This book by Richard Dawkins aims to provide a comprehensive argument about the non-existence of a creator God in general and that of the Bible in particular.
Richard DAWKINS refutes the arguments of :
- theists who believe in a personal God, who not only created the world but intervenes, see, hear and judge men ;
- deists who admit the existence of a higher intelligence behind the universe but is not concerned with human affairs
- as well as agnostics and among them supporters of the idea that science and religion each occupy areas totally disjoint (NOMA) and advocated peaceful coexistence between scientists and theologians.
I read to you THE GOD DELUSION Richard DAWKINS
The developed theses
Richard Dawkins shows put God in the areas not yet explained by science whose scope is gradually reduced to the advancement of knowledge. He thinks that, one day, they will finally settle the question of God’s existence.
He also disputes the validity of NOMA argument, which constitutes an act of « cowardice » of scientists who subscribe to them. NOMA says that science is quite able to judge the veracity of religious texts and questions such as whether Jesus was born of a virgin or not.
Religious meanwhile are happy to hide behind this idea when their claims are contradicted by scientific evidence. However, when science, on certain specific points, does not contradict Scripture or has difficulty explaining a phenomenon, NOMA is quickly forgotten and religious are quick to intigrate a scientific demonstration to their theories. NOMA therefore applies not symmetrically. It applies only to prohibit the use of scientific arguments to discredit religious beliefs.
Richard Dawkins also outraged the specific status of religious views that must be respected without question while all other opinions, including political, may be the subject of debate. Why opinions concerning the origin of the world should they be excluded from the adversarial ?
Richard Dawkins opposes scientific arguments to the creationist theory, also known as intelligent design, to explain the divine creation of the existence of the universe and the diversity of life forms.
Darwinian evolution allows simple and powerful mechanism to provide a logical and scientific explanation to the development of diverse forms of life.
Furthermore, the extraordinarily small chance that life under conditions appear to comply simultaneously with the host site (adequate temperature, presence of water, …) multiplied by the extraordinarily large number of planets in the universe (extrapolated from current knowledge about our solar system and extrasolar planets) corresponds to a probability quite reasonable, if not stronger. The emergence of life can well do without the assumption of divine intervention. The anthropic principle does the rest by indicating that the chance of emergence of life on planet earth is no sense since we are considering the issue.
After showing how life on Earth was possible, Richard Dawkins is trying to do the same throughout the universe. Six fundamental constants are necessary to explain our universe. If one of them had been slightly different, there would not have evolved as we know it and would likely remain sterile. To the idea of a watchmaker God who adjusted very precisely these constants, Richard Dawkins opposes that such a Being should be even more complex than what he created. The impossibility of the existence of a designer’s designer remains the major objection to the creation of the universe by a supernatural Being. To try to resolve the issue, he sets out several hypotheses:
- the possibility of several successive or parallel universes, each with different constants. Ours has the good characteristics under anthropic principle;
- the existence of a link between the six values (as the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle) excluding these constants can vary separately and accordingly to have values other than their own. This hypothesis has not however favor of the author.
Richard Dawkins then seeks to resolve the question of how religion was able to survive in a Darwinian context. Religion is uselessness and the resources devoted to it in terms of time and energy is huge. If it is useless, it had to disappear under the principle of evolution.
After quoting the placebo effect (religion can be the cause by providing reassuring answers on questions of life and death), Richard DAWKINS seeks a deeper and more general explanation. For him, religion is linked to Darwinian evolution. He cites several possibilities which premiered its favor: As part of evolution, the human species has developed an ability for children to believe what their adult and assimilate to their lives. This credulity allows them to enjoy the experience of seniors and so protect their lives by not making direct experience of the hazards (animal behavior …). However, it also leads children to believe and assimilate myths without critical thinking necessary to sort.
The theory of postures leads to dualism and dualism with the idea of separation between soul and spirit and thus to religion. Three positions are possible in a situation:
- physical posture is to use the laws of physics. Consideration of laws, parameters and relatively basic components makes it inefficient to act quickly;
- the posture of the plan is to directly consider how things work without descending to the level of design details. For example, we use an alarm clock without knowing the details of the mechanisms that drive the needles and that activate the ringer;
- intentional posture which is a more effective shortcut in certain circumstances. If a tiger eats you, the laws of physics and the plan of its members are of little use. However, his intention will understand the most effective posture and will determine that the leak is the only alternative.
