Archive for Peter Atkins

The Exam Delusion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 22, 2012 by Mrsbeard

So, I have an exam next week and I should be studying but I found “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins online for free.
Every time I go into a book shop I intend on buying it, but then I buy something else that I read once and never pick up again, even if it’s a really good book.
I’ve been doing this practice for years, well… ever since the book was released.

Anyway, in my attempt to avoid studying I’ve started reading the book that is still so highly criticized and said to be the “devil’s works”.
So far, I am enjoying it and although there has been no mention of true arguments just yet (I’m only up to chapter 2), Dawkins does point out some important issues.
Obviously, if you are interested, go ahead and read it.
Most of the “shit-talking” has obviously been from religious Dawin/Dawkins haters, that is expected when you publish a book of this nature.
Even if you are religious, I recommend that you read it; I doubt it will change your mind but it’s always worth reading how the “other side” feels and it may even get you thinking as to atheist and non-religious reasoning.

I don’t want to bombard Facebook with my ranting opinionated atheist chatter so I will post some quotes from the book that I particularly like here.

On 21 February 2006 the United States Supreme Court ruled that a church in New Mexico should be exempt from the law, which everybody else has to obey, against the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.8 Faithful members of the Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal believe that they can understand God only by drinking hoasca tea, which contains the illegal hallucinogenic drug dimethyl-tryptamine. Note that it is sufficient that they believe that the drug enhances their understanding. They do not have to produce evidence. Conversely, there is plenty of evidence that cannabis eases the nausea and discomfort of cancer sufferers undergoing chemotherapy. Yet the Supreme Court ruled, in 2005, that all patients who use cannabis for medicinal purposes are vulnerable to federal prosecution (even in the minority of states where such specialist use is legalized). Religion, as ever, is the trump card. Imagine members of an art appreciation society pleading in court that they ‘believe’ they need a hallucinogenic drug in order to enhance their understanding of Impressionist or Surrealist paintings. Yet, when a church claims an equivalent need, it is backed by the highest court in the land…

A widespread assumption, which nearly everybody in our society accepts — the non-religious included — is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect, in a different class from the respect that any human being should pay to any other…

The aptly named Oral Roberts once told his television audience that God would kill him unless they gave him $8 million. Almost unbelievably, it worked…

All the Founding Fathers, whatever their private religious beliefs, would have been aghast to read the journalist Robert Sherman’s report of George Bush Senior’s answer when Sherman asked him whether he recognized the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists: ‘No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God’…

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time… – Bertrand Russell

I was on a television panel with Swinburne, and also with our Oxford colleague Professor Peter Atkins. Swinburne at one point attempted to justify the Holocaust on the grounds that it gave the Jews a wonderful opportunity to be courageous and noble. Peter Atkins splendidly growled, ‘May you rot in hell.’

Swinburne lets fall his gem: ‘There is quite a lot of evidence anyway of God’s existence, and too much might not be good for us,’