1. Felicific Forest
    Joined
    15 Dec '02
    Moves
    23634
    12 Jan '07 21:191 edit
    Religion impoverishes our view of the universe.

    Alister McGrath

    One of Dawkins' persistent complaints about religion is that it is aesthetically deficient. Its view of the universe is limited, impoverished and unworthy of the wonderful reality known by the sciences.[37]

    The universe is genuinely mysterious, grand, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The kinds of views of the universe which religious people have traditionally embraced have been puny, pathetic, and measly in comparison to the way the universe actually is. The universe presented by organized religions is a poky little medieval universe, and extremely limited.

    The logic of this bold assertion is rather hard to follow, and its factual basis astonishingly slight. The `medieval' view of the universe may indeed have been more limited and restricted than modern conceptions. Yet this has nothing to do with religion, either as cause or effect. It reflected the science of the day, largely based upon Aristotle's treatise de caelo (`on heaven'😉. If the universe of religious people in the Middle Ages was indeed `poky', it was because they were na?ve enough to assume that what their science textbooks told them was right. Precisely that trust in science and scientists which Dawkins commends so uncritically led them to weave their theology around someone else's view of the universe. They didn't know about such things as `radical theory change in science', which causes twenty-first people to be cautious about investing too heavily in the latest scientific theories, and much more critical of those who base worldviews upon them.

    The implication of Dawkins' unsubstantiated criticism is that a religious view of reality is deficient and impoverished in comparison with his own. There is no doubt that this consideration is an important factor in generating and maintaining his atheism. Yet his analysis of this issue is disappointingly thin and unpersuasive.

    A Christian approach to nature identifies three ways in which a sense of awe comes about in response to what we observe.

    1. An immediate sense of wonder at the beauty of nature. This is evoked immediately. This `leap of the heart' that William Wordsworth described on seeing a rainbow in the sky occurs before any conscious theoretical reflection on what it might imply. To use psychological categories, this is about perception, rather than cognition. I can see no good reason for suggesting that believing in God diminishes this sense of wonder. Dawkins' argument at this point is so underdetermined by evidence and so utterly implausible that I fear I must have misunderstood it.

    2. A derived sense of wonder at the mathematical or theoretical representation of reality which arises from this. Dawkins also knows and approves of this second source of `awed wonder', but seems to imply that religious people `revel in mystery and feel cheated when it is explained'.[38] They don't; a new sense of wonder emerges, which I will explain in a moment.

    3. A further derived sense of wonder at what the natural world points to. One of the central themes of Christian theology is that the creation bears witness to its creator, `The heavens declare the glory of the Lord!' (Psalm 19:1). For Christians, to experience the beauty of creation is a sign or pointer to the glory of God, and is to be particularly cherished for this reason. Dawkins excludes any such transcendent reference from within the natural world.

    Dawkins suggests that a religious approach to the world misses out on something.[39] Having read Unweaving the Rainbow, I still haven't worked out what this is. A Christian reading of the world denies nothing of what the natural sciences tell us, except the naturalist dogma that reality is limited to what may be known through the natural sciences. If anything, a Christian engagement with the natural world adds a richness which I find quite absent from Dawkins' account of things, offering a new motivation for the study of nature. After all, John Calvin (1509-64) commented on how much he envied those who studied physiology and astronomy, which allowed a direct engagement with the wonders of God's creation. The invisible and intangible God, he pointed out, could be appreciated through studying the wonders of nature.

    Dawkins' most reflective account of `mystery' is found in Unweaving the Rainbow, which explores the place of wonder in an understanding of the sciences. While maintaining Dawkins' core hostility to religion, the work acknowledges the importance of a sense of awe and wonder in driving people to want to understand reality. Dawkins singles out the poet William Blake as an obscurant mystic, who illustrates why religious approaches to mystery are pointless and sterile. Dawkins locates Blake's many failings in an understandable - but misdirected - longing to delight in a mystery:[40]

    The impulses to awe, reverence and wonder which led Blake to mysticism . . . are precisely those that lead others of us to science. Our interpretation is different but what excites us is the same. The mystic is content to bask in the wonder and revel in a mystery that we were not `meant' to understand. The scientist feels the same wonder, but is restless, not content; recognizes the mystery as profound, then adds, `But we're working on it.'

