Richard Dawkins and religion

#1
Richard Dawkins on C4 (at some point this week) makes the point that without religion, good men will do good things, and evil men will do evil. However, with religion, good men will do evil.

Tonight, a bunch of Jewish priests are praying for Arik Sharon's death. Not far from there, guys in Iran are building WMD's to use against Jews, Christians or anyone else in range. In Iraq, Shia and Sunni's kill civilians indiscriminantly.

Are we better off without God?
 
#2
nodandawink said:
Richard Dawkins on C4 (at some point this week) makes the point that without religion, good men will do good things, and evil men will do evil. However, with religion, good men will do evil.

Tonight, a bunch of Jewish priests are praying for Arik Sharon's death. Not far from there, guys in Iran are building WMD's to use against Jews, Christians or anyone else in range. In Iraq, Shia and Sunni's kill civilians indiscriminantly.

Are we better off without God?
I don't think that it is religion that is necessarrily the cause of evil by good people, it's more the twisting of the religion and false preachers that do.

The biggest enemy of religion has really been politics. Nazism, Communism and to a certain degree facism in Italy was far more devastating to Christianity and Judaism than Islam has been. Though I guess you could argue that they achieved this effect in a similar way as false preachers cause good religous people to do evil
 
#3
Usually not the religion to blame; just the priests, and their abuse of power. Oh, and the inane gullibility of the religious.
 
#4
Whiskybreath said:
Usually not the religion to blame; just the priests, and their abuse of power. Oh, and the inane gullibility of the religious.
Surely some of that qualifies as "good men doing evil".
 
#5
Almost the opposite, in fact. I don't equate the vicious provocation by a large number of Middle and Far Eastern religious 'leaders' with the acts of 'good men'. For every act there is a self-serving motive, and in their case it involves an increase in personal power.
 
#6
nodandawink said:
Are we better off without God?
I like this question. I’d like it even better if it were extended to ‘are we better off without gods?’ (Just so as to include every faith system you understand – we must be inclusive these days. :) )

There is no doubt that faith, of whatever denomination, can help to sustain people in difficult circumstances. In this respect it has the power to do good. There is also the argument that the main belief systems lay down a code of behaviour for the common good and are generally peaceable.

But it’s my view that beyond providing a ‘how to live a good life’ guide book, or a crutch for the temporarily vulnerable, there is no need to invoke gods, saints, prophets, icons, or whatever other rituals and paraphernalia you can think of. Especially when people become so indoctrinated (willingly or unknowingly, as in from birth) that they abandon any process of thought and act from blind faith. ‘God made me kill the evil man/infidel’ is no better than the playground defence of a child found standing near a broken window, catapult in hand, protesting that ‘big boys came and made me do it’.

So my answer is no, there isn’t a need. But people will always think otherwise. And the ability to quote tracts of some religious book or other, once mastered, is a lot easier than independent thought.
 
#7
But do not the majority of religions have some omnipotent being, all powerful, all seeing, the fountain-head. If this be so, the members of those religions have to accept that their Lord either directs what we interpret as evil or does nothing to prevent it happening. It cannot be, for example, that a tsunami is the way in which a (any) God deals with over-crowding? Who can detect God's involvement with any certaintity? Is this why one of the major religions (hint - Rome) adopts the position that one must not question - just believe all is for the good?
For me, I need to get this cleared before I can proceed to Dawkins' position.
 
#8
The cornerstone of all religons is faith. People have to have complete faith in their God and believe that in any event or circumstance there is a higher,divine reason for it. Christians would argue that evil people exist and do evil things because God gave man free-will, and this free will determines whether they would commit sin or not.
 
#9
Religious war is equal to saying ....

My imaginary friend doesnt like your imaginary friend...

my answer is a resounding yes we would be better off without it... its a farce.

normally sane people going f ucking gooey over some "omnipotent being" .. what patent and utter b0llocks.

still, just my opinion obviously ... wouldnt want to get struck by lightning or anything :roll:
 
#10
I have to go with the "there is no god" group.

Most of what we base religion on (the big B Book) is a load of tosh.
I love talking to people who are deeply religous to find out what they believe and why. I was unfortunatly asked to leave the Christian society at Uni for asking questions!

I don't understand people, especially colleages who are scientists and engineers who one minute are looking for absolute evidence and proof of a concept, then on a sunday go and worship something that by science as we know it doesn't exist! Religion has a lot to be blamesd for when it comes to death and destruction.

I believe a lot of it stems from the fact that we as humans just can't believe that when you die, your dead. You won't be passing go again and your £200 is screwed! This leads onto the point of why bother making a success of yourself during life if you can't take it with you.. but thats maybe a different thread!!

