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Let the atheist bus ads proceed - Comments

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 1 by Follow Peter Egan

Professor Dawkins is a good scientist but a poor theologian. His book quotes exclusively the views of fundamentalist preachers, many from the United States.

So liberal gods, or those believed in by moderates, are somehow statistically much more probable£

I'm so sick of hearing this same tired canard. Not clicking to "continue reading" as my bullshitometer is bleeping furiously.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 12:56:00 UTC | #445338

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 2 by Roger Stanyard

chawinwords says

Being a history buff, I understand how upset that some of the so-called religious right happen to be.


We all have the freedom to hold whatever religious views we feel comfortable with. Why should fundies be upset by that given that constitutionally, the USA is a secular country.

In most developed (and a lot of underdeveloped and dveloping countries) the religion of politicians and the head of state is largely irrelevent. It's simply not a matter of much public concern.

The real problem is the American attitude towards religion.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 12:57:00 UTC | #445339

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 3 by Friend Giskard

This is the caricature God attacked in The God Delusion:

A superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed the universe and everthing in it, including us.

No wonder this fellow is so agitated. Nobody believes in that god.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 13:05:00 UTC | #445340

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 4 by Stephen of Wimbledon

Actually, the full article isn't so bad - just another flea - and it supports the atheist bus campaign in New Zealand.

It's a rather sad argument, from the most liberal end of the religious spectrum. Randerson talks about atheist and agnostic "caricatures" of supernatural, all-powerful, all-munificent, but-small-enough-to-care-if-you-touch-yourself-'inappropriately' gods. Er, yes, and your point would be?

Randerson also says " ... most Christians live much more by their experience of god as a god of love who enhances all of life and relationships" which is a bit rich coming immediately after the story of the woman in the US arrested, allegedly, for only thinking about 'feticide'.

Randerson finishes with "And with all the pithy pieces of wisdom one sees on church noticeboards around the country, there is no shortage of statements Christians could put on a few buses themselves". Which can only mean there's another reason to visit New Zealand, because the church noticeboards in the rest of the English-speaking World are trite, pathetic, nonsensical falsehoods.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 13:18:00 UTC | #445349

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 5 by Tyler Durden

"And what sort of God probably does not exist?" - Richard Randerson
Would you like the full list in alphabetical order? I have it right here...

Only the more ridiculous caricatures of leprechauns from Hollywood movies probably don't exist, the real ones actually do. No, really.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:16:00 UTC | #445383

SilentMike's Avatar Comment 6 by SilentMike

The details of Randerson's criticism of Dawkins aside the conclusion from this article is the desirable one. Everybody should get to say their piece.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:35:00 UTC | #445397

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 7 by Jos Gibbons

This is a strange article, its title not very representative of its point. “Let them speak. (Insert a whole article disagreeing with them.) But yeah, like I said, let them speak.” The disagreement is based on the same tired rubbish arguments, as I will now demonstrate. My many uses of a blockquote would make including this as a comment on harder, but I don’t want to give them my e–mail address anyway.

