Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Theology Requires Subtle Thought: Armstrong Vs Dawkins


Armstrong



The Wall Street journal commissioned both Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" "Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results."[1]


Armstrong:Despite our scientific and technological brilliance, our understanding of God is often remarkably undeveloped—even primitive. In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart.
But by the end of the 17th century, instead of looking through the symbol to "the God beyond God," Christians were transforming it into hard fact. Sir Isaac Newton had claimed that his cosmic system proved beyond doubt the existence of an intelligent, omniscient and omnipotent creator, who was obviously "very well skilled in Mechanicks and Geometry." Enthralled by the prospect of such cast-iron certainty, churchmen started to develop a scientifically-based theology that eventually made Newton's Mechanick and, later, William Paley's Intelligent Designer essential to Western Christianity.

When I came across this article back in 2009 [2] I thought Armstrong was an atheist because the atheists on CARM thought she was and they were quoting her now and then. Here I observed her quoting Paul Tillich ("God Beyond God) so I began reading  her and realized she is merely a liberal theologian, in the vain of Paul Tillich. The Atheists on CARM were making the same mistake Armstromg warns Armstromg in this very quote. Dawkins makes the same mistake, although he did not not have the benefit of seeing her essay:
Dawkins: Well, if that’s what floats your canoe, you’ll be paddling it up a very lonely creek. The mainstream belief of the world’s peoples is very clear. They believe in God, and that means they believe he exists in objective reality, just as surely as the Rock of Gibraltar exists. If sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the importance of existence, they should think again. Tell the congregation of a church or mosque that existence is too vulgar an attribute to fasten onto their God, and they will brand you an atheist. They’ll be right.

Even though it says they didn't see each other's statements he was for some reason commenting upon a liberal theological view,which he clearly does not understand. Notice the central thought in his statement is actually disproved by her statement. The central thought here, which is a mistake in concept, is that liberal theology is fudging on the notion of being real.  His central thought in that quote is that liberal theology doesn't really see God as reality but a metaphor for some unreality, and that the only modes of being are science and nonexistence.

"Despite our scientific and technological brilliance, our understanding of God is often remarkably undeveloped—even primitive." That describes Dawkinsm, he understands  modern science well but not theological concepts. She is not saying God is some fuzzy unreality but what she describes is really mystical consciousness. It has to be exercised, it's subtle. It's not unreal it's more real. It is true reality and all the definite things we can point to about God are  illusory and metaphor for that very reason,  because they are rooted in the solid world that we know which is not ultimate reality. It is  reality thought, she;s not saying it's illusion but  is not ultimate reality. But Dawkins sees reality as tangible only.Unless science can quantify it it's not real.

The real giveaway is her statement: " whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart." That says we can't prove the existence of God,so he is not amenable to scientific  display. He can;t be this iron solid thing whose existence we can dig out and control. She does not say God is unreal. No she says we can know he's real but only by means other than scientific.  We can know  by subjective experiential means. Dawkins is into scientism, he doesn't do subjective or experiential. In Other words he is not a subtle thinker.

We know this because he doesn't like sophisticated ideas.We now he does not because of whathetellsusabout thati thesttatment: "If sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the importance of existence..." So for him these subtle ideas just because existence is not important. So he must think sophisticated theology is denying God's reality. He's not into consideration of modes of existence or sophisticated ideas.

\Another Amusing aspect is where he says "it's going to be a lonely  road," that is a sophisticated belief is not popular.  The argumet he is making is appeal to popularity,Not that he thinks atheism is popular but he imagines Christians are stupid so they think apparel to popularity is good, But if we take him at his word then that argumet cuts aist atheism too.


When I first posted about those quotes I got one comment:



dmcderm said...
I love Karen Armstrong, and that was a wonderful piece, but I don't see her arguing that. That people, especially guys like you, see aspects of the divine whether or not it actually exists is absolutely true. But there is nothing in that piece that suggests that is that she thinks "he [the big guy in the sky] doesn't have to exist to know that there is a God and that some aspect of being is divine." She merely describing what people think, not actively promoting that point of view. You're reading into the passage something that isn't there, and even if it were, wouldn't be a good argument anyway. Exactly how does the notion that we tell ourselves comforting stories to help us cope with life an argument for the existence of the divine in any form?


Well it's true that I am going on what I now know about her background. I think it;s pretty clear from what I quoted of her above that he is more than just repeating what others think. I think she says more than enough to indicate that she has at  least studied mysticism if not experienced it.

We now realise that the great religions of the world are not monolithic institutions but that they all contain several spiritualities – many of which are found right across the board of the world religions – which reflect different attitudes of mind towards our ultimate end. Mysticism is one such spirituality, found in all religions and is a startling example of this deep unity of the religious vision.

Mystics often have different beliefs which inevitably affect their experience. They will describe their interior journeys in terms of the orthodox traditions of their faith: Jews, Christians and Muslims, for example, believe in a personal God while Buddhists feel that this is an unreligious idea and prefer to speak of an ultimate but indescribable Reality....But the actual experience of all mystics is strikingly similar: all encounter a reality in the depths of the self, which is, paradoxically, Other and irrevocably separate from us....[3]
That is  called  "Karen Armstromg on mysticism and Being a mystic (or not,)" she is calling herself a recalcitrant mystic, Of course when the commeter says: "Exactly how does the notion that we tell ourselves comforting stories to help us cope with life an argument for the existence of the divine in any form?" He assuming the Dawkamemtalist view. That kind  of unthinking certainly that you just assume this of our opponent is a sure sign of stupidity. Like the guy on "Life of Brain" I ought to know because I've made that assumption so many times myself.

