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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Dawkins’

More like “guidelines”, really.

Posted by JD on November 30, 2008

I found myself rereading a part of Richard Dawkins’ rather succinct book The God Delusion today; specifically, the chapter entitled The ‘Good’ Book and the Moral Zeitgeist, pages 263 and 264.  Dawkins briefly mentions a common list of “New Ten Commandments” he searched for on the internet.  He then goes on to add some personal recommendations for what he would consider an acceptable, revised edition.

I know there have been many sites that have done this before.  Most of them have made some really good lists too.  That is entirely Dawkins’ point in this section.  Your average person is capable of what would be considered ethics and morality whether they are religious or not.  Moreover, they are capable of vastly improving one of the cornerstones of Christianity to bring it up to current ethical standards.

I’ll save you the pain, boredom and irrelevance of the original “Ten Commandments” by just linking to the most popular list here (with the shortened second version later in Exodus 34:14, 17 and 21), and the second set here with another partial version (also with a few that didn’t make the cut) sprinkled in Leviticus 19:1, 3-4, 11-13, and the ‘didn’t quite make the list’ commandments such as Mark12:28-29.  Yes folks, not only do most of your Christians not know all of the commandments, they are unaware there is more than one list and more than ten, depending on what you consider qualifies as a commandment.  It’s a messy affair that ought to be airtight considering the importance Christians give them, but alas, ’tis one example of one-thousand, and yet another reason why religion is more of a sick joke nowadays than a serious belief.

My point here is not to point out the already absurd.  I think I’ll save that specifically for my next post about the Ten Commandments.  I just want to bring to light the obvious:  We all are capable of good and bad.  We all are capable of learning and modifying our own personal codes of conduct. It is evident in the following lists that I found just casually surfing the web.  The only people not capable of learning and maintaining a generally acceptable personal code of conduct are sociopaths and psychopaths; and this is because of different psychological disorders, not lack of morality or god.

This first set is from Dawkins’ book example, the popular ebonmusings.  They did a great job of elaborating on the list on their site as well:

1.  Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

2.  In all things, strive to cause no harm.

3.  Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

4.  Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

5.  Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.

6.  Always seek to be learning something new.

7.  Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

8.  Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

9.  Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

10.  Question everything.

Here’s Dawkins’ “own amended Ten Commandments…[he] would also try to find room for”:

  • Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none of your business.
  • Do not discriminate or oppress on the basis of sex, race or (as far as possible) species.
  • Do not indoctrinate your children.  Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.
  • Value the future on a timescale longer than your own.

Here’s a decent Ten Commandments from the Ethical Atheist.  I thought atheists weren’t supposed to be ethical, but for some reason many of them keep espousing morality anyways.  Go figure.

Here’s a list from a site calling itself positive atheism.  It is no longer ironic when a stereotype is not only wrong, but the opposite of the truth.  This is in reference to the idea that atheists cannot be moral without god (who had He existed, still knowingly created atheists this way anyway).  Ah, the stuff preachers will put in atheists’ mouths and congregations’ heads.

Indeed, I see no reason why we should be limited to just ten.  In fact, it is obvious that as complicated as we are psychologically and emotionally, we need as many general guidelines as necessary to help keep our societies healthy and happy.  And that’s what they are- guidelines.  There are no hard and fast rules to existence, let alone how to exist.

The Bible fails on many fronts, but this is a big one.  The Ten Commandments are one of the few pillars of Christianity left that haven’t crumbled under the weight of scrutiny of any kind, be it scientific or just plain common sense.  The Ten Commandments still stand because of sheer dedication to a hollow tradition of equating morals with God in an attempt to keep an archaic concept viable in a modern world free of the necessity and burdon of an almighty, vengeful and somehow simultaneously all-loving and merciful god.

Because, really, what else is there to adhere to in Christianity once the jealous, loving Yahweh’s rules are found to be entirely lacking for His creations, let alone His perfection?

Posted in FreeThought, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

“No God” slogan to run on UK buses

Posted by Andy Welfle on October 23, 2008

London buses will soon be running an ad on the side that says “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

This is probably the best advice anyone can get, ever. See the article, here.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is sponsoring the campaign, which was only intending to raised £5,500, with another £5,500 to be donated by Richard Dawkins. But through their own efforts, they’ve raised over £36,000 by themselves!

Sez Professor Dawkins:

“Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride — Automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children. Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side. This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think — and thinking is anathema to religion.”

Do you ever think we could get away with this here across the pond?  I bet there isn’t a bus company out there that would accept this sort of contract.

Posted in FreeThought, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

We want our Utopia now

Posted by Skeptigator on July 21, 2008

theodorsing recently posted Evangelist = Evil’s Agent?, in which he asks a number of compelling questions. So my post this week has been discarded in favor of my thoughts on the same topic.

The main theme from the post was that atheism, by definition, and often in practice is a negative assertion. It provides no foundation for a positive* belief system, it offers no method, process or framework with which to create a positive* worldview. Perhaps the most you could say is that it provides a framework within which I don’t believe in your (or all) god(s). There is simply nothing there to grab a hold of.

