Author Topic: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil  (Read 14506 times)

Legend of the Past

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Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« on: May 20, 2006, 01:43:21 pm »
These videos will invoke much controversy, but it's a very intresting watch to say the least.

Part 1-1:
http://www.youtube.com/?v=CPaD6D54L4o

Part 1-2:
http://www.youtube.com/?v=TUy-Uq3WuhA

Part 1-3:
http://www.youtube.com/?v=8GgD3lgspQE

Lord J Esq

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2006, 02:20:51 pm »
"Controversy"? What does that word mean?

(I'll watch them later, when I've the time. I'm familiar with Dawkins.)

Legend of the Past

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2006, 02:56:45 pm »

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2006, 09:55:48 pm »
I probably won't get to watch these yet, but I'm reading one of Dawkin's books, and if he's the root of all evil, then I gladly damn myself to stand with him, and against ignorance.

EDIT: Watched part of the video. Good to see Dawkins is fighting the good fight, and not someone attacking him and the quest for truth.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2006, 09:59:07 pm by Radical_Dreamer »

ZeaLitY

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2006, 10:14:44 pm »
After doing a bit of encyclopedia reading, I think that Jewish guy in the Root of All Evil did touch upon something. Some magazine I read a while back noted that some recent upturn in faith was probably due to the fact that going atheist / humanist / scientific did not provide a philosophy of living, and that religion does. That seemed like a valid point, and brought to mind the Romantics' following the Age of Enlightenment and rebelling against the massive changes and industrialization by idealizing simpler life among nature. Seems to be in the same verse of things. That's another reason why I like Star trek, actually...Earth is not some stupid Coruscant ecumenopolis, but seems to be verdant and thriving, with small, concentrated cities dotting the continents here and there. San Francisco is beautiful; there are fields and trees, as opposed to some giant, ugly monstrosity of metal in testament to stifled life that rises out of the ground like an ugly blemish on the surface of the beautiful land. That is not the future. Call me a hopeless wanderluster, but I do not care for large, sprawling cities.

Lord J Esq

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2006, 11:21:08 pm »
"Controversy"? What does that word mean?

(I'll watch them later, when I've the time. I'm familiar with Dawkins.)

http://tfd.com/Controversy

Thank you, Legend. I was referring to the vein of some of my previous encounters on the Compendium. I know full well what controversy is.

But my more sincere thanks are due your first post. Those were delightful videos and I wholeheartedly recommend that everybody see them. What some people fail to understand--and others deny--is that the disease of religion cannot simply be waited out. We cannot merely go to bed in hopes of waking up tomorrow feeling refreshed and cured. Without acknowledging the disease and fighting against it actively, there isn't going to be any tomorrow. It's just as Dr. Dawkins said in his video; I can't see a future for us, if people continue as religious fanatics. We cannot live and let live, while religion plagues our world. It is for that reason alone that I have been so argumentative here in the past. Be it Sentenal's willfully ignorant fundamentalism, or Burning Zeppelin's poorly thought out, youthfully indiscreet dogmatism, or Daniel Krispin's extremely eloquent logicalism, these people all subscribe to views of the world that, as I see it, are just as harmful to humanity's future as Lavos--and even more insidious, because they come from within.

But Legend, I don't understand why you posted these. Aren't you religious as well? Whatever your reasons, it is an encouraging sign to see you recommend this documentary. I personally appreciate it. ("Personal" because, if offenses can be personal, then so can positive acts.)

I probably won't get to watch these yet, but I'm reading one of Dawkin's books, and if he's the root of all evil, then I gladly damn myself to stand with him, and against ignorance.

EDIT: Watched part of the video. Good to see Dawkins is fighting the good fight, and not someone attacking him and the quest for truth.

I was going to correct you, but you've already made the edit yourself. Very good. I'm glad that I wasn't the only one besides Legend who actually bothered to watch these.

Anyhow, I hope you see the lesson in all of this: "Taking a stand" is exactly what people of good conscience such as yourself need to do. Your libertarian leanings sometimes compel you to embrace laissez-faire when in fact your support--your intervention--is sorely needed. Here on the Compendium it is only academic; but the same is true much more pragmatic in the wider context of your entire life.