The best atheist thinkers see Armstrong as representative of a Tillichian sort of liberal belief in God they do not classify her as an atheist, Even though they tend to write off that view.[4]

The criticism I would make of  her statement is that she writes off the Newtonian sort of faith too easily. Robert Boyle was Newton's best fried,he discovered air pressure and was a major scientific mind of the era. It was really Boyle's project more than Newton's to bring science to Christian apologetic. But Boyle was not just a believer in some big man in the sky. He cm to his belief through an experience, probably a mystical experience, triggered by a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon for mystical experiences to be connected to nature or natural surroundings, [5]There is no reason why we can't have both strong arguments for God (although not actual proof) and deep experiential knowing that makes belief stronger than any scientific evidence. all it takes is subtle reflection. 

Sources

[1]  "Man Vs God" The Wall Street Journal, (Sep 22, 2009)
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203440104574405030643556324
(accessed 5/2/18)


[2] Untitaled, Metacrock's Blog, (Sept. 27,2009)
http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2009/09/please-excuse-long-quote.html
(accessed 5/2/18)

[3] Karen Armstrong, "Karen Armstrong on Being A Mystic (or not)" Adventuress a Recalcitrant Mystic. website, (Dec 2016)
(accessed 5/2/18)

[4] Herman Philipse, God In The Age of Science, Oxford, London: Oxford University Press, 2012, 3 

[5] "Robert Boyle Converted in a Thunderstorm," Christian history institute, blog, (Dec 29,2018)
(accessed 5/2/18)



66 comments:

Joe Hinman said...

the rest of the quote from Armstrong that i used back in the day


_________________Quote__________
But the Great Mechanick was little more than an idol, the kind of human projection that theology, at its best, was supposed to avoid. God had been essential to Newtonian physics but it was not long before other scientists were able to dispense with the God-hypothesis and, finally, Darwin showed that there could be no proof for God's existence. This would not have been a disaster had not Christians become so dependent upon their scientific religion that they had lost the older habits of thought and were left without other resource.

Symbolism was essential to premodern religion, because it was only possible to speak about the ultimate reality—God, Tao, Brahman or Nirvana—analogically, since it lay beyond the reach of words. Jews and Christians both developed audaciously innovative and figurative methods of reading the Bible, and every statement of the Quran is called an ayah ("parable"). St Augustine (354-430), a major authority for both Catholics and Protestants, insisted that if a biblical text contradicted reputable science, it must be interpreted allegorically. This remained standard practice in the West until the 17th century, when in an effort to emulate the exact scientific method, Christians began to read scripture with a literalness that is without parallel in religious history.

Most cultures believed that there were two recognized ways of arriving at truth. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were essential and neither was superior to the other; they were not in conflict but complementary, each with its own sphere of competence. Logos ("reason") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to function effectively in the world and had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external reality. But it could not assuage human grief or find ultimate meaning in life's struggle. For that people turned to mythos, stories that made no pretensions to historical accuracy but should rather be seen as an early form of psychology; if translated into ritual or ethical action, a good myth showed you how to cope with mortality, discover an inner source of strength, and endure pain and sorrow with serenity.

In the ancient world, a cosmology was not regarded as factual but was primarily therapeutic; it was recited when people needed an infusion of that mysterious power that had—somehow—brought something out of primal nothingness: at a sickbed, a coronation or during a political crisis. Some cosmologies taught people how to unlock their own creativity, others made them aware of the struggle required to maintain social and political order. The Genesis creation hymn, written during the Israelites' exile in Babylonia in the 6th century BC, was a gentle polemic against Babylonian religion. Its vision of an ordered universe where everything had its place was probably consoling to a displaced people, though—as we can see in the Bible—some of the exiles preferred a more aggressive cosmology.

im-skeptical said...

It's a shame you only see the surface, and not what lies beneath. I think you got it backwards. Here's another perspective from a Christian who thinks Dawkins is more right than you give him credit for: A Tale of Two Atheists

7th Stooge said...

Okay, so you found "A" Christian who thinks Dawkins got it more right than Armstrong. Normally you discount Christians' opinions about theism, among many other things, except if they happen to support your point, I guess.

I'm not convinced that Dawkins is all that sophisticated or knows all that much when it comes to theism. If you're going to make a career out of being an a-theist, it seems you should try to know something about "theism," the thing you're rejecting.

"Theological non-realism" (if that is indeed what Armstrong subscribes to) and Dawkins's simple literalist version of theism are not the only alternatives.

im-skeptical said...

I think you miss the point. (That was my complaint about Joe, too.)

It's not that Armstrong subscribes to "Theological non-realism". She is an atheist. But she also happens to be of the class of atheists we call "accommodationist". She's trying hard to be sympathetic to the concerns of theists - particularly those who call themselves "sophisticated". By ingratiating herself in this manner, she avoids the harsh criticism that is directed toward those atheists who are more honest - the ones you call "new atheists". But you have to bear in mind that she still doesn't believe that crap.

