God Delusion is Delusional

“The God Delusion” It’s proclaimed by many atheists - including Dawkins himself - that they hope it should convert religious people into atheists.

I will be honest. I was afraid of it at first. I do not like the idea of reading something which attempts to and may convert me to a false teaching. Who would?

And to be honest, I have still not read the entire thing. But after reading even just the Preface of the book, I grew sceptical of its power.

Generally speaking, Dawkins is entertaining at times, and raises a couple of interesting points (if I were an atheist I might take him seriously). But he is quite biased, and like many atheists (in my experience) he lashes out at theists and taunts them like an immature child. His prey also are not faithful Christians or believers in some god or another. Here is his target audience:

I suspect – well, I am sure – that there are lots of people out there
who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy
in it, don’t believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in
its name; people who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents’
religion and wish they could, but just don’t realize that leaving is an
option. If you are one of them, this book is for you.

He may appeal to a spiritually weak and vulnerable audience - not unlike the incubus in the bar who may seduce a woman whose husband recently divorced her and who has had a few too many adult beverages.

His taunting and harsh words are not for religious people who are sensible and level-headed and fortified in their faith. His words, even in the preface, certainly offended me, a Catholic who actually wants to practise his faith, rather than appealed to me.

This refutation of some of his arguments also presents him as taunting without warrant and rather uninformed (or misinformed as it were), not unlike the “trolls” one can find on the Internet. The refutations even use his own logic against him at some points. In fact, “The God Delusion”'s bibliography consists of many Internet-based articles. (Perhaps he is the prototype for the Internet troll?)

For my fellow Christians and believers in the supernatural which Dawkins cannot comprehend and therefore must mock and attempt to disprove with irrelevant and uninformed opinions, speculations, and statistics, this refutation is a good read - especially if you think he may have actually convinced you an a few things!

See the Refutations laid out by David Marshall here.

What greater delusion can there be than the notion that the power of reason and the capacity for love are derived from fortuitous combinations of atomic particles, random mutations and blind necessity?! :slight_smile:

How about the delusion that an invisible, inexplicable superman in the sky whipped the universe together in a few days for no readily apparent reason?

If you start from the assumption that Dawkins’ ideas are “false,” then you cannot be convinced of them.

He may appeal to a spiritually weak and vulnerable audience - not unlike the incubus in the bar who may seduce a woman whose husband recently divorced her and who has had a few too many adult beverages.

I can’t tell if you’re being funny here or if you really think that guys in bars who have one-night stands are demons from hell. If the latter, you’re far more deluded than many believers.

this refutation is a good read

I don’t read random websites. If you want to have a discussion here, state one of Dawkins’ arguments in your own words, explain the refutation in your own words, and explain why you find the refutation more convincing.

If you can’t do that, it means that you don’t understand the arguments or the refutations.

What greater delusion can there be than the notion that a minute product of fortuitous combinations of atomic particles, random mutations and blind necessity can so readily dispose explain away the Source of all life, truth, goodness, freedom, beauty, joy and love? :slight_smile:

How about the delusion that the source of all life, truth, goodness, freedom, beauty, joy and love, can be explained by arbitrarily invoking an untestable, undetectable, supernatural wraith?

Actually I completely understand everything he is trying to get across. I just don’t think he necessarily understands God like some of us do. I can definitely see how religion could be seen as a delusion though.

To be fair though, no properly informed Catholic actually believes that completely butchered depiction of God anyway, hopefully. To explain how the depiction is butchered, God is not inexplicable, but a necessary being/existence. God is not a superman (I hope I don’t have to explain on a Catholic forum how God is not just some old bearded guy sitting on a cloud with superpowers). Finally, God did not randomly create the universe for no good reason, it was natural for Him given His divine nature, I unfortunately don’t have the theological resources available to me as I’m posting this to explain in proper detail, but as a bottom line God created for creation’s own sake, to share in God’s perfect life.
…You’ll have to forgive that I’ve given a rather butchered explanation of how the previous statement was butchered itself:blush:, the difference being that I’m trying to be a little closer to the Church’s philosophical point of view (as given by St. Thomas)

As for AntiTheist, on your first point, just because you start with the assumption of whether something is true or false does not mean it will be unable to convince you, I’m sorry, that’s just bad logic. It would certainly be difficult, not to mention improbable, but it is not in fact impossible.

Your second point is just uncharitable to Tarkan, based on how you took an obviously metaphorical description of a certain kind of man (with a link to explain what an incubus was to explain said metaphor) to possibly be literal and seemed as if you expected him to be literal. I don’t feel the need to truly address it.

