The God Delusion - an Appraisal  - Chapter 5

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This is the Chapter 5 Page for the appraisal of the contents of Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion.



Page Contents:








Chapter 5 Overview

"The roots of religion"


Chapter 5 is divided into:




Chapter 5: Content & Comments


Part 1: The Darwinian Imperative



Quote 1: p.190


what pressure or pressures exerted by natural selection originally favoured the impulse to religion



MECHANISTIC EVOLUTION: As we go into this chapter it is important to see that Richard is wondering how he can mechanistically explain the existence of religion, as a blip in natural selection. I'm not going to keep on making comments about natural selection beyond reminding you that there are indeed a lot of scientists who are not happy with it. So let's see where he will take this mechanistic approach.

LINK to Appendix 4 - Quotes about Evolution


Keith Ward, who is described as 'one of Britain's foremost philosopher-theologians' and 'Former Regius Professor of Divinity at the university of Oxford and.. now Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London, and a Fellow of the British Academy' (another serious thinker, Richard!) wrote as follows in his book, Is Religion Dangerous?:

"The important thing to see is that all speculations about the origins of religion are poorly evidenced, and depend almost entirely on our present attitudes towards religious belief - on whether we think it is reasonable or fundamentally a delusion."    

                                                                    (my underlining for emphasis)



Quote 2: p.190


Unrelentingly and unceasingly, as Darwin explained, ‘natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being'.



PERSONALISING NATURE: The fact that the word ‘Nature' comes at the beginning of two sentences in this paragraph is slightly confusing, but I suggest that the way Richard uses it, he would give it a capital letter whenever he uses it, and in this manner reveals to us the tactic of personification to make us feel that there is some ‘power' at work here (but not God!). When he says, “Nature is a miserly accountant”, he is doing the same thing and when he brings us this quote from Darwin, he leans on Darwin's same tactic to convey there is some built-in force working here like a person. It's not. There is nothing personal about this at all. Natural selection is not ‘scrutinising' anything. Natural selection is simply a term applies to a process, we are told, whereby weak things are overcome and strong things prevail.



Quote 3: p.191


Ruthless utilitarianism trumps



PERSONAL BENEFIT: The main point that Richard seeks to make in the next couple of pages, is that there are examples in nature of creatures that expend energy for personal benefit, without which they might be under threat from natural selection.



Quote 4: p.192


religious rituals ‘stand out like peacocks in a sunlit glade'



TIME CONSUMING: His argument is that so much of religious behaviour is “time consuming, energy consuming” and “can endanger the life of the pious individual, as well as the lives of others,” and points out people have been tortured, persecuted etc. and “Religion devours resources” etc. His natural question is “What is it all for?”


ARE WE GETTING BETTER?: Well he may come to an answer, but not yet. While he is dropping more words around, it might be an appropriate moment, while we are considering human behaviour and natural selection, to ponder the progress of the world in the last couple of hundred years. Does the evolutionist see wars as a means for the survival of the fittest? How does the phenomenon of drug taking and drug addiction or even promiscuous human sexual behaviour and the wave of STDs fit in with survival of the fittest, because it seems there is a self-destructive element that has come into human behaviour (which the rising suicide rate confirms), especially in the last century? Just some thoughts to ponder on while we are waiting for this juggernaut to move on!



Quote 5: p.194


Though the details differ across the world, no known culture lacks some version of the time-consuming, wealth-consuming, hostility provoking rituals, the anti-factual, counter productive fantasies of religion.



WORLDWIDE RELIGION: Oh dear, I think Richard must have been suffering a bad bout of indigestion to have spat that lot out. I like the main premise here: “no known culture lacks some version of religion.” Whatever religion is, it is worldwide; of that we agree. But let's check some of this thoroughly unpleasant abusive language.


USE OF LANGUAGE: Let's start at the end: ‘fantasies' – this is the language used of what is unreal, made up, imagined and impossible. That may be Richard' conclusion but it is one that denies the empirical evidence. Richard's inner pain or hurt, which he must have to come out with this sort of language, blinds him, and blinds the many others who have similar anguishes, to that empirical evidence. Fantasy is more applicable to some of Richard's ideas.


“time-consuming, wealth consuming”? Excuse me, why are these bad characteristics? Isn't television, football, sitting in a pub, or whatever other non-directly-productive activity just the same, and we don't object to them? What a silly couple of descriptions to use when you are trying to be derogatory!


