Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Calculate Your God Delusion Index

     Picked up The God Delusion again today, so I can finally finish reading it. Upon its completion, I'll be moving on to The Origin of Species or Climbing Mount Improbable.
     I'd make a poll for my readers to vote on which route I should head down first, but I'm not sure I even have enough readers to make it worthwhile. I'm also not sure if I have enough readers that have read both books, or have an understanding of both to have a reasoning behind the choice they'd make. Ah, well! If you have an opinion, feel free to post it here.

     Moving on, I found the following video on Samuel's "Buddhist Okie". I don't normally watch six minute videos, especially requiring interaction, but this flew by considering how much I laughed at the ridiculousness of it (you'll see the humor if you're atheist as well). However, it's not exactly meant to be a joke, which is the baffling part.
     Anyway, you'll need a pen and paper unless you're good at keeping a numeral score in your head. I'm personally not the greatest at it, but turns out I didn't need to— I got a score of zero. Make me proud and get the same, or at least have it churn your brain enough that were you to take it again you'd get a lower score. I'd love to know what you got, so post it in a comment once you're done. Even if you get something insanely high, don't worry.


JMay said...

Thank you soooo much for all your sweet comments :-)

It really means a lot!


Samuel said...

245, Moderately Deluded. :-)

As for reading...

After finishing the God Delusion I would go with Origin of the Species.

You can finish the God Delusion in a short amount of time - but OotS will require quite the time investment.

OotS is a classic that everyone should read. I've only read parts of it - but Darwin was a brilliant thinker.

Dawkins.... eh. He's entertaining, but a little sophmoric when it comes to religion.

Trying to disprove claims about God and religion by arguing against fundamentalist wackos is kind of like trying to show how you're the best baseball player in the world by beating a bunch of kindergartners at T-ball.

Riah said...

You know, I usually don't like atheist because all the ones I know are doing it in the most uneducated manner trying to just be a rebel for no reason.

I like that you are actually searching for truth and reality and understanding and have a purpose for your beliefs.

Even though I'm a Christian ((like hardcore)) I can honestly say I have respect for your beliefs :)

Almeidinha said...

Well, I can't suggest which book you should read. =/
I'm currently reading "the God Delusion" as well, however it's going slowly for I didn't find that "revealing". =p
I'm also reading "Sophie's World" and it appears to be one of the best I've ever read.

Had seen the video. Got 5 points.
but it does seem like it is meant to provoke.

"You know, I usually don't like atheist because all the ones I know are doing it in the most uneducated manner trying to just be a rebel for no reason."

Yeah, there are many that "become" atheists for stupid reasons and try to argue with every single religious. But not all of us are like that. =)

D said...

Edward Current is hilarious, he's got a lot of great videos (mostly in a sarcastic vein). As for the books, I recommend Climbing Mount Improbable if you want an accessible account of how evolution makes things better without any external influence or direction. On the Origin of Species is what you should read if you want to get a look at the roots of evolutionary biology.

As for Dawkins on religion, he's got the same "plainspoken" problem as PZ Myers: so many people suffer from the illusion that theism can be sophisticated or worthy of respect, and that's just not the case. It's belief in fairy tales, plain and simple, no matter how much anyone tries to gussy it up. Calling it like it is gets you falsely accused of all sorts of things, from begging questions to straw-manning. But it turns out that foolish ideas are foolish, no matter how many people cherish them.

Alexis! said...

@ JMay: You're very welcome!

@ Samuel: Your analogy was hysterical I must admit, but I've been told that Dawkins's Climbing Mount Improbable is less like his other works, and focuses more on the task at hand-- discussing the subject without disproving someone else along with it.

@ Riah: Well the type of person you're talking about seems young and/or immature. In that light, they likely do not have any idea of what they're actually talking about, therefore are not credible in anything they claim about being atheist. This might be way you are able to respect my beliefs because they are actually genuine and thought through. :)

@ Almeidinha: It might seem provocative, but I thought the questions were appropriate for the result. The point was to provoke, or so I thought. People need to be provoked into answering tough questions with an honest answer. /shrug

@ D: So far, your idea sounds best. Reading Dawkins first, and then going back to Darwin for a look at history.
As for the latter of what you said, I completely agree! If you believe in fairy tales you're not credible by any counts of mine.

kissafrog69 said...

It is strange to me, but I scored a "10". They were very point blank questions. I don't know if that really made a difference in how I scored, but it does make one think, right?

