Richard Dawkins Vs Religion

  • #1
Another God
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm posting this in social sciences because it seems like Richard Dawkins is on a crusade against the social aceptance of religion. So this topic is sort of a religion topic, sort of a biology topic, sort of a physics topic, but allin all its about our society and how we accept beliefs.

Anyway, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins" [Broken]" and so I have been watching a few videos on You Tube.

Personally I agree with virtually everything Dawkins says and think his logical consistency and philosophical integrity is unsurpassable. The potential ramifications of this 'crusade' I'm not so sure about though. (though I don't disagree with him doing it at all)

Anyway, watch these films and tell me what you think of what he is saying.

Interview
http://youtube.com/watch?v=kfnDdMRxMHY

The root of all evil
http://youtube.com/watch?v=AB2vmj8eyMk
http://youtube.com/watch?v=C10sSC2kB3Q&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=wr_qZ3P4nl4&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=-cZGGD5grkQ&mode=related&search=

And a funny interview with Stephen Colbert
http://youtube.com/watch?v=X1fTkvefu5s

Shane
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I wish religion was held to the russia ideal
trust BUT VERIFY

and of course no one can verify any belife
 
  • #3
arildno
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It is an excellent program, I've seen it before.
In particular, Dawkins' clear analyses and unremitting stance that religion IS irrational, and for the most part, im-MORAL is definitely needed in our world today. It is also about time that a prominent scientist says flat out what religious indoctrination of children is:
It is child abuse.

There are too many cowardly scientists about. Thanks to all non-existing gods that Dawkins is not one of them.
 
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  • #4
selfAdjoint
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Anyone's reaction to Dawkins' anticrusade seems contingent only on his or her prior conceptions of religion. I mostly agree with him myself, but gee! we don't need another pro and con thread on the rationality of religion. There's one already down on Philosophy; it's called So basically. In my opinion that's where it belongs.
 
  • #5
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arildno said:
In particular, Dawkins' clear analyses and unremitting stance that religion IS irrational, and for the most part, im-MORAL is definitely needed in our world today.
A bit of nonsense if you ask me. :smile:
While I do not disagree that the belief in supernatural powers including deities is actually irrational I strongly disagree that we can judge under the pretense of science that something is moral or immoral.
Morality is in the eye of the beholder IMHO.
 
  • #6
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What do you think would happen in a world where Dawkins was essentially successful though? Lets say the worlds major religions were proven to be wrong, what would the religious of the world do?

I'm worried that many of them, without faith in God, would turn immoral. I have heard that argument do many times in anti-evolution threads, Christians saying that without a god there is nothing to stop them from raping etc. It sounds ludicrous to us atheists that anyone would be so morally retarded, but I wonder if religion actually does stiffle the moral development of people by using absolutes and a father like figure version of morality. Suddenlt losing their only concept of morality may indeed leave them not knowing how to behave, and result in a huge increase in criminal behaviour. Serious criminal behaviour.
 
  • #7
Doc Al
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MeJennifer said:
While I do not disagree that the belief in supernatural powers including deities is actually irrational I strongly disagree that we can judge under the pretense of science that something is moral or immoral.
Dawkins says no such thing. But he does argue that religion provides no rational basis for morality.

Another God said:
I'm worried that many of them, without faith in God, would turn immoral. I have heard that argument do many times in anti-evolution threads, Christians saying that without a god there is nothing to stop them from raping etc. It sounds ludicrous to us atheists that anyone would be so morally retarded, but I wonder if religion actually does stiffle the moral development of people by using absolutes and a father like figure version of morality. Suddenlt losing their only concept of morality may indeed leave them not knowing how to behave, and result in a huge increase in criminal behaviour. Serious criminal behaviour.
Read the book! Dawkins addresses this issue and much more.

Dawkins kicks ass... with class.
 
  • #8
Another God
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LOL, i intend to read the book. I only just found out about it!
 
  • #9
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Doc Al said:
But he does argue that religion provides no rational basis for morality.
Well I can agree with that. :smile:
But why would it need a rational basis anyway?

There is no rational basis for morality IMHO.
 
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  • #10
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I watched one of the videos, and found it somewhat dissappointing. For instance, he rumbled over the issue of consciousness in a matter of seconds. During an interview, some guy claims that "we can be faily sure that consciousness is produced by the brain", after which Dawkins replies: i completely agree. It is no surprise that after making such a huge assumption, that some of the things religion claims (god, survival after death) can be dismissed. I fully understand however that he didnt want to make a long philosophical tv program. He had a purpose with this show, and had to decide what to keep in and what to keep out of it, and at the same time have it remain interesting for viewers. Its probably an eyeopener for religious people who have never really thought about reality very deeply.

Also, in the same video: he suggests our morality evolved because altruistic behaviour has an evolutionary advantage for the individual. What he doesnt mention, is that some bacteria also show signs of altruistic behaviour. This claim thus assaults his own earlier idea (that brain produces consciousness), because if bacteria have a morality, then of course they are also conscious. Instead, the video only showed a group of chimpansees interacting with eachother. While this obviously is aimed at convincing religious people that we evolved from common ancestors, i think he should have explored our evolutionary origin a bit further, instead of just the part that serves his goal (attacking religion). Even though he may perhaps do this in his books or elsewhere, the videos could give a wrong impression to its viewers (im not familiar with his books).

I havent watched the other videos yet.
 
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  • #11
arildno
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MeJennifer said:
A bit of nonsense if you ask me. :smile:
Since I didn't ask you, your comment is just irrelevant and uncalled for. :smile:
 
  • #12
selfAdjoint
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arildno said:
Since I didn't ask you, your comment is just irrelevant and uncalled for. :smile:

Her assertian that there is no rational basis for morality is at least a positive, if slightly OT, contribution to this thread, and it seems to me a legitimate topic for a social sciences forum.. What does Dawkins say about this? Any studies?
 
  • #13
arildno
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I was commenting the sub-part of her post that my post was a bit of nonsense, which I didn't ask for, and hence, makes that comment irrelevant by her own words "if you ask me" .
 
  • #14
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arildno said:
I was commenting the sub-part of her post that my post was a bit of nonsense, which I didn't ask for, and hence, makes that comment irrelevant by her own words "if you ask me" .
I was not suggesting that your posting was "a bit of nonsense" but instead that Dawkins' alledged claim was.

I took from your statement that Dawkins in his book has a clear analysis that religion is for the most part immoral.
That I find a bit of nonsense.
Now if he actually claims that in his book is yet another issue, I don't know, since I have not read the book.

:smile:
 
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  • #15
arildno
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That immorality bit is a slight interpolation of mine over Dawkins' view.
Feel free to regard that bit of nonsense to come from me. :smile:
 
  • #16
LJM
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Dawkins misrepresents science as an agenda, remember he is considered as an authority. I think what he's doing is frankly disgusting, and using tired arguments such as 'evidence' to dispel belief are obvious and easy.

If you base your arguments on the current climate of religious ideals, and use science as an anchor, then it's completely flawed. The scientific method is irrelevant to 'belief' and the only notion spurring Dawkins 'is' current climate, which is not a reflection of belief outside of science. It is a daft and misguided premise that is prompting conflict between religious factions and science. Such things do have an effect, and I think it's a gross misrepresentation of science if such publications are presented to the public.

I'm not religious, before anybody asks.
 
  • #17
selfAdjoint
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LJM said:
Dawkins misrepresents science as an agenda, remember he is considered as an authority. I think what he's doing is frankly disgusting, and using tired arguments such as 'evidence' to dispel belief are obvious and easy.

If you base your arguments on the current climate of religious ideals, and use science as an anchor, then it's completely flawed. The scientific method is irrelevant to 'belief' and the only notion spurring Dawkins 'is' current climate, which is not a reflection of belief outside of science. It is a daft and misguided premise that is prompting conflict between religious factions and science. Such things do have an effect, and I think it's a gross misrepresentation of science if such publications are presented to the public.

I'm not religious, before anybody asks.
I repeat, the duelling preconceptions have no place in a serious forum. Dawkins means to be provocative and he is. Can't we all just deal with that without consuming Greg's bandwidth to fume in?
 
  • #18
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arildno said:
That immorality bit is a slight interpolation of mine over Dawkins' view.
Feel free to regard that bit of nonsense to come from me. :smile:
No problem, I realize that more than occasionally I am not nonsense free either :biggrin:
 
  • #19
Dawkins is an amazing scientist. I am immediately skeptical of any religious individuals ability to think rationally. It's always refreshing to see members of the scientific community reveal religion to be the disorder that it is.
 