Your third point is…rather pointless. It seems to me by the post that Tarkan does not in fact want an argument, based on the observation (which you yourself also made) that he did not in fact post any argument other than stating what he thought of the book and the refutations of it that he read. Hence, as I said, you presented a pointless point (let’s not go in to the oxymoron here :D)

In short, I find your comment as a whole to be rather accusatory and nit-picky, please correct me if that was not your intention, but still, as I hopefully implied, I don’t think the point of the post was so much to present the points against Dawkins on the forum but to open up the link to the CAF community and express the thoughts of the original poster.

Now to address your “I don’t read random websites” comment, I’m going to have to call out laziness on your part. Part of the joy of the learning process is reading, and if you’re going to be a participant in a catholic website forum to learn more about catholicism (which I assume is your intention, and not just being a screwtape), then reading reliable sources is essential, and reading non-reliable sources is still encouraged, especially when they are subject of the forum that is one is participating in.

If I were a participant at an atheist forum, looking to argue and seek truth, then I feel that I’d be obligated to read the “random websites” and book recommendations as presented on a topic instead of just “shooting the messenger,” it seems to be the more polite and charitable thing to do, which I think would be required of an atheist if he/she seeks to argue against Christianity.

On a side note I mean not to intellectually offend either of the people I’ve addressed, these are observations on my part, and if I’ve addressed something which incorrectly assessed your intentions then my bad. Also, I’m rather new, and it looks like I have to work on my long-windedness, so thanks for bearing with me

The reason for His creating us is as unapparent as the reason a boy wants an ant farm or a dog or some other creature he can love, take care of, and watch do all kinds of mysterious, wonderful things. He did make us Himself, but there is always some beauty in something intricate yet patterned and organised, and there’s beauty in something you have made with your own hands, mind, and soul. Even if it was the entire universe within six days.

(On a side note, it’s rather unfair to consider the story of Creation as only possibly a literal story of six days. Saint Augustine, a father of the Church, once proposed God made the whole thing in ONE day. Your mileage may vary.)

Well, the poster said that he was afraid Dawkins’ book would lead him into a “false teaching.” If that’s your starting point, then the way you’re going to approach the subject is to attempt to figure out exactly how Dawkins’ ideas are false, rather than whether or not they’re false in the first place.

Your second point is just uncharitable to Tarkan, based on how you took an obviously metaphorical description of a certain kind of man (with a link to explain what an incubus was to explain said metaphor) to possibly be literal and seemed as if you expected him to be literal. I don’t feel the need to truly address it.

Well, people on these forums do claim to literally believe in demons and ghosts and all sorts of incredible things, so I didn’t want to assume that he was joking. He’s said that he was, so I’m glad about that.

Your third point is…rather pointless. It seems to me by the post that Tarkan does not in fact want an argument, based on the observation (which you yourself also made) that he did not in fact post any argument other than stating what he thought of the book and the refutations of it that he read. Hence, as I said, you presented a pointless point (let’s not go in to the oxymoron here :D)

Well, “Here’s a website that I like” makes for pretty boring conversation, which is what a messageboard is (presumably) for.

If you just want to post your favorite links, fine, but if you want to have a discussion, we need to be able to summarize and apply the salient points in your link.

In short, I find your comment as a whole to be rather accusatory and nit-picky

Then stop reading my posts. I’m not forcing you.

Well, I can’t speak for other atheists, but I started out learning about this subject with an open mind. Sufficient evidence would have convinced me – and it still would convince me, if any were to be found.

I am merely using the literary devices of metaphor and hyperbole.

Good to know, but I read so many tales of the supernatural on this forum that I had to check. Glad to know that you’re sane.

Says Dawkins: “But there is no more and no less reason to believe the four canonical gospels.”

In this section, he is referring to the canonical Gospels in relation to the Gnostic and apocryphal gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas (which is confused with the Infancy Gospel of Thomas on the same page, 96, of Dawkin’s book)."

Response from Marshall: “Nonsense. The four Gospels are more than a hundred years earlier. They confirm one another on hundreds of details. They are firmly based in a Jewish context. They offer geographical and physical details about 1st Century Palestine that have been confirmed. They show numerous internal evidences of truthfulness, as I and others have shown in great detail. None of these arguments apply to the Gnostic writings. In fact, as I point out, even radical skeptics like Elaine Pagels and the members of the Jesus Seminar sometimes admit to some of the historical advantages of the canonical Gospels implicitly.”

