Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thoughts on Chapter 2

EDIT: I do not understand why the font switches to a small one halfway through the post. If anyone can offer a fix, please let me know.

PREFACE: The post is informal. I will be writing from my notes and questions that popped into my head while reading.  If the post seems "broken" at times, I apologize.  Any bible scripture that I quote will be from The Message.

Oh man, how do I start this?  Dawkins begins the chapter by pointing out what he thinks about God: "jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."  Phew. Try saying that three times really fast.  I already had a problem from the get-go with this sentence mostly because he just lists all of these supposed flaws without any proof.  In all of the cases I can think of, God was judging evil and I dont see anything wrong with that.

Continuing on, you finally get to the definition of the "God Hypothesis."  Dawkins defines it as: "there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us."  This piqued my interest and I was ready to get to the information Dawkins would be provided to prove his hypothesis, but then I read: "This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution."  So since God's existence is depends on the universe being established, he is obviously a delusion?  Dawkins didn't even address that the God he is saying is a delusion is the one that had created the universe.  Already Dawkins seems to attack God from an incorrect viewpoint.

Dawkins starts his "assault" (not sure what word I should use here, so lets go with assault) against God by taking a look at polytheism and monotheism.  Reading through, I seem to be agreeing with him at some points.  He does raise a valid point against televangelists.  There are plenty that make an obscene amount of money all in the name of God (sometimes I think of them as the pharisees in the time of Jesus), but there are diamonds in the rough.  Dawkins continues on and arrives at the belief of the Trinity, God in three persons.  Is it possible for a single person to exist as three?  Of course not and when you treat God as a human being, it becomes entirely laughable. God is not a human being, though, and applying human concepts to a supernatural being gets you in a huge mess. Dawkins is doing this and does not even entertain the possibility that God is all-powerful being, once again attacking God from an incorrect viewpoint.

After talking about the Trinity, Dawkins next target of choice is Catholicism.  I am not going comment on this because I do not know enough about Catholicism.

When Dawkins begins to center in on monotheism, he says God is "obsessed with sexual restrictions."  I understand that some people think that a law against sex outside of marriage is rather "old school," but laws against things like rape, incest, and prostitution should be commonplace, right?  Another phrase used is that God is obsessed with "the smell of charred flesh."  This one threw me for a loop.  Why is God obsessed with that?  Once again, this part of the chapter is similar to the first where he just decides to describe God and not offer any evidence to back himself up.

The part of the second chapter that I actually enjoyed reading the most was about secularism, the founding fathers, and religion in America (the title of the section of the chapter).  I enjoyed it mostly because I agreed with him on many points (me and Dawkins are practically best friends now).  Im not going to question the religious beliefs of the founding fathers or if they had any at all, but I do know that this nation was founded on the idea that religious freedom would be available for all and that the government would remain impartial when it came to any religion.  There should be a separation of church and state, creation should be taught in philosophy and religion classes and evolution in science classes.  Dawkins tells a story about David Mills, a man who wanted to protest a Christian faith-healer coming into town.  He tried to get police protection multiple times, but was always met with threats.  From the police, of all people!  This is not a nation that our founding fathers would be proud of (Dawkins shares the same feeling) and sometimes I think that Jesus would feel the same way.

Well, I have been typing this over the course of a couple days in between some work and have summed up my feelings about chapter 2.  I spent most of the chapter disagreeing with Dawkins on many points, but I found myself agreeing on others.  As with the last post, please point out any mistakes Ive made and ask any questions! Ill try to answer them to the best of my ability.  Ill be writing up on chapter 3 next weekend.

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Update on My Progress

Hello everyone! Im posting this to update everyone on my progress on The God Delusion.

Ive been pretty busy the past few weeks due to work and school starting again.  I have still been reading The God Delusion in the free time that Ive had and been taking notes, but between my job, and English and Sociology readings, I have not been able to sit down and write down coherent posts out of my notes.

I will be making several posts this weekend on Chapters 2-4 and that will hopefully let me continue the discussion that has occurred for the post on Chapter 1.

Sorry about this and thank you for your patience!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thoughts on Chapter 1

PREFACE: The post is informal. I will be writing from my notes and questions that popped into my head while reading. If the post seems "broken" at times, I apologize. Any bible scripture that I quote will be from The Message.

I now have an idea of how this book is written and what is to come.  Dawkins is a good writer and the first chapter was a page turner.  The focus for the chapter seems to lay the groundwork for the rest of the book and that Dawkins will be challenging the belief of a personal God.

Dawkins uses a quote at the beginning of this chapter from Carl Sagan's book, Pale Blue Dot:
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, No! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.'..."
I have always been taught that God is grand, that he created a magnificent universe, not that he is a little god.  He created the universe from the unseen: "By faith, we see the world called into existence by God's word, what we see created by what we don't see." (Hebrews 11:3).  And the universe, as big and as grand as it is, cannot contain him: "Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built." (1 Kings 8:27)

Now, as he continues on, he heavily quotes Einstein and I guess defines his (Dawkins) "religion," similar to how Einstein in one of the quotes that Dawkins provides (on pg 36) [If I am wrong about this point, someone correct me].  He also gives the responses from Christians and critiques them.  At one point, he says, "What a devastatingly revealing letter! Every sentence drips with intellectual and moral cowardice."  I asked myself, why? Why does it "drip with intellectual and moral cowardice."?  Im slightly alarmed at the way that Dawkins went about this portion of the chapter because of responses like that.

He continues on into "Underserved Respect" where he mentions that religion holds too much respect in society and highlights some reasons why.  I found myself agreeing with him and his general idea, religion can sometimes receive more respect than anything else, but I did not like how he presented some of it because of his choice of stories.  They were very extreme and they did highlight his point, but he did not seemed at all concerned with the idea that not everyone is like those that he mentioned.

All that being said, even though I had a couple issues with Dawkins in this first chapter, it was still a very good read.  I enjoyed it and thought that it served as a good introduction to the book to see where Dawkins is coming from.  Seeing as this was more of an introduction to the book, the post is lacking in "rebuttals."  I am hoping the second chapter will contain more topics of discussion.

If anyone has any questions please ask!  I will try to answer everything to the best of my ability (I do want to avoid debate, though, simply for the sake of time).  Also, if you think that I am mistaken or made an error in any area of my post, please feel free to point it out!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Background and purpose

PREFACE: I am not a very good writer, so please bear with me. Thanks!

Hello visitor.

A little background on myself.  I am a 20 year old Computer Science student from North Carolina.  I was born and raised in the Assemblies of God church.  My father is an Assemblies of God minister and a chaplain.  Needless to say, I am a Christian.  I attend church as much as my schoolwork and job permits and enjoy reading and studying the bible.

The great thing about coming to college is that you get exposed to many different religions and beliefs, from Islam to Atheism.  I like to think of myself as a rather open individual and love talking to people about what they believe and why.  Its because of that that Ive picked The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

I want to be clear from the start that I believe that God exists and that I am not questioning my religious beliefs.  I picked this book up because I am hoping to see what an Atheist thinks like, why he/she holds a belief that God does not exist.  I understand that Richard Dawkins does not represent every atheist, but I have to start somewhere, right?  I will try to keep a completely open mind when reading through the book and if I fail, I apologize ahead of time!

Thank you!