Dawkins is not a "simple literalist", either. But he understands something that completely escapes both you and Joe. Most Christinas don't have some "sophisticated" understanding of God. It is those people to whom he directs his arguments in "The God Delusion", and he has made that point perfectly clear. Every time I hear people like Joe taking great joy in expounding about how stupid Dawkins is, I have to laugh, because he is revealing his total lack of understanding of what kind of beliefs he is addressing.

And that was the point of his statement that Joe quoted. Unfortunately, Joe left out the first half of it, apparently because it doesn't lend credence to the point that Joe wants to make. The fact is that Dawkins' understanding is not limited to one particular limited view of theism. But in order to see that, you have to drop the hateful attitude and open your eyes.

Kristen said...

im-skeptical, you say that Armstrong, by being sensitive to the concerns of theists, is not being honest, because apparently the only honest approach is to call it all "crap." I really don't think Armstrong would agree with you. Whether she's an atheist or a theist, Armstrong clearly finds merit in spirituality. She certainly doesn't think it's crap.

By her own admission, Armstrong started out Roman Catholic, then rejected that and became an atheist, and then revised her beliefs once again to come to the place she is in now. I'm not sure she can rightly be called either an atheist or a theist (as it's usually defined), but she certainly does believe in some kind of higher reality that can be accessed through spiritual practice.

Newsweek article on Armstrong

im-skeptical said...

Sure, Armstrong is in the business of appealing to Christians. Given the demographics, there is more money in selling books to Christians than to atheists. She's not alone. I don't know exactly where she stands on spiritual beliefs, but that's not the point I was trying to make.

Kristen said...

Your point I suppose is that Richard Dawkins is a more sophisticated atheist than we think he is. Maybe. But since I think you, Dawkins and Mohler all get Karen Armstrong completely wrong, I'm not really seeing the sophistication here.

Joe Hinman said...

Dawkins is an ass. As is the person defending him. It is clear from the things he said that the does not understand the concepts which motivate a sophisticated religious belief. He is not a subtle thinker.

As for the unsubtle mind defending him, you don't even know what makes an academic journal. I have admitted that My academic career is a failure,I did not achieve any of the goals I set for myself. I am a failure and a washout.

But my academic career was real. My academic journal was a real journal. That was my one accomplishment and a little know nothing non-thinning idiot like you is not going to take that away from me on my own blog just by being stupid and not knowing what makes an academic journal.

If you want to post here You will apologize to me and admit that I had real academic career and I am a real scholar (not saying necessarily a good one) I published a real academic journal. You must say on this blog and yours. I am not asking that you agree with me on anything but those are fact you will acknowledge them or you will not post here.

Joe Hinman said...

as i pointed out in my piece, Jergen Philopse lists Armstrong as a God believer and as opposed to atheism. This guy who doesn't know what peer review is vs a major European philosopher, who you going to believe?

Joe Hinman said...

Dawkins is not a "simple literalist", either. But he understands something that completely escapes both you and Joe. Most Christinas don't have some "sophisticated" understanding of God. It is those people to whom he directs his arguments in "The God Delusion", and he has made that point perfectly clear.

That is absolute bull shit there is no body of work where he speaks in sophisticated fashion to real theologians,if so link me to it,

that's after your apology




Every time I hear people like Joe taking great joy in expounding about how stupid Dawkins is, I have to laugh, because he is revealing his total lack of understanding of what kind of beliefs he is addressing.

every time I see moronic shit holes like I am Doufus spewing their venom,...

Kristen said...

Joe, I agree that Armstrong is a God-believer. It's my understanding that a theist believes God is conscious and self-aware, and interacts with the creation. I am not sure where Armstrong stands on these points; if she doesn't believe the former, she is probably a pantheist or something similar; if she doesn't believe the latter, she'd be a deist. At least, that's my understanding-- do you agree? And maybe you know Armstrong better than I do...

For the rest, I would reply to I-M skeptical that Joe and I understand very well that not all Christians have a sophisticated view of God. In fact, Al Mohler, whose article I-M Skeptical linked, is a fundamentalist and seems to rely on a quite simplistic view of God, so why Mohler's article is apropos to the conversation at all, is beyond me. But what Dawkins seems to do in his writings is insist that he understands that there are more sophisticated views of God, and then go right on arguing as if he doesn't. If what he is addressing in his book is the simplistic view only, then why does he use his refutation of the simplistic view as if it were also a refutation of all other views of God?

Finally, it is really not necessary to have a sophisticated view of something to be able to interact with it. Many Christians with a simplistic view nevertheless have mystical experiences of the divine. My cat, I'm sure, has a simplistic view of me, but that doesn't stop me from being a real thing in her world. She doesn't understand that I can do abstract thinking, but she understands that she can meow to me for food and get a response. Christians who simply pray to get their needs met, may be interacting with Something beyond their scope in the same way. Also, many Christians who regularly think of and interact with God as if God were a Big Guy in the Sky, will tell you if asked that they do understand that this is only a helpful placeholder for God, to help them pray and so on. C.S. Lewis said in his popular writings, that it was good for Christians to think of God as Father, but that nevertheless they should realize that God is above their understanding. This is standard theology such as is preached to ordinary congregations from non-fundamentalist pulpits regularly.



Joe Hinman said...

All very true Kristen,and well said. I think Armstrmog's vireos described by Philipose as as being as though God is a metahpore for something we don't know. I think she may well be a true mystic.

im-skeptical said...