The evolution has shaped our minds to adopt the Plan posture and deliberate posture, which, depending on the situation, the most effective for a matter of survival. Intentional posture leads us, erroneously, to attribute intentions to what has not, and sometimes even to things. It thus encourages us to consider dualism leading to a disjointed existence of the soul and spirit.
Religion could also be an extension or an error on our ability to fall in love with one person. God would replace in this case the object of passion.
These three types of extensions behavior outside a context that justifies are sort of « derivatives ».
According to Richard Dawkins, these elements produced by Darwinian evolution, are the lower-level system program creating an environment for another selection: the selection of memes. The selection rule favors memes conveying ideas attractive, easily transmitted and those with an ability to survive in a consistent set of memes or meme-complex.
Religious memes possess these characteristics. They convey attractive ideas of eternal life, for example, easily replicable and transferable and can survive in environments of all memes of religion in question.
The meme theory lets take over the theory of Darwinian evolution to describe a phenomenon of rapid change such as that of each religion.
Richard Dawkins described to illustrate his point how the « cargo cults » very similar were born in the 40s, following the flight of whites to visit freighters loaded with riches, in the Pacific islands that have had no contact with each other . These examples show how quickly the most irrational cults may arise and thrive.
Darwinian evolution was able to shape our mind to it make possible the establishment of religious beliefs. The meme theory then explains the phenomenon of survival and expansion of religions, religious memes that have the features conducive to their selection.
To respond to the arguments concerning the fact that religions bring a moral to individuals who, without them and without the fear they inspire, would be delivered to their instincts, the author provides a scientific explanation for the origin of goodness and the moral sense. These values are first anti-Darwinian view insofar as they encourage others and their genes to the detriment of themselves. However Richard Dawkins identifies four reasons to justify such behavior, according to the logic of evolution:
- Genetic relatedness: solidarity within a family can transmit genes, many of which is common to each of its members. The gene that program the trend of family solidarity will spread among its members and ensure its survival. This logic also implies a certain xenophobia with regard to those outside the family or tribe;
- reciprocal altruism: the flowers benefit bees pollinate in exchange for nectar that they can take the blacksmith provides a spear hunter which itself supplies meat to the blacksmith. This is the basis of trade relations. This logic allows debts, whatever the nature, but also means to remember for their repayment, and punish individuals who do not follow the rules to maintain the coherence of the organization;
- building a reputation for kindness and generosity that will have easier access to reciprocal altruism by reassuring potential partners ;
- the will to domination by an ostentatious generosity reflected the superiority, which is also found in some animals.
Natural selection has programmed into our brains over the centuries altruistic imperatives justified by the reasons mentioned above. These rules are rooted in our psyche even if the reasons justifying the disappeared. We are capable of generosity, compassion and altruism towards people outside our family or we can not reciprocate. This explains the gifts during a disaster to people living in another continent and that we will never meet, the need to adopt a child or pity before an animal sulfur. This extension of altruistic behavior outside the context that justifies is still a « derivative ».
By analogy, the original purpose of sexual needs is procreation. These needs are not changed if the woman takes the pill and this fact is known to both partners. In this case also, the need therefore exists independently of its reason for being.
The author then offers a few case studies, first, show that there are moral invariant regardless of belief of individuals and, on the other hand, the belief in a religion is not a guarantee respect for moral principles.
Regarding invariants, it is generally agreed that we can not use someone abroad in a situation like a simple way to adjust, even if that benefit other people. For example, it is not moral to kill a healthy person to take her organs will help save several people convicted. No difference of appreciation related to belief or lack of belief could be demonstrated by the statistical study from this dilemma.
Regarding the lack of correlation between religion and morality against several examples can be advanced. First, statistics show that the most violent cities and where crimes are most numerous in the United States are generally dominated by Republicans and conservative Christians. Another illustration can be provided by looting and bank robberies that occurred during a police strike in Montreal in 1968, despite the strong influence of the Catholic religion on the Quebec population.
In addition to responding to assertions that the Scriptures would nevertheless be the inspiration of our moral principles, the author contrasts the Old Testament contains, in addition to values considered as positive today, many massacres and crimes, starting with the deluge supposed to have eliminated virtually all living beings, the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham which despite its happy outcome can be considered as child abuse or the taking of Jericho, which has resulted in the massacre all its inhabitants, including animals. The New Testament, although less violent, contains a sadomasochism very present, linked notably original sin and the necessity of His Atonement. There are also passages in which Jesus asks his disciples to break with their past lives and their families. Believers claim that some episodes, usually those that violate our present moral or are particularly implausible, are to take the symbolic meaning, not literal. However, the Bible contains no key to reading indicating which events to take as a symbol. This choice is arbitrary and may not be shared by all followers of the same religion. More that can symbolize the massacre of the inhabitants of Jericho, even if it did not happen, and what is its contribution, even a token, morally?