  • #20
Another God
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PIT2 said:
What he doesnt mention, is that some bacteria also show signs of altruistic behaviour. This claim thus assaults his own earlier idea (that brain produces consciousness), because if bacteria have a morality, then of course they are also conscious.
That is a wild assumption without basis. 'Moral' behaviour is not based upon consciousness. In fact 90% of the time morality is driven by emotions, which are genetically programmed if-then statements. Bacteria can quite clearly benefit from assisting their nearest rneighbours because usually their nearest neighbour is an offspring with virtually identical DNA. Thus any DNA which programs a phenotypic behaviour which promotes an altruistic behaviour in Bacteria (whatever that is) will inevitably be at the benefit of that one piece of coding.....

Consciousness is not required in the least.

The only application for consciousness in morality is in revising our emotional instincts. Evolution has trained us for a pre-industrial world. Has the invention of contraceptives changed the reality of sexual intercourse, and thus our hundred thousand year old instincts are now no longer relevent? ETC Plus the individual application of those instincts may change, so consciousness may allow individual consaiderations....
 
  • #21
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Another God said:
'Moral' behaviour is not based upon consciousness. In fact 90% of the time morality is driven by emotions, which are genetically programmed if-then statements.
Since when are emotions not experienced?

Bacteria can quite clearly benefit from assisting their nearest rneighbours because usually their nearest neighbour is an offspring with virtually identical DNA. Thus any DNA which programs a phenotypic behaviour which promotes an altruistic behaviour in Bacteria (whatever that is) will inevitably be at the benefit of that one piece of coding.....
I merely pointed out the conflict between some of Dawkins speculations. If bacteria act altruisticly, and if they are not conscious, then obviously altruistic behaviour can exist without consciousness. However, if Dawkins wants to believe that morality is a product of evolution because altruistic behaviour is beneficial, then he should also explore the roots of altruistic behaviour.

Consciousness is not required in the least.
The idea that someone can have morals without any experience, is a purely speculative concept. Look at what happens in sociopaths.

Lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, sociopaths cold-bloodedly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociopath
 
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  • #22
Another God
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PIT2 said:
Since when are emotions not experienced?
Its not an exclusivity. To say experience is not required does not mean that morals cannot be experienced. It is simply true that experience is not 'required' for 'moral' behaviour.

Afterall, a pacemaker can save a life without requesting any recompense. Isn't that moral behaviour? I guarantee the pacemaker doesn't experience the morality of its actions though....

PIT2 said:
I merely pointed out the conflict between some of Dawkins speculations. If bacteria act altruisticly, and if they are not conscious, then obviously altruistic behaviour can exist without morality. However, if Dawkins wants to believe that morality is a product of evolution because altruistic behaviour is beneficial, then he should also explore the roots of altruistic behaviour.
Altruism is entwined with morality in a way that I can't see how they can be seperated. Morality does not require concious decision, it simply requires doing 'the right thing'. The right thing can only ever be determined subjectively, and that subjective determination may/may not come from the acting object.


PIT2 said:
The idea that someone can have morals without any experience, is a purely speculative concept. Look at what happens in sociopaths.
I think we need to establish what "morals" actually means before we bother discussing whether it can exist without existing.

For instance, talking about 'someone having morals' begs the question, because you have already assumed a subjective consciousness into the equation (someone needs to exist in order for them to have morals). So of course there must be experience in order for 'someone to have morals'.

However, for some action to be moral...well, this is actually tricky. Morality is entirely subjectively determined. There is nothing objective about "good and bad" "right and wrong". So there must be experience in order for the "rightness" or "wrongness" of an action to be assumed. However, that does not mean that those actions cannot be performed by any possible number of unthinking automaton.

In other words, conscious thought is not required for moral action. It is only required for the moral judgement. A judgement, btw, which is entirely subjective and meaningless in reality.
 
  • #23
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Another God said:
It is simply true that experience is not 'required' for 'moral' behaviour.
This is just an assumption. Moral behaviour is behaviour that is driven by morals. Obviously morals need subjectivity, u admit so urself, and thus moral behaviour does too.