But what Dawkins seems to do in his writings is insist that he understands that there are more sophisticated views of God, and then go right on arguing as if he doesn't. If what he is addressing in his book is the simplistic view only, then why does he use his refutation of the simplistic view as if it were also a refutation of all other views of God?

- I think he explains all that. It's in his book. But because he is speaking to ordinary believers (not theologians), there is no implication that he himself doesn't understand more than that. I think it would be worth remembering that he, like many other atheists, grew up believing in God. It's not as if only knows what he found on some fundamentalist web-site. The notion that he is stupid is, well ..., stupid. He's actually pretty smart - despite the fact that he may not share your beliefs. And let's be honest - that's the REAL problem that Joe has with him, isn't it?

7th Stooge said...

Dawkins is not a "simple literalist", either. But he understands something that completely escapes both you and Joe. Most Christinas don't have some "sophisticated" understanding of God. It is those people to whom he directs his arguments in "The God Delusion", and he has made that point perfectly clear. Every time I hear people like Joe taking great joy in expounding about how stupid Dawkins is, I have to laugh, because he is revealing his total lack of understanding of what kind of beliefs he is addressing.

I didn't say that Dawkins is a "simple literalist." I said that I think the version of theism he uses as his foil is a simple literalist version of theism. If he wants to criticize simple literalist versions of theism, I'm totally on board. Where I differ from him is where he seems to conflate this criticism, which is all too easy, with atheism proper. That doesn't follow. I don't think Dawkins is stupid. Based on everything by him that I've read and heard, I think he uses a strawman version of theism to set atheism off against. It's not fair. I don't have a hateful attitude toward Dawkins. But I do get a hateful attitude towards theism from him.

Kristen said...

"I think it would be worth remembering that he, like many other atheists, grew up believing in God. It's not as if only knows what he found on some fundamentalist web-site. The notion that he is stupid is, well ..., stupid. He's actually pretty smart - despite the fact that he may not share your beliefs. And let's be honest - that's the REAL problem that Joe has with him, isn't it?"

I never said Dawkins was stupid. But prior belief in God doesn't make a person an expert in theology. Dawkins does focus on a simplistic, fundamentalist view of God. His arguments, as I read them, really don't relate to the way I view God, let alone to in-depth theological analysis. The thing is that being smart in one area (some of the sciences) does not automatically turn a person into an expert in other areas, which is one of the biggest beefs I have with some of the bigwig names in science out there, such as Hawking. Though I admired Hawking very much and was saddened by his death, he really didn't make sense to me when he acted like his deep understanding of physical processes gave him extraordinary insight into metaphysical concerns. I have the same problem with Dawkins.

I can't speak for what Joe's problem with Dawkins is, but I know Joe well enough to know that he doesn't dislike people just because they disagree with him. It's when the disagreement descends into personal attack that he reacts like he does here. My own problem with Dawkins is not that he disagrees with theism, but that he thinks being a theist is stupid and dangerous, and he has set himself up as a savior to deliver us poor stupid Christians from ourselves-- and that means all of us, from the least educated fundamentalist to the doctor of theology. And he doesn't back up that stance with adequate, reasoned argument.

Kristen said...

IM, I have read some of Dawkins' stuff. Here are some of Dawkins' more famous quotes, taken from a website dedicated to that purpose. I really don't think I'm misunderstanding him. It's really pretty difficult to misunderstand.

"The take-home message is that we should blame religion itself, not religious extremism - as though that were some kind of terrible perversion of real, decent religion. Voltaire got it right long ago: 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.' So did Bertrand Russell: 'Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.'"

"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."

"Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end."

"The time has come for people of reason to say: Enough is Enough! Religious faith discourages independent thought, it's divisive and it's dangerous."

"If you are asking me if my more global purpose is a battle against religion, it is."

Joe Hinman said...

after the way those lying little vermin treated me for years I am not going let one of their thugs come on here and spew his crap he will apologize or he will not post here;

Joe Hinman said...

"I never said Dawkins was stupid." I didn't either.I said he wasn't subtle which doufuous translated into stupid. Because Skepie is not subtle either.

Joe Hinman said...

- I think he explains all that. It's in his book. But because he is speaking to ordinary believers (not theologians), there is no implication that he himself doesn't understand more than that. I think it would be worth remembering that he, like many other atheists, grew up believing in God.

ok I'll let you post that one thing,quote him from the book where he says that,

im-skeptical said...

"I never said Dawkins was stupid." I didn't either.I said he wasn't subtle which doufuous translated into stupid. Because Skepie is not subtle either.
- OK - here's the quote: "That kind of unthinking certainly that you just assume this of our opponent is a sure sign of stupidity." That, you said, was the "Dawkmentalist" view.



Kristen, quotes taken out of context are tantamount to lies. You have to read what he says at length to understand his perspective - not just listen to all those scare quotes being tossed around by those who hate him. He believes religion has BOTH beneficial and harmful aspects. He doesn't paint all of religion or religious believers with the same brush. He cites outlying cases where religious belief goes off the rails and becomes dangerous or harmful, but he doesn't say or imply that these things are universal. He NEVER said believers are stupid, but he recognizes (as psychologists do) that ideological leanings (especially those that are emotionally held) can cloud reason - and in all such cases, he gives real examples of what he's talking about. He's not making things up. He's not being hateful.

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
"I never said Dawkins was stupid." I didn't either.I said he wasn't subtle which doufuous translated into stupid. Because Skepie is not subtle either.


