Friday, October 20, 2006

Richard Dawkins Lambasted...

Such is Dawkins’s unruffled scientific impartiality that in a book of almost four hundred pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false. The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history – and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry. He is like a man who equates socialism with the Gulag. Like the puritan and sex, Dawkins sees God everywhere, even where he is self-evidently absent. He thinks, for example, that the ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland would evaporate if religion did, which to someone like me, who lives there part of the time, betrays just how little he knows about it. He also thinks rather strangely that the terms Loyalist and Nationalist are ‘euphemisms’ for Protestant and Catholic, and clearly doesn’t know the difference between a Loyalist and a Unionist or a Nationalist and a Republican. He also holds, against a good deal of the available evidence, that Islamic terrorism is inspired by religion rather than politics.

Terry Eagleton reviewing Dawkins's The God Delusion in the LRB. His main point is that you should be an expert in the nitty gritties of theology before attacking religion. I am still trying to understand it. In the meanwhile you can visit the newly refurbished Dawkins website.


Cheshire Cat said...

It's high time someone took Dawkins on. He's such an idiot, and to think that he is the public face of the most successful of scientific endeavors... Embarrassing.

Alok said...

Oh No. You are talking to a big Dawkins fan here :(

I think his arguments are based on common sensical ideas about reason. If you go deeper you can find flaws in any system, you will certainly reach the limits. Same is true of science and rationality.

By the way he is hardly an original thinker. He is just rehashing the ideas of Hume and Popper. Perhaps his rhetorical style doesn't suit everybody but that shouldn't deter people from looking at the core of what he is trying to say... Respect for evidence, scepticism about truth derived from authority and tradition, a "belief" in the scientific method as the best available method for finding the truth about the phenomenological world etc...

I find it depressing when his ideas are used by Bush and his islamophobic, imperialistic and racist brethren to browbeat Islam. It can at best be called unfortunate.

bhupinder said...

Dont know much about Dawkins, but I liked the sentence in Terry Eagleton's review:
"At its most philistine and provincial, it makes Dick Cheney sound like Thomas Mann. "

But for once, and it is possible I am mistaken since I know very little about Dawkins besides this review, I think Eagleton is pretty harsh on him- which may be correct, (knowing Eagleton as my guru in literary criticism) but would have appreciated if Eagleton first explained what Dawkins says before lambasting him.

Again, not that I am expert (I read Popper two decades back) - but Alok, how does Popper come into the picture?

Alok said...

I could find two sample Dawkins essays on the internet. there must be many more on the internet.

letter to his daughter

dangers of gerin oil

I mentioned Popper because he elucidates why scientific method is the best possible methodology very well. he says that any scientific theory is "falsifiable" by evidence, that's what makes scientific theories superior. basically scientists are humble people, they say that show me evidence and i will revise my theory etc etc unlike religious and fundamentalist people who are immune to evidence.

Popper was also an ardent critic of Marxism and Freudianism, specially their claims of being scientific theories.

Cheshire Cat said...

Alok, I'm surprised someone as well-read and curious about the world as you are feels an affinity to Dawkins.

The most dangerous fanatics are those who lack imagination. And it makes no difference whether they are fanatical about science or about religion, it's the same meme :)

Alok said...

aw come on! you can't say that. A harsh scientific worldview doesn't mean you have to forego your imaginative faculties. Dawkins himself answers this charge in his usual eloquent style in his book Unweaving the Rainbow. Keats felt sad about Newton's theory of Optics because it robbed him of the mysteries of rainbow. Dawkins writes in detail why Keats was misguided.

For me religion is just an example of a vulgar art, a cliched, dishonest fiction. I find everything in literature what people claim to find in religion, without having to make that ridiculous leap of faith.

At the same time, there are theological thinkers who I admire, like Kierkegaard, even Kafka, because they explain what underlies man's longing for a divine authority and in that way, illuminate what it really means to be a human being. I am sure Dawkins would have no problems if you define theology in this way.

Cheshire Cat said...

What I dislike about Dawkins is his narrow-mindedness. He thinks there is only one way of relating to the world, the "scientific" way. Science may be right about evolution and the Big Bang but there is more to the world than that. This is what people like Dawkins and Hawking fail to realize. They have no sense of the dialogical, to use a term from Gadamer. Dawkins may claim that science affords scope for the imagination, but what he seems to imagine is Art as some sort of concubine to Science. I find his notion of art considerably more vulgar and cliched than anything we can blame on religion. You seem to think that Dawkins would appreciate Kierkegaard and Kafka - that's wishful thinking. Kierkegaard was first and foremost a Christian - Dawkins is not going to look beyond that when forming an opinion...

