Categories
philosophy

Reminder about The God Solution Promotion!

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Folks,

Just a reminder about The God Solution promotion. The best comment, critique or response to the content from The God Solution will win a $10 gift card to the online book seller of your choice! So get commenting!

I’m including my original post about this below for reference:

Over the next few posts, I’ll be promoting my new book, The God Solution To The Atheist Delusion. I’ll be posting portions of each chapter to give readers a chance to read some of my book.

And, I’ll be offering a prize for one lucky reader: a $10 gift card to the online book seller of your choice (amazon.com, amazon.ca or kobobooks.com)!

To win, you need to tweet a link to your answer to this question: “Do you agree or disagree with the book, a particular chapter or an idea presented within a chapter of The God Solution?”

You can answer this question as a response to one of my series posts on this blog or as a review on amazon.comamazon.cakobobooks.com or on goodreads.com.

And then, you simply tweet a link to your review, including @toddhdow and #GodSolution in your tweet.

At the end of this series (10 chapters, an appendix and a wrap-up post, I’ll select my favourite reply (yes, very subjective!) and award that person with a $10 gift card for their favourite online bookseller (amazon.com, amazon.ca or kobobooks.com). And I am open minded: I don’t discriminate against people that disagree with me. I’m looking for good quality responses, regardless of your perspective.

So get your creative juices flowing. I look forward to seeing your responses!

Todd

The eBook “The God Solution” by Todd Dow can be purchased at amazon.com, amazon.ca and kobobooks.com.

Categories
philosophy

The God Solution – Chapter 7 – The slippery slope of abortion

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In chapter 8, Dawkins talks about abortion. He makes a couple of startling claims. First, he argues that religion is bad because a select few fundamentalists kill abortion doctors, and then he goes on to argue support for abortion because fetuses aren’t really human anyways.

Dawkins’ logic is seriously flawed in this chapter. There are two problems here.

First, he uses the red herring of religious fundamentalists that have killed abortion doctors as a protest against abortion. I touched on this in the last chapter when I talked about fundamentalism. Even though a select few choose to kill in the name of their cause, that doesn’t necessarily make the cause a bad one. Thus, Dawkins yet again shows a flawed sense of logic in his arguments. That is another strike against Dawkins and his writing in this book. I talked quite a bit on this topic of religious fundamentalism in the last chapter and I’ll be talking about it again in the next chapter. So, I’m going to put this aside for now.

The second problem is this: Dawkins tries to dehumanize abortion in an attempt to justify it in some way.

My views on this topic have gone from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. I think of myself as fairly liberal in a lot of respects. I lean towards rehabilitation for criminals, I’m against capital punishment and I think that social assistance is an important safety net for all of us, especially the least among us. Those aren’t typical conservative views. To stick with the stereotype, many liberals support free choice, while most conservatives are pro life. Yes, this is a generalization, but I think it’s a fairly accurate and it does seem to represent the “typical liberal or conservative” agenda.

But I digress…

Like I said, I used to be extremely pro choice. I always thought that abortion should be the individual’s choice. My views on this were strongest in my teens and early twenties, which is the age at which most of us may feel the need to deal with this issue on a personal level. And, I remember at the time feeling that this would be “the best choice for me as I wasn’t ready to have a kid yet.” Fear, uncertainty and lack of readiness are the thoughts that came to my mind when I considered the options available to people in my age group when it came to having children. If I wasn’t ready, well… the medical system had the easy out, the so-called “get out of jail free” card.

It wasn’t until I had matured more that I revisited my thoughts on abortion. And, I didn’t revisit these views until I started to think I was stable enough to have a family of my own. At that point, my views started to take a turn in a different direction. All of a sudden, abortion represented the death of a child. As any expectant parent understands, that week 12 visit to the doctor is extremely symbolic. At week 12, most parents hear the heartbeat of their new little baby for the first time. I remember the first time I heard Noah’s heartbeat. I was instantly connected to my first son. And the connection was more vivid for Julie as she started to experience Noah kicking and punching inside of her as he grew in her belly.

It’s interesting how perspectives change depending on the circumstances, eh?

