Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Problem With the God Delusion

Richard Dawkins may have written a popular book, but it seems that he should be quite obvious he has failed in his goal to convert anyone who was not an Atheist already to convert to his position.

I may be skeptical about the existence of God or Gods, simply because such a thing has not been scientifically proven, so my point will not be made with the problems that stem from religious arguments, but rather the same problem that always boils down to any debate between someone who believes in God and someone who doesn't.

The basic argument boils down to, "If there isn't a God who created the Universe?" The counter response is typically, "Who created God?" Neither question can be answered with our current level of understanding, and the models Dawkins proposes seem just as ludicrous as the creator, if we are looking at it from an objective perspective.

The God Delusion, along with Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World, have been on my reading list for a long time. I've finally managed to check them out a local library. The ideas presented are interesting, but they will not convert me to his position of hard atheism, but then I am more likely to believe scientific explanations than a sheer religious one for elements that have already been proven -- evolution for example. The origin of life, as of yet, remains a mystery. It is possible that life DID come about by chance, but we need more evidence of this, rather than assuming that a *lack* of evidence of a designer is proof.

Now, Dawkins relies on some inaccurate definitions in The God Delusion, particularly misinterpreting the meaning of pantheism. He also places Mormon, on page 36 of his book, as not being a Christian religion. I can only assume this is ignorance based on lack of research. It can be forgiven because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints features very little into any points of The God Delusion, but there is one area of particular concern when ex-Mormons quote from this book.

I have seen the line, "The problem with religion is that it makes people comfortable with not having the answers" quoted by many former Mormons. These are people who should really know better as part of breaking with the faith is coming to understand that you *no longer* have the answers to everything. The Mormon faith, does after all, provide ready answers to many of life's question. These often follow some kind of internal logic, but most claims that the religion makes can be easily disproven scientifically.

We don't need DNA evidence to prove the Book of Mormon is a product of the nineteenth century. Writing analysis is enough, and only a BYU study has shown that the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants were not a product of the same author. (One was conducted by the UTLM, whose motives I am just as suspicious of as BYU. The secular analysis is harder to ignore.) In fact, what Dawkins meant to say was that religion makes people comfortable with having the wrong answers. It even makes them defend the wrong answers vehemently in light of better evidence. (Science is just as guilty of this, but change happens much faster. Many Creationists who attack Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection do not realize that much of Darwin's notions about the evolution of different species were wrong, but instead of looking into the science, they are more comfortable attacking him as a religious figure, a staus which Darwin himself would not have wanted.

The fact is, The God Delusion won't win any converts. It is a book who appeal to people who are already Atheists, or Agnostic theists like myself who merely want to see what the man has to say. Former Mormons should be a little more leary of quotes like the one above and not include them in their signatures as they had to learn to become comfortable with no longer having all the answers.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Children Will Suffer in Same Sex Marriages

As human beings we often make poorly conceived arguments on issues we feel strongly on. The commenter from the Vanessa Honda pohotography blog is one such example when she claims that children will suffer as a result of same-sex marriages. She also makes a historically inaccurate statement that the idea of viewing marriages as a social contract is a new one.

I do not nomrally single a commenter out as I can comment on my own blog just as easily as someone else can, but this sweet and special spirit needs to examine her arguments and re-evaluate them.

Now, Vanessa is entitled to her opinion. I would also not be unjustified in deleting her comment because this blog is my playground. However, she has violated none of my rule about comments. Simply but, I do not allow advertising in comments. Vanessa's argument is worded well, although it looks like Blogger stripped the paragraphs from her posts, but she failed to demonstrate exactly how children will suffer as a result of same-sex marriages.

I realize that America's educational system is sadly lacking when it comes to teaching legitimate science, but I'm pretty sure that Vanessa realizes that same-sex marriages will not produce children. It is a biological impossibility for humans. Her arguments might be valid if a gay couple adopts children, but there is no evidence to support that adoptive gay parents are worse than straight parents. Recent studies indicate that in fact, they make slightly better caregivers than straight couples.

All of this, however, is irrelevant to the argument I made in my last post, which is, that if the Mormon church wants polygamy to return, which they do, supporting initiatives that support a broader definition of marriage would help them achieve that goal.

But, it may surprise her to find I do not have strong opinions on this issue. The best argument I can conjure up for allowing it is that it is not a bad idea to encourage monogamy in a segment of the populatoin that has a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases. Encourgaing monogamy and making people pledge faithfulness will serve to bring the rate of STDs among gay couples down.

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