Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Bill O’Reilly’s Arrogant Ignorance & the Many Faces of Richard Dawkins

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on October 12, 2009

Richard Dawkins has been doing the media rounds to promote his new book The Greatest Show on Earth. Below, you will see his appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s show on the FoxNews propaganda channel. O’Reilly makes use of the standard argument fallacies we all know (i.e. the Bandwagon fallacy, the God of the Gaps argument, etc.) Although Dawkins has encountered these arguments on more occasions than he can probably count, his constantly morphing facial expressions seem to indicate that he cannot believe he is STILL hearing the same arguments. I feel his pain.

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34 Responses to “Bill O’Reilly’s Arrogant Ignorance & the Many Faces of Richard Dawkins”

  1. JN said

    This would make an entertaining Celebrity Deathmatch.

  2. The Chaplain said

    It would be easy write that episode: O’Wrongly would rip Dawkins’ arms off and bludgeon him to death with them–all while Dawkins would politely ask him to stop shouting and bludgeoning him.

  3. Paulo said

    Bill O’Reilly states that he isn’t trying to force the belief in creation on schoolchildren, that he is merely trying to present “all the alternatives” for how the world got here, because he says that science “is incomplete” and cannot tell us. If he listened to himself, he would realize that what he is saying is that it would be just as valid to teach schoolchildren that the world was created by Brahma, or by a cosmic egg, or by the number of other deities in creation stories out there. Why is the Judeo-Christian god the only one that should be allowed in school?

  4. Charity said

    Looking forward to reading the book. Dawkins is a patient guy. Almost as patient as me. Not quite though. I think I saw some looks of disdain. Clearly he could use some lessons in humility from me.

  5. JN said

    I find it a bit ironic that Dawkins was on Bill O’Reilly to promote the Greatest Show On Earth. O’Reily probably never read the book and perhaps assumed the book was about his TV show (O’Reily’s a humble fellow).

  6. Paulo said

    It’s ironic, this whole broohaha about creationism. Nobody is preventing people from teaching their kids creationism in this country. If you want to teach your kids creationism, go ahead! Teach them in Sunday school or private school! Just keep it out of public school science curriculums.

    • The Chaplain said

      But ID is science Paulo! It’s exactly like science, except you just add on a little flair. You just end the science lesson by saying, “Remember that Bible stories are symbolic, so the Bible is still right about God creating the universe. Class dismissed.” It’s just about teaching the controversy, Paulo! Don’t you want to be fair and let all sides of the story be heard? What about equality and freedom of religion?

  7. Danny said

    As much as it pains me to be on O’Reilly’s side of anything, I don’t think he’s that far out of line. He acknowledges that there is evidence for evolution, but he believes that there is a higher power overseeing it. I don’t see his position as all that outrageous. Science classes should focus on what we know… natural selection, etc, and either not try to answer the questions we can’t answer with certainty (such as how the universe was set in motion) or note that there are several competing theories. There are many well-respected scientists who believe that a higher power is overseeing the evolution process. Dr. Francis Collins is an example– he’s the head of the human genome project and is credited with major discoveries related to genetic disease. He also wrote a book called “The Language of God” in which he expresses the same basic theories as Bill O’Reilly does in this clip– albeit without the shouting and general douchiness.

    • Danny said

      Just to clarify, by acknowledging “competing theories”, all I’m suggesting is that textbook teach the known facts and then throw in a sentence about the theories that attempt to explain what we don’t know– “While science has yet to establish how the universe was set in motion, some believe that there was a higher power behind it and others believe that it happened spontaneously” or something like that.

      It’s just not that crazy to believe that there is something out there that we can’t explain through science.

