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Why Christians should take Richard Dawkins seriously - Comments

elfinabout's Avatar Comment 1 by elfinabout

Oh, where shall I start with this apologetic shamble of an article? I know - I simply won't bother. We've been here before...


Thu, 20 Sep 2007 10:37:00 UTC | #68612

Robert Maynard's Avatar Comment 2 by Robert Maynard

Religious moderation - the position of being simultaneously forced into a corner and let loose in a field of meaningless ambiguity.

At the end of the day it's still a more benign position than fundamentalism.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 10:41:00 UTC | #68614

home8896's Avatar Comment 3 by home8896

How does one even identify the difference between God and Straw God? This Straw God is easy to demolish because no one really knows that this isn't actually God, except by indoctrination. Certainly not by evidence.

The article speaks to an audience that probably read only the online articles - knowing that most people didn't bother reading either TGD or the rebuttals themselves. It speaks to an audience that won't listen to the reasons given for disbelief and this audience doesn't want to know that there might actually be reasons to disbelieve. That audience wants to be patted on the head and told to go back to their pretend game of knowing the unknowable.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 10:49:00 UTC | #68618

eautio's Avatar Comment 4 by eautio

Haven't we seen this one before?

Richard Dawkins' conception of god is Wrong.

But in what respects, exactly, is not revealed. You just have to believe this because god is undefinable. God exists because he is perfect and not to exist would not be perfect. QED.

The sad news is that UK is going to continue supporting faith-based schools -- the very antithesis of intellectual curiosity and learning.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 10:54:00 UTC | #68621

HumanisticJones's Avatar Comment 5 by HumanisticJones

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the version of TGD that I read was a book about addressing the assertion "God exists" not addressing the various flavors of said god (ie Theology). I'm certain everyone that read TGD for theology critiques found it quite short in that regard... not because Prof. Dawkins is ill-suited to it, but because he didn't write that book about theology.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 10:59:00 UTC | #68623

A.Lex's Avatar Comment 6 by A.Lex

..."it is no bad thing regularly to be reminded that all images of God fall far short of the reality encountered and witnessed to by Moses and the prophets, and by Jesus and the apostles."

This is the most meaningless sentence I've ever read!

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:04:00 UTC | #68625

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 7 by scottishgeologist

The most telling part of this whole article is the bit at the end "Wild Goose Publishing, Iona" No more need be said.

This isnt rabid frothing mouthed right wing fundie-ism. This is the other side of the god coin - the wishy washy, fluffy, new age woo-woo that is ultra liberal "spirituality" which Iona is awash with.

This is real "be your own god" "god within us all" sort of stuff.

Actually, in some respects this stuff is reasonably harmless. And organisations like the Iona Community are strident in their social justice, peace, and CND initiatives.

But the article is still heavy going drivvle.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:05:00 UTC | #68626

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 8 by Steve Zara

This kind of confused waffling is dealt with very nicely in a review of Darwin's Angel in this week's New Scientist magazine. The problem, the review states, is one of definition. The theologists need to clear up once and for all what definition of God they want to debate about. They can't have it both ways... God as just philosophical concept AND a God that is creator and designer and prayer-listener.

I did enjoy this:

The alternative, the non-golden-calf route, is to sit light to definitions, hypotheses and images, and allow God to be God.

Translation: "We don't have a clue what we are talking about, but whatever it is, it is not what Dawkins means"

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:11:00 UTC | #68630

MartinSGill's Avatar Comment 9 by MartinSGill

I actually think this is a good article, but not for the reasons that Skinner might like.

I'm all for encouraging the religious to examine just what it is they believe in, that they really must read Dawkins and come to grips with what he says.

When the religious start examining the god they believe in and then compare it to the god the theological debating society envisages they'll discover that the two are nothing alike.

This will turn the fundies against the theologians, which will only be bad for religion and hence good for atheism. But it will also get many religious to really examine just what it is they believe. When they note all the contradictions between their long held beliefs and the convoluted, mind-boggling, spaghetti arguments used by theologians to rationalise something that doesn't actually exist, it might bring many of them to their senses.

In the end... anyone that gets religious people to read dawkins has my support. The more people read TGD the more people have a chance to examine their views in a different light and maybe break free of their religious shakles.