To read the rest of this chapter and the rest of The God Solution, please visit your favourite ebook seller: amazon.com, amazon.ca and kobobooks.com. And, don’t forget about The God Solution Promotion.

Thanks!

Todd

Categories
philosophy

The God Solution – Chapter 6 – The problem with fundamentalism

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We’re all fundamentalists in some way. I find it quite contradictory that Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the like criticize others for being fundamentalists when they themselves are so adamant about their atheistic worldviews.

Dawkins spends a fair amount of time criticizing the extremist views of some religious people. He talks about Christians that kill abortion doctors. He talks about Muslims that kill people that have converted from Islam to Christianity (or other religions). And we’re all aware of the many “fundamentalist preachers” in the US and throughout the world that discriminate against homosexuality, women and other differences that they claim somehow make people unequal.

This is one area where I have to agree with Dawkins. I agree that fundamentalist views are problematic. They divide us. They split us into factions. These divisions work against all of us. There is no community spirit in division. That being said, we’re not all going to agree on everything. Human nature doesn’t make this possible. We all have different opinions. We all like different things. We don’t all like the same movies, the same food, the same music or the same books.

So, why does that mean that we all have to like the same worldview?

It doesn’t.

But, does that mean that we should impose our opinions on other people? I’d argue no, but then I’m bound to be called a fundamentalist by someone that disagrees with me. And there’s the rub… we’re all fundamentalists in some way, shape or form. Does this make us wrong? No. What is right and wrong when you’re debating ideas that have competing evidence? There’s a whole lot of grey in those discussions.

For a lot of years, I loved to live in the black and white of right and wrong. I didn’t function well with shades of grey. Structure and rules provide comfort and stability. But I eventually realized that each of us look at things through different sets of eyes. I see things as a middle aged white male living in a middle class neighbourhood after growing up in a blue collar family. There are plenty of other perspectives though. Factors that influence our perspectives include gender, cultural background, colour, age, education level, geographical location, etc. All of these things will impact our views, our values, our opinions and our prejudices (whether real or perceived).

Trying to view things as others see them is a worthwhile exercise, as it allows us to understand each other better. Give it a try. Juggle some of the factors that I mentioned above. Imagine how you’d perceive the following situations:

  • Money if you are rich versus poor
  • Food if you are hungry versus well fed
  • Sex if you are loved versus abused
  • etc. – the list could go on and on

So my question here is: What makes religion any different? Why can’t we all have differing worldviews? What’s wrong with understanding and connecting with God in different ways?

To read the rest of this chapter and the rest of The God Solution, please visit your favourite ebook seller: amazon.com, amazon.ca and kobobooks.com. And, don’t forget about The God Solution Promotion.

Thanks!

Todd

Categories
philosophy

The God Solution – Chapter 5 – The Historical Jesus

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“Where is God in our world?” is the question that atheists often ask. To many, God does appear to be absent. Miracles don’t happen to the poor, to the oppressed, to those that lose children or loved ones. God does appear to be missing from the lives of those that are down and out.

But wait… haven’t you read the Bible? The Old Testament is full of stories of God interacting with people in the world. Religious opposition challenges that this is simply myth that has been preserved for thousands of years.

What about the New Testament? Didn’t God come to earth in human form? He certainly did. He came in the form of his son, Jesus. Much debate has been conducted over the actual substance of Jesus: was he God, was he man, was he a combination of the two? I’ll save that debate for another day. But for now, let’s focus on the historical record of Jesus walking among us.

The Historical Jesus provides us with a temporal link to God. This is one of many links to God. Some claim that they experience God on a daily basis. I’d like to think that I spend time with God daily, but I have no empirical evidence with which to prove it to my doubting friends. Thus… this chapter: proof of God walking among us.

The 20th and 21st Centuries have seen an unparalleled interest in the truth claims of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Numerous academics, skeptics and religious challengers have been attempting to subvert the historical validity of the New Testament. The most recent scholarship has not only further confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament texts, but it has also uncovered additional documentation to support the existence of Jesus Christ in the first century.