    So there isn't actually a problem with the word or the category of `mystery'. The question is whether we choose to wrestle with it, or take the lazy and complacent view that this is conveniently off-limits.

    Traditionally, Christian theology has been well aware of its limits, and has sought to avoid excessively confident affirmations in the face of mystery. Yet at the same time, Christian theology has never seen itself as totally reduced to silence in the face of divine mysteries. Nor has it prohibited intellectual wrestling with `mysteries' as destructive or detrimental to faith. As the nineteenth-century Anglican theologian Charles Gore rightly insisted:[41]

    Human language never can express adequately divine realities. A constant tendency to apologize for human speech, a great element of agnosticism, an awful sense of unfathomed depths beyond the little that is made known, is always present to the mind of theologians who know what they are about, in conceiving or expressing God. `We see', says St Paul, `in a mirror, in terms of a riddle;' `we know in part.' `We are compelled,' complains St Hilary, `to attempt what is unattainable, to climb where we cannot reach, to speak what we cannot utter; instead of the mere adoration of faith, we are compelled to entrust the deep things of religion to the perils of human expression'.

    A perfectly good definition of Christian theology is `taking rational trouble over a mystery' - recognising that there may be limits to what can be achieved, but believing that this intellectual grappling is both worthwhile and necessary. It just means being confronted with something so great that we cannot fully comprehend it, and so must do the best that we can with the analytical and descriptive tools at our disposal. Come to think of it, that's what the natural sciences aim to do as well. Perhaps it's no wonder that there is such a growing interest in the dialogue between science and religion.
  2. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
    BWA Soldier
    Tha Brotha Hood
    Joined
    13 Dec '04
    Moves
    49088
    12 Jan '07 21:35
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Religion impoverishes our view of the universe.

    Alister McGrath

    One of Dawkins' persistent complaints about religion is that it is aesthetically deficient. Its view of the universe is limited, impoverished and unworthy of the wonderful reality known by the sciences.[37]

    The universe is genuinely mysterious, grand, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The kinds ...[text shortened]... owing interest in the dialogue between science and religion.
    Do you think anybody reads these posts of yours?
  3. Territories Unknown
    Joined
    05 Dec '05
    Moves
    20408
    12 Jan '07 21:56
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Do you think anybody reads these posts of yours?
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Religion impoverishes our view of the universe.

    Alister McGrath

    One of Dawkins' persistent complaints about religion is that it is aesthetically deficient. Its view of the universe is limited, impoverished and unworthy of the wonderful reality known by the sciences.[37]

    The universe is genuinely mysterious, grand, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The kinds ...[text shortened]... owing interest in the dialogue between science and religion.


    Do you think anybody reads these posts of yours?


    Say! Cut and paste can be fun and informative!
  4. Standard memberNemesio
    Ursulakantor
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Joined
    05 Mar '02
    Moves
    32455
    12 Jan '07 22:09
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Religion impoverishes our view of the universe.

    Alister McGrath

    One of Dawkins' persistent complaints about religion is that it is aesthetically deficient. Its view of the universe is limited, impoverished and unworthy of the wonderful reality known by the sciences.[37]

    The universe is genuinely mysterious, grand, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The kinds ...[text shortened]... owing interest in the dialogue between science and religion.
    It must be nice to be told what to think.
  5. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52613
    12 Jan '07 23:06
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Religion impoverishes our view of the universe.