Richard Skinner is his own worst enemy. He doesn't realise that most religious people believe in the "Straw God", and not in his god. And getting those people to take RD seriously is a win for rationalism and atheism.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:34:00 UTC | #68640

Negasta's Avatar Comment 10 by Negasta

I would guess most if not all past and present members of Sunday Schools and the like have sung, 'He's got the whole world in his hands'

Mein Gott, if the theists are now resorting to using imagery from children's ditties to try and prove their viewpoints, they must really be desperate.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:35:00 UTC | #68641

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 11 by pewkatchoo

What a piece of sham intellectual wank dribble.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:37:00 UTC | #68643

Mango's Avatar Comment 12 by Mango

Skinner asserts, "– if, in other words, our understanding of God does approximate to a Dawkins version, then we are in danger of creating another golden calf."

But Dawkins is very general about his description of the God he writes about as "a supernatural agent who designed the universe and – at least in many versions of the hypothesis – maintains it and even intervenes in it with miracles....". And this is what most theists indeed believe. Straw man? Not at all. And Skinner does indeed have a golden calf.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:40:00 UTC | #68645

Bruno's Avatar Comment 13 by Bruno

"Let's face it, it is easier for most of us to hold a clear but inaccurate image of what we think God is, rather than to live with the discomfort of not being able to pin God down precisely."

Most interesting sentence, in my opinion, in the whole article. Maybe it's me, but wow, I got to that sentence and found myself reading it over and over. Is it just me, or contained within or between the words of that sentence lies the psychology behind the need for belief in the supernatural.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:42:00 UTC | #68647

BAEOZ's Avatar Comment 14 by BAEOZ

Metaphysical wankery. The God of the Bible is untenable, so say the theologians, so we define god as undefineable. The average church going punter or fundy defines just as Richard Dawkins demolished. What a waste of an article.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:44:00 UTC | #68649

Klaatu barada nikto's Avatar Comment 15 by Klaatu barada nikto

Challenges to our image of God is not new.

How true. Here is a book from 1772 that I've just started reading today. I suppose 235 years from now even more will be written.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:44:00 UTC | #68650

ksskidude's Avatar Comment 16 by ksskidude

Why Christians should take Richard Dawkins seriously?

Because he's right. Pretty simple to me.
As usual another apolegetic diatribe that doesn't tell me a thing.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 12:05:00 UTC | #68657

dbunker's Avatar Comment 17 by dbunker

Having accused Dawkins of inventing a "straw" god, the author can't begin to fashion one even that substantial.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 12:06:00 UTC | #68658

PrimeNumbers's Avatar Comment 18 by PrimeNumbers

Let's all play the definition game! If we can't define god, then those darned atheists can't disprove him as they need a definition.

What a bunch of loosers who just keep moving the goal posts. Sad thing is they don't really believe in god themselves, just the idea of god.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 12:24:00 UTC | #68663

Janus's Avatar Comment 19 by Janus

These reviews of TGD by theists have done one thing for me: They have removed my last shred of doubt that devout believers (theists for whom religion is more than a tradition inherited from their parents to which they've never given any real thought) are all intellectually dishonest. All of them, without exception.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 12:35:00 UTC | #68666

aitchkay's Avatar Comment 20 by aitchkay

I can't be bothered to respond to this nebulous nonsense. However, here are a few anagrams for your amusement:

Jesus Christ:
Such Jest Sir

- Cash I Trinity
- Satyric Hint I
- Ha Sic Trinity
- Anti Chis I Try
and for the really childish among us...
Airy Inch Tits

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 12:36:00 UTC | #68667

troodon's Avatar Comment 21 by troodon

My eyes glazed over about halfway through, but I think it went something like this:

"God is not all those silly caricatures and straw men espoused by Dawkins and almost every believer except the few very enlightened theologians like myself. He is much more than that. He is beyond definitions, hypotheses and images.He is greater than all things. God is God.

We may have problems defining what God is, but we do know that he wants you to believe in his existence, praise him, pray to him and come to church every Sunday. If you do that some part of you that is beyond definition will be able to praise him for eternity in a place that is beyond definition. If you don't believe in his existence you will be burned and tortured forever in a horrible place that is simply beyond definition.