In conclusion, it appears that we do not take our moral principles in Scripture but that they are the product of evolution.
Socially, religion divided by assigning labels for each community, each trying to promote its own members to the detriment of others. Wars between religious communities rarely make for theological reasons but for other considerations. Prohibitions on intermarriage maintain this fact.
The author then discusses the evolution of morality with the times he calls moral Zeitgeist: the zeitgeist. It shows that these very important developments are not related to religion but they are generally the subject of a broad consensus beyond religious beliefs. They concern such slavery, admitted in the Bible and banned in Western societies, and for newer, women’s suffrage, which won progressively Western countries during the twentieth century. It is the same back racism. The consideration paid to blacks has evolved considerably since the nineteenth century when the advance of progressive statements on their time such as Abraham Lincoln would be most shocking today. Still, had been a general progress that places the most progressive of the previous century as more backward than the most backward of the next century and despite local and temporary relapses. No clear and definitive explanation for this movement is not made even if Richard Dawkins cites the leadership of charismatic leaders and advanced instruction in particular showing the membership of all people to the same species. In all cases, the progress of moral Zeitgeist is independent of religion, which rejects the need for God to be good and the biblical origin of our moral principles.
Finally, the author responds to those who argue that Hitler and Stalin had committed their crimes because of their atheism. Stalin was an atheist although former seminarian. By Hitler against atheism is not shown insofar as it made contradictory statements on the subject, those in favor of Christianity is perhaps intended to gain the support of the church. In all cases, their crimes were not committed in the name of atheism but on behalf of their respective criminal policy doctrine.
About the attitude to adopt with respect to religion, Richard Dawkins explains in his lively opposition while many of those who share his ideas on the merits think that there is no place combative.
The main source of hostility is because religion teaches children that faith is a virtue, it does not suffer discussion and was not to be justified. This preliminary kills critical thinking and opens the door to all forms of extremism, their followers are in no doubt, totally convinced of the rightness of their cause and impossible to reason. They become formidable weapons, sometimes hidden behind a seemingly banal, ready to carry out attacks.
He also cites the story of a young and very bright student and researcher in geology, Kurt Wise, who suddenly renounced to continue its research in this area to the extent that they contradicted the creationist theory and had officiated in favor religion against science.
The author considers that religious education is mental abuse against children. This education includes particular means to terrorize and indoctrinate the younger. They may have a hard time getting rid of that packaging and those fears. Depictions of hell as such are particularly effective. Children can be especially traumatized at the idea that their deceased loved one is in hell because he had a different religion from his.
If they wish to leave the religion in which they were raised, they are accused of disloyalty, treason, to the community of other followers.
Richard Dawkins cites the case of an Italian Jewish child of 6, Edgardo Mortara, who had been a Catholic nurse. While he was seriously ill, it had baptized itself for it to escape hell upon death. But after his recovery, the church had learned his baptism, the pope police legally removed by order of the Inquisition to give a Catholic education. Parents, who would not themselves be baptized, it is almost never seen. According to the author, this story dates back to mid-nineteenth century is not an isolated case. It shows what misfortunes may create religion without that neither side will belong to an extremist trend.
Richard Dawkins also criticized the complacency of some liberal minds of opposite sects like the Amish who keep their members in the material conditions of the eighteenth century. If the picturesque character of the community can be fun or interesting, conditioning children, who can not make the choice of their way of life, is very questionable. Prior to celebrate the cultural diversity that represents this type of movement, it is necessary to measure the consequences.
Finally, the author is indignant about the fact that we can talk of Catholic children, Jews, Muslims … so it is only the religion of their parents and persons have made no choice on the subject insofar as they are still unable. This finding is related to the special status enjoyed by the religion of other opinions so we would not talk without incurring criticism from liberal child, Keynesian or communist. It is necessary in these conditions to speak of infant of Catholic parents, Jewish or Muslim.
These considerations do not question the need to study the Bible as a literary work of great importance, like other classical texts, especially to enable the understanding of countless references present in all types of literature. Knowledge of Greek and Roman gods is foreign to any belief.
