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  Topic: Unweaving the Rainbow., Views on Richard Dawkins book.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 05 2006,15:46   

I bought this book a couple of days ago. Atm I am about 1/2 (chapter 8) way through it. For the first time I can see how an atheist need not be depressed.

I am interested in other peoples take on this book. Mine are not fully formed yet (obviously, since I have not finished it).

  
plasmasnake23



Posts: 42
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 05 2006,16:17   

I read it after I read (I think) Michael Shermer's review of it in which he said he was not as impressed as he thought he would be. I thought it was pretty good and the stuff on vision was quite interesting.

I'm not sure why people who don't believe in god should be particularly depressed. If this is all you think you get, shouldn't you be working harder to try and make it a good experience both for yourself and everybody?

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 05 2006,23:18   

Stephen,

Personally I loved the book, and also Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World", which is an equally wonderful advocacy of rational understanding of the world (not necessarily atheism I hasten to add).

As for atheism being "depressing", I can imagine nothing further from the truth. I find my atheism (i.e. my lack of belief in a deity or deities) to be incredibly life affirming. After all I am determined to enjoy and succeed in THIS life, the only one I know for a fact (solipsism/nihilism aside! ;) ) I have.

The simple fact that I am alive (when myriad alternative possibilities were [almost] equally likely) is a joyous thing. At least as far as I am concerned, others may feel differently! I get to wake up every day and go and find a little more out about the universe. It's pretty exciting.

I almost can't imagine how, for example, someone like GoP or AFDave get through the day knowing that all they do is ultimately worthless NOW, and just some of their actions will be looked upon favourably enough by their fictional deity to get them passed through the pearly gates by the celestial bouncers. Sounds hellish to me. Especially as there are thousands of contradictory religions to their own, all of which think it is AFDave/GoP who are going to spend eternity in the lake of fire, not the other way around. I await the usual rushed out assertions that my summary is inaccurate, however, boil their claims down and what you get is the above. The cognitive dissonance and sheer Orwellian doublethink they demonstrate is preposterous. Ah well.

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
GCT



Posts: 1001
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2006,00:51   

Alas, I have not yet read that book.  It's next on my list as soon as I finish Mooney's book, The Republican War on Science.  If I go on a reading tear and this thread is still around (not in the doldrums of pages long gone) I'll be able to comment more then.

As for atheism though, I will echo what others have said.  I am not depressed by my atheism.  The notion that one is here only as some job in order to get to heaven would be depressing to me.

  
Renier



Posts: 276
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2006,02:48   

I have not yet read the book, but it is next on my list. Can't wait!

I enjoy life much more as an atheist than when I used to be a fundie. The day I became "free" was the day I decided that fine, I'll go to #### for doubting and not believing any more, but at least I will be honest. Also, I don't like harp music... ;)

Life is good. So much to do, so little time! My only regrets are spending whole weekends (year in and year out) at church, bible school etc. I could have been drinking beer! :) Have to catch up.

Things that depress me are what humans do to this planet and to this life. Fundies don't care, because their god will come and remake the whole earth soon. In the mean time, they have no problem messing things up, so they deny global warming etc and really don't give a rat's tootie in the end. They still think they "rule" over it all, as their god commanded them to do.

As an atheist, I started viewing myself as part of this universe. Stardust that became alive. Respect for animals and plants, since they have as much "right" to be here as I have.

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2006,07:14   

Dawkins writes really well. You may disagree with the content, but his style is seemingly effortless. "Unweaving the Rainbow" is a little light on science for me and I preferred "The Extended Phenotype" (the revised edition, 1999). I think his latest work "The Ancestor's Tale" is arguably his best so far, with its overarching view of evolution, developed as a journey back in time, meeting up with common ancestors on the way "to the Dawn of Life".

You know you have arrived when you are not just writing books, but books are being written about you.

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2006,07:53   

I add my comments to those of Louis, GCT, and Renier. From my atheist P.O.V., the beliefs of fundies are egotistical, small-minded, and even scary. The god of the christian bible is a monster. If the point of the whole universe is to stroke the monster's ego for eternity, count me the fuck out.

