Santa Monica, California, USA
All and sundry: Surprised at the longevity of this thread and the intelligent responses. Maybe I finally asked an interesting question. Having gone through all the responses, and again, I've put up questions, not answers, I come back to this from a relatively early reply by Grinch:
"The bottom line, is that the appearance of design is a reality. It is acknowledged by the staunchest of atheistic evolutionists, such as Richard Dawkins who tells us in his book The Blind Watchmaker, that "biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.". But the assertion that things developed naturalistically without a guide or designer, is an untestable inference. Only it is one which is counter-intuitive ... one that requires us to ignore any "appearance of having been designed". In that sense, it is plainly a religious precommitment, which is apt to stand not in the lack of evidence of the alternative, but in the presence of evidence to the contrary. That's what religions are expected to do ... to stand strong in dogma. But to claim that such a non-religious religious belief is scientific, is misleading."
This seems to head toward the heart of the initial questions. I repost it on the assumption that not everyone will wish to read the entire thread.
I reamain totally wishy-washy, not as bright, but in tune with Richard Dawkins. I think it is his position that a "creative force" can neither be proved nor disproved. On the other hand, religious dogma of any sect is simply that, stories and rules which help us cope with an uber-notion of inevitable death, and prescrptions for leading a reasonable life in the interim.
Now, the PROBLEM with dogma lies in its abuse. Dogma, past at least seven of the J/C ten commandments is nonsense foisted on the weak by the powerful in order to keep the powerful powerful and the weak, weak. Anyone interested in Canonical prouncements, Shi'a/Sunni diversions from the Koran, or the thousands of the pronouncements by the hundreds of Hindu/Bhuddist sects, might wind up asking "What the heck is that all about, and why should we pay any attention to it?"
I certainly don't deny that there are "religious" tenets that are functional, if not god given, but I don't see where we need dogma to tell us how we should cut our hair, attend Mass, wear a burka, subject men or women to circumcision, scarify our bodies with knives, get religious tattos, dunked in a tank of water, or all the other nut-ball stuff that goes on pan-religiously here and around the world.
Well, this turned into more of comment than intended. I hope it was not ofensive. I don't CARE what anybody needs to believe in. If it works for them, OK. Just don't send in the troops. Or send the troops anyplace else on a mission from God.
Thanks for responding, Jimbeaux