RE: Dawkins was right all along

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat Sep 22 2001 - 23:12:24 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: RE: Dawkins was right all along
    Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 18:12:24 -0400
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    >From: Philip Jonkers <>
    >Subject: RE: Dawkins was right all along
    >Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 15:04:47 +0200 (CEST)
    > > >Different interpretations are possible to be entertained
    > > >exclusively by outsiders of the religion under scrutiny.
    > > >We atheists have a privileged position in that we are
    > > >universal outsiders of all religions.
    > > So are you implying that being an atheist makes you superior
    > > to someone who is religious? Are you free from the possible
    > > biases inherent in a mindset and its polarizing
    > > anti-religious extremes?
    >Hi Scott,
    >Think of it analogous to cases of anthropology or sociology;
    >does a sociologist or anthropologist have to harbor feelings
    >of superiority towards the social groups he wishes to study?
    >Knowledge of underlying mechanisms at the basis of some
    >cultural phenomenon doesn't necessarily have to impinge fascist
    >sentiments on scholars investigating it, no?
    >I'd say a true social scientist must assume impartiality at all
    >times, no matter how apalling the subject is, in order to
    >avoid getting emotionally involved and thus blurring his
    >neutral vision. If not, his research shall be
    >poisoned with prejudice and bias to an extent that increases
    >with his partiality.
    >The other end of the spectrum: anti-religious extremists is
    >no better of course. Time and again I've supported the niche
    >that religions bring more grief than joy in the world.
    >Militant atheists also bring violence and hence more grief
    >than joy on earth. I advocate striking the golden mean;
    >get rid of religion and anti-religion, let's be humane and
    >honest and assume atheism, the non-militant one of course.
    > > >This permits us to
    > > >study religions with an unbiased attitude; >
    > > Could you understand what you study without a little
    > > participant observation or walking a mile in someone's shoes?
    >True, imagination is very important if not crucial. But there
    >is a difference between imagining something and actually believing
    >it. A good scholar should always be able to land back on his
    >feet after a little airborne excursion into the realm of
    >metaphysics or makebelief. Similarly, a good psychologist
    >doesn't have to get mad first or having a former history of
    >madness in order to sucessfully understand and analyze
    >mad people, right?
    > > >we are
    > > >not hampered regarding our opinion by distorting sentiments
    > > >of one's own religion.
    > > What about the distortion stemming from militant atheist
    > > extremism and treating religion as a mind virus which
    > > requires preventative innoculations
    > > and quarantine measures. I see a bunch of focus on the
    > > horrid extremes of religions. I agree that these extremes
    > > are wrong, but I think a crucial distinction needs to be
    > > made that not all followers of a religion (or mindset to be
    > > more broad) are extremists. Criticism of religion is important,
    > > but distinctions need to be made. That's my main point all along.
    >Like I said, I disapprove of any kind of militant stance based
    >on religion or anti-religion. I agree with you that most religious
    >people are synonymous to law-abiding citizins, I only have to
    >look at my mother or the vast majority of my relatives.
    >All I'm saying is that humanity is better off without
    >religion all the same, but I reserve the right for people
    >to decide that to the people ultimately.
    >BTW, I share the opinion that religion is like a virus
    >of the mind; I was infected myself virtually from birth
    >but had the fortunate de-brainwashing capacity to rid myself
    >of it in the recent years.
    > > We all have our blinders or tinted lenses, whether religious
    > > or not and are susceptible to "infection" by extremist
    > > variants of our biases.
    > >
    > > Being a follower of memetics may even predispose you to placing
    > > human behavior into the wrong tidied cubbyholes, just as
    > > being an atheist may lead to going overboard on an
    > > anti-religious tirade. I thought objectivity entailed not
    > > taking a normative stance on what you study or at least
    > > approaching what you study in a more balanced manner.
    > > I've seen some anti-religious sentiment focusing on the
    > > negatives.
    >You ought to know how I feel about (anti)-religion by now.
    >I'm not the kind a guy to fall for any kind of extremist
    >or militant movement. I'm a scientist for crying out loud...
    Sorry, Dawkins's piece kinda rubbed me the wrong way. I perceived him as
    using the recent tragedies to take a hard swipe at religion in general.
    Maybe there's a kernel of truth to what he was saying, but he could have
    been a little fairer.

    I have known many religious and semi-religious types and they seem to get
    along OK for the most part in life. I suspect that churches have quite a few
    agnostic or doubting parishioners sitting in their pews who use church or
    associated functions as a means for social mixing or other benefits. Not
    everybody at church might be a bible-thumper.

    I was in elementary school when I started having my doubts. I remember
    telling my mom something to the effect that I didn't believe in God, though
    I still wavered a lot afterward.

    I've taken my own swipes at religion in the past, so I guess I could border
    on hyprocrisy. I'm trying to develop an approach that though critical isn't
    one-sided (ie- negative).

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