The canonical Gospels are all linked by common details, common geography and history (which science has confirmed as being accurate), a common audience (the Jews), and a common timeframe of being written (no more than 100 years after Christ’s death and resurrection) that the Gnostic Gospels written a few centuries later do not.

Even the liberal scholars (Elaine Pagels and the Jesus Seminar) sometimes agree that the canonical Gospels are more historically accurate than the Gnostic ones. (If this is what liberal Biblical scholars say, what do you think the conservative ones say?)

It’s been some time since I’ve read the God Delusion, so I can’t remember the context for Dawkins’ claim here. My response to your response, then, will be defending my own particular view of things and not defending Dawkins’ view (though I suspect that his view is similar):

When we talk about historical claims, we have to be clear about what we’re discussing. Is the claim simply “A popular teacher named Jesus existed, and stories involving magic were later attributed to him”? If that is the claim, I have no problem agreeing with it and with agreeing that the canonical gospels – being likely earlier texts – are better sources of information about earlier versions of the stories that grew up around this figure.

If the claim, however, is that “The stories about Jesus – magic and all – are completely true,” then I think these claims are too extraordinary to be confirmed only by texts, especially texts that were authored anonymously and written far after the events took place.

Let’s be clear: I’m not claiming that textual accounts cannot tell us things about history. I’m saying that extraordinary claims have a higher threshold of evidence. If my friend told me that he went to Disney Land, I would have no problem accepting that. If the same friend told me that he went to Disney Land in a spaceship with a group of aliens that abducted him, his mere word would not be sufficient. It wouldn’t matter in the slightest if his story contained correct geographical details. A person’s testimony simply isn’t enough to confirm such an extraordinary claim.

And there are, certainly, people you can go and talk to today who will tell you that they have been abducted by aliens. Sometimes groups of people report being abducted, and their stories match each other in all sorts of ways.

These stories, however, are generally not considered sufficient to accept their claims about alien abductions.

Similarly, texts – even if we knew for sure that they were texts written by eyewitnesses a day later – cannot confirm extraordinary events involving magic. Certainly, texts written anonymously at some point within a century of the purported magical events cannot confirm that the magical events happened.

Given all of this, there’s no good reason to suppose that the magical parts of the canonical gospels are any more true than the magical parts of other gospels.

So I would say that things like “geographical details” and “the stories confirming each other in hundreds of ways” do not speak at all to the truth of the magical events in them.

Here’s a good analogy: there are a lot of stories about Spiderman: comic books, movies, cartoons. All of the stories are set in New York, which is a real place. The stories even get geographical features correct. And the stories – all of which are retellings of the same basic story – match each other on hundreds of points. Does this demonstrate that Spiderman exists and has super powers?

P.S. If you’re going to have a discussion with me, could you please learn how to use the quote feature correctly? It will make replying to you easier.

So when you said you were using “metaphor and hyperbole,” what you meant was that, in fact, you think it is possible that demons take human forms and hang around singles bars waiting to pick up divorced chicks for a romp in the sack.

Thanks for the clarification.

This I can understand [that testimony by itself cannot be evidence of the extraordinary]. However, what if your grandfather and three of his buddies from “the War” had told you about his first hand account of going “to Disney Land in a spaceship with a group of aliens that abducted them”?

Then a few decades later, after he and his buddies died, grampa’s cousin’s son with an obsession with “Doctor Who” had said that your grandfather had been abducted by a Time Lord and taken in a TARDIS to Disney World? And before then he had held the chameleon arch that the Doctor used to pretend to be Doctor John Smith back in Season 3, along with a litany of other Doctor Who relics?

I’m having a hard time following this, partially because I’m not all that familiar with Doctor Who, but partially because it has nothing to do with the way the Jesus myths came about.

That someone can come along later and make up a story that fits with other stories doesn’t make the first story true.

There were the gospel stories that were written some time in the first century by unknown authors. If other unknown authors, at some later time, give a different spin on the same story, it doesn’t make the original incredible story any more likely to be true.

Not to say that I completely disagree with you, but… what evidence of theirs disproves their stories [of being abducted by aliens]?

You’ve got it backwards. When you’re presented with an extraordinary claim, the correct approach is not to ask, “What evidence is there against this claim?” The correct approach is to ask, “What evidence is there to support this claim?”

