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Dawkins is back from playing Father Christmas

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Dawkins is back from his Christmas break – a shame he didn’t listen to the message of Christmas about peace and goodwill to all men but launches into another ill informed attack on religion.

Dawkins in the Times

Of course for Dawkins a world without religion would be a better one. But when ever atheism has been tried out it leads to great tyranny – a shame he doesn’t mention Hitler, Stalin, Lennin, Pol Pot in his article.

But Dawkins is a man of doubt and depressing hopelessness for all mankind. Atheism destroys the basis on which to make value judgements about right and wrong and leads to the tyranny of relativism in ethics. Out of the frying pan into the fire perhaps Richard?

The Christian vision is instead a hopeful one that seeks to make the world a better place, where we protect against natural disasters, where we end poverty, disease, suffering etc.

Yes perhaps Pat Robertson’s statement was ill conceived, but there is a spiritual war taking place upon the earth that few of us really understand. Suffering is a problem for theologians, but Dawkins approach makes our very existence meaningless, in which case how can he address it at all? Suffering becomes a useful stick to beat God and Christians with, but ultimately how can Dawkins say that suffering is even a bad thing? Unless of course he thinks he is the sole judge of good and bad and wishes to be seen as God himself.

science-and-values.blogspot.com Dawkins back from playing Father Christmas

Seversky Our common experience is tht we are morally bound. indeed Dawkins implies as much by ACCUSING Christians of hypocrisy. Take your implications from that datum, and bear in mind that you have also implied what Hawthorne is pointing out: the inherent AMORALITY of evolutionary materialism, something that has been known since the days of Plato in the Laws, Book X. And given the implications of that, the rest of us should take pause before accepting claims and views that entail such. 'day GEM of TKI kairosfocus
kairosfocus @ 8
And yet we reach the absurd conclusion: therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’. For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.
As you know, logic is a set of rules for the construction of a valid argument. It is not a guarantee of truth because suffers the same weakness as computers of garbage in/garbage out (GIGO). In other words, if the premises of an argument are flawed then so will be the conclusion. The problem with the argument given above lies in the word "permissible". It implies the existence of an intelligent and moral agent who is able to grant permission. As far as we know, the Universe is not such an agent and in the absence of such the actions of a Hitler are neither permissible nor impermissible. It is an inappropriate use of the word. I, on the other hand, am (in my own opinion) and intelligent and moral agent. I am also agnostic and atheist but I would certainly not grant my permission to, nor even my approval of, the actions of Hitler, nor would I feel bound to as an agnostic/atheist. Your claim for the supremacy of your Christian morality is that they are edicts from your God and that is sufficient justification. I look at the world and I observe human beings in society. I observe those societies adopting various moral codes and individual members of those societies abiding by them to a greater or lesser degree. I do not observe a god of any type nor have I been offered any compelling evidence that such a being exists. Since your claim for the superiority of your moral code rests on the existence of your God, it is for you to present evidence for it. In the absence of such evidence, I am entitled to assume that moral codes are a product of human invention, nothing more. Seversky
Now, a key question: Was this quake a [direct] judgement from God against sinful Haitians? (Like the 2004 Tsunami, was it a judgement against sinfully frolicsome sexy tourism in Thailand? Was Katrina a judgement against a decadent city of NO? Etc?) Here (and as I discussed in the first of my reflection pieces on the Haiti quake) we we need to refine our understanding of Divine judgement. For instance, in 1692, Port royal, build on the tombolo at the mouth of what we now call Kingston Harbour Jamaica [the NM Intl Airport stands on the same tombolo], was known to one and all as "the richest, wickedest city in the world." For, it was the headquarters of the Buccaneers, who preyed on the Spanish Main with unspeakable atrocity-riddled piratical raids [sometimes authorised/ approved by the British state, sometimes not, depending on the state of the half-peace, half-war with Spain]. Then, the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault struck, and in moments, the city slid off into the sea. Viewed by one and all as an apt judgement of God against such wickedness. (And BTW, the more ancient case of Sodom was apparently a volcanic blast joined to burning of seeping crude oil from a shallow oil field.) Mr Dawkins makes much out of mocking the idea that God is Just Judge, but in the very same article resorts to the headlined charge of hypocrisy against Christians who have distanced themselves from Mr Robertson's poorly worded remarks that were exploited by those looking for a handy rhetorical club to shamelessly bash the very same Christians who for years have been quietly providing un-headlined aid and relief in Haiti. But, you see, there is a little problem here. The militantly atheistical evolutionary materialism so enthusiastically advocated by Dawkins -- BTW he needs to ask himself just what "gods" are inspiring him in that en-theos-tic state -- is inherently and inescapably amoral, as its worldview has no grounding is that can sustain the awful weight of OUGHT. Will Hawthorne at the blog, Atheism is Dead, provides a good excerpt on that:
Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can't infer an 'ought' from an 'is' [the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces]. (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.) Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an 'ought'. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there's no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action. Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it's not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action. (This is just the standard inferential scheme for formal deontic logic.) We've conformed to standard principles and inference rules of logic and we've started out with assumptions that atheists have conceded in print. And yet we reach the absurd conclusion: therefore, for any action you care to pick, it's permissible to perform that action. If you'd like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan 'if atheism is true, all things are permitted'. For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don't like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time. Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not [morally] permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit. Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can't infer 'ought' from 'is'.
Christians -- as indeed, all of us, if we are honest about it -- struggle with hypocrisy and inconsistency; which is easily pounced on by those who love to bash us. But, that loaded rhetorical word: hypocrite, immediately acknowledges the binding force of ought. And so, we see a key contradiction in the evolutionary materialistic frame yet again: it has to resort to implicitly acknowledging the binding force of ought, even as it has no grounds for ought within its system. But, that is to say, that it acknowledges that we are under moral government. Which of course raises the very relevant question of being under and accountable before a Moral Governor. Or, by another name: under the Moral Creator God -- an IS who grounds all oughts in his essential character. In short, once evolutionary materialists acknowledge the binding force of ought, their system self-destructs. And if they are instead playing at cynical rhetorical games to manipulate the "apparent" -- as opposed to acknowledged, real -- force of ought, then they reveal their amorality and hypocrisy before the watching world (if we give a modicum of serious attention and thought). Either way, their system self-destructs. And so we come to the issue of moral responsibility, duties of care and the balanced Biblical theology of patterns of judgement. (After all, one should not really be tilting at strawmen and playing at cheap rhetorical triumphalism, now, tut tut.) In a few short step by step points (and the elaboration is in the already linked first blog post on Haiti; with onward links): 1 --> It is now a disaster mitigation truism that "earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do." 2 --> Also, for 100 years now, we have studied and increasingly known how to build earthquake-resistant structures capable of standing up to Mag 7+ quakes. [This is achievable using several different systems, some of them quite affordable. E.g. I am currently looking at modernised hollow bahareque using bamboo beams and trusses with bamboo matting based mortar wattle and daub siding (deriving from a vernacular architecture in Columbia and Ecuador that exploits the properties of what has been called "vegetable steel," the structural fast-growing bamboo GUADUA angustifolia). The Moladi plastic moulded foamed concrete housing system (a house per day per mould!), Hebel-type autoclaved aerated concrete modular concrete building system, Auroville of India's compressed stabilised earth brick/block system, and the use of bamboo canes as rebars for reinforcing adobe-type construction are also other possibilities that a bit of web searching will soon enough turn up.] 3 --> So, an issue of duties of care for contractors, builders, financiers and owners -- as well as governments and aid agencies -- comes up. 4 --> For, if you have had credible alternatives, but for want of due diligence [especially at the level of the relevant authorities and aid agencies], then the predictably disastrous consequences of folly are in significant part self-inflicted. 5 --> And, if you could have built on a less grand but sounder scale and/or used your materials more soundly, but chose to put up your commercial building or to build the office block or school or whatever shoddily, then some serious questions on duties of care need to be answered. (For those who do not gather my drift, a look at this post-quake UN photo of Downtown Port- au- Prince will illustrate how different buildings standing next to each other performed. This link from the Auroville Earth institute, India, may help us understand many of the whys and wherefores involved. Roger Bilham's major paper here makes for grim reading, but reading we all need to make time for. Then act on. For instance, he urges that basic sound building should be a hands-on workshop in everybody's primary school education so that there is a broadly based basic understanding of what works and what does not,and why. [Why this is not already the case is -- once we hear the suggestion -- inexplicable.) 6 --> So, immediately, we see that moral responsibility -- the core of what it means to be under moral government -- arises in the forst instance from the fact that we are minded, en-conscienced creatures in a world governed in the main by quite predictable, intelligible natural forces and laws. 7 --> So we see the normal -- active miraculous acts of judgement, though evidently important, are not the normal pattern -- pattern of Divine moral government at work:
a] We are intelligent, enconscienced creatures living in a world where there is a stable, intelligible pattern of cause-effect behaviour [the base for science and common sense alike]; so we fall under the moral government of God. b] God, through conscience, mind, common sense intuition, and valid prophets, has given us guidance on the right way, and he regularly sends messengers with his Word to to correct us when we are being wayward. c] If we — and the emphasis falls on power elites here, the sort who are so plainly responsible for much of what went wrong for Haiti; BOTH local and international — stubbornly insist on corrupt behaviour, the responsibility for the predictable self-induced destruction is ours. [Direct destructive acts of God are very rare, but the march of folly more than makes up for that, sadly.] d] So, let us instead heed the counsel of wise King Jehoshaphat, given to God's often wayward and disobedient people: 2 Chron 20:20 . . . Jehoshaphat stood up and said: “Listen to me, you people of Judah32 and residents of Jerusalem! Trust in the Lord your God and you will be safe!33 Trust in the message of his prophets and you will win.”
8 --> In this context, we can see that quakes are a part of the course of nature, and though they are not predictable as to when and where and how big exactly, we know where thy are likely to happen, and how to build to mitigate the destruction they can wreak. 9 --> And once we see the potential of compressed stabilised earth construction, foamed concrete techniques, fast-growing bamboo, etc, we can do so sustainably [bamboo is not going to exhaust our forests!] and for the very poorest among us. 10 --> So, now, the real question arises [and indicts the gross irresponsibility and/or negligence and/or bigotry and/or culpable incomptetence of our major global media on ever so many topics!]: are we content to play at cheap rhetorical Evangelical bashing games, or are we going to get serious about a situation that the projections are can trigger a disaster killing up to a million people in some city somewhere on our planet in the decades ahead? (Cf Bilham.) ____________ So, now, the choice is ours. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Suffering is a problem for theologians, but Dawkins approach makes our very existence meaningless, in which case how can he address it at all?
The rejection of the Clothes Hypothesis leaves us with no real means to understand "shivering", or why the Emperor (appears) to shiver so. Indeed, unless there exists a Platonic ideal of clothing, and it is the very clothing our Emperor uses, then how can we possibly claim to understand such subjective things as warmth or cold? It is obviously self-contradictory to say that the Emperor shivers for lack of clothing. A universe without invisible yet colorful clothes is a universe without clothes at all. Lenoxus
Sigh: We need to first be aware that, long before Mr Robertson spoke in a way that could be used to indulge in bigoted "fundy" Christian bashing, it has been a longstanding view of many Haitians that pretty much what he said is true. So, some background information:
Back in 1791 at Bois Caiman, where the first uprising in the series that led to the independence of Haiti was launched, the Jamaican slave Boukman led a prayer in which he called upon the Creator God and God of justice. So far, looks like the haitian view Robertson is reporting does not have a leg to stand on, nuh? Not so fast. At the same meeting [or a closely associated one depending on the version], there was also a posession- state sacrifice of a pig by a virgin Vodunistic priestess [afterwards wife of a Haitian president] after which participants drank the blood, cast divination in the entrails and took hairs as protective talismans. These acts of sacrifice and seeking of occultic powers are plainly of what the infamous deLaurence publications call the dark [i.e. occultic] arts, and on a Christian understanding would -- for excellent reasons (and confidently dismissive skeptics, there is more to the world than you even begin to imagine in your impoverished, self-refuting skeptical anti-philosophy . . . ) -- be described as an attempted satanic compact. And in more recent years, the Duvalier looter state used vodunistic beliefs as a platform for building key components of their police state: e.g. the Tonton Macoutes were said to be Zombies and papa Doc deliberately acted as one who was in a Zombie-like posession state in public. And, when they walked away in 1986, they had looted Haiti of US$ 900 millions, much of that by subverting aid programmes. Going beyond that, the "covenant" was said to expire in 1991, and at that time Aristide, the former RC priest and president of Haiti, brought in Vodunistic priests from Africa to renew the covenant. But, in 1997, in the teeth of oppositon from the Vodunists and the threat of legal action, a prayer march was held by evangelicals [about 1/3 of Haiti's population in recent years] to the well-known tree of sacrifice, and prayers of deliverance were said. Reportedly fifty vodunists, seeing the way the spiritual power clash went, became Christians on the spot. A prayer vigil has been held there to this day.
