October 16, 2006

The God Delusion (by: Richard Dawkins) [Part 2]

Posted in Books, Life at 7:52 pm by pmatos

[Link to Part 1]

Incredibly, the book has been an amazing read and after all my initial reason to buy it was because it was (at the time), and still is the number 1 bestseller of amazon.co.uk. I’ve finished reading about two-thirds of the book (~66%) and its point of view on religion is awesome… I can’t say that he is bright due to his views on religion, expressed in the book (I’m sure he has done a lot of more bright research in his academic life than this work) still this work is great due to the work he had to produce it and due to the research he had to make to write all of this with excellent references and surely a lot of notes. Nothing in his book, as far as I could dig, comes without a reference to some online or offline document.

I think that living in Portugal, and being raised as a non-practicianer Christian, made not worry too much about religion. I didn’t believe it and I think I got to question it more and more as I grew up, still I regarded religion as others people business like homosexuality or such. However, I think Dawkins is able to show as all, clear as crystal, that religion should be regarded as dangerous, and although still not affecting Portugal as far as I know, it is destroying a lot of stuff in this work!

For those not wanting to read the book, before the book as been published he had a 2-part-show where he states the main ideas of the book. It’s very, very good. Even if you do read the book, and I advise you to, please see the videos. You can find the online. You just have to download Part 1 and Part 2.

Another interesting issue I would like to mention is that it seems most people nowadays, which do believe in religion, have a false perspective on how science works. Most do believe that you can believe in Gods theory (which is not a theory at all) as you can believe in Darwin theory, for example. However, this is simply wrong!
Most can also state that even if I do not believe in God, I cannot also believe in evolution because I do not have the list of facts or because I cannot tell them the theory precisely. However, there’s a HUGE difference between them not being able to explain God and I not being able to explain evolution. I cannot explain evolution simply because it not my field of study. Still, I can, with some effort, study it and explain it afterwards. They, however, are in a much more sad position… since they’ll not be able to explain God using facts through the study of anything at all…

I see myself someone who basis himself on science and indeed believes that probably most fundamental theories may need some adjustments (like relativity) or probably even some are completely wrong, still they are the best we have since our current data fits them… and we will always be adjusting our theories. This is a much better feeling than the other lazy position, which is that God explains everything and we just have to pay for our taxes and sins. I think that my view is quite briefly explained by a quote I first learned with my friend Nuno Barbosa about 8 years ago from the physicist (my favourite physicist) Richard P. Feynman:

But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things. By being lost in the misterious universe, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.


1 Comment »

  1. José Canelas said,

    This is nowadays the most proeminent point of debate of a deeper issue – the philosophical clash of *the* two fundamental worldviews: materialism vs idealism. The meanings of these words have been obscured recently but they originally described philosophical stands.

    Idealists maintain that objects are nothing but imperfect reflections of ideas, that ideas shape and define reality. Ideas came first – hence *idea*lism – and reality is merely a reflection of the concepts you hold in your mind. You can then influence and change reality by changing your mind, by changing what you think of reality. This also means you can never be sure about reality, it is all subjective to what you think of it, and science is useless because you can never really compreehend it. These perfect notions of objects and reality could have come about because a perfect entity planted them there, on the mind of humans. That could only have been a God, that exists before anything else in the perfect realm of ideas. Religion fits idealism, it was born out of idealism.

    Materialism is the view that _everything_ is made of _matter. This means that matter is primordial, it comes before anything else and before thought and ideas. It means that reality is composed of matter and that if something is not made of matter then it does not exist. Matter exists before ideas and thought because you need matter to build minds that can then think and have ideas. Reality and natural processes of the matter that composes it can be understood by minds, progressively approximated by building models and theories and testing them ruthlessly against what is observed. This is the scientific method, which fits in the (historical and dialectical) materialist view, which is born out of it.

    So, arriving at the point. Science versus religion is one aspect of a larger, more general debate of how we should approach reality. And Dawkins thinking about religion and science is correct because it adopts a materialist standpoint and applies the scientific method to the issue.

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