      • The Chaplain said

        See, that is the extra “flair” I was referring to. There are NO competing scientific theories to explain how creatures evolve and have evolved. Period. Evolution makes no comment of the origins of the universe, so why would you bring that up, unless it’s to insert and promote your religious beliefs in an irrelevant context. Also, why just YOUR religious view? Why not explain that people who believe in different superstitions and non-scientific explanations throughout the world have very different ways to explain the origin of the universe (of, again, ignoring that fact that we are not studying the origins of the universe in a biology class). Perhaps you should cover different, competing supernatural explanations for the cosmos in a comparative religions course: where a discussion like that actually belongs.

        Show me the science in your ID “theory” and I will gladly agree that it belongs in a science classroom. Don’t waste too much of your time though–you won’t be able to do it. They tried real hard at the Dover trial (and I would highly suggest that all Chrisitian proponents of ID read the transcript of the trial–it is hard to argue that it is anything but an argument from ignorance that has no science in it AT ALL). Even the Bush-appointed judge had to call it what it was: a Christian religious belief deceptively draped in science words that proposes no testable hypothesis (unlike what real science does). It is creationism for Christians desperate to give their religious beliefs the lovely scent of respectability and rationality. It has neither. It (the hypothesis: God made everything in the universe, including you and me) is simply the same old faith that because a book said it, it is true.

        If O’Reilly were an angry Islamic fundamentalist on Iranian TV (which hardly seems a stretch — just switch out his old arrogant ignorance for a new set of supernatural beliefs that require an equal amount of faith and ignoring of the facts of science), he would be arguing with Dawkins to place the Islamic explanation for human origins in the science classroom; and if he were a Hindu…the same goes. See, he is just your run-of-the-mill conservative who values whatever is tied to power and privilege for people like himself. He is white. The white system is great, since it gives unequal distribution of opportunities like wealth accumulation to whites. So why change it? It must be good, right? That is the extent of O’Reilly and many other conservatives thinking. He fails to recognize that what seems the “norm” the whitebread version of everything (i.e. Christianity) is exactly that: White. His choice of religions is tied up with that. He can’t wrap his brain around why it is not proper to discuss personal religious beliefs in a science classroom. He seems utterly convinced by the argument that ID is science, but not because he has actually studied it in depth. Rather, he believes it because he is ALREADY convinced that the Bible is truth, so why couldn’t it be scientific as well? It is severe intellectual laziness on his part–and it is typical of conservative thinking. Instead of having the balls to say, “Let’s strip my beliefs down to the ground and see which ones can justify their sticking power,” they say something more akin to this, “Let’s see which beliefs can’t stand up in today’s world (like the idea of God creating Adam and Eve fully formed 6,000-10,000 yrs ago), and then modify those to align with what science reveals. That way, I can still remain a Christian — something I have invested a lot of emotion and time into, and I would hate to disappoint my family and friends.” That is precisely what Collins does in his book about God. (and the “not wanting to disappoint family and friends” argument is one he actually uses in his book.) He accepts that science is right (something he has to do, since his whole successful scientific career is thanks to the truth of evolutionary facts — the fossil record, the age of the universe and earth, etc.) but then he makes up the bizarre theory that humans did evolve from the slime, like science reveals, but that God meant for things to work that way, so He could take the very long route to creating some adequate “vessels” (his actual word) for the “soul” thingies He has lying around in heaven. Then, when Ardi gave way to Lucy, who gave way to good ol’ homo sapiens, God said, “Vessels are ready!” Then, He dipped into his magic bag of souls and started handing them out.

        Now, I ask you, does that sound scientific? Do you see what data can be collected to test the theory? Of course not! It’s a bunch more poppycock. It’s poppycock constructed for a good purpose: to make educated and intelligent Christians feel less foolish for believing in something so silly, but it ironically achieves the opposite: it points out how silly the original explanation was. Sometimes the repetition of it throughout one’s life makes it seem normal. It’s not. We’re just here the way a moth is; Christians like Collins need to just deal with it, get the uncomfortable family disappointment out of the way, give up their beliefs that ancient stories about magic are real, and stop trying to make silliness look like a majestic and elegant look into the world that science can’t provide. ID proponents need to give up–it is obvious to everyone except for those blinded by the OT creation story: a creation myth is no science. It is a story. Biblical story does not equal “scientific theory”.