Richard Dawkins discusses the role of consolation can have religion. It assumes that faith can be the product of the psychological tendency of the child to have an « imaginary friend », a confidant, whom only he can get in touch. This would be a phenomenon of neoteny, which consists in the persistence, in adulthood, childhood characteristics.
However, it does not seem to fully complete the Comforter role insofar as the dying or their relatives, do not seem enthusiastic about a better life in the near future. This could be a sign that the belief is not a certainty and that, deep down, believers have serious doubts.
The Book concluding chapter is introduced by the metaphor of the burqa that allows us to see the world around us through a small slit. Science allows us to separate the edges of the slit mask which we most of the real.
What we see through the initial gap is the average world in which we live where there are objects or very small or very large nor very fast. This way of seeing the world corresponds to what has been useful to our ancestors to survive and we still is. It was adjusted to our characteristics and our senses and is part of our heritage that Darwinian evolution. In other words, what we see of the real world is not the reality but a stripped model of the real world, adjusted data from our sense for us to change it.
Every living species is a model adapted to its mode and its living environment whose development over the millennia has evolved with its physiological characteristics such as its legs, wings … For example, although the bat serve echo to head and swallow light, their model of the world should be close to the extent that their respective lifestyle has similarities. It is plausible that for the bat, colors correspond to echo qualities reflected by different surfaces allowing it to run, as the swallow perceives different types of lights which she made the same use. One could say that as such the bat « means color. »
The limits of our model are noticeable when we are struggling to understand the phenomena that do not correspond to what we are prepared to see, ‘objects’ very small as atoms, neutrinos, very large or very massive as stars or black holes or whose speed is close to the cell light.
Our difficulty in understanding quantum mechanics are another example. Similarly, our representation of matter we see the solid and compact material, for thus it serves us and that we must consider in our lives, but we do not perceive it essentially consists of empty present between the atomic nuclei and electrons. Our attachment to the material spontaneously makes us consider a wave like water moving horizontally while the water molecules move vertically. In the same vein we resemble more a wave or a wave as a « thing » to the extent that most of the atoms making up our bodies in our childhood in longer part adulthood . Yet we are the same person, with the same members and the same characteristics.
Science helps to push more and more the limits of perception of the real world by mathematical tools, but the question remains whether the evolution of our brains allow us to access more intuitive to what is outside the Average world.
NOMA: non-overlapping or non Magisteria encroachment Magister. This is the idea that science and religion are involved in areas totally disjoint and especially that science can not decide on the eventual governance of God over nature.
Theistic: the theist believes in a supernatural intelligence that created the universe and that monitors and influences the destiny of its initial creation. It is intimately involved in human affairs, answers prayers, forgives and punishes sin, performs miracles and temporarily and selectively suspending the laws of nature that he himself developed.
Deist: the deist believes in a creator God but no longer intervenes later and does not care for human affairs.
Pantheist: pantheist does not believe in a supernatural God but uses the name of « God » as non-supernatural synonym of nature or the universe, or to describe the laws that govern its operation.
Group selection: ability of a group or community to go through time considering its own characteristics system of values such as loyalty, brotherhood, selflessness or sacrifice for the benefit of the community.
Dualistic: the dualist believes in a fundamental distinction between matter and spirit. For him the spirit inhabits the body and can leave.
Monistic: the monistic believes that the mind is a manifestation of matter and can not exist separately.
Meme: it is the cultural equivalent of the gene. It is, as the gene, a replicator that is coded information which is exact copies of itself and sometimes inaccurate copies or « mutations ». Memes are transmitted in these conditions generation to generation. Some memes are autonormalisants, ie they consist of a « digital » series of steps or not open to interpretation: a folding map, recipe … unless an error or « mutation frank « , it transmits faithfully. If it is poorly performed by a link in the transmission chain, a coding in the form of digital to the next step will not be influenced by the awkwardness of previous. Others will evolve very quickly and be unfavorable for transmission over generations. They are « analog » type. This is the case of a design which over the copies will deform without hope of returning to the original model.
Albert Einstein: What you read about my religious convictions was, of course, a lie, a lie that is repeated systematically. I do not believe in a personal God, and hide away from me, I expressed it clearly. If there is in me something that can tax of religious, that’s my admiration for the limitless world of structure insofar as our science can reveal it.
Martin Luther: The reason is the greatest enemy of faith; it never helps the spiritual but more often she struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from Dieu.Quiconque wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes of reason. It would destroy the reason for all Christians.
