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What we were reading: The God Delusion - Comments

Am I Evil?'s Avatar Comment 1 by Am I Evil?

Hmm, I might re-read that ol' classic once again!

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 18:59:00 UTC | #420478

Corylus's Avatar Comment 2 by Corylus

Oh dear - I've looked at the list and have only read 5 out of the 50. A measly 10%. I generally do much better at this sort of thing. I am thoroughly ashamed.

Well, not quite thoroughly, I can't say I am beating myself up for not having read Jordan's book, but still.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:03:00 UTC | #420481

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 3 by Rodger T

Jordan can write?????????

Edit, oh it was written by someone else. I would have thought Jordan would have trouble chewing gum and breathing at the same time.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:04:00 UTC | #420482

Corylus's Avatar Comment 4 by Corylus

Comment #438960 by Rodger T:

Jordan can write?????????
Well, I don't normally believe in ghosts, but I am told that some of them can write ;)

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:06:00 UTC | #420483

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 5 by Rodger T

Oh ,Katie Price is Jordan?

And Corylus,stop skiting, I`ve only read 2 on the list,one is obvious and I am not going to reveal the other suffice to say I didn`t finish it.

edit ,spelling

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:12:00 UTC | #420485

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 6 by Sally Luxmoore

Jordan can read????

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:12:00 UTC | #420486

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 7 by Rodger T

Jordan can stand without falling on her face?

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:15:00 UTC | #420487

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 8 by Stafford Gordon

Never mind about Jordan; Hitchens has stated that women aren't funny; get a load of Jo Brand. Hilariously witty. I expect some trog's will make backward and uncalled for comments about her appearance; but they'll be too late...she's done that countless times herself.

Joyce Grenfell and Linda Smith were two funny females as well.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:22:00 UTC | #420492

j.mills's Avatar Comment 9 by j.mills

Ha! I've read SIX! I win!

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:25:00 UTC | #420493

Corylus's Avatar Comment 10 by Corylus

Comment #438963 by Rodger T:

And Corylus,stop skiting, I`ve only read 2 on the list,one is obvious and I am not going to reveal the other suffice to say I didn`t finish it.
Heh, if it makes you feel any better, one of mine was Nigella Lawson's baking book. I like cake.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:26:00 UTC | #420494

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 11 by Rodger T


Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:33:00 UTC | #420498

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 12 by Sally Luxmoore

Comment #438971 by j.mills

Not for long! I've read 9 (but one was the Dan Brown - hangs head in shame) and have bought but not yet read 2 more... Ner ner...

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:38:00 UTC | #420500

j.mills's Avatar Comment 13 by j.mills

Oh well, if we're counting ones we've bought but not read yet, I could add loads to my score! :)

[Goes and checks.] Mm, three or four... :(

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:49:00 UTC | #420503

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 14 by Rodger T

(but one was the Dan Brown - hangs head in shame )

For educational purposes ,surely.
That`s the one I could`nt finish,tho I really only bought it to put on my bookshelf to wind up my catholic inlaws.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:56:00 UTC | #420506

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 15 by Sally Luxmoore

For educational purposes ,surely.

Er, yes, of course!
I remember very little about it except that it was total and utter rubbish, but it was page-turning total and utter rubbish.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 20:00:00 UTC | #420507

decius's Avatar Comment 16 by decius

One of those times in which I have to disagree with the Hitch.

My eyebrow rose at:

" The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman

Final part of the magisterial Northern Lights trilogy, which created its own mythology while setting new standards in crossover fiction."

I stopped reading at:

"Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Second world war country-house love story indebted to The Go-Between that made McEwan a household name."

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:00:00 UTC | #420517

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 17 by Steve Zara

The atheist does not say and cannot prove that there is no deity.

This atheist does both!

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:09:00 UTC | #420518

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 18 by bendigeidfran

I've read two of them. Who wants to read 'Revenge of Gaia'? etc You can judge a book by it's cover.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:12:00 UTC | #420520

sipelgas's Avatar Comment 19 by sipelgas

In a way this is fascinating. I - who regard myself as a reading and fairly educated person - but living outside any english-speaking country found that I had heard of only ten on the list. Three of those I have even read (Persepolis and The Dog in the Nighttime being the others).

