Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


REVIEW: THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN BY MELANIE PHILLIPS

The book by Melanie Phillips The World Turned Upside Down, The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power is a criticism of myths and fallacies that she feels society has embraced and even turned into part of its identity. She writes that it appears to her that public discourse has significantly departed from reality and self-evident commonsense has been turned on its head. (Also she is the author of Londonistan.)

Here are my favourite quotes from this book which gives us a lot to think about. I respond to the quotes accordingly.

I asked [Richard] Dawkins whether he believed that the origin of all matter was most likely to have been an entirely spontaneous event. He agreed that he did think so. I put it to him that he seemed therefore to be arguing that something could be created out of nothing—which surely runs counter to the scientific principles of verifiable evidence that he tells us should govern all our thinking.

COMMENT: The notion that something made all things out of nothing spontaneously and without being aware of it is a denial that there is anything like a personal or real God there. As the bottom line is that atheism and Dawkins are saying the universe is purposeless that takes us to our next quote.

Without purposefulness, then, there can be no rationality. And that is the consequence of Dawkin's proposition, as John Polkinghorne summed it up: "Thought is replaced by electro-chemical neural events. Two such events cannot confront each other in rational discourse. They are neither right or wrong. They just happen."

COMMENT: Feelings just happen. Most thoughts just happen. If you can add up two numbers and take a block and get no answer that shows that thoughts just happen and we are lucky enough that they happen enough. These things are facts whether there is a purpose or not. The purpose would pale into something rather unimportant. So the problem Polkinghorne, "I want us to be more than natural events", has is nothing in comparison to how our feelings and thoughts don't act as if they care about that anyway. He worries too much! In fact his overreaction only adds fuel to the problem. It makes people think they should not be rational. Christianity agrees with him so it is an outrage.

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God by definition does not belong to the natural world because he is said to have created it.

COMMENT: She is telling God not to find a way to belong to it at all so that she can say science cannot find God. I do not belong to Australia for I am in Europe but that does not mean I cannot find a way to connect to Australia and cross the barrier. Maybe I can send my DNA there? God being different to the universe does not amount to God making himself undetectable. God is not necessarily just a philosophical question.

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She says that to say that science might understand the origin of the universe problematic for you cannot really stop learning - it should go on and on with no stopping. She thinks this shows that materialism or naturalism is wrong for it says you can stop learning.

COMMENT: That does not follow for each person is only a tiny part of the universe so materialistic or naturalistic understandings of the universe do fit the idea of learning being infinite in its potential. Later on she quotes with approval, Swinburne, who says that instead of assuming that the problems of physics, the problems with understanding our universe, can be solved by saying there are "a trillion" universes we should assume one God to do the job. So the assumption that God has not made a multiverse is sneaked in to get rid of the idea of a multiverse!

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To the Western mind, the individual has free will and power over his or her own actions. As far as the Islamists are concerned, the individual has no status except as a vehicle for God’s will. That means there can be no place for temporal governance. Since Islam holds that submission to God means “freedom,” the democratic systems that actually give rise to freedom are considered a form of subjugation. Thus, language is turned inside out.

COMMENT: Islam is merely saying that if God creates all and all depends on him 100% then there is no such thing as being independent of him - ie exercising free will against the will of God. The doctrine of God says that we are free because of God which means he creates our choices not us. His power and will are like the substance our will is made out of so it is not really our will. So when we go against God we only think we are doing it and even the idea that we are doing it is created by him. So the degradation of human nature comes from God belief of which Islam is just one example.

Psychologists tell us we are rarely as free as we want to think for there is so much influence and error and subtle pressure around us. If that makes free will virtually inactive imagine what the God creator straitjacket can do to it! You will lose the feeling of being free when you become aware of all the pressures and when you hold a strong belief in God. The feeling free illusion will diminish and maybe go altogether.

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Many non-Muslims claim that any aggressiveness in the Qur’an is no big deal. After all, they say, isn’t the Old Testament also full of blood-curdling calls to wipe out whole populations? And doesn’t the New Testament contain the denunciations of the Jews that caused centuries of anti-Jewish persecution? Well, the latter is certainly true, because the New Testament accuses the Jews of deicide and curses them for all time—a particular extremity that cannot be laid at the door of the Qur’an. But the New Testament does not contain, as the Qur’an does, a purportedly divine injunction to kill Jews and other “unbelievers.” As for the Hebrew Bible, its wars are merely a historical record and its injunctions to smite the foes of the Jews are specific and confined to the participants in those historic events. There are no divine injunctions in the Hebrew Bible to kill unbelievers.

COMMENT: This shows how parents putting children into religions with violent scriptures is so terrible. It leads to Christians enabling the promotion of other religions with violent scriptures. It leads to excusing. The logic is that if your religion does not obey the bad bits the other religion will not either. That is nonsense and the presence of the texts shows the religion was violent one day and thus can be again. The Bible God does command the killing of unbelievers for it defines adulterers and other sinners as unbelievers. Bible belief is linked to acting on that belief. You are punished for a thought crime in action.

We have to be careful when a religion says violence in its name is wrong. We need to be told how wrong for if they see it as akin to stubbing a toe that is alarming.

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Richard Dawkins ... doesn’t only dismiss opponents’ arguments: he maintains that such opponents could not possibly have meant what they said. His own gnostic infallibility apparently means that he alone knows what was really in someone’s mind.

COMMENT: Christians do that too especially liberals. Everybody sincere including an atheist is regarded as servant of God and a Christian who does not realise it. It is just liberal intolerance to do that. We do not accept you unless we find a way to imagine you are one of us.

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Darwinism reduced human reason to a mere mechanism for survival, since genetic determinism left no basis for humans to have a disinterested impulse to discover the truth for its own sake. Marxism said that humans were prisoners not of their genes but of society.

COMMENT: But reason is a tool for survival! Many simply use reason to survive in a world where everybody else talks rubbish! You need truth so you can protect yourself and others. Lining up to truth is the only way to protect yourself from the truth for the truth does not care what you want or think and will hurt you if you defy it. Better not antagonise or defy that enemy!

Survival does not have to mean something savage and animalistic like wolves fighting each other. That is the strawman of survival that she has created in that statement. That kind of survival and the more softer kind are both about trying to live in reality.

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Foucault taught that truth was not disinterested or neutral, but rather an instrument of power, an attempt to conceal biases under a mask of objectivity. In his view, “all knowledge rests upon injustice”; and further, “there is no right, not even in the act of knowing, to truth or a foundation for truth; and the instinct for knowledge is malicious (something murderous, opposed to the happiness of mankind).”34 The idea that objectivity is dishonest and malicious found its way into British journalism during the 1980s.

COMMENT: He mixes up the abuse of truth with truth. If you falsely claim what you say is true then you indeed are trying to do what Focault said.

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The belief central to environmentalism that mankind must no longer be allowed to dominate the planet has had further inevitable consequences. As the value of human beings has gone down, that of animals has gone up. Prioritizing humans over animals has been labeled “speciesism,” which according to the prominent anti-speciesist and bioethicist Professor Peter Singer is as bad as sexism or racism. From this moral equivalence between animals and humans, it follows that if animals can be killed for reasons of utility, so too can human beings.

COMMENT: It is complex. Believers in God who think an unborn baby 9 weeks in the womb has more value than a fully grown chimp are not making sense. They are indeed unfair.

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REGARDING DAWKINS SAYING THE BIBLE COMMANDS RACIAL HATE, The Hebrew Bible explicitly commands the Jewish people to “love the alien as yourself for you were strangers in Egypt.” Dawkins appears to have drawn heavily for his analysis upon an article by one John Hartung, which he warmly commends. But Hartung’s twisted hatred of Judaism emerged in another article in which he expressed the view that antisemitism was merely a form of “reactive racism” in response to the (as perceived by him) genocidal behavior of the Jews. Yet Dawkins has treated Hartung, the justifier of Jew-hatred, as an authoritative source on the Bible.

COMMENT: Does not change the fact that the Bible God is telling the people to remember they were once strangers themselves so to treat the stranger well. That amounts to saying that if they were never strangers in Egypt they could abuse the alien. To treat a person according to how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes is really just being good to yourself. You have to treat them as you for they are not enough in themselves to warrant your help. This is not love and respect but hypocrisy. It will not last.

Religion always promotes its most toxic teachings using such tactics. The nastiness is dressed up in some way to make it more lasting and influential.

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She opposes Comte's argument that "human experience is intrinsically subjective" for that means everything is programmed by a feeling. It means thinking and arguments are only covers for feelings:

Comte posited instead that knowledge had to be based on experience, but this led straight into a trap, since human experience is intrinsically subjective.

COMMENT: It does not need to be and is a mixture of objective and subjective.

If my experience of my dinner is too subjective then imagine how subjective it must be if I think God is in my heart communicating with me and me with him! There is no test for that at all! At least there is with the dinner!

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Darwinism, meanwhile, is not so much science as materialism applied to biology.

COMMENT:

Materialism means there is nothing but the physical. Some belief there are non-physical realities such as spirit. Once we start talking about non-physical spirit we are talking about what cannot be detected or understood. If it cannot be detected then it could be a different kind of physical we do not detect. Using spirit to get out of the problems of materialistic views of reality does not work and shifts from one problem to a worse one. Ethically it is just cheating. We have no way of knowing if spirit could make sense. It is a mere assumption and thus is anti-science.

