Dawkins Inc.’s Hyperrealism Myth

Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and Daniel C Dennett “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon ” are both works of awowed atheists somehow intent to speak out about “religion”

And it appears that in both cases, the message is an exhortation to get rid of the divine and the religious sides of one’s life, in order to walk positively free and serene towards a bright future without the weight of legends and superstition

This over-reductive vision of the idea of the Myth (not to mention of the Rituals) is not absurd, is inhuman: because to consider religiosity as a child’s play of fantasies and personal and collective delusion, means to deny the existence not just of a God, but an important part of our human nature

Does anybody really live without a myth? “Myth” in a positive sense, even just the archetypal symbol of our hopes for being or having something better

To those that think that rationalism is the only logical way forward I want to say: even Voltaire had his share of petty behavior: who knows what, perhaps he kept picking his nose

Does that mean that those that want to be guided by Voltaire’s thought, are also all nose-picker? Of course not

The “guide” is not the “true Voltaire”: it’s Voltaire-the-Myth. And that’s just about right. He may never had spoken the famous utterance about fighting to the death to defend somebody’s else right of free speech: who cares? Those words are an integral part of the myth of Voltaire

Paris, was it really worth a mass? Was a kingdom given given away for a horse? To spend time trying to verify those and any other “myth” is an interesting historical exercise but makes one lose sight of the original meaning

Would it not be stupid to throw 2001 – A Space Odissey in the bin because there is no black monolith orbiting Jupiter?

The fantasy of a certain contemporary attitude, hyperrealist to the point of being completely imaginary, was already underlined by Piero Manzoni in his bizarre 1961 “Merda d’Artista

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I am sure even the ancient Greek myths, obscure fairy tales for us, had in origin important meanings and messages

It’s therefore a pity that to the word “Myth” and to the idea of the Divinity, it is now customary to associate the concept of the Great Unwashed, uncultivated, lazy, stupid and easy to fool: “And so from now on we can do without that”

On second thought, that’s a Myth too

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UPDATE: There is a nice review of Dawkins’ book on the New York Times / International Herald Tribune:

A passionate atheist’s case against religion By Jim Holt The New York Times – Published: October 20, 2006

Grab it while you can

I particularly like this passage: “Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins’s failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience

6 Replies to “Dawkins Inc.’s Hyperrealism Myth”

  1. thank you Ben. I am not saying that they are trying to get rid of “the” myth. Rather, of “all” myths.

    I do not believe there exists any human being that does not have and believe in his/her own myth. Hyper-realism itself is, in this sense, a myth…

  2. I’m not sure I understand this. Are you trying to say that Dawkins and Dennett are trying to get rid of the myth completely?

    This makes no sense to me, as Dawkins specifically states in the book that everyone should have literary studying of the bible, as it is the source of much of the culture around today – many phrases for instance. Dennett specifically argues that people should be taught about religion objectively, and many different kinds – as he thinks this understanding would remove bias from a young age.

    It appears to me that neither wish to get rid of the myth, just dispel its value as accepted truth.

    As for rationalism and Voltaire, wikipedia would suggest that he was a church goer (even if it was an obscure one) so that might be a better thing to pick on. And as for picking your nose not being rational, who says? It certainly isn’t in the accepted social zeitgeist, but as I’m sure you know, they can, and tend to change.

    And I do hope no-one watches 2001 space odyssey with the impression that it’s true… Again, it’s not the myth and the sense of ideas more important than events that they wish to eradicate – just the belief in such peculiar (and significant) myths…

    Ben

  3. Matt

    A “Myth” is not “falsehood” and definitely is not “entertainment”

    If you prefer another word for it, call it “idealistic meme” (like the idea that we should all strive to be perfect)

  4. There is a great deal of difference between being entertained by a myth or story and basing your life practices on one.

    Basing your life on a myth is basing your life on a falsehood, which can never be a good thing.

    No man is perfect but every man should strive to be.

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