If there is a god then he is strangely silent and no matter how much the religous people blame it on me in someway, if he wants me to believe in him, all he needs to do is buy me a pint and pull up a chair for a chat!

OS
 
#11
Over the years i have grown more and more detached from believing in god.

It may be down to my scientific background, the overzealous use of religion as a control mechanism or the plain and simple fact that god's power and wisdom must be taken on trust (or indeed the combination of all three).

However it was not until christmas eve that i had a startling revelation as to my complete and utter disbelief in christiantity and religion as a whole.

I was wrapping presents whilst watching TV when i turned over to some programme that was discussing christmas and if christ really existed. This sparked up some healthy debate with the old dear who still clings on to her 'belief in god and his son'. Needles to say whenever i confronted her with rational argument about religious events, she reverted to the age old 'but that's why it's called faith'.

It was then that i thought, "what does this remind me of?"

Immediately it came to me... "THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW"

Just think about it. Mary comes on stage and tells the crowd and joseph (her hubby) that she is pregnant. At that Joseph is taken aback. As far as he was aware, mary was still a virgin and he certainly had not had the pleasure of 'popping her cherry'. Mary tries to console Jospeh that infact she has not been unfaithful by claiming it to be an immaculate conception and that 'GOD' (a mysterious but all powerful being who answers to no-one, not even the CSA) was the father of the soon to be born child.

Sound convincing to you? No? Thought not, because it's all a big trick by the lizard people to test our gulibility. :D
 
#12
Nice analogy Agent Smith :D

I know this is a serious thread, but when it comes to religion it’s hard not to have a laugh at the daftest elements. I mean, can the following really be put forward as a framework for decent living?

Exodus 21:17 requires the execution of anyone cursing his father or mother.

Exodus 23:8 forbids the taking of gifts

Leviticus 20:10 says that adultery must be punished by death.

Other passages (apologies for the lack of reference) require the exclusion from certain religious occasions of: 'the blind, broken-handed, flat-nosed, crookbacked or otherwise blemished'.

Leviticus 18:22 says that ‘thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.’ Later in Leviticus we are told that men guilty of lying together (no, not like the Labour cabinet) must be punished by death.

1 Corinthians excludes certain types from inheriting the kingdom of god. They are fornicators, idolators, adulterers, thieves, the covetous, revilers and extortioners, and what the King James version translates as the effeminate and ‘abusers of themselves with mankind’.

Whilst we’re on quotations, here’s one from the Life of Brian that I particularly like:

Woman at back of crowd, mishearing sermon: ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers, did he say?

Man beside her: ‘Of course it isn’t meant to be taken literally, it refers to the manufacturers of any dairy produce.’
 
#13
Many people just dont have the maturity or character to take responsibility for their own actions.

Religion along with astrology, and plain old dumb superstition, gives people an excuse for their failings.

It is far easier, when you fu*k up, to blame it on divine intervention, planetary mis-alignment or the number of magpies on your lawn, than to accept that you would be doing the species a favour by stepping in front of a train, and leaving the gene-pool un-tainted.

Surely, it is a self-evident truth, that good men cannot, by definition, commit evil deeds.

By a mans work shall he be known, ergo, if your actions are evil, you are evil, regardless of your religious convictions.
 
#14
One minor point i would make is Jesus must have existed and been quite an influential figure in his time!

Otherwise we wouldn't be talking about him now!! Ok, the stories will have been altered and massarges to be more fantastic, but something must have been at its core! This is not saying God exists!!!! Around that time there were a lot of preachers doing the same as Jesus, and getting crucified for it, the question here is why do we know his name over the others. good admin?
 
#15
Oneshot said:
One minor point i would make is Jesus must have existed and been quite an influential figure in his time!

Otherwise we wouldn't be talking about him now!! Ok, the stories will have been altered and massarges to be more fantastic, but something must have been at its core! This is not saying God exists!!!! Around that time there were a lot of preachers doing the same as Jesus, and getting crucified for it, the question here is why do we know his name over the others. good admin?
There is growing evidence that 'Jesus' was in fact not one individual but the image of a number of indivuals who lived in the period around 0BC-55ADyrs.
 
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error_unknown

Guest
#16
There is a saying "For evil to triumph, all that it takes is for good men to do nothing" So if a good man does nothing, does the act of doing nothing thus allowing evil to triumph make the good man himself evil?

As for the argument can a good man do evil.... give most "Good" men ten minutes alone with Glitter or Bin Ladin etc and watch what happens. Does killing an evil man make a good man evil?