Maybe there is more than one universe?

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:29:00 UTC | #420523

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 20 by Friend Giskard

Regarding the 'assumption' of the BVM*. If she's supposed to be in heaven now, she must has ascended in order to get there, since heaven is the sky. That's what 'heaven' means. In fact, in all the languages that I know anything about, except English, 'heaven' and 'sky' are the same word. The 'Pater Noster' goes thusly: Our Father, who art in the sky... and continues ...Thy will be done on earth as it is in the sky...

{*I really like this official Catholic shorthand for the 'Blessed Virgin Mary'. It makes her sound like some kind of missile.}

[Slightly edited to make me look smarter]

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:29:00 UTC | #420524

Twatsworth's Avatar Comment 21 by Twatsworth

Steve Zara,

This atheist does both!
Is this another one of those tiresome threads where you express some piddling, semantic disagreement, blow it completely out of proportion, and try to mislead people into thinking it represents some kind of original, substantive point?

I like Hitchens, but I can't help getting the impression that he's being petty in the above article. Why did he choose to correct Richard in public?

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:41:00 UTC | #420527

Vaal's Avatar Comment 22 by Vaal

This does not give us permission, however, to go on pretending that religion is other than man-made. And the worst excuse ever invented for the exertion of power by one primate over another is the claim that certain primates have God on their side. It is not only justifiable to be impatient and contemptuous when such tyrannies are proposed; it's more like a duty.

Hear hear! As ever, Hitchens is a pleasure to read. His broadsides are accurate and non compromising. It is a duty to confront the tide of unreason, as it is on the rise. The zeitgeist of unreason and anti-science is a growing and threatening phenomenon, astoundingly and perplexingly, in the 21st Century.

To hope it just goes away isn't enough, it has to be fought against, tooth and nail. Thank goodness we have the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris etc, and many other contributers on this site, who are prepared to put their shoulders to the wheel against the celebration of stupidity, the disfranchisement of science, the unwarranted privileges of religion, and to the advancement of education, knowledge and critical thinking.

Sites like this are very important, perhaps more than we think.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:54:00 UTC | #420528

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 23 by Friend Giskard

The only distinction I can see between ascending being assumed is that one is active and the other is passive. But it is a distinction we are not obliged to buy into. We may speak of a helium filled balloon ascending into the sky without attributing volition to it. Richard is quite right to use 'ascended'.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 21:58:00 UTC | #420530

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 24 by Steve Zara

Comment #439006 by Twatsworth

It is as far from piddling semantic disagreement as you can get.

There is all the difference from believing that God is some actual thing that is simply unlikely, and something that is a meaningless concept and so not even possible. The second option expresses my view.

This isn't semantics - it is quite a different philosophical and political position.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 22:00:00 UTC | #420531

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 26 by Alovrin

Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss (Profile)

Pedant's revolt against bad grammar that became the ultimate posh loo book.

Damn. Now I have to get on for the posh loo, I now have to put in my place.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 22:08:00 UTC | #420535

Twatsworth's Avatar Comment 25 by Twatsworth

The second view is obviously untenable, because there is nothing self-contradictory or meaningless about the notion of an intelligent being that created the universe. It is a perfectly meaningful proposition, as far as we know, which happens to be unsupported and further unlikely owning to considerations of parsimony.

This is the problem with Steve Zara. He styles himself as an original thinker and a contrarian -- always with some substantive reservation (so he thinks). In fact, almost invariably his disagreements are either utterly trivial or utterly foolish.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 22:08:00 UTC | #420533

decius's Avatar Comment 27 by decius

I regret to say that I have just noticed a tiny mistake on page 177. It is not true to say that the Virgin Mary "ascended" into heaven. She was "assumed" into that place, by a ruling of the Roman Catholic church that dates back all the way to the mid-19th century.

