Wednesday, 31 January 2007

The God Delusion and Brights

I am currently reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and am thoroughly engrossed.

It is a relief of sorts to see ideas in my mind that had been clear as mud being articulated by a brilliant mind in a clear and captivating style. I find myself exclaiming, 'EXACTLY!" every second sentence or so :D

The book is also surprisingly funny. I've laughed out loud in several places.

I've learned of many nifty things from this book, one of which is the Brights. I am now a registered Bright.

Another nifty thing for Americans and Canadians who send their kids to summer cap is Camp Quest. Entry in Wikipedia.

And for a good laff, there is this site: Hundreds of proofs of God's existence

Excerpted by Dawkins:

36. ARGUMENT FROM INCOMPLETE DEVASTATION

(1) A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew.
(2) But one child survived with only third-degree burns.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

37. ARGUMENT FROM POSSIBLE WORLDS

(1) If things had been different, then things would be different.
(2) That would be bad.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

38. ARGUMENT FROM SHEER WILL

(1) I DO believe in God! I DO believe in God! I do I do I do I DO believe in God!
(2) Therefore, God exists.

39. ARGUMENT FROM NONBELIEF

(1) The majority of the world's population are nonbelievers in Christianity.
(2) This is just what Satan intended.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

40. ARGUMENT FROM POST-DEATH EXPERIENCE

(1) Person X died an Atheist.
(2) He now realizes his mistake.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

41. ARGUMENT FROM EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL

(1) God loves you.
(2) How could you be so heartless to not believe in him?
(3) Therefore, God exists.

I was not familiar with the difference between a theist, deist, and pantheist before. Here's an excerpt from the book:

Page 18: "Let's remind ourselves of the terminology. A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who, in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation. In many theistic belief systems, the deity is intimately involved in human affairs. He answers prayers; forgives or punishes sins; intervenes in the world by performing miracles; frets about good and bad deeds, and knows when we do them (or even think of doing them). A deist, too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs. Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings. Deists differ from theists in that their God does not answer prayers, is not interested in sins or confessions, does not read our thoughts and does not intervene with capricious miracles. Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is some kind of cosmic intelligence, rather than the pantheist's metaphoric or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism."

I highly recommend this book for both religious and non-religious folk.