After doing a bit of encyclopedia reading, I think that Jewish guy in the Root of All Evil did touch upon something. Some magazine I read a while back noted that some recent upturn in faith was probably due to the fact that going atheist / humanist / scientific did not provide a philosophy of living, and that religion does. That seemed like a valid point, and brought to mind the Romantics' following the Age of Enlightenment and rebelling against the massive changes and industrialization by idealizing simpler life among nature. Seems to be in the same verse of things. That's another reason why I like Star trek, actually...Earth is not some stupid Coruscant ecumenopolis, but seems to be verdant and thriving, with small, concentrated cities dotting the continents here and there. San Francisco is beautiful; there are fields and trees, as opposed to some giant, ugly monstrosity of metal in testament to stifled life that rises out of the ground like an ugly blemish on the surface of the beautiful land. That is not the future. Call me a hopeless wanderluster, but I do not care for large, sprawling cities.

And you, ZeaLitY, you too have something positive to contribute here. This Compendium is very impressive, in that in brings people of many stripes together to appreciate a common piece of art. And this despite your own religion and conservatism. You sacrifice nothing of your own beliefs, yet achieve something good. Ideological war loses its relevancy here on your Compendium, notwithstanding the Site Discussion boards.

In time, I hope you will take a lesson from people like Professor Dawkins--whom I hope you noticed bears a striking similarity in conduct and tone to none other than the estimable Captain Picard.

As I see it--and I will speak at this in further length in your Elitism thread at Zeal Palace, eventually--the plague of religion isn't something from which everybody can be saved. If you're looking for a perfect cure, there is none. Some people will take their faith and fundamentalism to the death. To save the ship, and even to steer it with any success, we must accept that. I hope you come to understand as you grow up, just how important it is to take a stand.

Lord J Esq

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2006, 11:42:44 pm »
After doing a bit of encyclopedia reading, I think that Jewish guy in the Root of All Evil did touch upon something. Some magazine I read a while back noted that some recent upturn in faith was probably due to the fact that going atheist / humanist / scientific did not provide a philosophy of living, and that religion does.

Dear me, I forgot the most important thing I wanted to say to you. It is in regards to the above. I believe what you are trying to say is that, other than embracing our curiosity and being constructively skeptical, atheism does not tell us how to live. Well, that is just the point. Atheism doesn't have that sort of an agenda. There is no such "philosophy of living" that could be uniformly enforced upon everybody in the world, by atheism, without question. That sort of dogma is well beyond the purview of atheistic conviction.

Do you suppose that Professor Dawkins has no joy in his life? That, because the mood of his documentary is serious, he is an unhappy man who has nothing to live for? Preposterous. And you should understand why. It is not his intention, in that documentary, to tell people how to live their lives. It is his intention to show us the danger of religious faith. You might say that he is advising us to steer clear of that particular lifestyle. There are a billion more lifestyles out there. And if you were to study the doctor's life further, beyond this one issue, I should think "joyless" is hardly the word you would use to describe him.

Atheism is not a complete worldview, meaning that atheism alone is not a complete philosophy by which someone could lead a rich life. It is simply the recognition that God--God as marketed by the religious--does not exist. That is a beginning to a better life, but it is not an end in itself. So hear me, ZeaLitY: Your complaint is out of place. Dr. Dawkins is not telling us how to live our lives; he is saying that if we reject religion, a better life will be forthcoming...and self-evident.

The treasure of the nonreligious is the freedom of the mind, on all subjects. That is a powerful tool with which to build a philosophy.

ZeaLitY

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2006, 12:16:58 am »
Oh, I don't mean to argue with that premise at all. I was making a simple aside to invite further discussion, and used it as an avenue to express a mounting distaste with the idea of giant cities. But I do await the Elitism reply. I made that thread expecting to be corrected and enlightened; it is a statement of my beginning ideas. But I don't want to or cannot draw the line on that issue myself -- not yet.

GrayLensman

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2006, 12:47:02 am »
What some people fail to understand--and others deny--is that the disease of religion cannot simply be waited out.

Religious beliefs should be catagorized as mental illness.

Legend of the Past

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2006, 02:01:39 am »
Quote from: Lord J esq link

But my more sincere thanks are due your first post. Those were delightful videos and I wholeheartedly recommend t
But Legend, I don't understand why [i
you[/i] posted these. Aren't you religious as well? Whatever your reasons, it is an encouraging sign to see you recommend this documentary. I personally appreciate it. ("Personal" because, if offenses can be personal, then so can positive acts.)

Oh, I hold something of a different outlook on the bible. As a history book, I find it only half reliable. As a religous book, I find it only 45% reliable... I'm willing to question it, should the time rise, so to speak. I'm taking the middle-ground here-I believe in God alright, but do not believe the Bible-It's still handwritten, it can have lies. Also, it's a book of praise, so obviously it would be exaggarated. I believe God made the world... But maybe not in seven days? Maybe it was years? And if God is omnipotent, why did he take a day to rest? And if Adam and Eve had two male children, how could mankind survive? Again, I feel the bible left things out and changed things to fit it's purpose. Besides, one of the Jewish side-books to the bible has been altered by a Rabi once,a thing which REALLY screwed some stuff up.

This doesn't effect my religous beliefs-I still don't like people dying the way they do, but I've just decided that both sides have something of the truth, science and religion, and seeing as there are very high odds as I won't discover the real truth, I might as well choose to stand between and spend my life learning what I can of both-I might get close or not, but I'll be damn closer then the radicalist religous.

Quote from: Radical_Dreamer
I probably won't get to watch these yet, but I'm reading one of Dawkin's books, and if he's the root of all evil, then I gladly damn myself to stand with him, and against ignorance.

While I have yet to read The Selfish Gene, I know much of what it's about, and ALREADY I've based my sciencetific view on evolution over it-Dawkins explains and goes to the building blocks of all society, damnit!

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2006, 02:11:15 am »
Quote from: Radical_Dreamer
I probably won't get to watch these yet, but I'm reading one of Dawkin's books, and if he's the root of all evil, then I gladly damn myself to stand with him, and against ignorance.

While I have yet to read The Selfish Gene, I know much of what it's about, and ALREADY I've based my sciencetific view on evolution over it-Dawkins explains and goes to the building blocks of all society, damnit!

At the moment, I'm in the middle of "The Blind Watchmaker", which is an outright rejection of creationism. It's also really well written, and deals with some common strawmen creationists use. It even inspiried me to do a little programming. More on that when I finish it, I suppose.

Lord J Esq

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2006, 02:21:06 am »
Quote from: Radical_Dreamer
I probably won't get to watch these yet, but I'm reading one of Dawkin's books, and if he's the root of all evil, then I gladly damn myself to stand with him, and against ignorance.

While I have yet to read The Selfish Gene, I know much of what it's about, and ALREADY I've based my sciencetific view on evolution over it-Dawkins explains and goes to the building blocks of all society, damnit!

At the moment, I'm in the middle of "The Blind Watchmaker", which is an outright rejection of creationism. It's also really well written, and deals with some common strawmen creationists use. It even inspiried me to do a little programming. More on that when I finish it, I suppose.

Ah, computer code. The ultimate irony when discussing the diversity of systems and intelligent design. =)

Legend of the Past

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2006, 07:21:19 am »
Quote from: Radical_Dreamer
I probably won't get to watch these yet, but I'm reading one of Dawkin's books, and if he's the root of all evil, then I gladly damn myself to stand with him, and against ignorance.

While I have yet to read The Selfish Gene, I know much of what it's about, and ALREADY I've based my sciencetific view on evolution over it-Dawkins explains and goes to the building blocks of all society, damnit!

At the moment, I'm in the middle of "The Blind Watchmaker", which is an outright rejection of creationism. It's also really well written, and deals with some common strawmen creationists use. It even inspiried me to do a little programming. More on that when I finish it, I suppose.

Yeah, I read the first few pages of The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene on some site, possibly Amazon, and it was well-written and quiet descriptive even from that point. Naturally, that's what sparked my intrigue.