Alok said...

oh okay, haven't heard of Gadamer but I know what you are saying. It is the age old "two cultures" debate. Don't know about Dawkins, but I will call art a lawfully wedded wife of science, or a partner in case that is too hetero-centric, rather than a concubine and which complement each other. They have their own separate domains. Science for the objective, phenomenological world of cause and effect and art for unique, subjective human experience.

jyothsnay said...

well,I have never read Dawkins before. Therefore,it is a nonsensical decision if I were to consider to opine on his theories...but my curious system dragged me into this discussion room ...n I paused at ART! Art is a CONCUBINE,yea baby!but Art decides whose concubine it wants to be or to sleep with.It defines its association in myriad a tone of human life,take a leaf from one discipline,makes it richer,tempers it with its golden touch,and moves onto the other discipline....Art is all about human existence,human needs, insecurities,wants,raw n crude depiction of the dark side of life and celebration of fragile emotions and living/speechless things...I could be wrong again!but this is my opinion....

"...sneaks across blank spaces,
spirals through crowded
coffee houses, eavesdropping
on the pointless conversations,
twitching her nose at the talk
of shallow hearts,rolling up
like thick clouds of smoke over
the boisterous emotions,she carries
a dark heart,deep wounds sucking
on the empty promises,she walks on....
she tucks comfortably into
the warm quilts of strangers..."

Alok said...

I agree with you, I think you are right.

but there is also a great deal in this world that should be understood and appreciated, that's what science helps us to do.

there is also this misconception that if you try to explain, say, why a flower is beautiful in scientific terms it will lose its artistic beauty and meaning. but that artistic truth is a personal truth based on personal experience and it is outside science's domain.

do you compose poems on the fly? :) that was nice btw.

jyothsnay said...

thank you Alok..
as I was telling you earlier,
I put on something to cover
my mud covered boots, yea,
a layer of hesitation,
my skirt rustles as I shift
nervously, watching them
evolve over the brew
-a commoner from the streets
wide-eyed over the discussions

I must thank you and your friends...I love the genuine fervor of the group over here. talking about spontaneity (If have a hint of it), I am under the intoxicating influence of Pablo Neruda's slient assasins..Jyo

Alok said...

I am glad you mentioned Neruda in a post on Dawkins. Kinda makes it balanced :))

Vidya said...

Dawkins is good in small doses.I was initially impressed with a couple of books of his but when I read River out of eden, a rather substandard work I must say he lost my fanship.It seems like the same set of thoughts and ideas were hashed,rehashed and the profundity seemed to erode with time.

Alok said...

As I said, he is hardly an original thinker. If you want to understand philosophy of science from a sympathetic point of view, read Hume and Popper instead. I like him because he was the first who really showed me what a scientific way of looking at things really is and what is the value of scientific method.

I also admire him because we need some straight-talkers like him in these times when irrationalities and insanities are fast becoming fashionable even in the thinking classes.

Cheshire Cat said...

It is almost impossible to say what Art is, and Science is a collection of rituals and incantations that hold the world to our power.

Science explains things, and therefore it finds it difficult to be meaningful. Simply because it is grounded in the phenomenal - how far does the necessary extend?
Art is meaningful, but it doesn't explain things. Question and answer are not ditinguished. It is heuristic, tempted by surprise; the lack of a method is inherent in its nature.

Given these rather whimsical definitions, I find Dawkins to be the personification of Science. He would like to argue that Science is meaningful, but in order to do this it is necessary to have an understanding of what lies beyond. What he represents gives him power, but limits him entirely. What we get are fulminations.

To try to explain why a flower is beautiful in scientific terms betrays a (deliberate?) confusion about the nature of science, I think. Science may be beautiful, but beauty is not part of its vocabulary, indeed the very integrity of Science demands that a term such as beauty is excluded.

Alok said...

It may be difficult to define art but science and scientific method are easily defined. Only the most vulgar and deluded philistine will argue (and Dawkins is certainly not one of those) that materialistic, reductionistic, objective knowledge is all there is to know in the universe. This brand of naive scientism was discredited long ago.