    Alister McGrath

    One of Dawkins' persistent complaints about religion is that it is aesthetically deficient. Its view of the universe is limited, impoverished and unworthy of the wonderful reality known by the sciences.[37]

    The universe is genuinely mysterious, grand, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The kinds ...[text shortened]... owing interest in the dialogue between science and religion.
    Do you actually HAVE a viewpoint of your own? If so, could you maybe share THAT with us? We all know about Darwin's Rotwieller.
  6. Territories Unknown
    Joined
    05 Dec '05
    Moves
    20408
    12 Jan '07 23:06
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    It must be nice to be told what to think.
    Less headaches or chance of getting it wrong on your own, to be sure.
  7. Donationkirksey957
    Outkast
    With White Women
    Joined
    31 Jul '01
    Moves
    91452
    12 Jan '07 23:27
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Religion impoverishes our view of the universe.

    Alister McGrath

    One of Dawkins' persistent complaints about religion is that it is aesthetically deficient. Its view of the universe is limited, impoverished and unworthy of the wonderful reality known by the sciences.[37]

    The universe is genuinely mysterious, grand, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The kinds ...[text shortened]... owing interest in the dialogue between science and religion.
    Most every massage therapist I have known has paid more attention and detail to making the experience of massage aesthetically pleasing than your average pastor/church has of God.
  8. Standard memberknightmeister
    knightmeister
    Uk
    Joined
    21 Jan '06
    Moves
    443
    12 Jan '07 23:321 edit
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    It must be nice to be told what to think.
    and it must be nice to keep telling yourself this
  9. Felicific Forest
    Joined
    15 Dec '02
    Moves
    23634
    12 Jan '07 23:41
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Do you think anybody reads these posts of yours?
    If someone wants to read a serious critique on Dawkin's ideas about religion, he or she should read it. That's the reason why I post these critical articles.

    People who are not seriously interested or people who want to swallow Dawkins's views withour investigating them have the possibility of skipping the threads wherein I present this criticism.

    Now, do you have anything serious to communicate about the content of the article ?
  10. Felicific Forest
    Joined
    15 Dec '02
    Moves
    23634
    12 Jan '07 23:49
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    Most every massage therapist I have known has paid more attention and detail to making the experience of massage aesthetically pleasing than your average pastor/church has of God.
    Do you have anything to communicate besides your usual funny remarks, Kirk ?
  11. Felicific Forest
    Joined
    15 Dec '02
    Moves
    23634
    12 Jan '07 23:52
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    It must be nice to be told what to think.
    Your Red Herrings are becoming boring.
  12. Felicific Forest
    Joined
    15 Dec '02
    Moves
    23634
    12 Jan '07 23:57
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH


    Say! Cut and paste can be fun and informative![/b]
    Right ! I am sharing my internet finds with those who are interested in the subjects raised. The negativity crowd should skip them.
  13. Standard memberNemesio
    Ursulakantor
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Joined
    05 Mar '02
    Moves
    32455
    13 Jan '07 00:14
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Your Red Herrings are becoming boring.
    It amazes me how many 'debate terms' you can repeatedly misuse.

    Red herring, game theory, strawman, slippery slope.

    Your confusion knows no bounds!

    Nemesio
  14. Felicific Forest
    Joined
    15 Dec '02
    Moves
    23634
    13 Jan '07 00:151 edit
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    It amazes me how many 'debate terms' you can repeatedly misuse.

    Red herring, game theory, strawman, slippery slope.

    Your confusion knows no bounds!

    Nemesio
    Your irrelevant comments are becoming boring.

    Besides ... you're not amazed at all. As I said before, your act is great, but I'm not buying.
  15. Donationkirksey957
    Outkast
    With White Women
    Joined
    31 Jul '01
    Moves
    91452
    13 Jan '07 01:21
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Do you have anything to communicate besides your usual funny remarks, Kirk ?
    Actually, what I wrote I considered to be rather sad. There were no "funny" intentions at all in it.
Back to Top