- OK - here's the quote: "That kind of unthinking certainly that you just assume this of our opponent is a sure sign of stupidity." That, you said, was the "Dawkmentalist" view.

I said quote Dawkins not me,am I Dawkis? Quote where he gives any indication that he understands any subtle idea of theology and that he's only bashing the common view?



Kristen, quotes taken out of context are tantamount to lies. You have to read what he says at length to understand his perspective - not just listen to all those scare quotes being tossed around by those who hate him. He believes religion has BOTH beneficial and harmful aspects.

I've read Dawkins book a copulate of times,I feature it in a chapter in my forth coming book. You could not out think Kristen,you coulee out think her dog. you calling her a liar is ridiculous


He doesn't paint all of religion or religious believers with the same brush. He cites outlying cases where religious belief goes off the rails and becomes dangerous or harmful, but he doesn't say or imply that these things are universal.

yo have yet to provide us with any proof,you have not quoted one quote,


He NEVER said believers are stupid, but he recognizes (as psychologists do) that ideological leanings (especially those that are emotionally held) can cloud reason - and in all such cases, he gives real examples of what he's talking about. He's not making things up. He's not being hateful.


I have never seen any indication from him that he has any regard for any religious thinkers

8:01 AM

Kristen said...

IM, just to correct a misapprehension you seem to be under: the quotes I posted here did not come from an anti-Dawkins site. I don't do that sort of thing; it would be unfair, and a straw man in any event. These came from a neutral site-- a site that furnishes quotes of famous people for those who want to quote them. There is simply no reason to believe that these quotes inaccurately reflect his views. The quotes are out of their immediate context in his writings, sure-- but they certainly are in context with the overview of his views (sorted by topic) on the website. I'll post a link so you can see it. While you're there, check some of the other persons quoted, such as C.S. Lewis. I don't think you would say that a person reading Lewis' quotes would come away with a distorted impression of what he believed.

A-Z Quotes: Richard Dawkins

Like Joe, I'd be very interested to see some quotes that support your position. I have read some Dawkins, but not all of it by any means.

im-skeptical said...

If you want to understand what he's saying, all you have to do is read the book, and have the charity to interpret in the manner that was intended. That's better than an quote I could give you.

7th Stooge said...

im-

I agree with you that Dawkins doesn't paint all religion or all believers with one broad brush. He sees some beneficial effects from religion. And I doubt that he hates all theists. My point was that he doesn't seem to have a very charitable interpretation of faith or theism. He has a narrow and self-serving interpretation of these things.

I admit I haven;t read entire books by him, but I have read extended passages (entire chapters) and seen him in debates and interviews many times, one interview for several hours on C-Span.

From this, I gather he sees faith as an intellectually erroneous attempt at something like scientific understanding. For him, faith is "belief without evidence," a set of hypotheses lacking sufficient empirical/scientific evidence. God is a hypothesis lacking such evidence. He seems to think that there's only one kind of justifiable explanation, only one explanatory "slot" available, the one shaped to fit physical causes and empirical evidence. Whether you call this apporach "scientism" or "scientific expansionism," it's an ideologically cramped view of religion and doesn't do justice to what religious experience is for the vast majority of believers. It's a very impoverished view, imo.

Kristen said...

IM, ok, if you want the conversation to stop here, I guess we can do that. What it boils down is that you have made an assertion that you won't back up. Since you won't support your position, there's nothing further to discuss. I can go and find Dawkins' book (I assume you're talking about The God Delusion, which I think is online) when I'm finished with what I'm reading now, and look for the material that supports what you're saying, but by the time I'm done, we will have all moved on.

Kristen said...

And for the record: I never said I thought Dawkins hated all theists, or even any theists. Nor did I say he thought all theists were stupid. What I said was that Dawkins sees theism as a stupid and dangerous thing to believe in. Even if he sees some beneficial effects from religion, I think a reasonable case can be made that he does in fact think belief in God is a "delusion" (after all, that is the title of his most famous book!) with all the negative connotations that the word "delusion" does carry.

Joe Hinman said...

I've read the God Delusion several times. There is no place in it where he deals with sophisticated idea of God,I showed you the example where he did not get it. Doufus is strangely unable to back up his assertions,he keeps whining he had to be right but instead of proving all he does is assert if we don't see it it's because we don't look. But he refuses to show us,


That's unfair, he can't show because he doesn;t knowhinself whata sophiticated viewofGodwoulook lole.

im-skeptical said...

IM, ok, if you want the conversation to stop here, I guess we can do that. What it boils down is that you have made an assertion that you won't back up. Since you won't support your position, there's nothing further to discuss. I can go and find Dawkins' book (I assume you're talking about The God Delusion, which I think is online) when I'm finished with what I'm reading now, and look for the material that supports what you're saying, but by the time I'm done, we will have all moved on.

- I'm not sure what assertion I made that you think I can back up by quoting something. I said "You have to read what he says at length to understand his perspective". Individual quotes (like the ones you cited) don't provide that perspective. Perhaps you are looking for the definitive quote to prove that his views are not accurately represented by those out-of-context quotes? Perhaps you can show me a quote that tells me everything I need to know to understand the nuances of anyone's beliefs.


it's an ideologically cramped view of religion and doesn't do justice to what religious experience is for the vast majority of believers. It's a very impoverished view, imo.