Even if materialism is wrong it does not mean that biology shows signs of supernatural guidance and of being helped along by an intelligent God. Believers say that God has the right to design what is in the universe and let other things just act as if they are on their own.

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At a deeper level still, whether or not scientists admit it, there is an impulse within science that is akin to religious faith. It is the belief that there is always more to be known about the world. Stephen Barr, a theoretical physicist at the University of Delaware, observed that the search for this knowledge involves an element of faith: The scientist has confidence in the intelligibility ofthe world. He has questions about nature. And he expects - no, more than expects, he is absolutely convinced-that these questions have intelligible answers."

COMMENT: She is telling us that a normal human feeling is a religious one? She is revealing that she clairvoyantly knows what is inside the scientist? The religious doctrine that God didn’t use anything to make all things is hardly intelligible!

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The idea that religious belief and reason don’t go together is contradicted by the innumerable scientists throughout history who have been staunch religious believers, and for whom science has actually served to confirm their faith.

COMMENT: Those scientists did not have today's opportunities to learn and are too far in the past to count. Plus to keep their careers they had to please the Church. The Church ruled the universities and the schools.

Contradicted is too strong of a word.

A lot of science does not overlap on religion so there is no contradiction then. It depends on the scientist's field. But to have a more complete picture of science means ruling out religion.

A scientist who is religious is not a theologian and if you are busy with science you may not spot the stupidity of your religion. Scientists being religious has nothing to do with making religion plausible or true.

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The established Church of England, which has succumbed in so many areas to the march of secularism and paganism, has sided with the forces of hatred, bigotry and unreason over Israel. Along with the Episcopalians and other liberal denominations in America, it lends its voice to the demonization of Israel and parrots the mendacious and hateful narrative propagated by the Arab and Muslim world. In the face of suicide bomb and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, the bishops and archbishops are silent. Instead they attack Israel for the measures it takes in self-defense.

COMMENT: Good. It is proof that liberal religion is sometimes more toxic than fundamentalist religion. We should use moderate religion as a weapon against extremist religion for it is no better itself.

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The real root of the extreme hostility within the church towards Israel lies in the resurrection of the previously discredited doctrine of “replacement theology,” also known as “supersessionism,” wrapped up in politics and ideology. Replacement theology goes back to the third century CE when Origen, regarded as the father of Christian doctrine, concluded that the Jews had lost their favored position with God and that Christians were now the “New Israel.” The Jews’ divine election was revoked.

COMMENT: But the Christian doctrine that it is the true religion of God while Judaism is outdated implies that Jews and Judaism are less than Christians in terms of being accepted by God. The success of supersessionism and its endurance clearly shows it should be regarded as part of the Christian faith. Origin only took the idea from his forerunners. It is nonsense to blame him for its creation.

The word Catholic really means non-racist and meant to invite all nations and people. The use of the term by the Church is a slap against the Jewish minority. Judaism is not a universal religion and is about the chosen race - the people of Israel wherever they are.

Even the doctrine that God has given seven sacraments, seven gifts to the Church, to prepare them and grant them everlasting happiness with him in Heaven is supersessionism - the Jews have not got these sacraments or any sacraments. Supersessionism in action and supersessionism in doctrine - that is a toxic mix of two things each one of which is toxic enough itself!

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She quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi as saying that if one soul of Israel is killed then scripture regards him as having killed the whole world.

COMMENT: That shows where the Koran got the saying that whoever kills, kills all the world in the eyes of Allah.

It goes, Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors – Sura 5:32.

People love the Islamic version of the quote but it is clearly hate speech when you read it in context. It says it is okay to kill criminals. It is vague on how bad they need to be thus giving a loophole if you want to be a liberal executioner who slays those who murder along with those who steal a joint of beef.

The Koran has validated a totally racist statement as well by even daring to honour such reasoning even if it uses it in a different way. Allah says the quote is his word though it is not in the Bible but the Talmud.

SO?:

The book is quite good but picks on atheists too much! Its warnings on liberalism and Islam are timely. The role of Christianity in fuelling anti-Jew hate is clear in this book.  When people who barely know who Jesus' mother was or when he supposedly lived identify as Christians thanks to parents and schools and yet miraculously have enough religion to hate the Jews we will find that disturbing.  Christians do not pick on Jews over the nasty Old Testament laws for Christians went out of their way to keep these laws though obsolete enshrined in honour in the Bible.  It is racism with a strong religious flavour.