Likewise, scholastic philosophers weren't really debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. As the more erudite in the humanities camp know, that's a modern - and I dare say libellous - fabrication.
The argument was really about "whether a million of angels may not fit upon a needles point".

Ahh, I feel anally satisfied and intellectually fulfilled now that I've publicly said it.

Christopher, if you are reading this, I'm worried about your relentless touring the globe with confirmed windbags like Dinesh D'Souza and that other fundie mate of yours you made a film with, whose name eludes me now.
I fully understand your desire to make a quick buck and to publicly outshine the less gifted, but beware, windbaggery may turn out to be contagious, on the long run.

Be well, mate.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 22:13:00 UTC | #420536

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara

omment #439012 by Twatsworth

The second view is obviously untenable, because there is nothing self-contradictory or meaningless about the notion of an intelligent being that created the universe.

That's not the theists definition of a God. It isn't some nerd in a lab making a black hole which somehow expands into a new cosmos. It is a being somehow beyond nature that works miracles.

Your stalking and insults are tedious.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 22:15:00 UTC | #420537

Twatsworth's Avatar Comment 29 by Twatsworth

That's not the theists definition of a God. It isn't some nerd in a lab making a black hole which somehow expands into a new cosmos. It is a being somehow beyond nature that works miracles.
That is obviously a stupid strawman. As goes without saying, not all theists believe in miracles. Even the average theist in the street (for instance, my own mother) is very often perrfectly happy to abandon literal belief in miracles, if pressed hard enough. Being an "atheist" only with respect to the most buffoonish and unsubtle types of theism doesn't really strike me as a very interesting position.

Your stalking and insults are tedious.
Stalking? Wow, paranoid much? I correct you on a few stupid posts you write in public discussion threads, and somehow I am "stalking". Bloody incredible.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 22:21:00 UTC | #420538

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 30 by Lisa Bauer

Technically, it's the "Assumption" of Mary (only declared to be infallible dogma in 1950) and the "Ascension" of Jesus...since we're being really pedantic here. After all, in the book the term IS between inverted commas/quotes, page 208 in the paperback.

And yes, it does sound like the kind of nit-picking thing I might point out... ;-)

Re: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, I couldn't help but note that the autistic protagonist mentions some arguments that sound really familiar! From chapter 199:

People believe in God because the world is very complicated and they think it is very unlikely that anything as complicated as a flying squirrel or the human eye or a brain could happen by chance. But they should think logically and if they thought logically they would see that they can only ask this question because it has already happened and they exist. And there are billions of planets where there is no life, but there is no one on those planets with brains to notice. And it is like if everyone in the world was tossing coins eventually someone would get 5,698 heads in a row and they would think they were very special. But they wouldn’t be because there would be millions of people who didn’t get 5,698 heads.

And there is life on earth because of an accident. But it is a very special kind of accident. And for this accident to happen in this special way, there have to be 3 conditions. And these are:

1. Things have to make copies of themselves (this is called Replication)
2. They have to make small mistakes when they do this (this is called Mutation
3. These mistakes have to be the same in their copies (this is called Heritability)

And these conditions are very rare, but they are possible, and they cause life. And it just happens. But it doesn’t have to end up with rhinoceroses and human beings and whales. It could end up with anything.

And, for example, some people say how can an eye happen by accident? Because an eye has to evolve from something else very like an eye and it doesn’t just happen because of a genetic mistake, and what is the use of half an eye? But half an eye is very useful because half an eye means that an animal can see half of an animal that wants to eat it and get out of the way, and it will eat the animal that only has a third of an eye or 49% of an eye instead because it hasn’t got out of the way quick enough, and the animal that is eaten won’t have babies because it is dead. And 1% of an eye is better than no eye.

Is it bad if you find yourself identifying a bit with the protagonist of this book, who is, after all, autistic and completely unable to "read" other people's emotions? (I mean in the sense of being obsessive about details...)

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 22:24:00 UTC | #420539