Luis Bunuel: God and Country are an unbeatable team; They break all records for oppression and bloodshed.
Jesus Christ: If a man comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife, his children and his siblings, and his own life, he can not be my disciple.
Seneca: Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.
Victo Hugo: In each village, a man holds a torch, the teacher, and another blow on the priest.
Comments: Some scientists like Hubert Reeves or Trin Xuan Thuan had risked the turning of a scientific book to indicate their vision about the world’s creation or the appearance of life.
Hubert Reeves stated the anthropic principle by saying that our universe was endowed since its creation the « leaven » that allow the emergence of complexity and life.
Trin Xuan Thuan stated in « The secret melody » that the universe could not lead to what it is today if a number of physical constants were not exactly set the values we know. In these circumstances, it was the assumption of a « watchmaker God » that the act of creation would include setting strategic constants for the future of the universe.
These two designs are relatively close at first sight and are similar to the concept of deism defined by Richard Dawkins to know a designer who is no longer involved once his work performed. However, if one of Trinh Xuan Thuan is clearly opposed to the argument of Richard Dawkins on the impossibility of a Being more complex than its creation that would not have been created, that of Hubert Reeves is not incompatible with the hypothesis of multiple universes including ours would have proved viable due to its particular property.
If the explanation for the diversity of life on earth from Darwin’s theory are very convincing, those relating to the strategic adjustment of the constants of the universe are less and no assumptions are verifiable in less today.
Furthermore, the impossibility of an uncreated creator is impossible in our universe with the rules in force there. However there is no evidence that outside of this universe, the rules are the same, or there are rules or that the human mind can grasp them. Richard Dawkins demonstrates that the fact that the Creator does not live in our world.
These knowledge gaps give way to a deistic God creator type at least as the ultimate cause of the existence of something rather than nothing and therefore justifies to some extent the NOMA.
The demonstration of Richard Dawkins about the fact that we do not draw our moral principles in Scripture is very compelling especially because it shows the lack of connection between the behavior of people and their religious affiliation, arbitrary side of the selection moral principles taken from the Bible that we decide to adopt and the disconnection between the changing moral Zeitgeist and religion.
However, we can not consider as determinants of Bibles have been integrated into our values and organizing our society. The Ten Commandments appear more important than the taking of Jericho and also have more impact in our modern society: they are mostly taken the form of laws against murder, theft, adultery, perjury, weekly rest . Fidelity to God is replaced by loyalty to the nation. The scope of these principles is past the religious community to the national community.
Moreover, the organization of our courts is the idea that one can be the Last Judgment, the President having the role of God.
It should also analyze whether the changing moral Zeitgeist is not the product of a combination of these principles forming a base, possibly an intermediate step that would constitute the universal declaration of human rights and citizen.
WATCH THIS POINT: ratio of examples concerning changes in the Zeitgeist by the author, the Declaration of Human Rights and the Ten Commandments.
then one may wonder if there would be no interaction, a constant dialogue between the changing moral Zeitgeist, the interpretation of the Bible and what it takes and the evolution of society and if sustained dissociation the author is also straightforward. These considerations, however, not intended to legitimize anything the action of religions in society nor to accredit their speech.
About atheism of Hitler and Stalin, however, we can see that communism was fought by the church while she supported fascism. If doubts exist on the religious beliefs of Hitler, the Catholic commitment to Franco or Pinochet other figures of fascism, there is no doubt. There is, to go in the direction of Richard Dawkins, there is no correlation between the criminal nature of an ideology and the church’s position towards it.
The relationship between crime and influence of religion can, as the author says, be interpreted as the fact that religion is not a guarantee of morality. This can also be understood as a return to religious morality when the trend in crime becomes too disturbing. In other words, the influence of religion is it a response to the rise of crime or is it the soil?
On the symmetry of religions: Religions are based on history that defy physical laws and more generally the logic and common sense. They are incompatible with each other and each of them contains the idea that she told the truth and that others are wrong. Generally, they claim that only his faithful (not necessarily all) will receive eternal life after death. So do not be mistaken in the choice. But in general, there is no choice and individuals remain attached to the religion in which they were raised. What did it more than others: more logic and credibility? No. More humanity and generosity? No. The only thing it has over other asymmetry is linked to the fact of being born among his followers. Is that his faithful people better and more deserving than those born in another religion? In other words, the small Catholic born in France he deserves eternal life if he does not depart from the religion in which he was born and not the small Tibetan Buddhist who has never heard of the Pope? A just God and love he could decide that?