“hostility provoking”? Well, when you look at some aggressive world religions, I can see the point, but when you come to Christianity, who are you kidding? Four points need making here:

•  When Jesus Christ taught, “love your enemies” he was not kidding.

•  The fact that large numbers of people didn't have a genuine relationship with God and didn't have the grace from God to ‘love their enemies' doesn't deny the many who did.

•  The fact that many apparent adherents of Christianity in the past, got it sadly wrong and used it for political purposes doesn't deny the truth of the Gospel; it simply confirms the doctrine of human sinfulness.

•  The fact that across the world at various times, people have sought to legitimise their political and nationalistic aims using the guise of Christianity is neither here nor there, for the same reason as we've just said above.


“anti-factual”? When Richard says so much that is speculative philosophy and not science-evidence-based, he has a real nerve to speak about anti-factual. The whole Christian faith is built on fact-evidence!


“counter-productive”? We need to read again some of the comments and references in the previous chapter's notes about the impact for good that Christians have had on the world, and the absence of impact by atheistic philosophy and indeed the horrors that such philosophy has led to. There is no way that ‘counter-productive' can be applied to the impact of the genuine Christian faith, but I believe when the facts are observed, it can about atheism!


Shouting loudly will not reverse the truth. You can only deny the truth of what has just been said below this last quote, if you are blinded by anger or hurt and if you refuse to observe the historical truths referred to.


Please also note that, as at the end of this first Part, he has still not suggested an answer to his question about why religion prevails across the earth.


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Part 2: Direct Advantages of Religion



Quote 6: p.194


There is a little evidence that religious belief protects people from stress-related diseases



HEALTHY RELIGON: That is quite an admission, but of course it is a far cry from “God heals.” In what follows Richard speaks about the placebo effect and how religion can work like that. That's a funny one isn't it, because I've never heard of an atheist claiming his belief in atheism healed him!



Quote 7: p. 195


all religions are the same: religion is basically guilt



GUILT: This is part of a quote that Richard almost begrudgingly uses because on one hand he is saying that religion is an emotional crutch but on the other hand it creates guilt which may hinder healing. You can't have it both ways, but he wants to.


Psychiatrists and psychologists acknowledge that guilt is a number one human problem. What is sad is that Richard' knowledge of Christianity has never realised that it is all about removing guilt. Yes, there are many aberrations that do use and play on guilt, but please, accept no substitutes.

LINK to Appendix 2 - Basic Christian Beliefs



Quote 8: p.196


I'm talking about suggestions like ‘religion satisfies our curiosity about the universe and our place in it', or ‘religion is consoling'. There may be some psychological truth here  



CONSOLATION: It's funny when you stop to think about this argument. On one hand Richard is apparently working towards arguing that human beings need this consolation and religion gives it to them, and on the other he is trying to remove religion and the consolation it brings, yet has nothing to substitute for it. Atheism doesn't do it! So all we are left with, if we remove religion, is a lot of unhappy people.


TRANSFORMATION: I think it is worth testifying here that I know of a number of people who had low self-esteem, felt bad about themselves, were full of guilt, or hatred or bitterness or whatever else was utterly disturbing them, and when they heard that God loved them and Jesus was the proof of it, their lives were utterly transformed and all of those things were replaced by their good counterparts. And Richard wants to take this inner healing away?



Quote 9: p.196


this distinction between proximate and ultimate




EVOLVING COMFORT FROM BELIEFS: Richard has allowed his inner struggles to surface as he has acknowledged that it is very strange as to “why a mind would evolve to find comfort in beliefs it can plainly see are false.” The fact that people do not see that their beliefs are false, most of the time, does not help Richard who can't see that.


From what Richard says, proximate refers to the ‘mechanical' means of something working – a particular node in the brain having religious experiences, is what is suggested.


Ultimate refers to ‘why' this came about in the evolutionary development. If there is a ‘religious node' how did it come about?


Now I have to confess to you that I was really interested in this line of thinking and was really waiting with eager anticipation for the punch-line answer. In this section one wasn't offered, just more words! Is the answer coming in the next part? Tune in next week for the next thrilling instalment!


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Part 3: Group Selection



Quote 10: p.198


Group selection is the controversial idea that Darwinian selection chooses among species or other groups of individuals.




PADDING: Don't lose track in what is supposedly happening here. Richard is postulating ideas why religion, and specifically Christianity, may have evolved.


But, and here is the confusion: he says, “Chagnon is not a supporter of group selection and nor am I. There are formidable objections to it.” Although he goes on for another page or two, this is all you are going to get. I'm sorry, I am totally confused and I haven't a clue either a) what this part is saying, and b) why it is here. I conclude it's just to make the book thicker – which appears to be the reason for most of the pages. Sorry, but that's what it seems.


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Part 4: Religion as a By-Product of Something Else



Quote 11: p.200


I am one of an increasing number of biologists who see religion as a by-product of something else.




RELIGIOUS BY-PRODUCT: OK, you have the direction of this next part - religion has come about as the by-product of the evolution of something else. The illustration of the moth and the candle is interesting, but not the answer.



Quote 12: p.202/3


What is the primitively advantageous trait that sometimes misfires to generate religion?




BELIEVE WHAT I TELL YOU: That is the outcome of the moth example, so how will it apply to people? He answers (p.203), “My specific hypothesis is about children.” And it is? “there will be a selective advantage to child brains that possess the rule of thumb: believe, without question, whatever your grown-ups tell you.”


Now I have to confess again that I am confused, because I'm sure at the beginning of this book Richard disparaged the tooth fairy! He chunters on (sorry but that's what it is) about soldiers obeying their commands and computers doing what they are told until we come to his conclusion:



Quote 13: p.205


If I have done my softening-up work well you will already have completed my argument about child brains and religion. Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them.




AN UNREAL CHILDREN'S WORLD: I know in my Introduction I spoke about desiring to respect Richard but these two sentences make me – and if you dare be honest, it's got to make you – wonder about the author's sanity. This is the peak of imbecility that I think I've ever come across.


The argument follows that because children have a disposition to believe unquestionably, this is why people believe religion. Let's leave religion out of this for a moment. How long do children believe their parents? Purely in their formative years! I can only believe that as an Oxford scholar, Richard is used to only giving lectures where his students take in and believe his every word. He lives in an unreal world. The world I live in has teenagers questioning everything!


He dares come out with this incredible hypothetical link because he has a fear about children being indoctrinated by religion. Even if that was true in some cases, as someone who has taught in Sunday School classes in years in the past, I can tell him that doesn't stop large numbers of children deciding for themselves what they want to believe, and many of them walking away from the life of the church.


Indoctrination tends to be linked with culture and when it is not, the individual child clearly has the ability to choose for themselves. Knowledge or information does not indoctrinate. If it did we would probably use it to stop people smoking or taking addictive drugs or participating in sexual practices that spread disease in epidemic proportions. This man, and anyone who believes what he has just said, lives in an ivory tower that is just totally dissociated from real life. Therefore I won't even bother to comment on his silly portrayal of various Biblical teachings, which were simply petty anyway!


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Part 5: Psychologically Primed for Religion



Quote 14: p.208/9


The brain is a collection of organs (or ‘modules') …. Religion can be seen as a by product of the misfiring of several of these modules… children have a natural tendency towards a dualistic theory of mind




MIND OR MATTER: He goes on to explain how dualists believe in matter and mind, while monists believe that mind is a manifestation of matter. Dualists believe in a spirit that is separate from the body. Hmmm, yes, as I pointed out in an earlier chapter there are an increasing body of scientists who believe that and are working on that basis. Materialism for them is inadequate to satisfactorily explain all the phenomena in the observable world. Richard is wedded to materialism and has a closed mind and so has to explain everything in the world from a material point of view. He's just one school of scientific thought.



Quote 15: p.214


Other by-product explanations of religion have been proposed by…..




DISAGREEMENT AMONG ATHEISTS: If you look at the page number of this quote you'll see we have jumped on a number of pages because, yet again I can only conclude that Richard is just trying to fill pages because he is having a go at other scientists and doing little to espouse his cause of ‘God is a Delusion' – which I'm sure would annoy him because he is so passionate about this theory he is building out of smoke.


What the current quote says is that there are whole loads of atheists who postulate their theories (and no doubt make money out of it) but there is no consensus. What none of them appear to realise is that, when it comes to Christianity at least, the religious belief is built not on emotion, but well grounded historical fact, which is then supported by centuries of confirming behaviour and experience.


These theorists appear like the multitude of idol worshippers that the apostle Paul found when he visited Athens : “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” (Acts 17:21 )


How he has the nerve to pillory Christians for promulgating unbelievable ideas to credulous, unthinking individuals, I really don't know, for this seems to be exactly what he is doing himself here.



Quote 16: p.216


the comparison between falling in love and religion




LOVE AND RELIGION: I had hoped I would turn over the page and come to the next part, but the pages go on and on like a nightmare. He moves on to talk about emotional aspects of religious experience but merely because various people in history have had clearly emotional experiences, it neither builds nor casts down the case for religion.


He goes on to talk about self-deception (p.217) and wishful thinking (p.218) but none of these things remotely touch on the fundamental evidences of Christianity. It is like watching a person you have never met before, from behind a glass window, who you can't hear, and who you know nothing else about, and going on to postulate theories about who they are and what they are doing. It is completely detached from reality. This really is a dire section!


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Part 6: Tread Softly because you tread on my Memes



Quote 17: p.222


memes – units of cultural inheritance




MEME BELIEFS: I think the best I can do on the subject of memes is refer you to Alister McGrath's  Dawkins' God and chapter 4 where McGrath considers at length “four critical difficulties that confront this specific idea” which he first summarises as:

  • There is no reason to suppose that cultural evolution is Darwinian, or indeed that evolutionary biology has any particular value in accounting for the development of ideas.
  • There is no direct evidence for the existence of “memes” themselves.
  • The case for the existence of the meme rests on the questionable assumption of a direct analogy with a gene which proves incapable of bearing theoretical weight that is placed upon it.
  • There is no necessary reason to propose the existence of a “meme” as an explanatory construct. The observational data can be accounted for perfectly well by other models and mechanisms.


For the detailed working out of those “critical difficulties” I refer you to Dawkins' God.


In what follows Richard goes to the peak of materialistic theory by taking ‘memes', theoretical cultural replicators and using these presumably material elements of presumably immense complexity, to explain ideas. I'm afraid I feel again like the boy in Hans Anderson's, Emperor's New Clothes, who hasn't been told what you should believe, and so I come to this with simple naivety that has not been conditioned by ideas of clever, so I question them – and so should you.


IDEAS AND CONCEPTS: From where I stand, ideas are simply concepts that are communicated from one person to another by word of mouth or other communication means. But the fact that I have an idea in my mind, doesn't mean to say that I believe it, and it is at this point that the meme-religion analogy falls down. I don't believe in Harry Potter, except as a fictional character in a book. I don't believe in fairies, apart from them being imaginary little beings in children's stories.


The fact is that if anyone told us they genuinely believed Harry Potter was a real person and that fairies really do exist, we would recommend they saw a psychiatrist. Now the ideas of Harry Potter or fairies are thus only acceptable to deluded minds and will never be passed on as fact because the vast majority of us can distinguish between imagination and reality.


Because Richard has never troubled to get alongside a sane, intelligent, modern twenty-first century Christian an explored their beliefs and their experiences and compared those with millions of other similar people both present and past, he hasn't been able to see that all his talk about ideas is just missing the point, because Christian faith is considerably more than just ideas. It is also verifiable experience.

LINK to Appendix 7 - Science or Philosophy



Quote 18: p.231


We are finally equipped to turn to the memetic theory of religion




MORE UNREALITY: The reason I jumped forward so many pages from the previous quote is that Richard has simply been indulging himself in all those pages with further analogies which may or may not be right – but has not mentioned religion until now.


In the following paragraph he refers to ‘a partial list religious memes' so what he is assuming is that these pieces of incredibly complex micro matter are the means of replicating and thus repeating ideas that become part of us, yet, as I've just suggested experience tells us that most of us exclude those ideas that are patently unreal.


The proof of what I have just said is shown when you simply examine each of his examples:



Quote 19: p.231


You will survive your own death




FLUCTUATING MEMES: This he puts forward as a self-replicating ‘built-in' idea. I have recently observed a non-Christian funeral where it was patently obvious that virtually all the congregation has obviously ‘evolved' and were freed from this meme! And it was the most depressing, hopeless and miserable experience for most there.


If this ‘religious meme' existed, and this is perhaps the most fundamental argument against it, then it would be in every human being. Moreover does this replicator come into being half way through a person's existence, when they ‘get religion'? Even more, does this replicator die off in some people who had apparently been very religious and then not at all religious?



Quote 20: p.231


If you die a martyr, you will go to an especially wonderful part of paradise




MINORITY BELIEFS: Now if ideas were religious memes, then we might expect them to appear uniformly across the whole faith communities spectrum – but they don't. This particular one is a minority belief of a minority religion.



Quote 21: p.231


Heretics… should be killed




MORE MINORITY BELIEFS: Now these religious memes obviously change. Not only are they an expression of belief by a minority of, in this case, superstitious people poorly imitating a genuine world religion earlier in history, but they only exist in the present in a small part of the world. I assume in the second and third of these items, Richard is referring to Islam.