        • Danny said

          We don’t know how the universe began. Science has not been able to explain it, religious followers have not proved their beliefs. We should be teaching our kids that we don’t know what set the universe in motion. We should not be teaching them things we don’t know.

          It’s not that easy though, because obviously when we’re discussing the history of the universe, the question of God vs no God arises. What are textbooks and teachers supposed to do, ignore it? No, they should discuss the different possibilities– specifically, there is a higher power that set the universe in motion or there isn’t. I’m not talking about christianity vs. islam vs. buddhism vs. pink unicorn here– just the basic options. God or no god? Evolution answers some questions, but not others. You can’t ignore the obvious question “how did we get here?”, but you can’t give a one sided answer either.

          Francis Collins and Richard Dawkins debated this topic– google it and take a look. Collins’ position is just not as stupid as you think it is.

        • The Chaplain said

          Your conception of God is not Whitebread, Danny. Your God is not generic; he has characteristics, right? To think otherwise is ethnocentrism plain and simple. Your God is an amalgamation of the Jewish and Christian deities, along with all of the other ones the Jewish God was stolen from. Thus, most of the concepts in your head tied to your God are Christian or Jewish conceptions. Go ahead and mention a few of those attributes of your “generic” God, and let’s see if you can make that generic thing work.

          If you can’t, we should stop pretending. Say what you really want: you want kids to be taught about the cosmological attributes and qualities of your Abrahamic deity. The idea that He is a generic God is an illusion that gets constructed through Whitebread syndrome. Just because everyone else talks generally about your God just means that everyone around you believes in the same God. Your “generic” descriptions of God wouldn’t seem generic to an African ethnic group that has never heard of the one you worship.

          Why do you think the topic of God would come up when the history of the universe is being discussed? And why would the history of the universe be a topic for discussion in the first place? In biology, they study biology.

          It’s not about God vs. no-God for me. That binary opposite exists only in the head of believers. Again, a biology classroom is not the place for the debates the various religious groups have about human origins. That might work in a “Science and Society” class, or something like that. Teachers have to include material that is relevant to the topic they are teaching.

          I am still very confused by your position on ID. I am unsure why questions like “How did we get here?” should be something considered in a science classroom. You appear to be suggesting that discussing evolutionary facts in a science class will naturally lead to these other “meaning of life” questions you pose, but I think the burden of proof is on you to prove that this is the case. Not only that, but if that were true, why would unrelated questions be addressed? If my students ask questions about fields I know little about (economics, for instance), I tell them I am unqualified to give a credible answer. Instead of changing science curriculum to include things that are not science, why don’t we instead train teachers not to address areas of knowledge that are irrelevant to the topics they are teaching? If I were a high school science teacher, and a student asked me, “Ardi is fascinating, but how did we get here?” I would respond with, “Well, we evolved from lower species, just like your favorite dog Fido.” If the student persisted, I wouldn’t be able to address what the student is REALLY saying (which he is probably not even aware he is asking). I would realize he is asking an existential question that asks me to anthropomorphize the natural world. I can’t answer the question, since it is a loaded one whose premises I do not accept. I would just have to say, “I’m not sure what type of answer you are looking for, but I have already answered it. Since your question appears to go outside of the realm of science, you will have to look for an answer to that question elsewhere. (I would, of course, feel bad that the guy might end up going off to find an answer to a question that does not exist.)

          If some students do not accept the findings and conclusions of science, then they are free to say so. It’s no skin off my back, but I don’t want to pay my tax dollars to appease a group of religious people who don’t like a part of science that they feel goes against what their holy book says. Save that for Sunday school or Christian school.

          So what about Collins position is different from my assessment? He still believes in the “vessel” idea, right? What am I missing?

