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Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

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The Dawkins documentary

murasaki_1966 and I watched it with my mother (who is a church going Christian). We all had problems with Dawkins' thesis but Mum has the same reservations about the extreme forms of religion (whether Xtian, Jewish or Islamic) that we do.

It was like doing a documentary on alcohol by only interviewing alcholics.

(Except for the bits with the atheists - what they said about their persecution is terrible, but we found it rather non-controversial.)

 Mum accepts my atheism and I accept her Christianity - we have so many other things to talk about.

(and our lack of conflict about our differing belief systems was what prompted the play "Faithless" - which may get a revival at the end of the year. Then again - the way our luck has been running - it may not.)

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We all had problems with Dawkins' thesis

What were the problems you had with it?

That rationality and faith are mutually exclusive. If you have faith, than you can't act rationally (or any rationality you express is automatically suspect.)

I have a friend that believes anyone who is religious is effectively brain-damaged. I've seen very little evidence to back this hypothesis, and I feel that Dawkins is loading his argument by interviewing people of faith who are irrational.

My mother's a Xtian and she doesn't take the Bible literally, yet Dawkins appeared to present a case that if you're a Christian you must take it seriously. There's an argument that the more rabid fundamentalist Xtians are really gnostic, more than Xtian (they're more concerned with what's in it for them, rather than what's in it for everyone - a view that isn't exclusively religious.)

I'm an atheist but I accept that people have an apprehension of God - I don't believe it automatically cripples them the way that Dawkins appears to.

I have to say that I'm with Dawkins on this one - I just can't see how reason and faith can be reconciled. They're diametrically opposed ways of viewing the world. I can (but only just) see how a person who is a rationalist might be able to accept the possibility of the existence of some vague force in the universe that you could perhaps label as a supreme but asbstract and essentially unknowable entity, but I can't see how a rationalist can accept the idea of a personal god, or a guy who walks on water, or people coming back from the dead, or magical cures for illness. So while I think you could just about reconcile a belief in science with a belief in religion, I can't conceive of how you could reconcile a belief in science with a belief in Christianity.

So how can you have scientists who believe in God?

And I certainly believe in Christianity (I believe people find it a useful explanation for existence, but I believe we have much better explanations.

And I certainly believe there are things I don't know - I come across them all the time. That said, I don't believe there has to be a guiding intelligence behind everything - I'm with Dawkins when he says it's far more fabulous if it all occurred by accident.

I do believe that people use religion (or find religion useful) to function without being frozen by existential questions - but then most atheists I know aren't hampered by that either - I'm just not in favour of kicking the crutches out from under believers. If people didn't have religion as an excuse to misbehave, I'm pretty sure they'd find other excuses.

I do value Dawkins opening up such debates (atheism had very much been backed into a corner by the "intelligent design" movement being taken seriously by the media) but I think Dawkins is being overly dogmatic in his approach.

Just to be clear - I believe in Christianity (i.e. its existence), but I'm not a Christian believer.

So how can you have scientists who believe in God?

To me, you could only do that by a kind of intellectual dishonesty. A kind of Orwellian double-think. Or it's simply wishful thinking.

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