Re: Dawkins on Channel 4 tonight

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Mon 16 Jan 2006 - 23:01:34 GMT

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    Ahem (deep breath)...

    I'm interested in your perspective: The Dad thing (thanks btw) wasn't (I'd argue) actually formative for me in my religious rejection as it took a couple more years before I was aware enough of stuff to make a choice (I started Catholic through vertical transmission and went away from it just before I'd have been confirmed) and is some 27 years distant now; I do think though that I know roughly what my path to my own variant of screaming atheism was.

    It started with my being slightly alarmed by the text of the mass (once I stopped chanting and listened): Sort of like the icky feeling when one hears the root of most common nursery rhymes kids recite, which are mostly quite unpleasant (the rhymes not the kids). Narcissism (no other gods, and keep the praise coming) not that I knew the word at the time, vampirism and cannibalism (transubstantiated or not), the presence of an altar with its associations (how very OT). Then I was probably like most in that I saw a lot of 'evil' as I watched more news. The death knell came with things like the mistranslations in the bible, the range of qualitatively different faiths and of course science. Evolutionary biology (my thing once upon a time) has a history that starts with clerics and ends with loads of atheists :D

    Anyway I wonder what confirmed and sustains your faith in the face of what made me so very different in outlook? This is by definition probably quite personal but if you can sanitise it I'd feel privileged to hear it as you are clearly in possesion of well-developed critical faculties.

    Btw I didn't misunderstand I don't think, but I was already building up a nice head of steam and so wasn't so clear myself: I am genuinely intrigued by what gets under the wire as not absolute (objective scientific) proof in the sense of God on TV saying 'Chris start saying I rock or you're in for an eternity of fire boyo' but yet is more than gut conviction or a response to the possibility of god? I'm repeating the above request essentially.

    Cheers, Chris.

    Kate Distin wrote:
    > Chris Taylor wrote:
    >> And sure there are many non-religious nutters out there, but are their
    >> reasons any less valid? What is the proof that supports faith when
    >> faith necessarily eschews proof? An 'experience'? I dunno. There's
    >> that guy that can tweak a 'god spot' with EM, epilepsy etc.
    > No, no, no! That was my whole point (last refuge of a less-than-clear
    > writer: blame the reader). Faith does *not* eschew proof, necessarily
    > or otherwise. I wouldn't place my faith in anything that I didn't
    > regard as being proven, whether deductively or (as is more usually the
    > case) on the basis of evidence, experience, reason, etc. You can argue
    > about whether the evidence/proof is valid, of course . . . (see your
    > next para).
    >> An overanalysis of an interesting set of coincidences (remember the
    >> coin toss experiment with enough people for one to get ten heads in a
    >> row) could also lead one astray, or believe that _this_ guy really is
    >> a prophet not like all the other 100s of 'nutters'. Jericho is in an
    >> earthquake zone; it wasn't the trumpetting...
    >> This actually tallies nicely with the reason I was so 'up for' Ted's
    >> unceasing battery of all that we hold dear scientifically speaking; as
    >> Kate says (paraphrasing) orthodoxy is like a constitutional law (i.e.
    >> one that takes a bigger-than-50% vote to overturn as a rule) his major
    >> challenge was that we did have core beliefs that we were loath to
    >> really examine (whether that was accurate or not is not the point).
    >> And I do avoid abandoning a previously valued tenet until the evidence
    >> mounts. In behavioural theory this equates with the advantage of being
    >> a resident over an invader for a niche -- adapted over time to all the
    >> intricacies of filling it, increasing fitness.
    > Right - and it seems like there's a mememetic equivalent, too.
    >> But I just can't help myself with the religious variant of this.
    >> Earthquakes? Comet strikes? Still births? Pedophile rings?
    >> Hyperparasitoid wasps ffs. It is a merry dance to try to keep God as
    >> 'good' in this world to be sure (and what _is_ _purely_ good eh --
    >> sounds like a make-work scheme for some of the biggest landholders
    >> ever and their philosopher mates). My Dad died of cancer when I was
    >> eight and my brother was five; he was a little bit racist living in
    >> the 70s as he did but he also did lots of nice things for people at
    >> the drop of a hat. Death sentence? C'mon... Did god get more tolerant
    >> by allowing the advent of better oncotherapy?
    >> Spare me.
    > I'm sorry to hear about your Dad, Chris.
    > I think the problem of evil is a bit big even for the ambitions of this
    > list, though.
    >> For once I'd like to hear Keith's main suit played. I think that we
    >> have a real love as a species of group cohesion, and in the world best
    >> described by Marx (in full below for the hell of it) religious groups
    >> provide the closest modern approximation of the tribe we pine for,
    >> both in church and as part of God's family.
    > Maybe. But this doesn't tell us anything about whether the claims of
    > any given belief system are valid or not.
    > Kate
    > ===============================================================
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    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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