- Funny, but I happen to think your understanding of Dawkins is at least as "ideologically cramped" and "impoverished" as you accuse him of. You see, understanding is not a one-way street. But maybe it's the case that I'm not giving your view the due consideration that it deserves.

im-skeptical said...

That's unfair, he can't show because he doesn;t knowhinself whata sophiticated viewofGodwoulook lole.

- Joe, when I see you describe "scientism" in a way that comes close to representing what people like Dawkins or Coyne actually think, then we can begin to have a discussion of "sophisticated" views.

Kristen said...

IM, could you point to something-- a passage or set of passages, a chapter, a five- or ten-page section, as an example of what you're talking about? The book is online here:

The God Delusion Online

It does seem like it ought to be possible to point to instances where he shows the nuances you speak of.

I probably should also point out that you are attributing to me words that were actually said by another person posting here. I said Dawkins got my goat by the way he talked about theism, but I didn't say his view was "ideologically cramped" or "impoverished." I do agree with 7th Stooge that Dawkins does try to load the concept of God into a mindset about evidence that is purely physicalist, and then finds God wanting on that basis,and this seems to me to be a non-sequitur. But I never used those particular words about it.

Mike Gerow said...


"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."

"Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end."

"The time has come for people of reason to say: Enough is Enough! Religious faith discourages independent thought, it's divisive and it's dangerous."

"If you are asking me if my more global purpose is a battle against religion, it is."


One has trouble seeing how these quotes, seemingly straightforward, could be "contextualized" to mean something very different Han what they sound like in isolation?

I also suspect trying to include Karen Armstrong among the "atheists" is just a kind of expansionism. Her beliefs are close to large swatches of the population, like those of many theistic-leaning self-reporting "nones" and those of some very liberal theists who don't go to church but still self-report as "Xian"; the unwashed middle-ground of "faith" that peeps like Dawkins would like to view as "up for grabs.") But, otoh skep, you yourself have characterized such beliefs as definitely "theistic" in past convos, so what gives?

im-skeptical said...

One has trouble seeing how these quotes, seemingly straightforward, could be "contextualized" to mean something very different Han what they sound like in isolation?

- If you're paying attention, you will notice that the subject of those quotes is religious faith (not religious people), and I think those quotes are all quite true, even if they disturb your delicate sensitivities. Nevertheless, they don't tell the whole story about his attitudes toward religion and religious people. Yes, he agrees that there are beneficial aspects of religion. Would you ever get that idea by reading a group of quotes that give no hint of that? No, he does not advocate any efforts to remove or limit religious practice, other than simply reasoning with people. Do those quotes make that clear? I don't think so. They give an impression that is false.

Furthermore, if you compare what Joe writes to what Dawkins writes, you can easily see that Joe's is loaded with invective and ad hominem (both toward Dawkins himself and others who agree with him), but you don't find that in Dawkins'. He is fighting something that degrades human intellect, not the person who subscribes to it. Kristen, too, has made a similar mistake - telling us that Dawkins thinks Christians are stupid. No, he doesn't, and there's not a single work on those quotes that would back up that idea. And that's why I suggest once again, that she (and you) actually read what he writes - after setting aside any hateful attitude that would color the way you interpret his words.


I also suspect trying to include Karen Armstrong among the "atheists" is just a kind of expansionism.

- I should not have called Armstrong an atheist just because a Christian described her in that manner. I later said I didn't know. There are a number of authors who have professed to be atheist, but whose works clearly are meant to appeal to believers. Perhaps they are religious, but use that as a gimmick to sell more books. Not that I think Armstrong is doing that, but I confess that was my initial thought after seeing Mohler's article.

Kristen said...

IM, what I originally said was that Dawkins thinks theism/Christianity is a stupid and dangerous thing to believe. I still think this is his position, and that he thinks people shouldn't believe it, and that one of his purposes in life is to get them to stop believing it. Even if he thinks religion may sometimes have good side effects.

My comment about him wanting to "deliver us poor stupid Christians from ourselves" was exaggerated language that I probably shouldn't have used. I didn't mean that I literally thought he said all Christians are stupid.

Joe Hinman said...

Yes, he agrees that there are beneficial aspects of religion. Would you ever get that idea by reading a group of quotes that give no hint of that? No, he does not advocate any efforts to remove or limit religious practice, other than simply reasoning with people. Do those quotes make that clear? I don't think so. They give an impression that is false.

he did at one time advocate redistricting what parents can teach their children,even so that does not prove that understands subtle ideas of theology or that he respects irreligious thinkers,

Joe, when I see you describe "scientism" in a way that comes close to representing what people like Dawkins or Coyne actually think, then we can begin to have a discussion of "sophisticated" views.

imbecile. you wouldn't kinow what git your ass

Joe Hinman said...

Furthermore, if you compare what Joe writes to what Dawkins writes, you can easily see that Joe's is loaded with invective and ad hominem (both toward Dawkins himself and others who agree with him), but you don't find that in Dawkins'. He is fighting something that degrades human intellect,


New atheism is a total anti-intellectual affort to human dignity. you can;t distinguish propagada from reason,

not the person who subscribes to it. Kristen, too, has made a similar mistake - telling us that Dawkins thinks Christians are stupid. No, he doesn't, and there's not a single work on those quotes that would back up that idea. And that's why I suggest once again, that she (and you) actually read what he writes - after setting aside any hateful attitude that would color the way you interpret his words.


never question the science Führer! Zeig Dawkins!