CyberSarkany

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2006, 09:42:49 am »
I watched them, too *tries to sound like an adult*
A lot of his points are like what I think of "religion", and he showed that most people actually hate other religions, even if they don't admit it.
A friends of mine, very religious but is also open for every other opinion, told me the religios people, when they don't find any argument, will say stuff like "it's stated in the bible" to end a discussion. Same if a Christian talks to a muslime, the muslime will say "You made the crusades" to end all discussion .
Alot of "higher" preachers or whatever seem to actually "use" the religion to gather more and more power(like the guy he talked to in the US), rather than really teaching to love each other and live a good life. They seem to care more about their life "here" than their life in heaven or whatever they believe in.
I myself don't see a problem in religion itself, but more in the fanatic people, who say something like "My religion is the right one, yours sucks, so become one of us or I kill you", but not everyone is that fanatic.
Believe what you want, as long as you let other people believe what they want.

I don't know what books you're all talking about though...

Lord J Esq

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Re: Richard Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2006, 01:18:32 pm »
I myself don’t see a problem in religion itself, but more in the fanatic people, who say something like “My religion is the right one, yours sucks, so become one of us or I kill you”, but not everyone is that fanatic.

Believe what you want, as long as you let other people believe what they want.

Ah, but that is the crucial point. Religion will not allow for the peace which you describe. The reason Dr. Dawkins entitled his documentary The Root of All Evil is that religion begins so harmlessly, yet inevitably brings destruction. It precludes peace on Earth, because, with religion, our best intentions invariably become our own worst enemies.

At the center of every religion is faith, faith in one’s god. In the general sense, “faith” is to believe without proof that one knows the truth about something. In religion, faith reaches its full potential: Faith in one’s god provides for that god’s moral authority, which in turn provides the believer with a ready system of morality. Voila! Already the believer has acquired the means and the justification to pass judgment on all human behavior. All it took was faith in a god. You see, when someone tells you they have faith in their god, what they also mean is that they believe they know truths of the highest caliber—divine truths. But an obvious question arises: What is so special about faith that it gives someone the power to know the truth, simply because they believe they know it?

If you asked me to build an airplane, I might be able to do it—because I am an aerospace engineer. But what if I weren’t? What if I were a church pastor instead, who specializes in giving sermons and knows nothing about the engineering involved in airplane design? What if I then proceeded to build my airplane anyway, haul it out to the runway, and put you in the cockpit? Would you be nervous? Yes, if your brain is working correctly, you damn well should be nervous. But then suppose I told you that God said my design would work, and that you would be able to fly that airplane above the clouds. Would that allay your fears? Would you try to fly my plane?

No, you wouldn’t. Or at least I should hope you wouldn’t, because my airplane would be a death trap. If you were lucky, you’d turn on the engine and nothing would happen. More likely, the plane would catch on fire, or fall apart and crush you in the wreckage. If the damn thing actually did manage to get into the air, you would almost certainly crash horribly just seconds later.

That’s why airplanes were not built until the twentieth century, despite humanity’s ageless wish to fly.

I can have all the faith I want in my airplane design...but, at the end of the day, either my airplane will fly or it won’t. When a claim can be proved or disproved like that, faith doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, the claims of religion are much harder to test…and faith abounds. But the fact of the matter is that faith does not give us inside access to the truth. It may sometimes appear to be able to do that, but when faith is put up against something concrete like an airplane design, its power vanishes. Faith has no connection with truth.

In fact, faith is an obstacle on the path to truth. When a person decides to shut down his or her critical brain and simply believe in something, without evidence, that person’s mind becomes closed and rigid. Any real truths that show up, which do not fit into that person’s beliefs, are likely to be discarded.

Now imagine the falsehoods of faith as acted out in the theater of religion, where faith makes claims upon the very highest truths of all: existence, purpose, meaning, nature. Can you imagine the horrors that would ensue were people to claim they know such truths, without actually knowing them? But that is precisely what happens, and you needn’t imagine anything, because the horrors of religion are thriving around the Earth today. Let’s remember: Faith in one’s god means the believer has acquired the means and the justification to pass judgment on all human behavior. That puts the rest of us at the mercy of that person’s morals. We can only hope that our way of life does not intrude upon their views.