You can help your chances of getting to that good place beyond definition by having us pray for that part of you that beyond definition. But in order for us to do that we need lots of something that is well within our range of definitions - money. Lots and lots of money. We prefer cash, and there's an ATM machine at the back of the church."

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 12:51:00 UTC | #68677

jimbob's Avatar Comment 22 by jimbob

I don't where I saw this acronym (not my original idea), but perhaps we should lump all gods under the term "PESTS" (Putative Extraterrestrial Supernatural Things).

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:00:00 UTC | #68684

antialiasis's Avatar Comment 23 by antialiasis

Am I the only person who actually thinks this guy is making a great point?

He's exactly /not/ trying to wave Richard off by saying he's not attacking the God people believe in. He's saying that those of faith ought to reexamine what they believe, exactly because so many people do believe in that very kind of God. He's saying Richard is right and that belief in this kind of God just doesn't work out, so believers should reconsider whether that is really the God they believe in. This is entirely true. The only part where this guy is wrong is where he refuses to acknowledge that the alternative - the intangible, theological, "intellectual" God - is nothing more than a pointless complication for the sake of comfort in an otherwise perfectly atheistic worldview.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:08:00 UTC | #68690

Johan's Avatar Comment 24 by Johan

"What Dawkins demolishes in this book may well be a misrepresentation of God, but it is a misrepresentation, an idol, that we Christians all too have often set up and espoused as the real thing."

eh.., yeah, and what exactly IS the real thing? If the real thing really existed it wouldn't be so bloody difficult to define it, would it?


Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:10:00 UTC | #68691

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 25 by Mr DArcy

Sorry, non believers, you see you just can't win this argument. This God character is just such slippery eel that logic doesn't apply. For example, Skinner presumably believes in:

the biblical understanding of God as both immanent and transcendent – God dwelling within all things, but also greater than all things – and of God as a living presence.

To my simple mind this reminds me of the old 60's song;

"He's everywhere and nowhere baby,
That's where he's at."

If memory serves correctly, there was also "hi ho silver lining". The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton on guitar. In the late 60's and 70's it was not at all unusual to see graffiti on walls stating "Eric Clapton is God", or words to that effect. Perhaps our tame theologian was inspired by the Cream of the gods!

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:19:00 UTC | #68695

CambrianExplosion's Avatar Comment 26 by CambrianExplosion


"Dawkins refutes other versions of God, but not MY God. My God is the RIGHT one, not one of these incorrect, illogical versions that is so easily refuted. You should read Dawkins so you can understand how wrong you've been and how right I am."

There, much shorter.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:26:00 UTC | #68700

GBile's Avatar Comment 27 by GBile

Ok, let us try this: EVERY God is a straw-god.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:34:00 UTC | #68706

shaunfletcher's Avatar Comment 28 by shaunfletcher

So now they retreat further, to 'well that might be what we believed till RECENTLY'..

Newsflash. It IS what the vast bulk of the worlds religious people believe. They believe, unequivocally, in a god who exists in the universe, intervenes in it, controls it. a sky father is a very very accurate description of the god of the vast majority of religious people. By majority I mean 99.99 percent or thereabouts.

And anyway, the god of theologians is just as non existent, just as logically stupid, its only difference is that it is designed to be incomprehensible to anyone other than a theologian (or someone willing to spend the time and mental effort to actually understand their wafflings long enough to see through them) and so lacking in substance that it dissapears as soon as you get close to it.. and therefore to be impervious to logic.

Its not working however. We saw what you did there guys.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:40:00 UTC | #68710

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 29 by Steve Zara

By majority I mean 99.99 percent or thereabouts.

There is a very simple question to put to any theologist who doubts this...

"What proportion of believers pray?"

Anyone who prays obviously believes to some extent in an interventionist God.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:45:00 UTC | #68716

shaunfletcher's Avatar Comment 30 by shaunfletcher

Well indeed. I personally have met ONE self declared christian (out of many hundreds), and no muslims (out of many), who do not believe god intervenes directly in the world. The ones who accept there are no miracles say things like "Well he is withholding them, it isnt the 'age of miracles' at the moment".

Your ordinary person in the pews is very very clear what kind of god they believe in.

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:50:00 UTC | #68718