I think we need to establish what "morals" actually means before we bother discussing whether it can exist without existing.
I think this one will do:
"Motivation based on ideas of right and wrong"

However, for some action to be moral...well, this is actually tricky. Morality is entirely subjectively determined. There is nothing objective about "good and bad" "right and wrong". So there must be experience in order for the "rightness" or "wrongness" of an action to be assumed. However, that does not mean that those actions cannot be performed by any possible number of unthinking automaton.
No it doesnt rule out unconscious automatons acting like that. However, there is no evidence that this is the case. We can only go with what we observe in humans, and we observe that our moral actions are driven by our experiences. Its entirely possible that some day someone will built Data from Star Trek and an altruistic android society will arise, but so far this is science fiction.

And suppose it is possible that altruistic behaviour arose without morals, then this takes away the evolutionary function of morals which Dawkins claims they have. Its like saying an organism only needs his eyes, and not his vision, to react to the environment. This takes away the evolutionary function of vision. Similarly, if we only need behaviour for altruism, and not morals, then this takes away the evolutionary function of morals.

...conscious thought is not required for moral action. It is only required for the moral judgement. A judgement, btw, which is entirely subjective and meaningless in reality.
Subjective judgements are not meaningless in reality. Look at the world around u, it has transformed the planet and created the very computer u are typing on.
 
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  • #24
Another God
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This is such an extensive topic that I don't think I will be able to reply adequately...
PIT2 said:
This is just an assumption. Moral behaviour is behaviour that is driven by morals. Obviously morals need subjectivity, u admit so urself, and thus moral behaviour does too.

I think this one will do:
"Motivation based on ideas of right and wrong"
OK then, this is where the problem lies. If you want to define morals that way, then of course it involves consciousness. Once again the assumption of willful (conscious) action is in the definition.

However I have to remind you why we are discussing this, earlier you said:
PIT2 said:
he suggests our morality evolved because altruistic behaviour has an evolutionary advantage for the individual. What he doesnt mention, is that some bacteria also show signs of altruistic behaviour. This claim thus assaults his own earlier idea (that brain produces consciousness), because if bacteria have a morality, then of course they are also conscious
You have assumed altruistic behaviour = morality, and that morality is defined by its conscious motivations. Altruistuc behaviour is any behaviour which benefits another (an action commonly regarded as 'moral'), yet not necessarily involving conscious motivation. Altruism is entirely based on the improvement of others.

So, altruistic behaviour in bacteria is entirely appropriate with views of evolution, and in no way contradictory to bacteria lacking consciousness. Just like a pacemaker altruistically saving someones life without conscious thought, bacteria may altruistically assist their neoghbours without any moral appraisal of their own actions... the altruistic behaviour being no more than a mechanistic program that they are following.


One more thing, consciousness is the brain.. they are inseperable. You can't deny all of the evidence for it, and the complete lack of evidence against it. Dawkins isn't assuming anything in that statement above the usual assumptions of reality.
 
  • #25
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Another God said:
You have assumed altruistic behaviour = morality, and that morality is defined by its conscious motivations. Altruistuc behaviour is any behaviour which benefits another (an action commonly regarded as 'moral'), yet not necessarily involving conscious motivation. Altruism is entirely based on the improvement of others.
No, i dont assume it, i think (based on what we see happening in humans) that it is a perfectly plausible possibility that morals cause altruistic behaviour. The connection between morals and altruism was made by Richard Dawkins and I of course agree that there is a connection. I do not agree that this connection suddenly stops at some point back in evolution, while altruism continues back further on its own, and that suddenly morals do not only not cause altruism anymore, but that altruism causes morals. Of course Dawkins is allowed to assume that, but basing the origins of morality on such an assumption is no different from basing it on some spiritual entity.

Also like i said earlier, if altruism can exist without morals, then this robs morals of their evolutionary advantageous function.

bacteria may altruistically assist their neoghbours without any moral appraisal of their own actions... the altruistic behaviour being no more than a mechanistic program that they are following.
We cant know. We can only look at ourselves and see that there is a connection between altruism and morals. From this it does not in any way follow that bacteria act altruistically without morals (right/wrong experiences).

One more thing, consciousness is the brain.. they are inseperable.
The brain isnt some magic machine, it consists of the same matter and forces as the rest of the universe. Currently, in science, the brain is used as a box where consciousness has been shoved into and should stay inside. Once we figure out how the box works, then we will also have figured out how consciousness works - or so it is assumed. In reality, all bets are off and the locked-box may be nothing more than contemporary delusion.
 
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