“Suppose we’ve chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we’re just making him madder and madder.” – Homer Simpson

theo and I spoke at a local church about a month ago that was exploring other worldviews by actually inviting people who espouse those worldviews to explain for themselves what they believe. This is an excellent idea that should be explored by other organizations as well.

What we were specifically asked to address was Atheism. However in the course of working up materials and notes on the topic I realized that Atheism as a basis of a talk would be pretty bare. The person at the church offered a standard list of topics to address and after going through the list it looked a little like this: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Expelled Exposed by Eugenie Scott

Posted by Skeptigator on March 27, 2008

Eugenie Scott of NCSE fame has setup a website, It is dedicated to exposing all of the lies, half-truths and deceptions in and surrounding the Ben Stein movie, Expelled.

For those who don’t know but would like to get a taste of some of the tactics of the creationists, oops, I mean Intelligent Design proponentists, check out PZ Myers blog and Richard Dawkins entry appropriately title, Lying for Jesus.

Found via Skepchick

Posted in Religion, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Our next meeting is April 9th, 2008

Posted by Skeptigator on March 25, 2008

The next meeting, open to the public, April 9th, 2008 @ 7:00PM. It will be located at the Main Branch of the Allen County Public Library in the Business & Technology Meeting room on the second floor.

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We will be discussing the special Root of All Evil hosted by Richard Dawkins. If you haven’t already seen it then here you go, if you have here’s a refresher.

Part 1

Part 2

If there is anything else you would like on the agenda, just a drop a comment.

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local, Skepticism | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

New Atheists are not great, Christianity Today’s response

Posted by Skeptigator on March 13, 2008

I just stumbled across this article on Christianity Today, New Atheists Are Not Great, a rather poorly written “review” of Dinesh D’Souza’s book, What’s So Great About Christianity. I say “review” only because the whole thing comes off as a thinly veiled rebuttal to the popularity enjoyed by the Four Horseman (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and Dennett).

The first two paragraphs of the article uses words to describe Hitchens and Dawkins statements as “complaints”, “bitter”, and my favorite, “seeths”. After recounting that Hitchens/Dawkins’s works detail religious atrocities and actually have the nerve to call the God of the Bible immoral the author then says,

Such invective clings like chewing gum to atheist polemics and raises the question of why these people are so worked up about a creator they don’t believe exists.

Umm… I don’t want to put words in the Four Horseman’s mouths (and I’m not because they say this in their books) but their problem is not inherently with your God it’s with the actions of his followers. You know, the followers of that God who found it moral to commit genocide, misogyny, witch burnings, slavery and more recently fly airplanes into civilian buildings. If the reviewer of this book or Dinesh D’Souza whose book is ostensibly being reviewed had actually understood what is being said in the New Atheists’ books then truly ignorant statements like that could only be seen as intellectually dishonest but I’m giving the reviewer the benefit of the doubt by assuming they simply have a reading comprehension problem.

A mere two paragraphs later the reviewer continues…

D’Souza also refutes the common charge that Christianity has unleashed humankind’s most murderous impulses. The most-cited atrocities are either overblown or misrepresented: the Inquisition claimed 2,000 lives over three and a half centuries. The Salem witch trials produced fewer than 25 executions. Recent wars—the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iraq, and Northern Ireland—stem mostly from ethnic and political discord. While atrocities violate Christian doctrine, they’re of a piece with atheism—which largely bears responsibility for the bloodiest century in history.

First let me interpret what the author is implying and note how he doesn’t come right out and say it. He is, of course, going back to that very dry well that the Holocaust (or the millions Stalin killed) was an “atheist” genocide. Ok fine, I’ll concede the point for the sake of argument, but in the very sentence leading up to this statement he relegates the Troubles in Northern Ireland between the Protestants and Catholics or the Palestinian Conflict as “ethnic and political discord”. Come on, talk about an inconsistency.

Who is this Tony Snow guy who wrote this review, I sure hope it’s not “that” Tony Snow (by the way it is). He should be lambasting Dinesh D’Souza for the absolute ridiculous and tired claims, this is pure intellectual laziness on the D’Souza’s part and ideology on the part of the reviewer.

Oh and I stopped after only the first page of this article, there are a total of 3 pages of this junk.

Edit: Ok, I couldn’t resist. Only because I think this just underscores that the basis for criticism of the New Atheists is a straw man. Here’s the quote that best captures where these people go off track,

Atheism fails as a creed because it lacks humanity. It destroys the wall of sanctity that defends the weak from the strong. It spawned history’s most savage movements—from the French Terror to the Stalinist purges. None of the atheistic alternatives has survived because reason just doesn’t make a satisfying god.

It’s a straw man because no one is holding up Atheism as the new basis of moral values. Atheism by definition cannot do this. If their criticism is that three of the four horseman offer only vague “we need a New Enlightenment” statements then fine. I share those criticisms. What the New Atheists do attempt to say is that compassion, human experience and a scientific worldview are tools that mankind can use to inform rational thought to form basis of morality and that irrational, bronze-age deities are not the way forward.

Ok I swear I’m done now

Posted in FreeThought, Religion, Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »