a minority view.

Just because people wrote stories, doesn't make them true or false. That makes sense. Dawkins obviously doesn't understand this. I mean Shakespeare's plays are real, and so must have described real events. Dawkins probably believes that Shakespeare was just making things up too. What a fool!

I feel sorry for those scientific types like Dawkins who know they are right. It's such a pity they are so confused. Scientists base their theories on careful observation of what is really going on in the world. How silly they are. Serious theologians who understand the reality of ideas aren't foolish enough to be misled by facts and logical arguments.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:49:00 UTC | #63500

Tyrant007's Avatar Comment 28 by Tyrant007

Well said, Janus. I'd recommend that you post what you said as a comment on Sally's review, but it would probably take at least ten separate comments due to the character limit.

Veronique- yes, I've been refreshing this page every few minutes to see how it develops. But it's almost 4 AM here, so I ought to go. I look forward to reading the comments on Sally's review in the morning.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 23:52:00 UTC | #63501

Janus's Avatar Comment 30 by Janus

I posted the last part of my comment, and even then I had to cut it down some.

Ah well, most of my points were made by the Prof. in TGD, so his own comment is pretty much all that needs to be said anyway.

- J

Sat, 01 Sep 2007 00:02:00 UTC | #63503

mdowe's Avatar Comment 29 by mdowe

The one thing that just blows me away when it comes to these so-called 'Christian' reviewers -- even more than their gullibility and irrationality -- is their astonishing lack of personal integrity. They generally just skip any attempt at real rebuttal or reasoned argument, and just advance immediately to out-and-out dishonestly and thinly veiled personal attacks. What a revolting bunch of hypocrites...

Sat, 01 Sep 2007 00:02:00 UTC | #63502