Quote 22: p.231


Belief in God is a supreme virtue….




GUILT: The negative of this point being made by Richard here is that such belief produces guilt. I think if I really believed in natural selection in a social context, I would consider such guilt expressions to be ‘weak elements' which would be overcome by stronger ‘desires for peace elements' and therefore al guilt elements would die out.



Quote 23: p.232


Faith (belief without evidence) is a virtue




MISUNDERSTOOD CHRISTIANITY: The difficulty with applying his theory to religion across the board is that he is using examples of minority beliefs. This one, which is not the basis of historic Biblical Christianity, he uses just to pour out some derisory beliefs: “The more your beliefs defy the evidence, the more virtuous you are.” I don't know where he's got that weird idea from! Not from my part of the stable, intelligent Biblical Christian world! Sounds more like the philosophy of atheistic bombastic scientists.


The last three I'm not going to bother to cover – they're dealt with earlier in the book. Silly stuff.



Quote 24: p.232


Two different religions might be seen as two alternative memeplexes




LEAPS OF FAITH: This is his way of trying to stave off some of my questions above. To write off different religions as analogous to different ‘gene complexes' takes all philosophy and all belief systems and reduces them to ‘mechanical', ‘chemical' or ‘electrical' activities – as it would do to all literature, art, music etc. – which is exactly the point we made in earlier chapters that all materialistic atheism is left with is pointless, meaningless activity that takes away all senses of wonder and awe at works of art which, as we again said earlier is what Richard desperately seeks to counter in Unweaving the Rainbow, with his great leaps of faith. A good existentialist is our man!


Isn't atheism just another meme-plex according to these speculative meanderings, and so of what ‘value' is it? This is all speculation and it seems to me that the various atheistic, materialistic writers have never acknowledged that this speculation should cover their own positions. But of course they slant it as they do to try to find ammunition against the existence of God, because that is their starting place, and not their finishing place! Essentially it's called dishonest science!



Quote 25: p.233


Where religion becomes organised




ORGANISED RELIGION: I think at the end of this Part, Richard makes a good point but doesn't realise it is strictly limited. I think he is right, that so often humanity tries to ‘manage' God and manage people and so we have the organisations that direct people, and take on the form of any other human institution. Catholicism certainly does this around the world, and I agree with the other examples he cites.


In discussing the God question, what Richard fails to do time and again, is distinguish between the fundamental beliefs of a religion and the human organisation that so often comes into being to manage and perpetuate it. For a number of world religions, I believe the fundamental beliefs are questionable, and I have no problem with them being thoroughly investigated and questioned –and rejected if found wanting! In this respect, I believe that Christianity is observably different and does stand up to scrutiny. In most world religions, Christianity included, the confusion arises when human beings try to manage it professionally. It is then that much questionable activity has taken place, in both the distant and recent past. That Richard makes us face up to this, we should be thankful!


LINK to Appendix 8 - Facts, Formulas & Freaky Behaviour


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Part 7: Cargo Cults



Quote 26: p.234


Unlike the cult of Jesus, the origins of which are not reliably attested….




BLATANT IGNORANCE: Sorry, just couldn't let this one go! We've covered it in earlier chapters and will no doubt have to again before we finish, but this is Richard at his ignorant best. I say that factually not derogatorily.



Quote 27: p.239


I don't want to make too much of the cargo cults




WEIRD SUPERSTITIONS: Oh right! Just six pages! They are a good example of superstitious belief but unfortunately the thing Richard fails to note is that both the foundation and ongoing belief is merely that – superstitious belief and no more, yet the foundation of historic Biblical Christianity (how many more times to we have to describe it like that, to counter the lack of understanding in this book?) is utterly different and in no way conforms at all to the examples that Richard is able to quote in this chapter. Again it does nothing for the argument that belief in God is a delusion – at least as far as Christianity is concerned!

LINK to Appendix 2 - Basic Christian Beliefs


LINK to Appendix 8 - Facts, Formulas & Freaky Behaviour


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NB. In what follows Q stand for ‘Quote'


Part 1: The Darwinian Imperative


In this first Part, Richard starts to crank up the excitement with discussion about natural selection and how it shows apparently unneeded activity but which ultimately works towards survival of the fittest. When it comes to religion it is difficult to see how this creates a survival benefit.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • Richard seems to want to explain religion mechanistically (Q.1)
  • He personifies Nature to give a sense of meaningful direction (Q.2)
  • He seeks to show how various creatures expend energy to aid natural selection (Q.3)
  • While he asks questions of religion he doesn't explain how modern self-destructive tendencies fit in with natural selection (Q.4)
  • Before he seeks to bring answers he uses abusive language of religion, none of which fit (Q.5) Yet he fails to come up with any answers and keeps us dangling.



