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The GOD Delusion. DESERVED RESPECT Definition of God 1.Personal God: a supernatural creator that is ‘appropriate for us to worship’ 2.Awesome structure.

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Presentation on theme: "The GOD Delusion. DESERVED RESPECT Definition of God 1.Personal God: a supernatural creator that is ‘appropriate for us to worship’ 2.Awesome structure."— Presentation transcript:

1 The GOD Delusion


3 DESERVED RESPECT Definition of God 1.Personal God: a supernatural creator that is ‘appropriate for us to worship’ 2.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

4 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

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


7 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

8 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.

9 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

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

11 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…

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

13 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

14 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.

15 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.

16 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

17 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

18 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

19 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


21 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.

22 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.

23 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.

24 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.

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

26 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

27 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

28 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

29 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)

30 PASCAL’S WAGER Insurance of God –Penalty for guessing wrong Argument for feigning belief in God

31 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’


33 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.

34 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

35 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

36 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.

37 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.

38 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

39 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 [ ] Theist Explanation & Anthropic Answer

40 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 …

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

42 Chapter 5: The Roots of Religion

43 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!

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

45 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.

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

47 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

48 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

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

50 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

51 Cargo Cults Real life example The Cult of John Frum “ If you can wait two thousand years for Jesus Christ to come an ’ ‘ e no come, then I can wait more than nineteen years for John. ” - Sam

52 Chapter 6: The Roots of Morality: Why are we Good?

53 Does our Moral Sense have a Darwinian Origin? The unit of Natural Selection = The Selfish Gene Genes influence organisms to behave altruistically Genetic Kinship Reciprocal Altruism –Bees & Flowers Reputation Buying Unfakeably Authentic Advertising

54 Case Study in the Roots of Morality We do not need GOD in order to be good – or evil Most people come to the same decisions when faced with dilemmas and their agreement over the decisions themselves is stronger than their ability to articulate their reasons

55 Chapter 7: The ‘ Good ’ Book & The Changing Moral Zeitgeist

56 The Old Testament The Bible is Weird Noah’s Ark Asian Holy Men: Tsunami caused by Human Sins “We do not derive our morals from scripture or we pick and choose among the scriptures for the nice bits and reject the nasty” - Dawkins

57 Is the New Testament Any Better? Adds a new injustice & infliction of pain and suffering Wearing a Cross Underlying unpalatable aspect of its ethical teaching

58 Love Thy Neighbor In-group loyalty and out-group hostility –Religion amplifies and exacerbates tendencies Labelling of children –More in chapter 9 Segregated schools –Northern Ireland Taboos against “marrying out” –Perpetuates hereditary feuds

59 Love Thy Neighbor “Even if religion did no other harm in itself, its wanton and carefully nurtured divisiveness – its delibrate and cultivated pandering to humanity’s natural tendency to favor in-groups and shun out-groups - would be enough to make it a significant force for evil in the world”

60 The moral Zeitgeist Changing Moral Zeitgeist –Abraham’s “sacrifice” –Slavery and racism “…the manifest phenomenon of Zeitgeist progression is more than enough to undermine the claim that we need God in order to be good, or to decide what is good”

61 What about Hitler and Stalin? Weren't they atheists? “What matters is not whether Hitler and Stalin were atheists, but whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things.” “Individual atheists may do evil things but they don’t do evil things in the name of atheism.”

62 Chapter 8: What’s wrong with religion? Why be so hostile?

63 Fundamentalism and the subversion of science Truth in holy books –Contradictory evidence must be thrown out “I am no more fundamentalist when I say evolution is true than when I say it is true that New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere.”

64 The dark side of absolutism Muslim world and the American Theocracy –Absolutism nearly always results from strong religious faith Reason to suggest that faith lends to evil Penalties for blasphemy –For converting to Christianity (2006)

65 Faith and homosexuality Under tailban the penalty for homosexuality was execution Private Harms no one else Alan Turing –German enigma codes –Offered a choice between 2 years in prison or chemical castration (1954)

66 Faith and the sanctity of human life The death penalty –George Bush Euthanasia Abortion –Does the embryo suffer? –Violence of religious opposition

67 The Great Beethoven Fallacy “If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three of whom were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded (all because she had syphilis), would you recommend that she have an aborton?” The human potential argument –Fail to seize the oportunity for sexual intercourse

68 How 'moderation' in faith fosters fanaticism “Only religious faith is a strong enough force to motivate such utter madness in otherwise sane and decent people.” War against “terror” –No different than killing doctors who perform abortions –If religious faith must be respected then we must respect suicide-bombers

69 Chapter 9: Childhood, abuse and the escape from religion

70 Childhood, abuse and the escape from religion The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara –Child was secretly baptized –Abducted under papal law –One true faith –Faith vs good of the child

71 Physical and mental abuse “Being fondled by the priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a 7 year old) as “yucky” while the memory of my friend going to hell was on of cold, immeasurable fear.” Hell Houses

72 In defense of children Nicholas Humphrey –“Children, I’ll argue, have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas – no matter who these other people are. What to think, not how to think Worshiping the sun Female circumcision –“No adult woman who has somehow missed out on circumcision as a child volunteers for the operation later in life

73 An educational scandal Funding for creationism –Emmanuel College Stephen Layfield – head of science –the bible can “…provide us with a true acount of earth history…” An attempt to “…subvert evidence-based science education and replace it with biblical scripture.”

74 Consciousness-raising again Labeling of children –Feminism –Origin of cosmos, life and morals –Holy Cross Girls

75 Religious education as a part of literary culture Biblical literacy is essential for the appreciation of English literature –Greek and roman gods –Weddings and funerals

76 Chapter 10: A much needed gap?

77 A god-shaped gap in the brain? –Or could we fill the gap with something else? Four main roles of religion in human life –Explanation (science) –Exhortation (moral instruction) –Consolation –Inspiration

78 Binker A. A. Milne Imaginary friend phenomenon –Binker for life –Pedomorphosis Retention of childhood characteristics Gradual delay of binker termination

79 Consolation Emotional need for God Direct physical consolation –St. Bernard Consolation by discovery of a previously unappreciated fact or a previously undiscovered way of looking at existing facts –Death of a war hero –Happy for those who are terminally ill

80 Inspiration Rhetoric rather than logic Lucky to be alive “The atheist view is correspondingly life-affirming and life enhancing, while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion, wishful thinking, or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something.”

81 The mother of all burkas Science widens the window –Visible spectrum Middle world –Environment of savannah programmed and debugged software –“…where the very improbable could safely be treated as impossible.” –Queerer than we can suppose –A model of the real world Assist survival

82 The mother of all burkas

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