There are areas of human experience which by their very nature and definition lie outside the limits of science. Art (and religion, which is nothing but a bad art) fills up that vacuum and complements science.

There is a very interesting book by E O Wilson called Consilience. In it he argues for the unification of human knowledge -- to reduce all knowledge and disciplines to biology then to chemisty and finally end with physics. I used to be sympathetic with this idea of radical reductionism but not any more.

Alok said...

this whole two cultures thing reminds me of Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate. It is an otherwise extremely provocative book. Politically I was opposed to every single idea that Pinker proposes in the book (basically it is just old "Essentialism") but it still managed to convince me with arguments and evidence.

Only in the last chapter when he takes on arts that I was really pissed off. He argues that mankind has evolved to tell and listen stories and that the modernist and experimental writers have destroyed literature, made it unpopular and that's why literature is in doldrums and that it is somehow disconnected from the "essential" human nature. Same for music, paiting too. Modernist atonal music for him is a betrayal of man's nature which has evolved for "natural" harmonies etc etc. And of course all abstract, non-representational art is a big fraud according to him.

I was really angry because it was nothing but a really disgusting kind of anti-intellectualism which we see everywhere these days. I don't know what Dawkins thinks of it, but if he agrees with him I am going to get pissed off with him too.

Cheshire Cat said...

It is interesting that you say religion is nothing but a bad art. It could well be argued that art is nothing more than a substitute for religion.

But that's not the point I want to make. The point is that science can be just as dangerous as religion. Not, of course, in its aspiration to truth, but rather in its assumption of authority. Scientists like Dawkin and Pinker speak with authority, and we know that authority is never wrong...

Alok said...

this charge is not that hard to refute. one of the basic feature of any scientific theory is its falsifiability. find an evidence and you can discredit any theory and any authority in science. didn't new evidences from the astronomy and atomic physics discredit Newtonian classical mechanics? can there be any bigger authority in western science than newton?

science derives its authority from the superiority of its method not from blind deference to a person, real or imaginary or a dogma or tradition.

Cheshire Cat said...

Is it even clear what it would mean for the theory of evolution to be falsified? This is just my ignorance speaking here, but I am curious: what kinds of predictions does it make?

Science is far more amorphous than scientists acknowledge. Physics is science, and biology is science, what about economics? And the "social sciences"?

In any case, the notion of falsifiability should be seen for what it is historically: a residue of logical positivism, a branch of philosophy that is largely discredited today.

The authority of science owes largely to the illusion of its deference to a fixed and rigid method. Science is more fluid, more clever than that, which is also why it is so useful...

Alok said...

theory of evolution is on firm scientific grounds. it can be studied in controlled conditions (in a population of microbes, for example) predictions can be made and then they can be tested against empirical evidence. there are even sophisticated mathematical and computing models.

the other social sciences do aspire to become hard science, specially economics but it still, as far as I know, remains a vague territory.

And finally I don't think Dawkins goes that deep in the philosophy of science. It is a very exciting philosophical discipline and there have been some excellent critiques of scientific method (thomas kuhn for example and there have many postmodernist thinkers like Foucault). But we are still far from there. It is a time and place where people take virgin births for real, or that they believe the earth was created 5000 years ago, a place where people kill each other believing that their God was born in a particular place and that's why the place is holy, or where people take a country to be the reincarnation of satan, where people oppress and torture women, indoctrinate children... all in the name of religion and tradition!! Isn't it obvious that the net effect of religion as it is practiced today remains more evil than good? do we even need to go into the intricacies of materialism, reductionism, structuralism and other isms to understand this? Dawkins's rhetorical and angry tone is certainly not for believers, they will definitely not be convinced but rather it is for fence-sitters, for moderates and for people with high tolerance levels when it comes to accepting religious obscurantism and illiberalism. In that sense he is doing a valuable service to the contemporary intellectual culture.

Space Bar said...

very interesting article by eagleton. thanks. and lots of interesting stuff on your blog now. will read and comment.


Cheshire Cat said...

If Dawkins were Dworkin, we wouldn't be talkin'

But there's life in the old debate yet. If we did get rid of religion, what would we replace it with? Nothing but religion can fill the place of religion, and yes, that place does exist.

The real problem is that technology and ideology form a combustible mixture. Technology defines us, so there's no question of getting rid of it... But we can strive to limit ideology (submit it to inquiry), and to police the border between the two.