But you know what? It never works out that way. Faith is all about power. Our bodies are weak, but our minds are great, and with the power of the human intellect we have created a better world for ourselves. However, we still have disasters. We still have diseases. We still have car wrecks, and our ice cream still melts off the cone and falls into our laps. We still lose the lottery. We still have trouble with our bosses and friends. We still have unrequited love, and unsatisfied desires. And we still have death. We exist with these vulnerabilities every day, and we fear and despise them, because we are powerless to change them. If we were gods, we would snap our fingers and live in a paradise where all our wishes come true. But we’re not gods; we are mortal beings, frail and emotional. However, there is the next best thing: We can create gods inside our imaginations…gods who will reassure us that, even though life is difficult and unpredictable, it is for the better. These gods teach us that the struggles of life are worthwhile, because there is a higher meaning to life itself. That “higher meaning” varies from religion to religion…from the sensual comforts of neo-paganism, to the pleasure-seeking of modern hedonism, to the eternal heaven of the Abrahamic religions. These beliefs give us power, not to change our lives but to accept them. That is a start.

But these are the comforts of a delusion.

And, worse, one person’s delusion intrudes upon another’s. The Baptist’s beliefs are in conflict with the Mormon’s, and both of their beliefs are in conflict with the Shi’ite Muslim’s. All three would have a bone to pick with a Hasidic Jew, and the whole lot of them would sneer at a Wiccan.

So here we are, at that pivotal moment when all aggrieved parties can decide to either provoke a conflict, or live side by side in peace. Let history attest to the will of the devout!

Why? Why is it that, when given the choice of conflict or peace, religion will choose conflict every time? It is because faith is inherently adversarial. Your fantasy truth and my fantasy truth don’t match up in the real world. And that’s not good. Humans are very defensive of their opinions—when we feel safe in asserting ourselves—because having our authority acknowledged is an innate, evolved desire in all of us, and the secular materialism in which we live has afforded us a relative immunity in expressing ourselves freely. The Internet in particular promotes spectacular debates, because the people involved know they have little real popularity to lose, and much social validation to gain. Being agreed with is, after all, a form of social power. But beyond the Internet, one’s assertiveness can be backed up by anything from a mob, to strong laws, to the barrel of a gun. And when something as important as our god is on the line, our need to be acknowledged can easily become a matter to die for, and to kill for. It gives me a sardonic chuckle when I see fundamentalist Christians suing in court to change the law to discriminate against somebody. These people don’t respect the rule of law…they simply have no power to overrule it. They’d shoot gays and women in the streets if we let them…because their god is that important to them.

Faith discourages critical thinking and reinforces an arbitrary authority that exists beyond the realm of fact. It drives a wedge between people, innately, because competing faiths are contradictory, and therefore people’s lifestyles come into conflict. Faith is adversarial. That is why religion precludes a lasting peace. Religions cannot live side by side—at least not under their own power.

All the instances both in history and today of religious harmony and interfaith unity are the result of religious devotees placing some other authority above that of their own religious faith. From the persecuted minority religions, to the spiritualistic Eastern religions, to the secularized Western religions, to the barbaric super-religions of Christianity and Islam, whenever people of different faith come together in a show of friendship, it is always, always because they are willing or compelled to put their faith aside for the moment and strive toward a common goal—a goal borne in the world of reason. Even the most peaceful-looking religions are peaceful only inasmuch as they are willing to temporarily or partially suspend their own legitimacy. After all, who would join a religion that teaches every religion is correct? (Actually, there are such people, but we’ll forgive them their ignorance as surely as we will forgive the fundamentalists theirs.)

It all begins so harmlessly. A lot of questions…damn few answers. Religious faith is our attempt to find wholeness in an incomplete world, and contentment in a land of woe. But the medicine is self-defeating, in the end. Open-mindedness is the most important personality trait of all, and faith snuffs it out, to whatever degree we let it. When our minds close, our guns open. That is the story of religion. That is why religious faith is the proverbial root of all evil. And that is why religions will never be able to live peacefully side by side. At most they can only be forced to coexist, by some stronger power…which raises the question: Why bother?