A dangerous delusion

  (27 January 08)

Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and many others have written about God and faith as delusions, so there's nothing new about this idea. But trawling through Sue Blackmore's website I came across her way of writing about these dangerous delusions and found her explanations - especially of memes - to be particularly clear and comprehensive.

I wonder what others think about her explanation of the rise and survival of religions.


People who have an affinity born out of some sort of belief in a Reality l;arger than themselves and in who they find they exist suffer from delusion according to people like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Blackmore etc. Could it not be that these eminent writers suffer from delusions as well? Or are they the modern day oracles who alone have access to the truth who like to say to the world,:When I ope my lips let no dogs bark"? They are the new voices of infallibility. So lets readily swallow the vitriol they pour on others. It must feel so darn good. They could almost join the Pharisees in boasting, :I thank God i am not like others, those poor deluded idiots" I do realise they will never be cauightusing the word "God" but it's only an analogy so please dont bother pointing out the "error".

Posted by robert halsey

I fully agee with Sue Blackmore's paper and what she has to say about Memes.

The first para includes :

"Tonight, at a debate at Bristol University, I've been asked to propose the motion that "belief in God is a dangerous delusion". Oxford theologian Alister McGrath will fight back and argue that it is not".

"Oxford theologian Alister McGrath" - Why does everyone leave out "Ordained Anglican Priest Alister McGrath" ?

And of course religion will die out - it's just a matter of time. We humans no longer grow tails as we once did because they no longer aid survival and religion will die out for the same reason. Like all evolution, it just takes time.

Posted by Brian Wilder

Is non-religion essential to survival? Surely not, hence we would assume it would die out also according to the logic above. Are all our current ways of being necessary for survival? Surely not.

Posted by Paul Robotham

Ofcourse Brian Wilder is 100% correct when he intimates that all is evolution,' it all takes time'.
That is what I take to be part of the nature of God.Everything that is is God,and all that has ever happened and happens andwill happen is god, as tielhard de chardin pointed out.God is seen inthe entire evolutionary process.
This means that he cannot be,has never been the personal God we have been told about.He is super-nature, in a manner of speaking, without being supernatural which is a dirty word when applied to God.
He is ...in a non-religious semse.
After all,where was this God prior to 5 billion years ago? Where will he be when the planetary system succumbs to the laws of thermo dynamics and implodes as the sun dies? It will all still be there.Everything happens in God becvause that is the way God is.Everything constsntly keeps coming into being as it always has.There is no such thing as time in him because he is timeless just as the process of evolution is and continues to without earthling "time" framing it or him.


Posted by robert halsey

I've just come upon your piece Robert and wonder what it all means. If everything is God and God is everything then why use the word at all and just say 'universe' and 'earth' and 'life' etc. - terms that we all understand, that have meaning.

I'm puzzled by what your account of God adds to the discussion.

I agree that Dawkins et al go over the top in their assertions against religion. But they need to to gain our attention and to point out the nonsense and meaninglessness of much religious talk and writing.

Let's clear our talk and writing of obfuscation.

Posted by Scott McKenzie

“Let us clear our talk and writing of obfuscation.”

You hit the nail on the head, Scott. We could start with the following

1. Do not obfuscate by saying that Dawkins is over the top… but be clear by saying that Dawkins, a professed scientist, makes statements that he does not and could not scientifically substantiate.
2. Do not obfuscate by saying that Dawkins needs to make conflicting and inaccurate statements to attract our attention. Surely you are not suggesting that being untruthful is justified in order to attract attention.
3. Do not obfuscate by offering personal value judgements as if they were facts but say clearly that you, Scott McKenzie, cannot discern sense or meaning in some religious writing.
4. Do not obfuscate by calling belief in god a delusion. To be a delusion a belief has to be at variance with the prevailing cultural norms. Belief in god may be wrong, may be dangerous and may be on the way out. But, in a culture where two thirds of people in the most recent census describe themselves as “Christian” (whatever they may mean by that term), you would have a hard task justifying a claim that belief in god is at variance with the prevailing cultural values.

Excellent idea. Lead the way.


Posted by Peter Bore

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