Alok said...

space bar: thanks, glad that you liked it.

cat: But if it were only Dworkin, people wouldn't have been debating it at all, at least not outside the pages of nyrb! he writes one book every few months but how many become bestsellers or even create news?

as for replacing religion, we do need some outlet for those "oceanic feelings", as Freud called them. and even the most stoic and strong of us needs consolations in times of crisis and bereavement. dawkins feels that a feeling of wonder at the complexity of the natural world is a good enough substitute but i can understand why it would not work with many. the consolations of art are also not real consolations although personally i would replace religion with great works of literature. the same oceanic feelings underly both, just that religion is a vulgar and childish expression of those feelings.

and actually, we aren't debating here for completely abolishing religion in one go. at least can we as a first step, start realizing the importance of questioning things, instilling a scientific spirit in our children and stop indoctrinating them? can we get away from religious traditions and symbols which foster artificial divisiveness and engender violence, and hamper individual freedom and self-fulfillment? we can talk of what to do with the oceanic feelings at the next step!

i can see there are people who see science and technogy as ideology too, as tentacles of the capitalist state etc. oppressing the individual and i don't support organizing of society according to some technological principle. you might find this post and my comment on bhupinder's blog interesting.

scarecrow said...

some interesting discussion goin on here...

haven't read Dawkin's though i did searched for his book when i came to know about his "meme" concept, alas, i never got the book then and never bothered again..

anyhow after reading the reviw i am quite sceptic about science being able to answer all owr question. As Kant in Critque of the reason quite rightly limited scope of science in giving us all the answer. His point that what we see and understand is based on our senses and their peception so many questions are limited by their scope also. Asking to find God can be similar to asking a Dog to distinguish colors. Dog's limited senses of perseption don't necessarily mean that colors don't exist.
also religion(potentially) as a whole is more intimate in nature so science can't wholly replace it as Dawkin is trying suggestion of reading litrature instead is great...
another point...religions came into existence long back when we didn't had the comfort of so much knowledge at our finger tips so may be(or as it looks) their intention or paragmatic value was good but their base(concept GOD) became outdated...its formation is more or like the movie "Village"..

well, i don't believe in God and prefer not to follow any religion but still the thought that science is the ultimate thing doesn't quite goes as well...but i guess literature goes a long way..

Alok said...

Of course, there're more things in heaven and earth etc., as Hamlet says but is there any other method to know about the objective world, other than the scientific method (hypothesis, prediction, experiment, observation, verification)?

Actually Kant's critique is a theoretical limit, science is far more modest in its claims and limits itself to even lesser goals. Science, unlike mathematics or deductive logic, can never find out final truth. All its truths will always be provisional, subject to falsification by fresh evidences.

scarecrow said...

Yeah,agree with you but my concern was with science wholly heartedly replacing everything(religion, arts etc). Its fine that science may tell us about evoloution, worm holes etc but its desire and ways of explaining everything will rob us of lot many metaphysical pleasures..and also remember Will Smith's character from I Robot....Agreed that science can or claim to answer everything but it can't replace everything.

Actually i myself don't know the answer as if science should replace everything or may be am not able to comprehend any in its totality but even if i try to it leaves a bad taste in my mouth as to what life would be reduced to then..
anyhow, religion is strictly not the way but letting science take the way as religion took earlier would also be wrong..

Alok said...

I understand what you are saying. Dawkins has written a book about it called Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and Appetite for Wonder.

I think many of those science fiction movies caricature the ideas of science. Science never says that things like love or beauty are illusions. Scientific worldview doesn't necessarily entail a technocratic society. And explaining things like love in material terms doesn't mean demeaning it, or robbing one's subjective feeling of its wonder or mystery. Science in fact enriches our understanding of nature by showing us how complex and vast and precise everything is. A mature and truthful interaction with the world doesn't necessarily mean a dull and pleasure-less life.

Richard said...

Frankly, the only thing I took from Eagleton's review was that he seems to think that post-structuralism, socialism and christianity are all congenial ideologies he can believe in, in spite of all three being largely antithetical to one another. With tolerant cosmopolitanism like that, I'll take Dawkins any day.

Alok said...

With tolerant cosmopolitanism like that, I'll take Dawkins any day.

You put it well Richard :)

"You should be open minded but not so open minded that your brain falls out," as Dawkins has said!

Hari S. said...