The use of the word "probably" suggests a subtle hedging of bets - with a degree of uncertainty introduced, "agnostic" might be a better descriptor than "atheist" for the ads.
Agnosticism is not an intermediate between theism (a belief a god exists) and atheism (a belief one doesn’t); instead, atheism is the lack of a belief there is a god, so all people are theist or atheist. Agnosticism is the separate phenomenon of admitting you do not know whether a god exists or not. There are gnostic theists, gnostic atheists, agnostic theists and agnostic atheists. Bear in mind also there’s a difference between probably and 50/50.
what sort of God probably does not exist?
You would concede all but one of them. The correct answer is all of them.
[In TGD, RD] chooses as his target a God who is no more than a caricature. ... One could not say definitively there was not such a teapot, any more than one could say there was certainly no God, but applying the common sense test one would have to say that probably no such entity existed. Is a similar God concept the basis of the atheist bus ads?
Are you asking whether the bus ads have in mind a god not supported by any evidence? Well, are there any other gods? To put it simply, is any god evidenced? NO. If you disagree, provide some evidence for a god – any god. The ball is in your park as a believer; that’s the point Russell makes.
[TGD] quotes exclusively the views of fundamentalist preachers
TGD also examines Aquinas, Swinburne, Plantinga [IIRC] and Bonhoeffer.
[RD] ignores ... theological perspectives that understand God ... as spirit, life, love, and mystery
RD discusses those very ideas under the topic of pantheism. He explains that his critique of “religion” is only concerned with other concepts, recognising that, like Einstein, he is “deeply religious” in the alternative sense.
[RD] works with [religious moderates] when it suits in opposing fundamentalist perspectives.
A and B agree that C is wrong and not that D is wrong, so work together in opposing C but not on the subject of D. Goodness.
[Harries’s] views on God appear nowhere in The God Delusion
TGD is about 400 pages. It doesn’t have room to examine every single theist as an individual. You will always find people he missed. So what? Either there is evidence that a god in which Harries believes exist, or there is not. Here’s a hint as to which: you aren’t trying to give such evidence. You don’t even tell us what these wonderful views of Harries’s are. Indeed, if they are worth bringing up in criticising how RD handled religion, you should show that by using them.
[The ad says] in the probable absence of God we can all now stop worrying and enjoy our lives. This would appear to be a response to another caricature of a God of fire and brimstone who visits vengeance and wrath upon a hapless people, leaving them in a state of perpetual fear and anxiety. Such imagery ... arose in a time of intense persecution of Christians ... and is a graphic way of assuring the persecuted of the ultimate triumph of good over evil ... most Christians live much more by their experience of God as a God of love
1. That the Christians were suffering finitely is no justification for claiming an infinite punishment awaits everyone who does not share their opinions, persecutors of the Christians or otherwise. That the Christians will enjoy their afterlife is more than enough. 2. All Christians believe God will subject those He considers inadequate to eternal punishment. Some also think there’s something loving about the arrangement. Therefore, the former is the more central component of Christian faith.
with all the pithy pieces of wisdom one sees on church noticeboards around the country, there is no shortage of statements Christians could put on a few buses themselves
You mean the ones that inspired the atheist bus ad in the first place?
Richard Randerson is the former Anglican dean and assistant bishop of Auckland
That explains his stance, but it does not excuse the poor quality of the defence he offers of it.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:42:00 UTC | #445400

Am I Evil?'s Avatar Comment 8 by Am I Evil?

Personally, I think every theologian is poor.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:53:00 UTC | #445406

hairybreeks's Avatar Comment 9 by hairybreeks

Yet again a diatribe from someone who clearly has not read the book.

And what sort of God probably does not exist? Probably the same kind of God as Oxford don Richard Dawkins likes to contest… Dawkins' 2006 book The God Delusion chooses as his target a God who is no more than a caricature.

A LIE. Read TGD page 36 (going from memory here – back me up someone) where RD predicts exactly this type of criticism, and goes on to make it plain that he is against ALL concepts of god, not just the ‘old man in the sky with a white beard etc’
Professor Dawkins is a good scientist but a poor theologian. His book quotes exclusively the views of fundamentalist preachers, many from the United States.

Another LIE.
He ignores the significant range of alternative theological perspectives that understand God not in terms of "old man in the sky" caricatures but in such concepts as spirit, life, love, and mystery - concepts that have an ancient pedigree, being found, for example, in Celtic expressions of religion and many others.

Yet another LIE.
Any truth, religious or otherwise, that cannot withstand scrutiny in the marketplace is not worth protecting.

I had to read this several times, because I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time. Surely if something is a ‘truth’ it is most certainly worth protecting, and if it is not a truth it is most certainly worth condemning. Perhaps he meant something else and it just came out wrong.
I could go on but Jos Gibbons has covered most of what I wanted to say. A pathetic article.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:56:00 UTC | #445407

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 10 by TheRationalizer

"There is PROBABLY no God"

And yet the poster up the road from my house says

"There IS a God, and this is his Earth".

Nice equality there!

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 15:00:00 UTC | #445408

jaf's Avatar Comment 11 by jaf

"a poor theologian"

Wow! Praise indeed!
Of course it would be a lot easier to be a 'theologian' if one of them, from archbishops to the lowliest believer, actually explained exactly what they *do* believe, instead of mouthing meaningless platitudes, and pseudo-philosophical Obllcosk..

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 16:20:00 UTC | #445462

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 12 by NewEnglandBob

Richard Randerson is the former Anglican dean and assistant bishop of Auckland.

Richard Randerson is a poor journalist wannabe. It is obvious that he either did not read TGD or did not comprehend what he wrote.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:07:00 UTC | #445482

Daisy Skipper's Avatar Comment 13 by Daisy Skipper

Another tired example of lying for Jebus.