Part 2: Direct Advantages of Religion


Within this fairly short part he merely speculates as to why there do seem to be some advantages that come with religion.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • His suggestion that good may come from the placebo effect, even if true outguns atheism which hasn't been seen to have that good effect! (Q.6)
  • He gets into a bind blaming religion as acting as a crutch, while at the same time creating guilt – contradictory ideas! (Q.7). He doesn't realise that genuine Christianity is all about removing guilt.
  • He recognises that Christianity has a consoling effect but still wants to remove it even though he has no substitute in atheism. He obviously doesn't know about the millions of lives that have been transformed for good by Christianity. (Q.8)
  • He starts moving towards suggesting there are ‘religious nodes' within the brain, but really doesn't go anywhere with the suggestion. (Q.9)



Part 3: Group Selection


Group selection is about Darwinian selection theoretically selecting whole groups and in respect of Christianity survived because of brotherly love and group loyalty. Why he mentions this I'm not sure because he clearly doesn't believe it.


Oddly in this part he postulates ideas why religion may have developed but obviously doesn't believe his suggestions, so it is difficult to see why he has included this part. (Q.10)



Part 4: Religion as a By-Product of Something Else


The point he seeks to make here is that in natural selection there are sometimes situations where the reasoning behind the activity is not as might be thought, but the end product is a by-product of activity. This might also be true of religion.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • Despite laying this out he does not go anywhere with it. (Q.11)
  • He suggests that the misfiring of religion is like children who seem to believe whatever their parents say, yet the truth shows they don't believe it long unless it is part of their culture (Q.12)
  • The apparent only reason that he can make this bizarre connection is because he is apparently paranoid about children being brainwashed (Q.13)



Part 5: Psychologically Primed for Religion


Here he distinguishes between material scientists who see the mind as only matter and those who believe in matter and spirit. Children, he says, are disposed to believe the latter idea. He then develops different approaches different scientists have as to why organs etc. function as they do. He also equates love with religion, both being irrational! A wide ranging an confusing discussion ensues without conclusions about origins of religion.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • An increasing number of scientists are beginning to consider the alternative to a purely material viewpoint that Richard is locked into (Q.14)
  • At the end of it all, all he can do is accept that lots of different scientists have lots of different ideas. No one knows!!! (Q.15)
  • His references to emotion being involved in religion do not annul religion (Q.16). This is a section completely detached from reality.



Part 6: Tread Softly because you tread on my Memes


Here he moves out on his favourite invention – memes, undefined, theoretical replicators of cultural instincts, and bizarrely tries to tie religious ideas in with them.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • Put most simply, ideas can be changed and therefore the analogy falls down (Q.17). McGrath is also disparaging about ‘memes'.
  • As noted previously ideas can be easily changed (Q.18)
  • The list of possible religious memes that he puts up can be easily seen to be limited to small parts of the world religious community and are thus not good examples (Q.19-23)
  • He seeks to reduce religious ideas to chemical etc. brain reactions, but fails to see that his own stance, all philosophy, and all art would thus be similarly reduced (Q.24)
  • I have complete sympathy for his negative views of religious organisation but he fails to distinguish between fundamental beliefs and organisations (Q.25)



Part 7: Cargo Cults


Here, for an unclear reason, he talks about the cargo cults, possibly to suggest that they are a picture of all religion.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • His lack of understanding and ignorance about Jesus Christ is revealed again (Q.26)
  • He confuses superstitious, almost groundless beliefs, with historical fact-based Christianity (Q.27)


Overall Comment:


This chapter seemed to drag on and on and on as he slowly built up, as he saw it, an argument that religion comes out of some biological disposition. Yet, even he has to use lots of ‘unsure' words because this is all purely theoretical supposition and he seeks to add credibility to it, as previously, by adding in the same theoretic suppositions from other atheists.


It is clear that he seeks to establish a philosophical-scientific framework to support his atheism. It is clear that he starts with atheism and seeks to use highly speculative and, at times, totally bizarre and unreal suggestions to bolster he starting beliefs. This chapter has been written to give the illusion of science but is in fact all speculation and philosophy. Another ‘smoke-filled' chapter that lacks credibility and does nothing whatsoever to counter the fundamental evidences and claims of historic fact-based Christianity.


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