Joe Hinman said...

why can't you prove your claim?

I show that the journal had every ear mark of a journal inclusion being accepted an official organizations that deal with academic journals and he goes "you didn't put out enough issues,"

so it doesn't matter how well you disprove his nonsense he's going to die for the cause.He is a soldier!


Onward science solderers
Marching as to war
with the atom sign of Dawkins
going on before,

Dick the Royal Master leads against the foe
forward into battle see his atom sign go

for tune click here

Joe Hinman said...

from the horses mouth,O it's so hard to find Dawkins opinions, he says it in the first line of this video.

"religion has nothing to offer."

"there's only one game in town. I'm anti-religious

here

Joe Hinman said...

"I actually think [religion] is pernicious" (see 2:09)

In these interviews he never says"O but there intellectual christians whom I respect"

here

7th Stooge said...

- Funny, but I happen to think your understanding of Dawkins is at least as "ideologically cramped" and "impoverished" as you accuse him of. You see, understanding is not a one-way street. But maybe it's the case that I'm not giving your view the due consideration that it deserves.

But you see, I cited actual reasons why I think his view is ideologically cramped. He's the one who seems to be saying "All knowledge must fit into this box." I'm saying there is more than one kind of legitimate knowledge. Which one is more "cramped"?

7th Stooge said...

"I actually think [religion] is pernicious" (see 2:09)
In these interviews he never says"O but there intellectual christians whom I respect"


He thinks religion, or theism, is a pernicious belief system. I don't think he refers that much to theists themselves. I get the impression that theism for him isn't just an error but an epistemological sin, a lapse of cognitive responsibility.

BTW, what is an "atom sign"? ; )

im-skeptical said...

He's the one who seems to be saying "All knowledge must fit into this box." I'm saying there is more than one kind of legitimate knowledge. Which one is more "cramped"?

- I never heard Dawkins say that. On the other hand, if you think everybody who doesn't agree with your religious beliefs is "cramped", then surely you are the one whose view is cramped. You're boxed in by your religious ideology. Religious faith is not a particularly good way to gain knowledge. It prevents you from seeing better alternatives.

Kristen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen said...

IM - no, Dawkins wouldn't say, "All knowledge must fit into this box," because he does not see that there is a box. To him, the box is all there is, so it isn't a box. It's just all there is, or ever can be. To him, the things that theists believe are delusion and fantasy.

It's not that I think everyone who doesn't agree with my religious beliefs is cramped. Not at all. But those who think the box (of what is physical/material) is all there is or can be, yes, I think they are cramped.

7th Stooge, Joe was making a parody of the song "Onward Christian Soldiers." Within that parodoxical song, "atom sign" refers to the symbol for the atom (three ovals surrounding a dot), taking the place of the cross in the original song.

7th Stooge said...

But Dawkins is a biologist. Shouldn't it be under the sign of the double helix? : )

7th Stooge said...

Kristen is right. I was being facetious. He would never have the insight to see that there is a box. When you're inside an ideology, it isn't a box to you. It's merely the transparent Truth.

I never claimed that anyone who disagrees with my religious beliefs is "cramped." It's absolutists who are cramped, and there are at least as many religious absolutists as atheist absolutists.

im-skeptical said...

When you're inside an ideology, it isn't a box to you. It's merely the transparent Truth.

- A very apt description of religious ideology. Very limiting.

Joe Hinman said...

A very apt description of religious ideology. Very limiting.

you should know, having demonstrated not only that Dawkins can't think in a subtle way by defending him in an unsubtle way you then prove the statement by demonstrating you irreligious faith which you take to be unfarished obvious truth,

science worship cult, gotta love em,

Joe Hinman said...

IM - no, Dawkins wouldn't say, "All knowledge must fit into this box," because he does not see that there is a box.
1
ahahahahaahm whooop good one Kristen.

Anonymous said...

about Karen Armstrong's views: check out her "The Spiral Staircase", which is her autobiography. It's pretty clear there that she had the trajectory: Catholic novitiate (i.e. beginning nun) -> college student -> non-religious -> TV producer -> assigned to do show on religion -> liberal and religious because of personal experiences. Made more complicated by her temporal lobe epilepsy, often associated with religious/mystical experiences. It's a very good read. -- forest home

Joe Hinman said...

In my book I speak of studies that disprove the connection to epilepsy, but I had her pegged as mystic.

Joe Hinman said...

btw Forest Home 7th Stooge is Jim

im-skeptical said...

In my book I speak of studies that disprove the connection to epilepsy, but I had her pegged as mystic.

- Yes, if Joe writes about it, then that settles the question. Of course, there is other information out there...

Like this: Researchers find neurological link between religious experiences and epilepsy
And this:
Finding God in a seizure: the link between temporal lobe epilepsy and mysticism

And this: Epilepsy Linked to Intense Religious and Spiritual Experiences, Like Seeing God

But as we all know, Joe's superlative skills as a scientific investigator prove them all wrong. Joe will tell us that these people aren't having "real" mystical experiences.

Joe Hinman said...

Reference fn o the Trace o God, the study disproving the connection is listed by Lukoff and lue. those who care ca look it ip by using book..

the little Jackass implies that I made it up it it;s there look it up.

Here is the link in the cretinous moron's first link.

