Sunday, February 23, 2014

The God Delusion - Preface, Part2

I started talking about the preface of The God Delusion here, so lets know get down into it.
I won't go into too much detail about the preface of "The God Delusion", especially as Dawkins is mostly just introducing his ideas, and giving an overview of the chapters to follow, but it is worthwhile picking up on a few things, and also listing down some of my thoughts and expectations about what is to follow.

Also he doesn't seem to lay down his main thesis till the start of the second chapter, so I'll wait till then to discuss it.

And also I probably won't list all that is in his book, but concentrate mainly on the content I am most interested in discussing, or is most significant. I could comment on all 400 pages or so, but we would be here till Christmas (or longer, given the speed of my writing).

In the preface, after his opening request to consider changing what you believe, he makes the comment that Religion is not the "root" of all evil for "No one thing is the root of all evil". He does want to be fair it seems, and not overstate his case by saying "Religion is the root". But can he and will he demonstrate or prove there is no root to evil. It seems like it is just given. It prompts the question: where does evil come from? From us? Where, then?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The God Delusion - Preface

I mentioned here that I have just started reading The God Delusion

Before I go into detail about the preface, I just want to pick up on his first few paragraphs and also relate it to some of my early experiences.

He starts the book with a story about how a child hated her school when growing up, and only made it known as an adult. Her mother, aghast, said, "Why didn't you tell us". The now adult child said, "I didn't know I could". She didn't know she could complain or do anything about it, or even change schools (as an illustration of changing religions/beliefs).
Dawkins admits that that was him. He didn't know either that he could change his mind, change his "religion".
I sympathise with him. Not so much from my own experience, but what could have happened. If I had been in a different situation, in a different country, culture, with an upbringing and religion that I wanted to reject - then yes.
But I don't think I was in the same sort of situation. I think I had an awareness that you could change. I remember that I was aware at some stage before aged ten that people had different beliefs, not all were Christians, and that you could be one or not. I was also aware at least in late primary school that all of my school friends were not Christians, or might have only been nominal Christians. I'm not sure the exact categories I had at that age, but my friends were definitely different from me and my family.
At age 10 I saw the need to be serious about Jesus, that there was a need to me to make a change of sorts. Being a follower of Jesus wasn't a matter of going to church, doing good etc, but was a personal commitment, to turn away from sin, and to trust in him to save me by his death on the cross. I was aware that this life was not all there was, and that eternity was spent either in heaven or hell. And this was something I could talk to my parents about.
Well, I became a Christian in my mind at that point. Possibly in Dawkins terms, I have already been indoctrinated, but I think we will come to this later - there seems to be a chapter on it.

Getting back to Dawkins: his point, after saying he didn't know he could change, is that this could be you. You didn't know you could change, or don't know there are very good reasons to doubt Christianity (in his thinking), or religion in general. Maybe I haven't considered enough the opposite view, that Christianity is wrong, or bad, or both. Maybe I have a lot to learn, that there is a whole other way of thinking.
Or on the other-hand, maybe Dawkins hasn't really understood Christianity at all, and he has only rejected his misconception of it, and that he has merely multiplied clever arguments in his favour.
We shall see.

The next post looking at the preface is here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The God Delusion

I've recently obtained a copy of "The God Delusion", by Richard Dawkins for free.
A work colleague had apparently run out of space at home and had a few books to off load. Good thing I trotted off quickly to his cubical, as two of the books were already gone (to people in his cubicle), and a moment after I had arrived and confirmed by interest, another person came over to claim it too.
My friend joked with me a bit about whether it was worth giving it to me or not, knowing my faith. I later joked that I wouldn't let anyone else have it, as it was too dangerous a book. Or maybe I should just stick a big warning sign on it, before I let others read it - but hey, I think I'm getting ahead of myself, I haven't read it yet, so maybe I should wait to the end to decide what to do, whether to burn it or not ( ;P). I shouldn't believe all the hype, innuendo and criticism etc about the book, until I have check it out in full for myself. This indeed might contain previously untold revelations, it might be the book to redeem me from my religion, to rescue me from the dogma I have obviously been brainwashed into ... sorry getting ahead of myself again.
My friend and I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the book as I read through it. I pointed out that a common acquaintance, Robert Martin, who runs City Bible Forum in Melbourne, had recently started blogging his way through a book "The Moral Landscape," by Sam Harris, another "New Atheist", taking up the challenge Sam more recently gave.
After showing the blog to my friend, I said I wouldn't be able to do that, it would be too much, and I don't usually have the time (and I might add, English, especially expression is not my forte. I'm more of a numbers and logic person myself). 
Well here I am, mainly because I wanted to do a reasonable job at interacting with the ideas, and that I have already written about ten pages (small pages not A4) in a note book from reading the preface and half of the first chapter. I'm sure many others have already done this, and a better job e.g. here, but here goes.
My next post on the topic is here where I start to have a look at the book.