  8. Danny said

    I guess I can’t reply in the same comment thread…

    I don’t think the particulars of my personal beliefs are relevant. I’m not asking that Christianity be presented in science class. Frankly, if teachers can skirt the obvious question “what started everything?” when discussing evolution (and if they can refrain from teaching as fact ideas that are not factual), I’m all for avoiding the subject in science class as you suggested. I just don’t think it’s easily done. I remember discussing evolution in my high school biology class, and though our teacher was trying to focus on the facts, most of the students (myself included) were much more interested in discussing whether or not there was a creator involved. You’re probably right that such a discussion doesn’t belong in a science class. But if we are going to have that discussion in the classroom, the possibility that an intelligent creator has designed the whole process needs to be mentioned.

    • The Chaplain said

      Danny, let me be more specific then. One of the attributes of your deity is that He is all-powerful, He can create a universe and whatever else He feels like. This is not a characteristic that all imaginary deities share. The Abrahamic religions share it, so maybe your promotion of religion through Intelligent Design in the science classroom would be broader than Creationism is, but it is still promoting specific religions. By not specifying what religions, proponents of ID think they are being “scientific.” Hiding what you are truly saying isn’t science: it’s dissembling. It’s awfully big of IDers to promote the God of Islam, Judaism and Christianity all at once, but it is still promotion of religion in a forum that should be only about the scientific method.

      • Danny said

        As long as science teachers aren’t teaching/implying that there isn’t a god/creator, they don’t have to imply or suggest that there is one. Christians need to come to grips with the fact that the world isn’t 6,000 years old. At the same time, folks like Dawkins need to dial back the rhetoric a bit. That’s my two cents anyway.

        I’m not very up to date on the facts/ recent discoveries concerning this debate, and imo you can’t trust the figureheads on either side of the debate. I ordered and just received a copy of Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True” and I’m hoping that it will clear things up for me. I’m going to read it side by side with Lee Strobel’s 2004 book “The Case for a Creator.” But short of getting a Phd and examining all of the evidence myself, I don’t know how I’m going to find an answer I’m content with. I don’t trust either side.

        • The Chaplain said

          It actually saddens me to hear you say this Danny, but it is precisely what the ID movement and the Discovery Institute hopes to accomplish: they want to cause Christians and the public at large to stop trusting scientists. Their goal is to create doubt so they can get a foothold into territory that they, frankly, lost when science first started to show its promise as a method for explaining how the natural world functions. You should definitely do more research on this topic. Have you read Collins book? You won’t want to hear this, but the most promising and clearly stated explanation of evolution at the moment is Dawkins new book.

        • JN said

          I’m reading the book, and it’s pretty decent. So far, it’s more of a celebration than a rant.

          Just as an aside…in 4th grade I used the scroll I made in Ms. Marlene’s class to estimate the age of the earth. I figured, based on the genealogies, that the world was about 7,000 years old (I through a little extra time in to account for any crossover). This may have been a smart thing for a kid to do, but it’s hard to make a valid argument about the age of the earth from genealogies.

        • Danny said

          So what do you suggest? Just assume everything that the pro-evolution scientists claim is correct? I need to hear both sides of any debate before I can make up my mind. Granted, this is a difficult issue because the average person doesn’t have the expertise to view the evidence and decide for themselves– so we have to trust somebody. At the same time, you don’t have to be a genius to recognize a poor argument– so far, Lee Strobel’s book is very unimpressive. He basically finds 4 or 5 pieces of evidence that were once used to support evolution and shoots them down, without acknowledging that there is a whole lot of additional evidence out there. I do believe that evolutionists have made mistakes by sticking to flawed evidence (or maybe by not examining it enough in the first place). It’s like Al Gore and the environmentalist movement. Climate change is a very real threat, but because Gore took a few scientific liberties in his movie, he gave opponents reason to claim that the whole thing is a hoax. He inadvertently set the movement back, in my opinion.