Alexis! said...

@ kissafrog69: I'm really surprised you only got a 10, I suppose my conception of what all you believed is quite different than the truth! I guess I was a little deluded myself, in light of you. ;) Regardless, I am glad you got such a low score! Haha. :)

Samuel said...

"If you believe in fairy tales you're not credible by any counts of mine."

Have you read the Odyssey? I believe it's a work of fiction, a "fairy tale" if you will. But nonetheless - I still find hope and inspiration from Odysseus's valiant effort to return to his home - and isn't that the point of the book?

It could be based on a true story.... but by the time it got to Homer and parchment it was embellished more than a little.

D - Boiling theism down to "belief in fairy tales" is simply an ignorant and inaccurate statement.

I'd prefer if you at least had the honesty to call it "a belief in myths."

Alexis! said...

@ Samuel: I have not, but perhaps I will. I'm sure I will in college, by any means.

I know this was directed towards D, but I wouldn't say it is ignorant to say theism is "belief in fairy tales" when it is simply a more brunt way of saying "a belief in myths". A myth is story, but not necessarily believed or disbelieved. Something someone is skeptic of, or at least that is what I was always under the impression of personally. Then again, it's one of those words that people will have various definitions of. :)

Samuel said...

A Myth is a symbolic narrative/story to convey a truth.

In other words.... I hope you know that many of the great Christian theologians and Rabbinic scholars don't take Genesis 1 as a literal, scientific account. The meaning behind the myth is more important than the symbols the myth uses to convey the message.

It's Fundies who insist on literalism - and their Biblical exegesis is not only intellectually dishonest but not even consistent with the tradition they emerged from.

As an atheist to an atheist - I recommend Robin Meyer's book "Saving Jesus" for an intellectually honest interpretation of the Gospels. There are probably better books out there - but Meyer's is the most accessible to the layman.

Samuel said...

And I don't know if I should really call myself an atheist.... I think the term non-theist is more appropriate.

While it may be seen as meaning the same thing.... I'm not so much against the belief in gods; rather they just don't play a role in my own religion.

Alexis! said...

@ Samuel: I can recognize the difference between the two, but God(s) not playing a role in your own beliefs would make you an atheist in my book, by defining label. Anyway, regardless of what they do and don't take literally, whoever it may be, they're applying it to reality in the end (these are the folks I'm talking about, that is), which is ridiculous. They're ignorant to scientific truths, and once presented but unaccepted, then they're just ignorant in their accepting of reality for whatever reason. Of course this doesn't rule for everyone, but for some if not most.

D said...

@ Samuel: You said, "D - Boiling theism down to 'belief in fairy tales' is simply an ignorant and inaccurate statement." Of what, may I ask, am I being ignorant? As for accuracy, I fail to see a meaningful distinction between a fairy tale and any other kind of myth.

Tell you what: explain to me how any variant of theism is more supported than a belief in either of unicorns, leprechauns, or actual fairies, and you'll have changed my mind. Otherwise, I simply see no reason to treat belief in deities as any more substantial or less childish than belief in unicorns, leprechauns, or fairies.

I've read the Odyssey, and I did find it inspiring; I also find Superman comics to be inspiring, sometimes. There's nothing wrong with taking a solid moral lesson from a fictional tale. What sticks in my craw is when people try to insist that it's literally true, demand that such inanity be respected, and try to legislate based on their personal and restrictive interpretations of such stories.

And if deities play no role in your religion, then we probably don't have many actual disagreements between us. After all, "atheism" only means "not theism." The categories of theism and atheism are mutually exclusive and exhaustive: you either believe in god(s) and are thus a theist, or you lack such beliefs and therefore fall under the "everything else" category of atheism (non-theism would be a synonym, so your distinction holds no water). Cheers!

Samuel said...

D- "What sticks in my craw is when people try to insist that it's literally true, demand that such inanity be respected, and try to legislate based on their personal and restrictive interpretations of such stories."

Me too. But I think the problem is lumping ALL theists into that category....

And really, the question of whether there is a God, an Intelligent Designer, whatever you want to call it - is not a scientific question but a philosophical one.

Dawkins problem is that he takes God as a natural phenomena that can be studied like any other natural phenomena. But I don't think any theist would agree that their conception of God is like that.

I was trying to play devil's advocate for theists - but D.... the reasons you gave are why I ultimately can't call myself a theist.