I actually think that he's right. About Dawkins that is. I am a firm believer that Science is an essential part of life and the development of science has changed life for the most part for the better. And I also think that science is a wonderful method of looking at life.

That said I am a confirmed non-atheist, non-agnostic. And personally Dawkins's ridiculous atheist fanaticism is every bit as bad and ridiculous as those TV evangelists who talk about Intelligent Design so unintelligently.

My main problem with people like Dawkins and so called like minded secular humanism is that while they are trying to show that Atheism doesn't necessarily mean moping around sadly and having an unremittingly bleak worldview, the manner they go about doing it is suspiciously like evangelism.

And in any case Dawkins' main target seems to be Christians opposing evolution but evolution has recieved support from the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II himself said that it made sense and that it wasn't against the Bible and the Jesuits do teach it as well. The only people that mainly oppose it is the Christian Right-Wing in America and UK during Darwin's lifetime.

And then he goes about saying that religion is responsible for all of life's problems(which isn't that different from a certain recent Hollywood star's outburst). You can tell that to Stalin who was a radical atheist as was Mao and see how that worked out.

The truth of the matter is that any ideology can be twisted over to suit fanatical purposes. And supposed rationalist people which does not include Dawkins should know that.

And in any case it wasn't religion that created the atomic bomb nor did it cause the Chernobyl disaster.

I have great respect for many atheists like Sartre, Chaplin, Bergman and Bunuel and many others but even Bunuel in his films was criticizing the betrayal of Christian values rather than Christianity itself as he shows in 'Nazarin'. A religious fanatic is one who does not understand the context and meaning of it's teachings and searches for loopholes to get out of it.

In any case Dawkins should read Grahame Greene's 'The Power and the Glory' and especially 'The End of the Affair' to truly understand the meaning of faith.

Alok said...

Hi Hari,

Thanks for commenting on this old post...

Stalin and Mao didn't murder in the name of science. And if you try to find out the roots of their murderous ideologies, you will see the same "sacralisation" there too. In this sense their ideologies are not different from religion.

Dawkins is just asking people to develop a questioning attitude and always look for evidence before believing anything. Belief in God, Nation or History are all different aspects of the same blind faith.

For starters Dawkins is asking people to raise children in a secular manner and stop fostering a religious identity on them of which they know nothing about. Let them grow up and choose a religion if they want to. Lets not indoctrinate them...

Hari. S said...

Actually the Communist ideologies were staunchly irreligious and no they didn't do it in the name of science but then it's a misnunderstanding to think that all atheists are in the rationalist humanist tradition. Mao and Stalin simply took Marxism as their ideology and though Marxism was an inherently staunchly secular concept they simply twisted it and changed and removed all meaning of it.

And as for raising children indoctrinating religion on them, it really depends on what he means. It's not like every devout religious person is a fanatic just like every atheistic person isn't a moping sullen individual.

The problem wih Dawkins and his ilk is that he only sees extremes and for someone who considers himself a rationalist that is very very hypocritical. And in any case he and his cronies don't understand that most of these fanatics are people who actually betray the principles they claim to uphold. For instance the Bible doesn't say explicitly that homosexuality is a sin, it's just nutters taking random passages and interpreting it that way. Many liberal priests like Abbe Pierre, Archbishop Tutu have worked hard to correct that viewpoint. It's one thing to criticize the Church for making severe mistakes like their horrible handling of the Child Sex Abuse Scandals. It's quite another to blame it on their religion. And in most cases, the Catholic Church despite their history has done a lot of good work.

Then similarly Muslims have generally been less non-violent than Christians and even the recent surge in terrorism is an extremely small minority of the Muslim population. And most terrorist activity has little to do with Islam anyway. They are territorial and political conflicts and have little to do with religion.

The main problem with people like Dawkins or supposed secular humanists is that their idea of secular isn't even faithful to the original concept. Secularism means understanding and respecting people regardless of beliefs, habits and lifestyle. Dawkins understands secularism as people who help others as long as they are not religious and don't display religious sentiment.

How people raise their children is the prerogative of parents. And I don't see any difference between raising kids with religious beliefs than raising kids with rationalist beliefs. It's only those who take it to the extreme level that people need to worry about. And that is as much possible for rationalists as it is for believers.

Alok said...

