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An explanation and evaluation of the different perspectives on religion offered by Richard Dawkins and Alistair McGrath.

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Introduction

McGrath - Dawkins with a twist? An explanation and evaluation of the different perspectives on religion offered by Richard Dawkins and Alistair McGrath. Throughout the ages there have been theists and their outnumbered counterparts; atheists. In recent years this controversy has been fuelled by an exponential increase in the non-religious; thanks to the development of science and freedom of philosophical ideas. In 2006 a man named Richard Dawkins released a proverbial catalyst into this issue in the form of a book; The God Delusion. A book created to methodically disprove and discredit the beliefs which so many hold dear. This caused one of the most popularised philosophical outcries of our time. One of the most famous rebuttals is that of one Alistair McGrath entitled The Dawkins Delusion written to do to Dawkins' arguments what The God Delusion intended to do to religion. Here their arguments will be displayed in tandem and this infamous debate analysed. A heavy influence in both of these works is the concept of the NOMA conceptualised by Stephen Jay Gould and the McGrath introduced POMA. NOMA stands for Non-overlapping magisteria which is the theory that the authority of religion is not in opposition to that of science and one can easily hold a belief in both. ...read more.

Middle

This gives a scientific explanation for the origin of religion thus showing it to be nothing more than a popularised idea which, as he states later to the book is detrimental to those which hold it. McGrath counters this point by saying that the concept of the meme is folly. He shows that there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of the meme and that how in recent times the concept has been abandoned by most respected evolutionary biologists. He also points out that Dawkins shows no model sample or even defined theory of the meme itself and as such he believes that this is Dawkins simply creating an entity to support his belief about religion. However I would say that although the "meme" as a self supporting entity does not exist it is a very accurate model for demonstrating the transfer of knowledge and social customs throughout many different human cultures and ergo Dawkins points remain valid (if for the wrong reasons). Despite his seemingly innocuous intentions McGrath attempts to do more than spurn Dawkins in his book. In the first few chapters he talks about how he respects the thoughts and beliefs of atheists and that he only has a problem with the poorly structured arguments of Richard Dawkins. ...read more.

Conclusion

As such laws such as homosexuals should be stoned to death upon discovery (Leviticus) can now be ignored. This brings up the issue of what I shall hereby refer to as religious cherry picking. This is when a religious person chooses to accept certain parts of their holy texts and leader's teachings and ignore others in accordance to their moral preference. This is illogical. If god is as omnipotent and omniscient as he is claimed to be then who are we as his inept creations to modify his word and law? As such, although Jesus does say to disregard these slightly more morally uncomfortable points, who are we to say that his word in the bible is more accurate to God's will than that in Leviticus? Why was God's word so ambiguous and interpretable before the ascension of his son than after? Therefore it is not an irrelevance when the Christian holy text states that religious holy war is recommended. To conclude, although religion can advocate violence, we as sentient humans will interpret it to match their own opinions and beliefs. Ergo the only way that religion will cause violence is when the one interpreting it has a violent agenda which they would be very likely to fulfill with or without religion. As such, no. Religion is not the root of all evil. We are. ...read more.

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