Monday, January 21, 2008

Madeleine Bunting on Richard Dawkins

Dawkins seems to want to magic religion away. It's a silly delusion comparable to one of another great atheist humanist thinker, JS Mill. He wanted to magic away another inescapable part of human experience - sex; using not dissimilar arguments to Dawkins's, he pointed out the violence and suffering caused by sexual desire, and dreamt of a day when all human beings would no longer be infantilised by the need for sexual gratification, and an alternative way would be found to reproduce the human species. As true of Mill as it is of Dawkins: dream on.


Anonymous said...

I was just reading something in Schleiermacher's "On Religion" that describes the stance of Dawkins and his ilk to a T. Our young Romantic theologian takes his cultured friends to task for their summary dismissal of religion by pressing them as to how thoroughly they have investigated what they are dismissing and asks the following:

"Let us, then, I beg you, examine whence your contempt properly originates, from the individual or from the whole? Does it start with differing types and sects of religion as they have been in the world or from the concept itself? Some will without a doubt profess the latter view, and this always includes the unjustly vigorous despisers of religion, who extract their speculation from themselves and have not taken the pains to acquire a precise knowledge of the matter as it actually is."

And a little earlier on, he insists that he does not want to eradicate their contempt for religion, "I wish only to call upon you to be properly informed and thorough-going in that contempt." (First Speech)

That's the least we can ask of people like Dawkins and Harris.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, you can't have a society without sex. You can have it without religion though (Japan). So the comparison is flawed. Not to mention sex brings pleasure but madness are the only fruits of faith.

IlĂ­on said...

Last *I* checked, Japan is dying. As is Europe.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, you can't have a society without sex.

Where in the world would you have got the idea that religions DON'T want married couples to make love?
"Be fruitful and multiply", where do you think that came from?

You can have it without religion though (Japan).

And you can't have grounds for individual dignity, individual worth without it.

So the comparison is flawed.

No, your inability to understand the topic is.

Not to mention sex brings pleasure but madness are the only fruits of faith.

You couldn't be anymore mistaken. Religious devotion has brought lasting pleasure to an innumerable amount of people.
Sex, in the absense of a loving marriage, typically brings stress, frustration and a jaded view towards relationships and love.

Screened Version said...

J.S. Mill was not an atheist, he talks extensively about Jesus of Nazareth in his ethical treatise 'Utilitarianism'. Also the idea that he wanted to wish away sex is not true; again in 'Utilitarianism' he speaks of the need to indulge in higher and lower pleasures, the intellectual and sensual, those possessed only by human beings and those possessed by animals.

Your claims need justification.