I intend to conclude with general and very subjective comments on our discussion.

This discussion generally wound me up because we hardly could agree on anything. Every clarification you provided referenced more stuff I found objectionable for one reason or another. As you said, you were “arguing from the ‘theory of evidence’” without going to the heart of the argument. This may have been a valid course, but one I found unsatisfying. I like the direct examination of ideas with a reduced reliance to outside authority. Of course these leaves some areas outside what we can discuss since they are obscure and we are hardly experts in everything! That is a sacrifice I suppose – or a balance could be found perhaps.

I found your defense of religion based on alternately claiming I am generalizing or being too specific to be rather stressful. For example, when I was talking about a religious leader (in this case it was the Pope) you first pointed out a single pope is not the papacy (saying I was picking on an individual and too specific) then many believers did not follow the party line (effectively saying I was being too general)! This happened again talking about creationists, which you dismissed as a lunatic fringe although there are (probably) at least 120 million believers in this [1][2][3]. Another example is claiming believers “don’t believe in that sort of God” but when I reference common beliefs, the defense is always “those are just extremists” or “people don’t believe in that”. Is there any scope that I (or Dawkins) can criticize religion?

The broader point (at least according to Dawkins and Nietzsche) is, for any religious belief, it is likely to be at least questionable or at most harmful. Pick any religious idea, I can probably find criticism for it. (I might regret setting you that challenge!)

We probably should talk more about the role of myths. You seem comfortable with manufacturing myths when we don’t have an rational explanation. I am coming down against this position. Strangely, this discussion has give me a new appreciation of Nietzsche (perhaps I am just getting entrenched in a dogma – I will consider this) but to re-quote him:

“The error of imaginary causes.”… “With the unknown, one is confronted with danger, discomfort, and care,—the first instinct is to abolish [wegzuschaffen] these painful states. First principle: any explanation is better than none.” “Thus one searches not only for some kind of explanation to serve as a cause, but for a selected and preferred kind of explanation—that which has most quickly and most frequently abolished the feeling of the strange, new, and hitherto unexperienced: the most habitual explanations.” “The banker immediately thinks of “business,” the Christian of “sin,” and the girl of her love.”

“Men would sooner have the void for his purpose than to be void of purpose.” Nietzsche

To just accept the first explanation that we encounter – usually a myth – is just madness. Thanks to increased travel, observational methods and research resources (e.g. The Internet) we are usually in a better position to judge than to believe the myth makers.

“There are more idols than realities in the world: that is my “evil eye” for this world; that is also my “evil ear” … For once to pose questions here with a hammer, and, perhaps, to hear as a reply that famous hollow sound which speaks of bloated entrails” Nietzsche

This is perhaps one of his many “razors“. I imagine I believe in myths myself, but I plan to identify them and at least question them (with a hammer?).

Anti Citizen One

PS If you feel inclined, conclude the discussion. Then let’s change the subject for a few weeks?
PPS Try not to mention what I would consider irrelevant topics in your conclusion – but its your writing not mine! AC1.