For example, let’s say that someone tells you that he believes in Bigfoot. Is the rational position to start believing in Bigfoot until someone can give you positive proof that no Bigfoot exists anywhere in the world? Or is the rational position to not accept this claim until there’s sufficient evidence to justify believing in it?

I can’t prove every nutty story in the world wrong, but I simply don’t accept stories that don’t have sufficient evidence. I’m not saying absolutely that they didn’t happen. I’m merely saying that, for me, the evidence is not sufficient to accept the claim.

I don’t doubt magic (not tricks, genuine “magic”) is possible. Although, as with miracles, magical occurrences are rare things, and allowed by supernatural forces ( who often are opposed to God). There is a reason we are taught not to summon or practise witchcraft.

On what grounds do you think so? Everyone who has ever tried to demonstrate magical powers in controlled settings – i.e. environments which remove the possibility of trickery – has failed miserably.

I don’t see any grounds for thinking that magic of any kind is real. [Incidentally, I’m using “magic” as a broad term for all kinds of supernatural phenomena, including what you call “miracles.” These supernatural events have never, ever been demonstrated in controlled settings, ever, not once, and I don’t see sufficient evidence to believe that any kind of magic ever happens]

Tell me, have people died over the question of whether Spiderman was real or not?

That’s irrelevant to the question of whether or not the supernatural parts of the story are true. That people are willing to die for a claim can only tell us how strongly they believe the claim; it cannot tell us anything about the truth of the claim.

I don’t doubt that many people have strongly believed in Christianity, but the strength of their belief is not relevant to a conversation in which we are trying to ascertain whether sufficient evidence exists to think that magic happened.

The remainder of your post is similarly irrelevant to the question of determining the truth of the supernatural parts of the story.

If not compelling, these miracles at least give me hope in God and His promises. And that if I put forth an honest effort to work for His promises …] I will also be happier. Here on Earth.

…]I want to deny myself pleasure so that I may find happiness.

If you don’t mind a little off-topic advice, it sounds to me like you desperately want the story to be true so that you will have a cure for your apparent unhappiness.

This is not only a poor mindset for determining whether or not the story is true, it’s not conducive to you finding happiness, either. You might be able to fool yourself into thinking you’re happy for a while, but I can tell you that real happiness exists out here in the world, not inside the stories you tell yourself about reality that you wish were true. Sorry if I’m overstepping my boundaries – I mean my advice in a friendly way.

I’m just borrowing a page from someone else’s book [by writing posts like this, disregarding the quote feature]. I saw this style of reply to an argument once. It grew on me.

Well, it’s not a matter of style – it’s a matter of courtesy and practical ease. It makes it easier to reply to posts when I can just use the enter key to move your text down and compose a reply. As it is, I have to keep copying and pasting, and it makes the job harder than it needs to be.

How about the delusion that truth, goodness, freedom, beauty, joy and love are fictions of the human imagination? :slight_smile:

It’s a laughable book. Since we aren’t allowed to call people fools, I will just say that Dawkins is not very good at reasoning, or reading, or reproducing the arguments of others accurately. It’d be good fun to see him get smashed by William Lane Craig like Hitchens, but (quite understandably) he’s too afraid.

If you want to really learn about atheism, read Michael Martin or J.J.C. Smart or Quentin Smith. Don’t waste your time reading less-than-serious people like Dawkins.

God made the universe and mankind because he wanted more love. He wanted to be loved and to share his own love

Is that what you really get when you read people like Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, or William Lane Craig (and these are just the popular ones)?

We don’t just go “God did it!” We use logical syllogisms like this:

(1) If naturalism is true, then all persons are just conglomerates of material parts.
(2) There is at least one person that is not just a conglomerate of material parts.
(3) Therefore, naturalism is not-true.

Let’s start with (1). Isn’t (1) what you believe? Ultimately, aren’t we, along with all virtue, feelings, and reasoning, just a bunch of matter put together? On the naturalistic atheist view, how is something the same thing as it was five seconds ago, five years ago, or five decades ago? If, when I’m fifty, the matter constituting my body is 70% different from when I was twelve, am I only 30% of the twelve-year-old me?

It’s still an important book, though. For evangelizers, it’s a must-read, and not really for it’s content (it really only has one argument in the whole thing, and it commits the fallacy of induction, among others), but for it’s psychology. As much as I still think posters like AntiTheist are still unequivocally wrong, he at least isn’t an atheist (or at least I hope not) because of the stuff written in The God Delusion. But for many other atheists, in fact, I would say most atheists, they are atheists for rather visceral reasons that don’t hold up to logical snuff.

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