          Anyway, I haven’t read Collins book or anything from Dawkins– but I intend to eventually. The thing is, I don’t question that evolution has happened to some extent, at least. I disagree with the notion that evolution somehow disproves the existence of God. I’d probably find ‘The God Delusion’ more interesting than Jerry Coyne’s book, now that I think about it.

        • JN said

          You’d probably be better off reading Dawkins’s new book instead of the God Delusion, since it deals almost exclusively with evolution. I don’t know if he’s really putting any new info out there, but he makes it more enjoyable to read.

          One thing that really hampers the young-earth side of the debate is that many of the people arguing for it are mostly unqualified to do so. I skipped through a speech by Dr. So-and-so who rambled for hours at how the geological record indicates rapid formation of rock layers, instead of layers formed after millions of years. His argument immediately lost credibility when I Googled his name, and it was revealed that he was more or less a doctor of diet and nutrition.

          Christianity has done a poor job of dealing with the idea of evolution, if they’ve even really dealt with it at all. I’m not convinced the two are necessarily incompatible. One could even make a decent argument that evolution fits with the whole theology of sanctification.

        • JN said

          I might add that there’s very little, if any, indication that the earth is as young as some people claim (unless there’s some crazy trickery going on). Most serious Christian scientists don’t claim that the earth is young. Some, like Hugh Ross, claim young-earth creationism is even un-biblical.

        • Danny said

          I’ll keep that in mind, JN.

          The young-earth crowd is ridiculous… I think it’s safe to say that much. I don’t know if that is where Lee Strobel ends up, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t understand why fundamentalist christians have such a hard time accepting that the world isn’t 10,000 years old… It kind of reminds me of politics in that so many people are hardcore partisans simply because that’s how they were raised. we may not know anything about the issues, but dammit, we can’t let those damn socialists take our freedoms!

          Of course, evolution is a much tougher topic because the “facts” are nearly impossible for the average person to investigate first hand. I’m not comfortable trusting anybody who has an agenda.

        • The Chaplain said

          Danny, since you want to read the point of view of a Christian scientist (to be differentiated from a Christian Scientist…hee hee), then I would recommend Collins. He at least has some credentials in the field of science. It seems to me it’s a no-brainer to go to someone like that.

          P.S. Strobel’s argument is called a Strawman, and it is a form lying (as far as I’m concerned). Either he is guilty of lying, or he is so woefully uninformed that he is unaware his strawmen are outdated. Neither one sheds a positive light on him as an individual.

          As for Gore: I thought his movie was boring–just like him. Haven’t paid any attention to the controversy surrounding his film, since I go to scientific studies and reports for my info on global warming (not to a politician, obviously!). Hmm, makes me think of Ben Stein and his reducto ad Hitlerium argument in “Expelled.” Now that guy is unqualified to discuss evolution, is a dishonest conspiracy theorist and a liar in a way that Strobel is not. Nasty bastard.

          Now to the young-earth Creationists. I agree that they are similar to the hardcore partisans you describe. One former classmate of mine said that she believes the Earth is in the 6,000-10,000 year-old range because, “If you let one thing go, everything goes.” Her point is if one thing in the Bible is no longer literal, then that opens everything up to reinterpretation. It’s a slippery slope argument on her part, but her point seems valid to me. Maybe my thinking is too rigid in this instance, but how can we say the creation story is symbolic, and the genealogy of Jesus wasn’t REALLY meant to trace the history of humanity? And if we rationalize this reinterpretation, how can we not also rationalize a reinterpretation of the Bible’s verses relating to men filled with lust for other men, or not eating pork, or all the rest of it? I agree with that old drunk curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens: since the Bible gets the origin of the cosmos wrong, how can we trust it for anything else? I don’t think we can. And the Karen Armstrong, Bishop Shelby Spong variety of mealy-mouthed generalized “spirituality” is nothing more to me than a conciliatory “Can’t we all just get along?” form of religion robbed of all meaning and specificity to one’s life.