March 8, 2017
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
A relationship between epilepsy and heightened religious experiences has been recognized since at least the 19th century. In a recent study, researchers found a neurological relationship exists between religiosity -- a disposition for spiritual experience and religious activity -- and epilepsy. This finding sheds light on the connection between religion and neuropsychological processes within the human brain.


Of course it doesn't mention that this was disproved because that would kill the story.

"a disposition for spiritual experience"

what does that mean? if you are in a religious mood some time you have epilepsy? what is "spiritual experience?" how do they define that? In the study did they use the M scale? we don't so it may mean noting at all.


"This finding sheds light on the connection between religion and neuropsychological processes within the human brain." HOW DOES IT DO THAT? IF YOU BELIEVE IN
GOD YOU HAVE EPILEPSY?

his secomd link says: "Mystics throughout history have claimed to experience visions and trance-like states they say come directly from God. There's now speculation that these visions may have been hallucinations brought on by epilepsy."

wrong, in my book the research I use specifically rules out trans like states

His third link says: "Epilepsy Linked to Intense Religious and Spiritual Experiences, Like Seeing God" In my book I specifically rule out seeing God as a from of mystical experience,it is beyond images, it does not include visions, since it has no standard control for determine mystical experience like the M scale we have no idea what it;s talking about,


Bottom line is I am a Douifus is a liar he is to lazy and dishonest to read the book.

Joe Hinman said...

He's also banned this tie do;t talk to him!

Joe Hinman said...

He's also banned this tie do;t talk to him!

Joe Hinman said...

that last article they actually took epileptics and then learned their religious expedience, it;s not as though they took religious people and then found they had residues,do you see the difference? there are a loot more peopl with religious expedience who don't have epilepsy, you can;t write off religious experience that way,

7th Stooge said...

- A very apt description of religious ideology. Very limiting.

Sure, but why do you limit your critique to just religious ideologies? Franklin Graham is inside of one but then again, I would suggest that Dawkins is as well. Dawkins's is inflected differently because it leverages the prestige and success of science, but those things shouldn't fool us into thinking that they can't be used to justify an ideology.

im-skeptical said...

Who says I limit my critiques to religion? That's what I talk about HERE because that's always the topic on the mind of people who are in the religious box.


And Joe, you still don't know anything about science. Here's another one talking about the neurological link between epilepsy and religious experience. This is actually very well established. Your feeble attempts to prove the science wrong are definitely misguided.

Joe Hinman said...

You are truly stupid, little illiterate know-nothing, you don' shit about science. you think worshiping science gives you knowledge, in reality you don't know the basics of social science research, you are too stupid to read the articles.

this is from yiour last link:

"Literature surveys have revealed that between .4% and 3.1% of partial epilepsy patients had ictal religious experiences; higher frequencies
are found in systematic questionnaires versus spontaneous patient reports. Religious premonitory symptoms or auras were reported
by 3.9% of epilepsy patients. Among patients with ictal religious experiences, there is a predominance of patients with right TLE. Postictal
and interictal religious experiences occur most often in TLE patients with bilateral seizure foci. Postictal religious experiences
occurred in 1.3% of all epilepsy patients and 2.2% of TLE patients. Many of the epilepsy-related religious conversion experiences
occurred postictally. Interictal religiosity is more controversial with less consensus among studies. Patients with postictal psychosis
may also experience interictal hyper-religiosity, supporting a ‘‘pathological’’ increase in interictal religiosity in some patients.



agaimn they start with people who epileptic then find as very small group(less than 4%) who MAY MAAAAAAAAAAAAAY have had religious experiences (no way to measure or know what that is). not representative of religious experiences,

Joe Hinman said...

that is the last message you will make to my readers bye bye know nothing,

im-skeptical said...

Joe, the neurological science establishing this link is about epileptics who DO have religious experience. It' not about the rest. It doesn't say that all epileptics have this experience. You have done nothing to refute the science. The neurological linkage is well established.

Joe Hinman said...

m-skeptical said...
Joe, the neurological science establishing this link is about epileptics who DO have religious experience.

I know that you dunce that;s exactly what I said,I said that is a methodological weakness,


It' not about the rest. It doesn't say that all epileptics have this experience. You have done nothing to refute the science. The neurological linkage is well established.


Either they are trying to use that to conclude that ME is a result of some kind of misfire in brain chemistry,or they are just going to a lot of trouble to demonstrate a meaningless issue that has no bearing on anything. In fact one such study does say they are trying to explain religious experience.


It's is insignificant because it's only 3.2 of Epileptics. Secondly it can;t be used to prove the misfire argument because it's too small a portion in relation to all mystical expereincers,

7th Stooge said...

Who says I limit my critiques to religion? That's what I talk about HERE because that's always the topic on the mind of people who are in the religious box.

Maybe you have been critical of other kinds of ideology. I haven't seen it either here or on your blog.

Mike Gerow said...

"Who says I limit my critiques to religion? That's what I talk about HERE because that's always the topic on the mind of people who are in the religious box."


Well, as per previous conversations here, your definition of "theist" seems to include pretty much everyone but the strongest & most hostile of atheists, so that "religious box" of yours would seem to contain about 99% of the world population; thus constituting all those deluded fools whom you (and perhaps Dawkins too) hope to save from "themselves"?

yeah, well, good luck with that.....

Joe Hinman said...

good one mike

Joe Hinman said...

close