I understand what you are saying hari. a radical all out attack on religion may not be the best approach to deal with superstition, bigotry and fundamentalism but i can't see why anyone should have any problem in the proposal of raising children in a secular manner, teach them to ask for evidence before believing anything, specially be skeptical of traidtion and authority, specially the divine authority, question everything...

and we all are seeing where your interpretation of the concept of secularism is leading all of us too. bending over back to accommodate the superstitious demands of religious interest groups, and undoing so much of progress that we have achieved in political affairs.

i had linked to an article... Dawkins's letter to his daughter. it is a fascinating read.

this is another very nice essay by A C Grayling. Other essays by him are also worth reading.

Hari. S said...

and we all are seeing where your interpretation of the concept of secularism is leading all of us too. bending over back to accommodate the superstitious demands of religious interest groups, and undoing so much of progress that we have achieved in political affairs.

If you are referring to the role of religion in political matters like the mess in the Middle East. Well if you think that's mainly a religious conflict then you just don't know enough of the problem that's going on there. Things like Oil Politics, Zionism or the Taliban are little influenced by religion. They are mostly territorial conflicts, regional disputes or reactions to global imperialism. True they use relgious terms and phrases but you would have to blind not to understand why that is used. Any concept however peaceful can be twisted. Marxism was a secular peaceful solution to excess capitalism but executed poorly.

Some day people might even use Secular Humanist concepts and twist it exactly as religion and Marxism has been twisted.

And in any case no true rationalist and I obviously don't include Dawkins like that should understand that extreme classifications of religon is quite irrational and contradictory of the belief.

If Dawkins's main intention is to question and doubt authority and not take things as accepted at face value well that's something that's been done before. Blaise Pascal did it in Pensees as did Kierkegaard, Kant, Sartre, Freud, Bunuel and so on. And these people have been able to express it in far more clearer and saner ways then Mr. Dawkins. Obviously because they were more intelligent than he is.

Political affairs is hindered only be paranoia, fear, globalization and soulless capitalism which again has little to do with religion. Actually following the religious principles of understanding and tolerance can potentially help matters but then the Christian Right is only interested in damning sinners and whatnot which is not even the core of Jesus Christ's teachings.

The only thing that parents should tell their kids to do is actually read the principles that underlie each movement and belief and see for themselves if those principles are relevant to life and living. Reading them they will understand how little fanatics understand their teacher. And Dawkins should as well.

In any case many atheists even if they don't believe in God look at Jesus as the first communist and as an iconic rebel figure. Pier Paolo Pasolini, atheist, homosexual and Marxist(thrice damned:) ) made a film 'Il vangelo secondo matteo' possibly the greatest film ever made on Christ though Scorsese's 'The Last Temptation...' is also in the running.

Alok said...

In fact I saw Pasolini's Teorema only recently, my first film by him. I was very impressed by his interpretation of religion, sexuality and politics.

I admit that there is more to religion than superstitions and contempt for evidence and scientific method and dawkins's style which assumes there is nothing more may look shallow. but he should have his own place alongwith other critics of religion. if you think religion deserves a more sophisticated criticism (as even I think it does) you are free to read other thinkers.

about that bending over back... i was thinking of christian right's refusal to allow homosexual marriage for example, or to allow muslims to continue oppressing their womenfolk, even in the western societies...

Hari S. said...

Oh good, I myself have seen four of his films. ACCATONE is a must see, it was a major influence on Bernardo Bertolucci and Scorsese. Then MAMA ROMMA is great as well. It's on Criterion and on that disc you'll get his magnificent short film LA RICOTTA, the greatest parody of Bible movies ever made. It has Orson Welles as a movie director.

Then THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATHEW is essential viewing. Don't look at it as a Christian film but see it as an account of perhaps the most influential person of all time.

if you think religion deserves a more sophisticated criticism (as even I think it does) you are free to read other thinkers.

I am free but others are as well. They read Dawkins' books and suddenly they won't feel the need to read other books because Dawkins passes his ideas as if they are profound wisdom.

Nothing to be compared to Nietzche's or Sartre's writings. I can only hope that these people use scientific thinking of doubt and start seeing the obvious holes in what the man is saying. He isn't being rational that's for sure.

Hari S. said...

about that bending over back... i was thinking of christian right's refusal to allow homosexual marriage for example, or to allow muslims to continue oppressing their womenfolk, even in the western societies...

Well obviously they are to be fought out and removed. Those nuts represent the very worst of their religion. The Christian Right is worse though and more dangerous since they've made it to the presidential office.