I can only imagine how frustrating it is for Professor Dawkins - to write a book that is repeatedly and intentionally misquoted. These outspoken theologians need to do some homework prior to writing. Their life of leisure must lead to poor work ethic.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:48:00 UTC | #445506

Flapjack's Avatar Comment 14 by Flapjack

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but isn't that just yet another variant on the courtier's reply?

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 18:16:00 UTC | #445521

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 15 by prettygoodformonkeys

debridement of leisure must lead to poor work ethic
I believe that should be reversed, because it is the career choice of lazy minds. They happily pay the price up front, to avoid the work of thinking.

I sometimes wonder what a PhD thesis in Make-believe would read like, and would actually like to give one a read; or perhaps enjoy delivering it a 'peer'-reviewed thrashing.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 19:01:00 UTC | #445541

GoodbyeGodNZ's Avatar Comment 16 by GoodbyeGodNZ

This was my Letter to the Editor of the Dominion Post after I forwarded this article. Regards Paul

I refer to Richard Randerson’s article - Let the atheist bus ads proceed – Opinion 1/3/10
Mr Randerson opines that ‘Professor Dawkins is a good scientist but a poor theologian’.
I and many people that I know, in this day and age, regard theologians to have much less credibility than used car salesmen and politicians.
I’m sure that the good Professor won’t be too concerned about Mr Randerson’s rating.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 19:26:00 UTC | #445557

black wolf's Avatar Comment 17 by black wolf

I commented on the article (awaiting moderation), but here's my conclusion:

If religion has nothing to fear from a rigorous discussion, why does it always make excuses to be exempt, something urgent elsewhere to be done, some reason to keep removing God precisely out of the scope of the discussion at hand?

I guess the bishop is thinking of the type of discussion where both sides try to not criticise each other and end on a note of amicably agreeing to disagree.
Sorry bishop, most of us think that the time for that is over.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 20:00:00 UTC | #445577

Kmita's Avatar Comment 18 by Kmita

"Dawkins' 2006 book The God Delusion chooses as his target a God who is no more than a caricature. "

Obviously this person is unfamiliar with the religions that are inspected in TGD. All of them happen to be caricatures of themselves prior to any inspection. That's to say, they're ridiculous without having to be made so by a critic.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 20:17:00 UTC | #445586

ozturk's Avatar Comment 19 by ozturk

Richard is a terrible theologian. He doesn't quite cut it as an astrologer either. And as for a being a homeopath, he's a total failure. Seriously, does he have to 'qualify' as a quack to criticise the quacks?

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 20:58:00 UTC | #445605

Ohnhai's Avatar Comment 20 by Ohnhai

To dismiss Richard's stance on the weakness of this theology is akin to dismissing his views on the non-existence of unicorns because he is not familiar with the many fine works on unicorns including James Woodrolfe's twelve volume master-work "On the Care and Feeding of Unicorns".

Richard holds that on the basis of the complete lack of evidence for god's existence the probability of him not existing at all is extremely high. What use is all the theology in all the world when you question the foundational stone that it is all built on? When you are certain (with in all prudent probability)that God does not exist then what use and value do the tomes, and tomes, and tomes of writing pontificating on this non-existent being's finer points have?

None. They are nothing more than hot air attempting to dry the Emperor's new clothes.

And if you reduce god to the amorphous and vague whimsy of 'Love', 'Mystery', 'Wonder' then surely you render the concept void of individual meaning as all these things exist in and of themselves. I believe in Love, I believe in Mystery, I believe in wonder. All these thing are manifestly wonderful and to be cherished and not to be sullied by a clumsy attempt to sanitise and cleanse the repugnant image of the biblical god by defining him so loosely in such amorphous terms that he could be anything and at the same time most certainly nothing.

Tue, 02 Mar 2010 02:32:00 UTC | #445680

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 21 by Alovrin

Christ, I could take Randerson apart (others already have), but I'll save it.
He is in favour of allowing a debate to take place in New Zealand.
Good for him!
OK, Let's get on with it. Allow the bus ads, NZ bus.
Maybe consider that on this, (your staff or whomever it is your consulted, no disrespect) might not be fully informed on this issue.
I don't know how else to put it.
They may be wrong.
Is not the finest of human pursues that of the truth.
May it proceed on a global scale, including New Zealand.

(edited to add the pompous bit at the end)
Im a F*#king comedian whaddiya expect!

Thu, 04 Mar 2010 15:29:00 UTC | #446588