Mark Allen Powell, in his book “Jesus as a Figure in History“, provides a great summary of the standard criteria used in religious studies research to comment on authenticity. Powell provides six criteria. They are:

  1. Multiple Attestation – are the same ideas found in multiple sources?
  2. Dissimilarity – an idea is more likely to be authentic if it is different from the typical perspectives of the period in question. In this case, perspectives that differed from typical Judaic thought would be considered more likely to come from Jesus.
  3. Memorable Form – memorable phrases, stories or sayings would be more likely to be authentic. It is assumed that stories pertaining to Jesus were first transmitted in oral form, it is more likely that proverbs, beatitudes and stories in memorable forms would be more likely to be accurately remembered, shared and passed on.
  4. Language and Environment – Does the language and environment fit the historical period in question? If so, this supports the authenticity of the claim.
  5. Explanation – Does the story or quote in question further support the claims made about the person, place or thing in question.
  6. Coherence – Does the story under scrutiny fit with the rest of the factual information known about the topic at hand? If so, this lends additional credence to the argument in question.

There is plenty of writing out there to support all six of these categories.

To read the rest of this chapter and the rest of The God Solution, please visit your favourite ebook seller: amazon.com, amazon.ca and kobobooks.com. And, don’t forget about The God Solution Promotion.

Thanks!

Todd

Categories
philosophy

The God Solution – Chapter 4 – The objective roots of morality

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At every turn, Dawkins seems to mess up a perfect opportunity to have an intelligent discussion about God. Chapter 6 is titled, “The roots of Morality: Why Are We Good?” and this is a great place to discuss the ultimate goal or purpose of God. Unfortunately, Dawkins squanders this opportunity. Instead of arguing against the need for God in the moral equation, Dawkins spends his time distracting us from the task at hand, instead offering up several anecdotal experiences to support his claims. This is yet another failed attempt by Dawkins to convince the reader of his claims. And, with more poor logic in this chapter, Dawkins further harms his overall goal of convincing the reader of the atheistic worldview.

In this chapter, I’ll highlight some of the errors in Dawkins’ logic, then I’ll provide my commentary on where morality must come from in order to be useful within the world at large. So, without further ado, here we go!

Dawkins starts by providing some examples of negative emails that have been sent to him. These letters were supposedly written by Christians and they were quite offensive and threatening. In my view, these types of letters go against everything that Christianity represents. I’m not quite sure what Dawkins’ point is here, because it would be silly to argue that these letters represent all Christians. And, it would be silly to suggest that these letters have any moral grounding in the writing of Christ. Note: the letters that he quotes do not provide a coherent argument that grounds itself in New Testament theology. Thus, they don’t really count as accurate representations of sound Christian doctrine. To me, and I’m sure to many of you, these letters are simply the work of individuals who may or may not be misguided in the pursuit of their faith. And, in case Dawkins was suggesting that misbehaving Christians mean that God is not the answer to moral grounding, well… I’ve received my fair share of disrespectful and violently offensive emails from atheists. So Dawkins, I hate to disappoint, but I don’t get your point here. It seems that you’re barking up the same tree that I discussed yesterday: bad representatives do not mean that the faith itself is flawed.

After this rather pointless introduction, Dawkins makes the argument that our morality is pre-programmed within us. He suggests that we have within ourselves an innate altruism (behaviour where we put the needs of others above our own needs – charity, good will, etc.). This innate altruism is, according to Dawkins, beneficial to our survival and growth as a species. It is part of the genetic make-up of the “survival of the fittest”, so to speak. Dawkins explains that this type of altruism benefits the individual by inspiring similar acts of altruism to be returned to the person giving the charity to others. Ultimately, this altruism results in greater benefits for the individual in question, thus extending the success and prosperity of the altruistic individual. This suggests to me that Dawkins version of altruism is self-beneficial and is thus, not necessarily altruistic after all.

To read the rest of this chapter and the rest of The God Solution, please visit your favourite ebook seller: amazon.com, amazon.ca and kobobooks.com. And, don’t forget about The God Solution Promotion.

Thanks!

Todd