So, the situation is clearly complex, and not the one of simplistic, insensitive Fundy ignoramuses putting feet in mouth that the media -- who too often love to indulge in Christian bashing -- have portrayed. Theologically, the wisest thing is to look to Ac 17, which plainly teaches that nationhood is a creation of God, and that in our era God commands us to repent of ignorance, folly, idolatry, and the like [including occultism, sorcery, consorting with familiar spirits (the Lua involved in 1791 was actually familiar enough to the Vodunists to be named . . . ) and divination etc]. All of this, he has warranted to us by raising Jesus the prophesied, suffering, crucified messiah from the dead with 500+ witnesses and by pouring out his spirit so that in the face of Christ we may meet God and be transformed. [Pascal's transforming encounter with God in 1654 is a classic case in point.] So, on balance I go with Gelin: the pattern of reaching out to the Creator God of Justice and the strong involvement of definitively Christian slaves in the process decisively undermines the national satanic covenant understanding of Haitian history. But that does not at all mean that Haiti has not had to struggle with the manipulative magicians, who sought to use that concept to entrench themselves in oppressive power over the minds of the populace. The Duvalierist regime shows just how devastating that can be, and so I fully empathise with the courageous Christians who set out to confront intimidation and legal threats to provide a definitive moment of breaking with the satanic powers for their nation. Beyond that, Haiti's history has been dogged with many disasters and tragedies as well as arguable major policy errors. For instance, it is from Haiti that Bolivar set out to defeat Spain in South America. As noble as that is, that also meant that Haiti has the distinction of being the first base for exporting revolution in the New World,which provoked harsh repression. (The US exported ideas and examples, not revolutions.) As a result of such a situation, under the guns of 17 French men of war, and in the face of a crippling boycott, Haiti had to agree to pay 150 million gold francs to France as the price of freedom [being the duly assessed value of lost French property, up to the value of the ex-slave members of the cabinet]. So, from 1825 - 1947, Haiti faced a crippling reparations and debt burden -- even after the requirement was roughly halved -- that contributed materially to its impoverishment and deforestation etc. It also led to impossible governance conditions setting up conditions for opportunistic looter rulership to emerge. And, for US intervention (there were fears of a default on BIG loans) and semi-colonial overlordship from the 1910's on. And more. Estimated net current value of the reparations etc: US$ 21 billions. But; simple monetary payment is not enough, with a failed state and chaotic society dealing with a destructive quake worsened by shoddy construction [for which external interventions is no excuse; Port- au- Prince was levelled by quakes in the past and we have known how to build quake resistant structures for 100 years]. For those interested [especially in helping], I have put up some reflections and recomendations here and here, for Caricom to get involved, and for the people of God in the Caribbean and beyond to again rise up and come to the aid of the suffering. Dawkins' opportunistic, village atheist rhetoric is no help in that process. Nor is the media's abusive exploitation and destructive spinning of Robertson's understandable [though I believe on balance incorrect] words to indulge in bashing of one of the major long term aid donors to Haiti -- Evangelical Christians -- any help to Haiti in this time. Surely, we can do a lot better than this. G'day GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Dawkins' problem is that he doesn't address the millions of Christians who could be labeled moderate in their beliefs. He and the other 'new atheists' shallowly define Christianity by actions and words of fundamentalists only. Barb
Unfortunately his words seem to speek louder than his deeds. CannuckianYankee
Robertson says some things that are very hard to defend from a Christian perspective, yet his charity organization gets right in there and provides millions of dollars worth of aid when these tragic events occur. Robertson's organization was there long before the earthquake. They also provided aid to Haiti following several devastating hurricanes as well. The media is very short-sighted regarding this. CannuckianYankee
Of course for Dawkins a world without religion would be a better one.
How does he know this? Has there been a scientific study that we're not aware of?
But when ever atheism has been tried out it leads to great tyranny...
Unlike the desirability of a world without religion, there is ample empirical evidence for the desirability of a word without atheism. Surely the teachings of Jesus justify our killing of all atheists in the cause of a "greater good."
Look on YT for the entire clip and you’ll that in context it becomes clear that he being sympathetic and compassionate.
Wake up man! He said the Haitians made a deal with the devil, and that is the cause of their condition. He's a MORON! No Christian should defend what he said. Mung
I dislike Pat Robertson, but I must come to his defense. His words were not poorly chosen, unless you listen to the quote-mined sound bite that Breitbart and others published. Look on YT for the entire clip and you'll that in context it becomes clear that he being sympathetic and compassionate. Gods iPod

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