Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goodreads Review of The God Delusion

The God Delusion The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Trouble with God Delusion

Richard Dawkins' book excites the ire of religionists everywhere, as it was expected to do if it couldn't convert them. But the surprising thing to me is that it seems that there are no religionists who take it as a handbook to guide their own improved fitness for survival. The world is so overwhelmed by a kind of fascination with the tangibles that there must be a pretty wide opening for someone to make a good case for the intangibles again.

But for so long as there is always new reliably real stuff to uncover, and especially for so long as there is new hope that man's power will be ever improving, the religionists haven't got a prayer. Unless they're just drunk on their power too.

The trouble with God delusion, when it places its faith on such demonstrably idiotic things as Creation "Science" or the factual truth of Jesus' life, or making the Bible into some kind of literal Word - handbook for living even - is that it so clearly is delusional.

There's nothing in Dawkins' book to be disputed - any reasonable man, and presumably this must include some religionists, has to agree with everything that Dawkins has to say. But you don't have to agree with any of his conclusions. Come on, here's a guy who wants to explain falling in love in terms of evolutionary science for crying out loud. Here I thought it was yet another stupid Western invention, and he's calling it natural!

Ultimately, his is a straw dog argument. He props up the God only a delusional (or infantile, as he makes that case too) person would have faith in. God the father. God the creator. The God who can be addressed by pronouns, like Him or still more idiotically Her, only slightly removed from the bearded skyman. This is religion perverted for human purposes, not religion as connection to something beyond knowledge which might still have survival value.

For many of us there is still "god" in falling in love, which as Dawkins makes sure to point out is at the very least as delusional as believing that Jesus is real . Sure, you can believe that it's all about the hormones, and you can even decide to just enjoy the delusion of it since it makes life so much more pleasant. There may even be inspiration in the Bible, though who could ever know since its thumpers create of its words such hateful inhumanity.

Your counterpart's gonna know if you don't quite mean it.

I find nothing, absolutely nothing, in Dawkins' book which threatens God as I mean the term: The name for what can't be named, beyond the pale, eternally, of human understanding. No, I'll go further, beyond the pale of any understanding. Mine is an aspirational God, but as real for that as someone else's delusional constructed God.

Ultimately, the irony (which is something religionists could stand to learn about) of this book is that it props up Man as God's usurper on the idiotic assumption that ultimately everything maybe can be understood. I think Dawkins is a godist from the 'wrong' direction since isn't man-the-understander ultimately god-like in the complexity of his designs? Maybe science is just religion going backwards.

Man as we know him is a patently lousy designer when compared to natural complexity. The flaw in intelligent design arguments is that intelligence doesn't even come close to being able to solve the problems "solved" by unintelligent evolution. The argument by design should be turned on its head already, since a fancy watch or a 747 is that much less complex and interesting that anything from nature. You know artifice by its deficiencies, not by its cleverness.

There aren't any problems for nature to solve in the first place. There is no intention to evolution. It's just a dialogic interplay of figure with ground in some direction which we can only know with certainty will remain forever beyond any one of us, and likely all of us collectively because, well, nothing lasts forever. And it might go in reverse just as well as forward, making it a toss up whether God is at the end or the beginning.

But a pretty certain way to ensure that the end is nearer than we'd like to think is to take over that direction, by design. Like we can fly this spaceship earth!? Human design - human technology - solves problems for human survival. That's why it's anti-nature, and for that matter, anti-evolutionary. It gives mankind "unfair" advantage, and turns us into the scourge that we have become, up against the very ground of our existence, "Mother" earth.

I'd say there's nothing wrong with God as shorthand for what we cannot and will not ever know or understand. Dawkins is utterly and absolutely correct when he complains that God in this usage can never stand in for what we can and should and must know as our consciousness expands or raises or whatever it must, naturally, do.

But it isn't very clever of us to allow our designs to destroy our ground. I shall never be inclined to favor a faith-based answer to one which can demonstrably be proven. But sometimes, as with the old religious water systems of Borneo, what looks like faith and superstition is a kind of connection with something beyond articulate understanding which however simply works as an organizing principle (they've fixed that water system now, with good ol' Western knowhow). Rather like patriotism, I'm sure, or brand loyalty. It saves thinking things through every time. It becomes a shorthand for what someone, once, somewhere actually did know.

Well, just like science whose knowers are all spread out in time and space and have to be, um, trusted, perhaps religion also can compile collective wisdom which is beyond the grasp of conscious intentional understanding. Except when it's interfered with by human power brokers, which is the problem Dawkins should have focused on. Well, actually it is the problem he was focusing on, except he kind of threw out the baby with the bathwater.

And if it seems that I have emptied the Term for god of all meaning, well that's just fine with me. That term, God, should never have been voiced in the first place. I prefer the dialogic Tao which slips from both personification and meaning. And there are ways of knowing which don't entail control as proof of knowing.

Dawkins mocks "dualists" who believe mind can be separated from body. Yet he apparently might believe that the mind is like software running on its hardware substrate. He invokes digital technologies to describe memes, which endure unlike analogic transcriptions. Well, I don't buy the software/hardware divide any more than I do the immortal soul apart from body. It's all one to me, man.

The religionists should get a clue. And Dawkins should stop creating man in straw dog god's image. There's no art to that at all. It's only virtual reality can be designed, by God or Man. Reality is a conspiracy!

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1 comment:

Karraline said...

you should read Manly P Halls book "The Secret Teachings of All Ages"