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The GOD Delusion

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  1. By Richard Dawkins The GOD Delusion Danielle Ryder Courtney Cribb Chris Duggan

  2. DESERVED RESPECT • Definition of God • Personal God: a supernatural creator that is ‘appropriate for us to worship’ • Awesome structure of the universe/nature • Einstein sometimes used the name of God • Einstein defined religion differently • Imperfect comprehension/admiration of the laws of nature

  3. Definitions • Theist • Believes in a supernatural intelligence (creation + supervision) • Deist • Supernatural intelligence (creation only) • Pantheist • No supernatural intelligence • Synonym/metaphor laws of nature/universe • Atheist • A commitment to naturalism

  4. UNDESERVED RESPECT • Widespread assumptions that religion is off limits for debate • Overweening respect • US supreme court ruling, Feb 2006. • 2004 Ohio, anti-discrimination rules • Feb 2006 Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten

  5. The God Hypothesis • The God Hypothesis: • there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. • This book advocates an alternative view: • any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. • God is a delusion

  6. POLYTHEISM • Many Gods • Monotheism vs. Polytheism • Polytheism -> Monotheism • Catholic Encyclopaedia • The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.

  7. POLYTHEISM • The Catholic Forum lists 5, 120 saints! • Pope John Paul II created more saints than all his predecessors over the past several centuries. • This book refers to all deities, whether poly- or monotheistic, as simply “God”. • Mostly refers to Christianity

  8. MONOTHEISM • Three anti-human religions: Judaism 1st, Christianity 2nd, and Islam 3rd • Buddhism/Confucianis are not treated as religions but as a philosophy of life

  9. SECULARISM, THE FOUNDING FATHERS AND THE RELIGION OF AMERICA • Many of the founding fathers of the American Republic were deists. • But also evidence to suggest that many were atheists • Collectively, they were secularists Atheists have strong numbers today…

  10. David Mills, Atheist Universe • Prejudice against atheists in America • Story of a Christian faith-healer’s “Miracle Crusade”

  11. THE POVERTY OF AGNOSTICISM • Agnosticism: • notion that the existence/non-existence of God is an untouchable question • 2 kinds • TAP- Temporary Agnosticism in Practice • PAP- Permanent Agnosticism in Principle

  12. 1 Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C. G. Jung, 'I do not believe, I know. 2 Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. 'I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there. 3 Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God. 4 Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. 'God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable. 5 Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. 'I don't know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be skeptical. 6 Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there. 7 Strong atheist. 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.

  13. NOMA • Non-overlapping magisteria • Huxley declared that the God question cannot be settled on the basis of scientific method. • If science cannot answer the question, then by implication, religion can.

  14. NOMA • The difference between two hypothetical universes • Presence of absence of a creative super-intelligence is a scientific question • NOMA is popular because there is no evidence to favour the God Hypothesis

  15. THE GREAT PRAYER EXPERIMENT • Francis Galton • Russell Stannard • Does praying for sick patients improves their health? • 1,802 patients at 6 hospitals • Results in American Heart Journal, 2006 • No difference between those who were prayed for and those were not • Those who knew they had been prayed for suffered significantly MORE complications

  16. THE NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN SCHOOL OF EVOLUTIONISTS • Evolutionary science is under political attack from populist creationism • NOMA- agree that science is completely non-threatening, because it is disconnected from religion’s claims • Aids in understanding publishes statements of scientists on religious matters

  17. LITTLE GREEN MEN • Life in outer space, Jocelyn Bell Burnell • Rational stance is agnosticism, but can talk about probability based on incomplete evidence. • SETI- • search for • extraterrestrial • intelligence

  18. THOMAS AQUINA’S ‘PROOFS’ • 1 The Unmoved Mover. Nothing moves without a prior mover. This leads us to a regress, from which the only escape is God. Something had to make the first move, and that something we call God. • 2 The Uncaused Cause. Nothing is caused by itself. Every effect has a prior cause, and again we are pushed back into regress. This has to be terminated by a first cause, which we call God. • 3 The Cosmological Argument. There must have been a time when no physical things existed. But, since physical things exist now, there must have been something non-physical to bring them into existence, and that something we call God.

  19. THOMAS AQUINA’S ‘PROOFS’ • 4. The Argument from Degree. We notice that things in the world differ. There are degrees of, say, goodness or perfection. But we judge these degrees only by comparison with a maximum. Humans can be both good and bad, so the maximum goodness cannot rest in us. Therefore there must be some other maximum to set the standard for perfection, and we call that maximum God. • 5 The Teleological Argument, or Argument from Design. Things in the world, especially living things, look as though they have been designed. Nothing that we know looks designed unless it is designed. Therefore there must have been a designer, and we call him God.* Aquinas himself used the analogy of an arrow moving towards a target, but a modern heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile would have suited his purpose better.

  20. THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT AND OTHER A PRIORI ARGUMENTS • Ontological argument proposed by St. Anselm, 1078 • A being that doesn’t exist in the real world, is by the very fact, less than perfect. • A word game • Mathematical proofs • (a + b^n)/n = x, therefore God exists.

