Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The God Delusion Ch 2-4

A few more thoughts from my sporadic (in time rather than order) read through the book. This time it's less of a comment and more a few pet hates.

Darwinian Consciousness Rising

The first one I can't stand is Dawkins use of the idea/term "Darwinian Consciousness rising" and it's variants. Where, he appears to assume a correct understanding and agreement with Darwinian evolution some how gives you this amazing new "Super" mindset (or at least that's the way it appears based on how he uses it in his book). It's almost as if understanding Darwinian evolution is enough to somehow raise your level of consciousness to a step above the majority of humanity (and especially religious people...). A view I highly disagree with. An understanding of evolution may help make considering some ideas easier, as it provides you with a language and framework within which to work, however it does not raise or place you in some elevated mindset. I personally suspect that he's taken a certain type of mindset that handles such scientific and abstract ideas well, and is able to link them to physical reality then, at least in my reading of his use of the term, seemed to suggest that one of the ideas that such a mindset might produce, evolution, is responsible for creating the mindset.


Another thing that annoys me is his discussion of simplicity and why it makes the concept of God impossibly improbable. He decides to contrast this to multiuniverse/metauniverse (or my preference to hijack cosmos, and push it's definition out to include every thing that can or might exist) theory (both parallel and serial theories). The multiverse theory he then declares to be simple, because theoretically if it does exist it could theoretically be derived from a "few" "simple" laws and a form of cosmic evolution. God he then declares is obviously, and could only be, irreversibly complex (thus theoretically failing some cosmic form of KISS/Occam's Razor). Seeing as he's already explained previously in the book, complex things don't just come into existence, and evolution is the only currently known way to for a simple system to increase in complexity (non-chaotic complexity obviously). So while he's quite happy to take a theory that explains an increase in complexity in a biological system, and possibly a means of converting nonliving inorganic to living organics and apply it to the development of a "simple" multiverse/metaverse, he is not even at all willing to trying think of anything outside the box for how a "God" like being might come into existence. Instead he's quite happy to stay inside the box described God by traditional religious views...

(What if "God" is an evolved pan/metaverse Intelligence? An intelligence with an interest in other intelligences, sure it leaves a problem with communication and a few other things but hey least we're now also thinking out side the box...)

Underlying fear?

One vibe I'm starting to pick up more and more through out the book seems to be that part of his dislike for religion and a possible reason for his rather aggressive view point is that idea that Religion and Faith, kill Science and Reason. He appears to hate the viewpoint that goes "ohh I don't understand that, so obviously it's God at work, so I don't need to study that!", something I can completely understand such a view is naive, annoying and foolish, and is undoubtedly present in many Christian groups. However I fail to see how converting the world to Atheism would help with eradicating that mindset. Instead I suspect the reason given would simply change from "God at work" to "It's boring", "It's irrelevant", "Why should I care", "it's too much work" and similar. Such a mindset is not a religious mindset, it's a very common human mindset, that is present in the vast majority of the population (Try explaining just about any research that doesn't have instant gratification to most people and you'll see how quickly they lose interest (unless they're trying to be polite for some reason)).

Religion is Bad, It's just bad

Nothing specific in the book has really bought this thought to mind (except maybe a couple of bits in the first chapter, and the "feel" of some sections). But the first part of this comes to mind now and then when reading the book:

Religion is bad, because religious people do bad things in it's name.

Which brings to mind the similar:

Science is bad, because people use it to do bad things.

So there you go a few thoughts after finishing chapter 4.

Hmm 400th post, yawn :-P.

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