        • Charity said

          “And the Karen Armstrong, Bishop Shelby Spong variety of mealy-mouthed generalized “spirituality” is nothing more to me than a conciliatory “Can’t we all just get along?” form of religion robbed of all meaning and specificity to one’s life.”

          Actually, I prefer “spirituality” over fundamentalist religion. Reading Spong’s writing, and going to one of his lectures here in Charlotte back in 2000(?), was a part of my own process of changing. He’s an intelligent guy. Spong believes God is not a deity in the traditional sense, but rather “the ground of all being.” My guess is that he finds his ideas meaningful and applies them to his life. I think it is amusing/interesting that he insists in his books the apostle Paul is homosexual–he writes extensively on this idea and provides a lot of Biblical support for it (btw, Spong is a vocal advocate of gay rights).

          We don’t all have to get along, but I wouldn’t knock people who are working toward that ideal. The world would be a better place if we all did get along. But I don’t think it’s necessary to turn the other cheek in the process, or pick out the specks and whatnot. Spong, in particular, takes a strong position against fundamentalism and as a result has made himself a pariah among fundamentalist religious folk. I suppose he’s a misguided Christian who is leading sheep astray.

          Here’s a question for you: Are fundamentalist Christians much different from other people who hold rigid ideas and opinions? Also, isn’t it true that the “spiritual”, non-fundamentalist person is more open-minded than the fundamentalist and has moved away from concrete thinking to a more abstract perspective of the world, a perspective that accepts the truth of evolution and 21st century science (albeit with mystical thinking thrown in)? Real science. Not biased science without reliability or validity, or even a solid peer review process–you know, the kind of science that’s based on biased research performed with the intention of supporting a preconceived idea, like that people rode around on dinosaurs.

          It’s a “no-brainer” that my children will grow up with the truth (based on evidence and real science) about evolution considering their parents. God forbid they are taught ID in the public school classroom. But, if they are, hopefully they will see the humor in differences.

    • JN said

      I think one of the problems with ID is that it was specifically meant to derail evolution. It’s more of a euphemism than a theory. Personally, I don’t see reason to not teach the facts of evolution. There’s stuff that most people should agree on.

      Evolution doesn’t really address the why things happen as much as it’s a description how things happen. It’s fine if a person believes God conducts the whole show, but I don’t know that it’d be exactly fair to discuss that side of things in class. Of course science teachers will teach what they want (just as history teachers have a convenient way of passing on their political agenda) regardless of the set curriculum.

      Christians used to think science was a way of getting to know God and the nature of God. Now it’s viewed as a crow bar trying to pry a person away. The laws of science haven’t changed much.

  9. stephy said

    Hmm. Bill is kind of restrained actually towrds the middle but starts name-calling near the end and getting dismissive.

    I like Richard and his points are valid. Bill is valid too in what he says he believes but when he gets agro…that’s when he loses me and makes me feel really sad. It’s not okay to dismiss people like that. That’s where a big disconnect lies between people who aren’t Christians and how they perceive Christians, and often for good reason.

    • The Chaplain said

      True, although O’Reilly isn’t really a representative for Christianity, is he? I categorize him as one of those angry White guys who feels entitled and throws child-like temper tantrums when people question his WASP ideology. Bill is a Christian in the way that Ben Stein is an evolutionary biologist (i.e. they play one on TV).

  10. Paulo said

    – Rant Alert –

    With the entire fossil record and a mountain of evidence before us in the 21st century, I don’t see how any intelligent, educated person can deny that evolution happened (guided hand or not, doesn’t matter. It’s not something we can measure anyway and it’s purely a matter of faith). Why would anyone go around telling children that evolution is a lie and that the earth is only 6000 years old? What is so unbearable in admitting that your grandfather came from a monkey and that Adam and Eve were just a myth of a more primitive era? Because fundamentalists have made the mistake in believing that the Bible is the actual word of God, word for word, and therefore, it cannot be wrong. Instead of acknowledging the evidence smacking them right in the face, these people would rather bury their heads deeper in the sand. Why not own up to the fact that the Bible is flat out wrong about the origins of man and what really happened? Why not join the 21st century? We welcome you with open arms…

    – End of Rant –

    • The Chaplain said

      Now if only Young-Earth Creationists could read your rant…:-) I get the distinct impression that crowd does not go anywhere near this blog, and I don’t blame them: not enough sand.

