Gransnet forums


Atheists v Dawkins

(19 Posts)
Bags Thu 07-Feb-13 21:10:22

Throwing this article by Douglas Murray in the Spectator into the arena for consideration.

petallus Thu 07-Feb-13 21:15:36

This looks interesting but couldn't read very far without subscribing.

Bags Thu 07-Feb-13 21:17:39

Really? I've never been asked to subscribe, or if I have I've just told that box to go away and carried on reading.

Bags Thu 07-Feb-13 21:18:43

Yep. Just checked, and the link gives me the whole article plus comments.

petallus Thu 07-Feb-13 21:19:48

Oh yes, got it now, going to read.

petallus Thu 07-Feb-13 21:27:55

I couldn't disagree with anything in this intelligent insightful article.

Gives me hope.

Lilygran Thu 07-Feb-13 21:48:36

Thanks for the link, Bags; that's such a sensible piece.

Greatnan Thu 07-Feb-13 22:47:09

I agree. Just because I don't believe in any god and hate what has been done by some people in the name of religion, I am still aware that much good has also been done, sometimes by the same religion.

I have to say that engaging in conversation with two devout members of Gransnet who are able to put their point of view with courtesy and tact has had an effect on my thinking. I still don't believe in god, but I have a lot more respect for the views of those who do.

What I think we have to avoid, as atheists, is the patronising assumption that was made in the past - that religion was useful for keeping the uneducated and unintelligent masses in their place and well behaved.

Lilygran Fri 08-Feb-13 08:23:06

I'm glad you feel like that, Greatnan. The denial of all the great thinkers (and even ordinary thoughtful people) through time is so depressing. And on the subject of time, it's just been announced that they believe they have just identified a specimen of one of the first 'placental mammals'. A tiny furry Eve, no less! sunshine

Bags Fri 08-Feb-13 08:39:47

"The denial of all the great thinkers". What on earth do you mean, lily?



I don't think so.

Are you saying Plato and Aristotle and Socrates (just to mention a few) have been 'denied'?

And anyway, denied what? Is it denied that they thought? That their thoughts were worth anything?

What do you mean?

Lilygran Fri 08-Feb-13 10:08:28

Sorry for imprecise expression. The idea that Dawkins, for eg is a more towering intellect than say, Thomas Aquinas or that human beings in the 21st century understand and know everything about everything while our poor ignorant ancestors didn't know anything about anything is irritating. And depressing.

Bags Fri 08-Feb-13 10:28:13

I haven't come across that attitude, ever, lily. I don't think Dawkins is a towering intellect anyhow. Maybe that helps! I think he's quite narrow-minded and very much influenced by political correctness. However, I also don't think that he's as rigidly anti-religion as is made out. Many of the people who say that he is don't appear to have read his books or listened to him.

I think he has been over-influenced by the creationist lobby in America, which is full of nutters who are very anti-science, so a lot of his perceived antagonism stems from their attack on evolution.

Greatnan Fri 08-Feb-13 10:41:33

I think it has to be acknowledged that our understanding of science has moved on considerably. I believe the insistence on a virgin birth for many religious leaders, not just Jesus, was based on the belief that the man planted an homunculus in the woman which she simply incubated, hence a virgin birth meant there was no earthly parentage.

Mishap Fri 08-Feb-13 10:44:24

I did not hear the debate, but it is very interesting to get his take on it in the article. His views accord with mine.

I regard myself as an agnostic - a true "don't knower" when it comes to the big questions. But I have never rejected the poetry and profundity of some religions nor underestimated their worth. However, I share greatnan's abhorrence of their many negative aspects too. We can hardly avoid these.

I think the last two paras of the article sum things up very well.....

"First, religions must give up the aspiration to intervene in secular law in the democratic state."

"But non-believers like me should make a concession as well. We should concede that, when it comes to discussions of ideas, morality and meaning, religion does have a place."

I have always seen Dawkins as a bit of a lightweight - he really has nothing new to say. Philosophers and others have been saying the same things for a very long time, and more thoughtfully and pleasantly.

feetlebaum Fri 22-Mar-13 13:52:22

The 'virgin birth' myth is largely down to a mis-translation of a Hebrew word, meaning 'young woman' as 'virgin'. In those days, the idea was common to many sects - Mithras was born on 25th December and that was a 'virgin birth' too, for example.

Dawkins is a communicator, and a very good one. As a scientist, he accepts the things for which there is evidence, and rejects those for which there is no evidence and only a tiny probability.

Lilygran Fri 22-Mar-13 14:23:51

Did your last post slip into some kind of tear in the space-time fabric, feetle?

speck123 Wed 03-Apr-13 14:44:17

However we battle over the meaning of the word for `virgin` as in young woman that is not the final answer.
The New Testament has numerous other areas that declare the virgin birth of Jesus. So, you would need to explain away a good number of verses in the NT before one could dismiss that teaching.

Bags Wed 03-Apr-13 14:49:46

Good poke, lily. Oh sorry, you don't like pokes hmm

Galen Wed 03-Apr-13 15:28:04

Very thought provoking article.
Thanks Bags