I'm in a philosophical mood today, must be Friday!
 
#17
I heard the debate on Radio 2 lunchtime yesterday 'Religion is the root of all evil?'. Apart from Jeremy Vine baiting the maker of the programme to be shown on the TV this week, there were some interesting points vis-a-vis, some of the history's most evil men actually being atheist.

There has been good and evil around since the dawn of time. I think it is basically about holding power, from the druids in neolithic times to Slobodan Milosevic. Charasmatic people with influence and power can get people to wield to them. Dress up in a few robes and call it religion, pretty soon the masses follow. There are similarities between Nazism and Religion for example. Anyway the fundamental thing in my opinion that manifests itself as 'evil' is the power thing. When those who hold the power, be it locally or on a strategic level, they believe they are the law and can do as they wish without recrimmination. This is when inhuman acts are committed. The Crusades, The Holocaust, The Russian Purges, The Killing Fields, Srebrenica etc, religion is only one part of the jigsaw.

''As for the argument can a good man do evil.... give most "Good" men ten minutes alone with Glitter or Bin Ladin etc and watch what happens. Does killing an evil man make a good man evil?''

I agree with the quote, most 'good' men would go to town on these fekkers, but only if they knew they could get away with it.

Thoughts please...

HTL
 
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error_unknown

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#18
I don't agree with your remarks regarding "The Crusades" I believe they were merely attempting to give Monty Python some decent comedy material.
 
#19
Herrenbloke said:
As for the argument can a good man do evil.... give most "Good" men ten minutes alone with Glitter or Bin Ladin etc and watch what happens. Does killing an evil man make a good man evil?

I'm in a philosophical mood today, must be Friday!
My, you are chipper, aren't you? :D

In my view, faith or even religion aren't the central problems. I know many religious people who don't let it interfere with their interactions with other people.

It's blind adherence to dogma, and also the unwillingness to examine those parts of your beliefs that may be inconsistent within its own structure...never mind wrong according to the general public.

Here's a very extreme example: opposition to abortion is generally based on the Old Testament "Thou shalt not kill" and the assumption that a baby is alive from the moment of conception. (Talmudic law actually has something completely different to say about the ensoulment of newborn children, but let's not go there.)

Believing in "thou shalt not kill" is not harmful in and of itself. Neither is being personally opposed to abortion. Far beyond the whole sticky legalization issues, which has all kind of notches and gray areas in it, there's the idea that it is right to bomb abortion clinics and kill abortion providers because they "murder babies." To the lunatic fringe, it's "right" and "good" to defend unborn babies in this manner. To most of us (and me personally) it is a despicable act that defeats the entire purpose of a pro-life movement to take the lives of others so callously. But here too, religion has gone from being a personal and harmless experience to one that actively seeks to harm the unbelievers. The difference is an unwillingness to look critically at one's own belief system.

Martin Heidegger wrote in defense of philosophy:

On the one hand a faith that does not perpetually expose itself to the possibility of unfaith is no faith but merely a convenience: the believer simply makes up his mind to adhere to the traditional doctrine. This is neither faith nor questioning, but the indifference of those who can busy themselves with everything, sometimes even displaying a keen interest in faith as well as questioning.
I think it's absolutely true. Faith that is not shattered by hard questioning can be made stronger. It just might not look like the rote-book religion you were raised with.

Also, C.S. Lewis wrote beautifully on Christianity and is one of the few so-called "Christian" authors I can stomach. He is the thinking man's devotee, and I have found a great deal of peace and reconciliation reading his works. It's not about dogma and ritual so much as human experience, and the eternal struggle to try to be a little better than your instincts.

Not all religious folks are idiots, just the ones that insist that everyone else needs to die.
 
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error_unknown

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#20
We ARE doomed TankieYank, which is why it is important to do the best you can with the life you have. The biggest scoundrels I have come acroos have been good church goers. I personally find abortion on demand a little distasteful, especially when it is used as a contraceptive rather than for medical reasons but the alternative can be much worse. I certainly believe the limit should be lowered to around 8 weeks unless there were very strong reasons to extend this.
I'm pretty open minded on the existence of God, it would be nice to think of all the people who've used religion and God as an excuse for evil burning in hell... Mind you on the day of judgement I may have some explaining to do regarding one or two drunken evenings but if I'm lucky, God will in fact be Odin, I'll be off the hook and off to Valhalla! (Lets face it, fighting all day and drinking all night is better than sitting on a cloud playing a harp) Some of us wouldn't notice any difference between life and death come to think of it!
 
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