  11. Danny said

    My biggest problem with Dawkins isn’t with his science. My problem is with his attitude towards religion (and religious believers) in general. Yeah, religion gets alot of things wrong. But it takes supreme arrogance to sweepingly declare all religions as false– not only false, but evil and harmful to the human race. This essay by John Gray, a British philosopher and a skeptic, makes the point that not only is “zealous atheism” anti-humanist, it also makes the same mistakes that often plague religious thought. Here’s a brief excerpt: (read the whole thing. He rambles, but he also makes points you don’t see everyday.)

    Zealous atheism renews some of the worst features of Christianity and Islam. Just as much as these religions, it is a project of universal conversion. Evangelical atheists never doubt that human life can be transformed if everyone accepts their view of things, and they are certain that one way of living – their own, suitably embellished – is right for everybody. To be sure, atheism need not be a missionary creed of this kind. It is entirely reasonable to have no religious beliefs, and yet be friendly to religion. It is a funny sort of humanism that condemns an impulse that is peculiarly human. Yet that is what evangelical atheists do when they demonise religion.

    I have different beliefs than my parents, but I’m glad they raised me the way that they did. As an adult, I can say that I don’t need religion to provide a moral compass, but I don’t know if that compass would have developed had I been raised differently. I’m not speaking for anybody but myself, but I know that my “fear” of God forced me to develop good habits and thought patterns that I doubt any other motivator would have produced. Right now, I wouldn’t steal an iPod from Best Buy, god or no god. As a 9 year old, I would have stolen a candy bar from a store if I thought I could get away with it… except that god was watching. At the very least, it would be arrogant for me to assume that I’d be better off had I been raised differently.

    I’m not trying to make an argument here. I’m saying that religion in my life has had an overwhelmingly positive influence. Religion motivated my parents to spend their lives working for an organization that built and ran a hospital in a nation sorely in need of them (ELWA hospital in Liberia). SIM runs a dental clinic there– besides them, there are FIVE dentists in the entire country of three million. I don’t care if it’s God, Allah, Zeus, or the Great Pink Unicorn providing the motivation– if the result improves the lives of people in need, it’s a good thing.

    Dawkins is obviously a brilliant scientist and a great writer. But he’s also an arrogant, condescending asshole. It’s offensive to suggest that a belief system central to the culture and morality of many people is a “delusion” or a “virus”, regardless of whether the belief system is even accurate. If he toned down the anti-religious rhetoric, drew attention to the scientific evidence for evolution, and let people draw their own conclusions as to the religious implications, he’d be much more palatable. To me, at least.

    • The Chaplain said

      Obviously, since you are a Christian, you are going to attribute positive things to your belief in the supernatural. That’s understandable. What I take issue with is the idea that Dawkins is arrogant. I think you are just dead wrong on that Danny. You’re being blinded by the argument through repetition that Christians make. Why is stating that religion (all religions) are false arrogant? Let’s reverse things for a sec. Christians repeat on a daily basis that non-believers and bad people in need of God, or they deserve to burn in hell for eternity. Are you seriously arguing that Dawkins simply saying that the supernatural does not exist is akin to telling people they are miserable horrible people deserving of eternal torture? I think you’ve got things warped, frankly. There is no comparison between the two.

      P.S. I’ve talked to my son about taking stuff from stores without paying, and I explained to him how business works, what he would feel like if someone took stuff from him, etc. You don’t need fear in your life, Danny.

      • The Chaplain said

        P.P.S. Yes, missionaries do good things for people who live in squalor. I applaud them for that. Still, what motivates them is not real.

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