  21. OTHER A PRIORI ARGUMENTS Proof Number: • 36 Argument from Incomplete Devastation: A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew. But one child survived with only third-degree burns. Therefore God exists. • 37 Argument from Possible Worlds: If things had been different, then things would be different. That would be bad. Therefore God exists. • 39 Argument from Non-belief: The majority of the world's population are non-believers in Christianity. This is just what Satan intended. Therefore God exists. • 40 Argument from Post-Death Experience: Person X died an atheist. He now realizes his mistake. Therefore God exists.

  22. THE ARGUMENT FROM BEAUTY • Shakespeare, Michelangelo, music etc… • Link between existence of great art to existence of God • Assumed to be Self-evident

  23. THE ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL ‘EXPERIENCE’ • Convincing to those who have had one, unconvincing to an audience • George W. Bush says that God told him to invade Iraq • Sam Harris, The End of Faith

  24. THE ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL ‘EXPERIENCE’ • Our brain plays tricks on us: Optical illusions • Creation of images or visions based on imagination and misinterpretation of stimuli • Sept, 11, 2001: Twin Towers: face of Satin in the smoke

  25. THE ARGUMENT FROM SCRIPTURE • Bible is not reliable historical evidence • Discrepancies • Where Jesus was born • Christmas story • Book of Luke is ‘historically impossible and internally incoherent’ -Lane Fox • New Testament • Four gospels made it into the official canon, others did not

  26. THE ARGUMENT FROM ADMIRED RELIGIOUS SCIENTISTS • Darwin • False rumours about his deathbed conversion confession • Newton • Claimed to be religious because of social and judicial pressure • Mendel • Augustinian monk in order to pursue his science (research grant)

  27. PASCAL’S WAGER • Insurance of God • Penalty for guessing wrong • Argument for feigning belief in God

  28. BAYESIAN ARGUMENTS • Bayes’ Theorem, (six facts) • Mathematical engine for combing many estimated likelihoods and coming up with a final estimate of whether God exists • Start with 50% starting point • Ends up with a 67% likelihood of existing but boosts this to 95% because of ‘faith’

  29. THE ULTIMATE BOEING 747 • Fed Hoyle • Probability of life originating on Earth is no greater than the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrap yard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747.

  30. NATURAL SELECTION AS A CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISER • Similar to feminism • Power of science to explain how organized complexity can emerge from simple beginnings without guidance • Counters the idea that it takes a big fancy thing to create a lesser thing: trickle-down theory of creation

  31. IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY • A functioning unit is said to be irreducibly complex if the removal of one of its parts causes the whole to cease functioning • Eyes, wings. • Natural selection is a cumulative process, which breaks the problem of improbability into small pieces: accumulation

  32. THE WORSHIP OF GAPS • If gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it. • Fossil records • If none to document evolutionary transitions, assumption is that there is none, God intervened.

  33. THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE: PLANETARY VERSION • Named by mathematician Brandon Carter in 1974 • The origin of life had to happen only once. • Extremely improbable event • We exist here on Earth. Therefore, Earth must be the kind of planet that is capable of generating and supporting us.

  34. THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE: PLANETARY VERSION • Even if origin of life was so improbable as to occur on only one in a billion planets, life still will have arisen on a billion planets

  35. The Anthropic Principle: cosmological version “We live not only on a friendly planet but also in a friendly universe.” - Dawkins • If chemistry and physics had occurred in just slightly different ways then life would not have been possible • The Goldilocks value [ 0.007 ] • Theist Explanation & Anthropic Answer

  36. The Anthropic Principle: cosmological version • Multiverse Theory is extravagant but simple. • God or any intelligent design would have to be highly complex like the entities it is supposed to explain. • Natural Selection…

  37. An Interlude at Cambridge ‘You are so nineteenth century’ • Science & Religion • 6 Main Arguments

  38. Chapter 5: The Roots of Religion

  39. The Darwinian Imperative • Natural Selection of Religion • Benefits of Religion? • Not restricted to genes of individual organism • 3 alternative targets of benefits: • Group Selection • Manipulative Influence of Genes in another Individual (parasite) • Central Theorem • Benefit of the Meme!

  40. The Darwinian Imperative …“how can we be so smart and dumb simultaneously…” - Dawkins • Aboriginals of Papua New Guinea • Religion & Heterosexuals

  41. Direct Advantages of Religion • Faith-healing • Placebo Effects • Why would a mind evolve to find comfort in beliefs it can plainly see is false… • A freezing person finds no comfort in believing he is warm.

  42. Group Selection • Proximate cause of religion: hyperactivity in a particular node of brain • Ultimate Explanation: Group Selection Theories • Tribe Wars

  43. Religion as a By-Product of Something Else • Dawkin’s Belief • Moths committing suicide ?! • Children obeying parents/guardians without question • Passing on Good Advice & Bad

  44. Psychologically Primed for Religion • Paul Bloom – dualistic theory of mind • Humans and especially children are natural born Dualists • Freaky Friday Movie • Children are also native Teleologists • Dawkins is a Monist

  45. Psychologically Primed for Religion • Darwinian Advantage? • Physical Stance • Design Stance • Intentional Stance • By-product of Falling in Love • Only to supposed to love 1 person • Polyamory • The Bachelor

  46. Tread Softly, Because you Tread on my Memes “Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived” – oscar wilde • Knitting, Carpentry, Pottery can all be reduced to discrete elements that can be potentially passed down an infinite number of generations without alteration • Absolute Merit • Memeplex • Unconscious Evolution