"So... you accept that I'm more knowledgeable than you. Cheers."
I'll admit you have a better grasp of language than me and probably have read more books on philosophy, but that doesn't necessarily mean you 'know' more than me on this issue.
You may have just read a load of crap or just read all the stuff you agree with, without any serious questioning of your ideas.
You call people like Richard Dawkins a bigot, but he probably has more understanding of science than you.
So trying to pull rank is not a consistent argument of yours. If you have an open mind, you accept that you can learn from anyone, no matter what their level of knowledge is.
This attraction of yours to a rigid hierachy is why you don't believe in egalitarianism.
Ask a teacher or lecturer how much they learn from the students they teach? Dismissing someone because of their supposed lower level of knowledge demonstrates your bigotry and lack of an open mind.
"so me supporting Davis doesn't make me a Davisite or a Thatcherite. It just means that I thought he was the best of the available options, for reasons that were not primarily doctrinal."
I'm sure most who support Blair are not doing so for doctrinal reasons either.
I only support him because he is the best of the available options. I certainly haven't ever described Blair as the 'saviour of the nation' like you have with Davis.
So by your own definition I'm less of a Blairite than you are a Davisite. I consider Davis a bit of a Thatcher clone, can you tell me where they are different in fundamental belief? I just think you are playing semantic games again here.
"Not true. Judaism and Islam certainly don't posit God's being benign - God is All, rather than Good. It's only Christianity of the Abrahamic religions that focuses on God as Good"
This is interesting. If God is not benign, why trust him to reward you with heaven?
If god is not benign then believing in him is irrelevant, which is precisely my point.
Therefore I only have to disprove the benign god that is advocated by religions, to disprove any meaningful god. Science has done this to a satisfactory degree by rubbishing the claims of religion.
If a benign god exists outside of religious definition then that is irrelevant too because there is no way of knowing how we should live our life to please him. But as nearly all those who believe in god assign themselves to a religion, all I have to do is show religious scripture and teachings to be nonsense to disprove their gods.
"I'm a Christian, therefore I think the Old Testament is the word of God spoken through a long intepretative tradition, and through often conflicting and confusing metaphors and symbols."
And you base how you live your life on these 'conflicting and confusing metaphors and symbols'?
It doesn't sound very sensible to me. Not only that, you have the cheek to tell other people you are right and they are bigoted for pointing out what a load of nonsense your 'ideas' are.
"it's all metaphorical," then surely we're accepting scientific truth, aren't we? So no issue."
But it is an issue. By aligning yourself with a religion, you are giving credence to those who do interprete religious scripture literally (like you do when it suits).
What would be the point of me saying? 'I believe in a flat Earth'. But when questioned on the evidence, say, 'well I only believe in it metaphorically so it doesn't matter'.
"Again, your ignorance is displayed. The Flat Earth theory wasn't supported by the Church"
I never said it was. I was using a ridiculous non-religious example to demonstrate that interpreting a theory metaphorically is a ridiculous cop-out. I could of used fairies at the bottom of the garden or angels, it doesn't matter. Please try not to misinterpret what I'm saying.
"the purpose of conversation doesn't have to be a decisive victory for either side; it can be interesting to explore. Who's the open-minded one here?"
Well I am actually and I'll explain why.
When you enter a 'god' debate with Andrew, you have both decided that your positions on belief cannot be changed.
Whereas, I would believe in God if there was an strong enough argument (with supporting evidence) put forward. I am open minded enough to change my position if needs be, you are not.
Science is all about healthy scepticism and doubt and only believing what the evidence supports. You put that aside when it comes to discussing god (and probably loads of other issues as well by example of your thinking on abortion etc.).
"I think a review of the discussion shows that I've pretty much categorically refuted every argument you've put up"
In your closed arrogant mind you have. You are not as clever as you think you are. Of that there is no doubt.
"It isn't atheism that is bigotry, it is the way in which it is stated, and the aggression and ignorance with which religious perspectives are dealt with"
Science is about questioning everything and testing theories against the evidence. Religion and a meaningful god just don't stand up to the evidence. How else can it be put?
The reason religion doesn't like to be scientifically examined in this way is because it knows that it doesn't stand up to scientific enquiry. Religion has largely survived by suppressing the findings of this enquiry, which is what you are trying to do now by calling me a bigot.
"it is only you who here who takes the bigoted view that divides the world between "enlightened atheists" and "benighted religious."
I'm not saying that. Atheists are not necessarily enlightened as Andrew demonstrates.
Religious people are misguided, but this is not necessarily dangerous, it just leaves them more open to bigotry (as you demonstrate). My argument is just that religion is dangerous nonsense and the world would be better off without it, just like we are better off by not believing in a flat earth.
"The religious question is over what goes on outside the Big Bang, which is the limit of our knowledge"
The limit of our knowledge is not fixed. As it advances, God retreats. That is why religion and science are in conflict. Religion is scared of scientific discovery and revels in mystery and ignorance. Science is the opposite.
"excepting the wilder fringes, most religious people are perfectly comfortable with the statements of biology or geology on the nature of physical existence."
But without religion the wilder fringes wouldn't have credibility.
"science is silent on whether there is a purpose to life"
It is better to be ethical without religion than with, as my Colin McGinn quote illustrates.
"God created a universe of physical laws, which are those we seek to understand by science."
And Scientific debate is held back by religious teachings about a god for which there is no scientific evidence and plenty of scientific doubt.
I notice you don't answer AC Graylings most pertinent point;
"the most rudimentary scientific understanding shows that belief in supernatural agencies and events is nonsense. A simple test demonstrates this: ask yourself what grounds we have for believing that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden; consider what tests might be supposed to test the hypothesis that such things exist; ask yourself how reasonable it would be to organise your life on the supposition that such fairies exist. The evidential basis of belief in gods and other supernatural forces is no different from this."