[LINK] atheism

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Sat Mar 3 08:47:50 AEDT 2007

On Fri, Mar 02, 2007 at 04:33:54PM +1100, Frank O'Connor wrote:
> Mmmm ...
> My problem with Dawkins is that he seems to be the same zealot, the 
> same fundamentalist, the same close minded individual as that which 
> he opposes. He's simply operating under a belief system of a 
> different colour. Making a God of rationality and logic.

you're wrong on that point....but Dawkins is an easy target to attack
- he's one of the few willing to stand up and argue forcefully against
even the idea of faith. even those who basically agree with everything
he says like to attack him as if to say "look, i'm one of the good
atheists, not one of those nasty ones like Dawkins".

you're also falling into the fallacy that "science is just another
religion". it's not. science is a process of evidence-based enquiry.
religion is faith-based irrationality.

Dawkin's atheism is NOT a matter of faith, it is a conclusion reached
after examining the evidence. there is a lot of evidence against
the existence of any god or gods, and none for. the only way anyone
who examines the evidence can honestly still believe in a god is to
postulate a god who may as well not exist because they have no impact
whatsoever on the universe.

> I would also point out however that little numbers like art, drama, 
> music and literature don't come from the same methodology or 
> adherence to cold logic, probability, evidence and systems. You can't 
> create a great symphony by applying a formula to sound. That requires 
> talent, and motivation and something more ethereal ... a longing and 
> an idea. And even in simply playing music, not everyone can have the 
> talent of an Eric Clapton or a Carlos Santana with a guitar, for 
> example.

who's being reductionist now?

dawkins never argued anything like you're suggesting above. in fact,
he explicitly argued the opposite, saying that you don't need a god to
appreciate the wonder of the human mind or what it's capable of (or
to appreciate the wonder of the universe, either). awe and wonder and
amazement aren't the exclusive property of faith.

> These achievements come from feelings, and talent and belief ... from 
> an esoteric mental vision that the author or player is gifted by ... 
> not simply from practice or applying a system to sound.

and to be entirely reductionist, feelings come from chemicals triggering
reactions in your brain. they're not put there by "god", nor do
they arise out of a vacuum. they're an emergent property of complex
neurological systems.

> The Bard and others of a literary inclination, great visual artists, 
> brilliant stage technicians and great musicians operate on a 
> non-rational plane. 

and also on the rational plane - fluency in language is a function of
rationality, as are other skills (painting, sculpting, etc) used in art
and work. to make great art requires both rational and non-rational
input. art without emotion is a technical diagram. art without skill is

> I'm an atheist, but not one of Dawkins' ilk. 

"look, i'm one of the good atheists, not one of those nasty ones like

> I see a place for irrationality, for belief, for proceeding without
> empirical validation, for other systems and methodologies other than
> those espoused by science.

so does Dawkins.  read his books *before* judging him.

> Without them we would be poorer ... immensely poorer.
> Dawkins' rigid views if followed to their LOGICAL conclusion (one I 
> doubt he intended) would deny us access to much that has made us 
> great and worthwhile - even if we were blown out of existence 
> tomorrow.

no, they wouldn't. he's not arguing that art and emotions don't exist,
or that they should be ignored - he argues that these things do not
require a god to explain them, and that they are not evidence for the
existence of a god.  they do not belong to, or support, religion.


craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>

Currently listening to: Liquid Divine - Fortune And Fame

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