We’re talking about Richard Dawkins’ new book, Outgrowing God. We’re covering who Richard Dawkins is and what his book is all about. Today we will focus on the main criticisms of the book, as well as the different tactics that are covered in it. Does it stand to scrutiny?

Main Points Covered:

  • A prayer for the passing of Richard Dawkins’ mother
  • The questions and emotions that come with the death of someone who is close to you
  • What is hyper-fundamentalism?
    • Focuses on minor details of Christian culture (like floor-length skirts)
    • Very legalistic, you have to check off a ton of boxes to be considered a “good Christian”
    • Focuses on clothes, certain types of music as “bad”
    • Don’t question authority and don’t ask questions (because that’s rebellious)
    • Lots of extra rules and are equally important for salvation
  • When did he start questioning his faith?
    • “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”, Dawkins, Richard. 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: Norton.
    • Christianity as a sociological result.
    • “Why do I believe what I believe?”
    • What happens when you stop digging when you start questioning your faith?
  • Is Outgrowing God aimed at kids?
  • “There are different religions and they all believe different things.”
  • Criticisms of Outgrowing God:
    • Dawkins’ understanding of the bible is stuck at a 9 to 16-year-old level
    • Desensitizing kids to statements that presume that the Bible is not true without providing any evidence. (i.e. but as we all know, XYZ never existed or never happened) You hear it enough, you start to think it’s true.
    • Stating his assumptions as fact
    • He gives modern examples of conspiracy theories and just assumes the Bible is the same
    • He equates possible with probable
  • Does this tactic lead to truth or propaganda and manipulation?
  • Tactics that Dawkins uses:
    • Analogy as evidence – Just because two things may have similar concepts doesn’t mean that this is evidence that they are similar in essence
    • Begging the question – Circular reasoning, assuming the fact that you are trying to prove, and using that assumption as evidence
    • Poisoning the well – badmouthing a person or position to make people skeptical before they even begin to look into it
    • Steamroller tactic – using so many examples that a person can’t possibly address them all, and the steamroller appears to have won the “argument”
    • Extreme skepticism – there’s not enough evidence in the world
  • How to address hyper-fundamentalism and Dawkins’ book with your kids?
    • Ask if there are reasons behind statements/arguments
    • Emotionally versus Intellectually understanding something
    • What is evidence?
    • Being aware of tactics

People and Resources Mentioned:

Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins

Hillary’s article – “How Dawkins’ Outgrowing God Capitalizes on Our Culture’s Inability to Think Critically”

Article – “Churches could win back teens like me if they were more welcoming and less judgmental”

Jana Harmon has studied what causes atheists to convert to Christianity (video of her talk)

Why I Still Believe by Mary Jo Sharp – MaryJo discusses the hurt that she encountered in churches

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace –  a cold case detective who understands evidence, and presents evidence from the New Testament like he would a cold case

Journey from Texts to Translations by Paul D Wegner – answers the question behind how the canon of Scripture was formed

Video of woman at the AOC meeting talking about eating babies

John’s article – “Do Atheists Eat Babies? A Serious Answer to a Silly Question”

Unfamiliar Vocab:

Hyper-Fundamentalism – A type of Christian denomination which is really strict, makes every issue a salvific issue, and focuses on authority rather than understanding. Questions are akin to rebellion and the list of rules in order to be a “good Christian” is quite lengthy

Zoroastrianism – an Iranian religion, founded circa 600 B.C. by Zoroaster, the principal beliefs of which are in the existence of a supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, and in a cosmic struggle between a spirit of good, Spenta Mainyu, and a spirit of evil, Angra Mainyu.

Quotable quotes:

Because other conspiracy theories exist, therefore this (this Bible) must be conspiracy theory. It’s like, I think you’ve got a couple steps missing there… Click To Tweet

– Hillary Morgan Ferrer

When you look at these conspiracy theories… he just starts crafting this caricature of what a Christian is, and it’s someone who is blindly holding onto their Bible and smiling while their head is wrapped in tinfoil. Click To Tweet

– Amy Davison


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