Thursday, August 6, 2009

Melvin Conner Review of Beyond Belief Lecture

I highly recommend you watch the video. The link is here. But for those of you who want to copy and paste the best points, look no further. Read, watch and weep at the brilliant analysis of God belief. Jf Prathr if only we had all known this before we met you. We wouldn't have been such easy victims.

Melvin Conner Beyond Belief 2007
Arguments Against Belief
Thoughts on the God Belief / Lack of Belief

There is almost no evidence to support religious claims, and all testable claims fail.

Science has closed the “gaps”.

What is called the soul is just brain activity.

Religion has evolved just like any other trait.

Religion causes violence, hatred and war.

Religion is “the opium of the people”

God is the product of human yearnings for

A perfect parent

Reward and punishment



Life after death

And of the human penchants for agency-detection and imagining other minds.

Religion more generally is the product of human yearnings for



A sense of superiority

Blameworthy enemies


All sacred texts are characterized by…

Errors and lies

Internal contradictions

Mutual contradictions

“Supernatural” (i.e. highly implausible) origins

Silly or cruel behavior of gods and religious heroes

None of these objections in the slightest way are new

All have been heard or independently thought of by most intelligent people.

None has posed or is likely to pose a serious obstacle to belief in the minds of the vast majority of believers

Once upon a time there were major religious leaders who thought they could explain how the physical world works, they also cared a lot about proofs of God’s existence.

Thanks to Galileo, Newton et al. these people have been in retreat for four centuries.

But most religious people don’t care about proofs…

It is not news to them that religion has caused great harm.

Or that their sacred texts are flawed.

Or that science explains most things.

They have been meeting those objections with aplomb for centuries.

Most don’t care, they will proudly tell you about argument. They don’t care about evidence. They don’t even care that they can’t clearly define “God.”

Most think that all these conversations are silly.

So what do they care about?


The assurance of things hoped for the assurance of things not seen

Hebrews 11 1

Some aggressive critics of Religion say:

Religious faith forms a kind of perverse cultural singularity a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.
-Sam Harris (author of the controversial book The End of Faith)

Dr. Conner thinks it is futile to tell people not to believe in God and says if you don't understand that fact then....
If you don’t understand it then try this

When you present arguments against religion to a person of faith, you might as well tell her to care as much about other people’s children as about her own…

Or urge her to stop her ears, give up music, and learn sign language…

Or harangue an oenophile about the dangers of alcohol and try to enlist his support for a return to Prohibition.

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