I’ve been reading Richard Dawkins’s work “The God Delusion” for the past few days. I’m not going to hold back on some opening thoughts. I have heard people who can argue for the other side. Some of them can appeal to “evidences.” (I say that as I think the evidences are fallacious.) Some of them can make decent cases. From Dawkins, all I get is rhetoric. He can make people feel an emotion, but that’s about it.
Friends. It is really bad to me when I go through a book and see gaping mistakes in the preface about my worldview. Dawkins is a scientist. That is the area he’s best at. However, in this one, he’s trying too much to play philosopher and theologian and quite frankly, it doesn’t work.
As an example, he talks about how he would have read Duns Scotus if Scotus had been open to the possibility that God didn’t exist. Scotus was a medieval. These thinkers made numerous arguments for God’s existence and critiqued each others arguments. They told some their arguments were just wrong. Just look at the debate that came about because of the Ontological Argument. They didn’t just assume God. In fact, they assumed very little and you can find them nitpicking on the tiniest things.
Dawkins also speaks about faith as belief without evidence. I would like him to find me a dictionary of the NT that has that as the definition of faith. It certainly isn’t the definition I believe in and for one who is so big on evidence, one would hope he could find evidence of the meaning of a single word.
Dawkins also speaks of many Christians as afraid of science. I don’t know who he’s talking about. I have no problem with science. Science instead gives me wonder in Christianity. There are even passages in Dawkins’s own work here where he speaks about how the universe does have fine-tuning (Though not design for him naturally) and they leave me in wonder. When he talks about various animals and how they go about reproduction and other interesting habits, I am quite interested. These don’t damage my faith.
In the same way, if evolution was true on the macro level, it would not damage my faith. My faith is built on Jesus Christ rising from the dead. I’m simply skeptical now due to the anti-supernaturalistic bias that I see in science today. (More accurately, that would be scientists today. Science is not anti-supernatural and rests on theology. See Rodney Stark’s “The Victory of Reason.”)
It is quite humorous to see Dawkins try to debunk the Trinity. The statements he thought were nonsensical made sense to me. You see Mr. Dawkins, back then, the writers assumed the listeners were educated in basic Christian beliefs so they didn’t spell out everything and used theological shorthand if need be. Dawkins’s complaint though is that it makes no sense. Maybe Dawkins just needs his consciousness raised by understanding Trinitarianism. (Readers of the book will understand.)
Dawkins also tries to refute proofs for God’s existence. Aquinas is dealt with in just four pages and even then, the arguments aren’t presented accurately. The argument from motion is not a horizontal argument but a vertical one. Dawkins makes it sound like the domino effect where one domino falls because of the one prior etc. I think that argument is valid. I’ve used it myself. However, that is not Aquinas’s argument.
Aquinas’s argument is more like taking a stack of gears all running together. It doesn’t explain the motion of the gears to say that there is simply one big gear at the top. There is something outside of the sequence of gears that is keeping the gears running or as it were, starting them in motion. That something is what we call God.
Consider also Aquinas’s Teleological argument. Aquinas is not dealing with intelligent design as we see it. I have no problem with saying life is fine-tuned, but that deals with what Aristotle calls the efficient cause. Aquinas is dealing with how things function according to a purpose, and that is a final cause, and the explanation of the final cause is God.
Needless to say, even if one doesn’t agree with Aquinas’s proofs, one thing must be said. He was no idiot. You don’t simply dismiss him out of hand in a few pages. Yet Dawkins does, which reveals more to me about Dawkins than it could ever reveal to me about Aquinas.
Dawkins also tries to deal with the argument from beauty by simply saying it doesn’t make sense. I know the argument from beauty. It is one of my favorites and what Dawkins’s writes does not touch my faith in the least. Dawkins. It’s simple. Either beauty is objective and rests on something outside of us or else it is subjective and nothing is truly beautiful. Take your pick. If you choose subjective, then tell me why you think your wife is beautiful when in reality, she isn’t. (Note. I would not be saying she isn’t, but if all is subjective, then that’s the only conclusion. There’s no right and wrong to the question of “Is my wife beautiful?”)
When Dawkins deals with Scripture, he brings up German theologians dismantling the Scripture’s accuracy. Unfortunately, most of us who are educated know about these so-called dismantling attempts and quite frankly, they don’t work. Dawkins think it’s self-evident. I would have preferred to have seen a real argument.
Lastly, I shall deal with his argument of the Ultimate 747 Boeing. Unfortunately, Dawkins says that chance isn’t behind it all, but he never tells me how he avoids chance in his system. Indeed, on pages 168-169, he attributes our being here to luck. I would like to know how that isn’t chance.
Now Dawkins’s argument is that God must be complex. Little problem here. He’s making a category fallacy. God is simple in his being and immaterial. He is not made of parts that one sticks them all together. Had he read Aquinas, he would have known about this. Material thing are put together. God is not. He is pure actuality.
The argument does more damage to Dawkins anyway. Let’s suppose he insists on it and says “If he’s so complex, he needs a designer!” Then we simply say “Very well, the complexities you admit exist here need a designer.” If he backs up at that point then we say, “Okay. God doesn’t need a designer then.” He can’t have it both ways.
The ultimate argument though is no argument as Dawkins does not explain how anything got here other than luck. If he were to approach a philosopher on the topic who was a Christian and devout and educated, he would be easily shown the error of his ways. I find it amazing anyone is persuaded by that argument. Dawkins may think he’s removed God, but he hasn’t, and he has yet to put a system in that will take his place.
I am a little over halfway through. I hope things get better, but it seems they are only getting worse. These are just my opening thoughts but readers can be assured I will write more later.