   
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2006,11:44   

I hope people haven't got the impression that I consider atheism morally wrong or something (sometimes typing is a difficult way to communicate).

It is just that before reading this book I would have thought that atheism would be a tad depressing.

Dawkins makes basically the same arguments you guys are making ie "you get one life, you are born  against monumental odds, enjoy it while it lasts". I agree.

  
Renier



Posts: 276
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2006,21:51   

When religious people hear that I am an atheist, they sometimes ask me what is my purpose in life then. The answer is simple, "to live!". For some reason, many religious people think that if one is an atheist that that person becomes a detached, pessimistic robot. Nothing could be futher from the truth.

I do think the atheist life view is a very good one. We don't look for supernatural explanations for things. good or bad, that happens in our lives. We understand that "life" happens, and with it comes the good and bad. Like everyone else we enjoy the good and try and deal with the bad as best we can.

My own view is very much naturalistic and deterministic. This becomes even more relevant when dealing with people. I understand that people do the things they do due to various factors. Some of these factors are upbringing, brain chemistry, dna, past experience, circumstances etc. Afdave really has no free choice in his actions. He does what he does because of who he is. He is who he is due to all these various factors that shapes/shaped him and influence his decisions. Bottom line, he cannot change who he is, none of us can change who we are. There is however one way to change, if the desire is there. It is to change the factors that determines us. Learning and education is a good way to change.

  
GCT



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 07 2006,01:03   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ July 06 2006,16:44)
I hope people haven't got the impression that I consider atheism morally wrong or something (sometimes typing is a difficult way to communicate).

No worries.  I didn't get that impression at all.  I was just adding my two cents.

  
Faid



Posts: 1143
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 09 2006,12:35   

Is this where the title of the book is from?

Quote
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine -
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.

http://www.artofeurope.com/keats/kea6.htm

--------------
A look into DAVE HAWKINS' sense of honesty:

"The truth is that ALL mutations REDUCE information"

"...mutations can add information to a genome.  And remember, I have never said that this is not possible."

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 09 2006,12:40   

Quote (Faid @ July 09 2006,12:35)
Is this where the title of the book is from?

Quote
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine -
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.


http://www.artofeurope.com/keats/kea6.htm

Yes, Keats was apparently upset with Newton over his work with prisms "unweaving" the visible spectrum. Mysticism vs. science.

  
Faid



Posts: 1143
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 09 2006,12:49   

Well, no hunger generations tread down either of them... which is much more than one can (and will) say about the likes of Dembski and his lot.


Also I gotta order this book.

--------------
A look into DAVE HAWKINS' sense of honesty:

"The truth is that ALL mutations REDUCE information"

"...mutations can add information to a genome.  And remember, I have never said that this is not possible."

  
Tim



Posts: 40
Joined: Sep. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 11 2006,04:07   

Quote (Renier @ July 07 2006,02:51)
For some reason, many religious people think that if one is an atheist that that person becomes a detached, pessimistic robot. Nothing could be futher from the truth.

I do think the atheist life view is a very good one. We don't look for supernatural explanations for things. good or bad, that happens in our lives. We understand that "life" happens, and with it comes the good and bad. Like everyone else we enjoy the good and try and deal with the bad as best we can.

In my experience of religious people, their view of atheists is that they cannot possibly have that sense of good or bad that you refer to.

The bible, or God's word, provides a Christian with his moral compass, with his sense of good and evil.

Without the bible, or without listening to God, how can one have a sense of good and evil?

It is to this that Christians attribute their perceived modern 'breakdown of society'; atheist humanism.

As is obvious to any atheist however, one's innate sense of good and evil does not come from the bible or from the mouth of God, but rather from one's parents, upbringing, community, and more arguably from one's very own genes ...

  
Stephen Elliott



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 17 2006,07:47   

Finished it at last. Took ages because I have had time off work and was doing more hedonistic stuff.

Chapter 11 (the one about vision), blew me away. I had a very good idea about "why" we see things before hand, but no litle idea "how".

####, vision is very similar to modern digital compression in TV.

  
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 17 2006,08:30   

Re "####, vision is very similar to modern digital compression in TV."

How long til somebody takes that statement to mean "it was designed"? ;)

Henry

  
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