"atheism (non-theism would be a synonym, so your distinction holds no water)"

I was just trying to distinguish myself from militant atheists. Rather than making a positive statement "there is no god", my position is more accurately rendered "god is not relevant."
I still allow for the possibility of a god or gods.... but it's not important for any of the things I am concerned about.

Alexis Mullino said...

@ Samuel: I have to disagree with you about the question of God, and what kind of question he is. God, should he exist or not, is a scientific question because if he does or does not changes everything we have scientific fact of. It changes the universe, natural selection, morality, conscience, everything we know. Were it to be a philosophical question on God's existence— to me that's already admitting he's not a reality in the sense that he exists in our physical world, whether taking on a physical form or not, but simply an idea. God being a philosophical question would render him a fictional character people retrieve inspiration from, no different than a comic book like D mentioned previously.

Of course, no theist would agree with God being accountable as a natural phenomena were he to truly exist (which they certainly believe so). But why would they? Most theists have no concrete God Hypothesis because there's no factual proof behind it strong enough to be believable. If a theist is at that level of thinking, they're not dumb. This is why theists get so offended when you pry about God, they know it's ridiculous to believe in a virgin birth, etc., because it's not scientifically possible, and only a fairy tale of magic. It must be personally terrorizing to be an intelligent being and blindly claim to believe in numerous other stories they know cannot possibly be true by works of science. In the end, everything is science, and God is no exclusion.

Samuel said...

"In the end, everything is science, and God is no exclusion."

What about subjective things.... the beauty in a piece of art is truly not a scientifically measurable, objective fact - but rather a subjective perception and valuation.

Just because God is a philosophical question does not render him a fictional character. The thing is - science needs empirical proof - but God, not being a physical being, is outside of all of that.

That's why the Greeks called it Meta-physics.

But the bottom line for me....
I've tried to read every argument I can for the existence of God - and the argument of the mystic is the only one that is convincing to me.

Experience is not infallible - but when you have consistent experiences distributed throughout time and place, even among creeds - it lends credence to the idea that there is something beyond - or else our minds are just hard-wired to play tricks on us.

Alexis Mullino said...

@ Samuel: Were God to exist, he would have to be something physical, even if he were as small as an atom. Maybe he's a ton of atoms, all spread apart so far they don't make up a visibly "solid" object. Regardless though, he would be physical, he would be something that can be studied no matter how long it took for us to get to the point of studying him.

So let's say God is perception of art, or God is a feeling, or something relative along the sorts. In that case, he's only an idea, and in that case, he's of course not a physical being. However, this also means he does not exist in the literal sense at all, he is man-made and the idea of him became trending, a meme. People are believing in nothing and a majority advocating something doesn't make it true, were that to even be true.

Our brains/minds are wired to play tricks on us, but I don't believe so by complete instinct. Of course, should we see something circular with two darker spots in the place of eyes, a slightly darker nose and mouth in the area where they would be, we think of a face. This, among an endless slew of examples, could be part instinct, perhaps originating in the hard-wiring of a brain. However, a lot of it is also built upon by society, things we see such as movies, and experiences where we believe we're seeing something we're not, rendering it creativity of the mind. If we've seen it once, we're going to see it again, and we're going to convince ourselves of that if we want to. In reality though, we hardly ever see or hear the irrational things we think we do, and if we do there is a scientific explanation (regardless of if it is explainable at the exact time of its occurrence).

Like Orwell explained in 1984 through Winston and O'Brien, if they both saw O'Brien float off the floor like a bubble, he floated. When alone, we only have to convince ourselves, which in the presence of religion is alarmingly easy.

Trixie Racer said...

10. I guess it's possible to be highly spiritual without being deluded. :-P

Samuel said...

Alexis - "@ Samuel: Were God to exist, he would have to be something physical, even if he were as small as an atom. Maybe he's a ton of atoms, all spread apart so far they don't make up a visibly "solid" object. Regardless though, he would be physical, he would be something that can be studied no matter how long it took for us to get to the point of studying him."

That's begging the question, Dear.

I think most theists would say that God exists in a literal way - but outside of Creation (physical). How this is so.... well, basically theism boils down to - "God can do anything."

Theism is not my bag of tea - but I just wanted to point out that your argument that he must be physical is a case of begging the question.

Alexis Mullino said...

@ Trixie Racer: Seems to be :)

@ Samuel: I see your point now, okay. :)