Publisher:* Bantam Press
Number Of Pages:* 416
Publication Date:* 2006
ISBN-10 / ASIN:* 0593055489
ISBN-13 / EAN:* 9780593055489
As a zealous proponent of a materialistic worldview, Dawkin’s premise in this book can be summarised as follows. Whatever appears to be a consequence of design in biology and in the universe as a whole is an ‘illusion’. There is no design since all that appears to be the outcome of a controlling mind is actually is a random accident. In this Dawkin’s moves beyond the scientific method which accepts all possibilities until disproven empirically. His reasoning proceeds to conclude therefore, that anyone who accepts the possibility that complexity is not random and illusory must be ‘delusional’. Dawkin’s reasoning is essentially a based on atheistic religious dogma, rather than the scientific method. It is incoherent.
In other words, Dawkins reasoning applies his brilliant mind to extrapolate well beyond science. Many of the scientific facts and theories he recalls in his book are actually interesting to read. However, rather than identify his own conclusions based upon his intellectual predisposition as speculations which ignore theistic possibilities, Dawkins presents them as proof of his view that ultimately belief in God is a delusion. Unfortunately, this is inconsistent with the scientific method itself which does not permit such certainty. Ultimately, the scientific method cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. This is where Dawkins viewpoint shifts from reason to a belief system in itself – an atheistic religion of its own. Here lies the greatest disappointment in this book – it lacks scientific equipoise.
Post Your view regarding this book here
If you wish to add a review to this page, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
2011PeterTheGod DelusionWS A simple response by a Christian father to his son, uploaded with his permission
check the posts regarding this response here
No contradiction between Science and theism
To the email@example.com
The fathers of science as you know were Christians. As such they expected that the world would be intelligible, understandable, exhibit predictability and regularity and demonstrate the glory of God. Cultures such as China have languished in the past because their worldview was not theistic and hence they did not have a Christian heritage where science developed and flourished in a theistic framework. Numerous early great scientists were theists (many were Christians) to which modern science owes debt, these include Newton, Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, Boyle, Pasteur and Mendel. These forefathers of science correctly perceived no contradiction between science and theism, as did Sir Francis Bacon:
I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore, God never wrought miracle, to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.
Francis Bacon, The Essays Of Atheism
Atheism and agnosticism cannot explain the regularity, intelligibility, and laws of nature – these essential assumptions (which are rooted in theism) are indispensable for the scientific endeavour to be possible in the first place. Methodological science (which all scientists engage in; theists or not) seeks to explain natural phenomena mechanistically. At beginning of The Royal Society, it was agreed not to invoke God in seeking to understand the workings of the natural world.
[Members of the Royal Society agree to] meddle no otherwise with Divine things, than onely as the Power, and Wisdom, and Goodness of the Creator, is display’d in the admirable order, and workmanship of the Creatures. It cannot be deny’d, but it lies in the Natural Philosophers hands, best to advance that part of Divinity: …which, though it fills not the mind, with such tender, and powerful contemplations, as that which shews us Man’s Redemption by a Mediator; yet it is by no means to be pass’d by unregarded: but is an excellent ground to establish the other.
Thomas Sprat, 1667
However, this agenda does not deny the existence of God at all – it’s just that this discipline of knowledge, by it’s very nature is incapable of disproving God. It is a categorical error because science explores mechanism and not agency. How ironic then, that modern atheistic scientists will try to disprove God with this discipline of knowledge which would not exist without the implicit assumptions of theism – that God created and sustains the cosmos and bears the hallmarks of His power and wisdom (e.g. Ps 19 and Romans 1:18-20). Even Einstein was not atheist, he was a deist.
… there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Albert Einstein, New York Times Magazine on November 9, 1930
Honest thinkers like Richard Lewontin (who is not a believer) have correctly summarised the a- priori assumptions of atheists which guarantee that naturalism will always trump supernaturalism (i.e. God) as an explanation for our cosmos and the deeper questions in life:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.
We take the side of science … in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community of unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism.
… we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.
… Materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.
Richard Lewontin, ex-Professor of Zoology and Professor of Biology, Harvard
Another atheistic professor:
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and naturally, hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
Thomas Nagel, Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University
Science must be distinguished from Scientism. It has its roots in the Scottish philosopher, David Hume:
If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or school of metaphysics, for instance, let us ask,
Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No.
Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No.
Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
David Hume, 1784
The nobel laureate, Sir Peter Medewar has correctly remarked that science is incapable of answering the simple questions of a child:
The … limit to science is, however, made clear by its inability to answer childlike elementary questions … such as: How did everything begin? What are we here for? What is the point of living?
Peter Medawar, 1979
This is because these important questions are not within the capability of science to answer.
Scientism is where science is viewed as ultimate being the only legitimate discipline of knowledge. It is purported to answer all the questions in life, including the deep questions that Dr Medewar knows to be an inherent limitation of science. Furthermore, scientism is self-refuting because scientism itself cannot be scientifically proven. It cannot meet it’s own standards. As you have stated James, the epistemology of scientism is much too narrow – it denies other disciplines of knowledge such as the arts and aesthetics, philosophy and logic, mathematics, metaphysics, ethics and morality, history and economics. Science must assume and accept the truth of logic and mathematics but it cannot prove them.
Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator.
Einstein and Sir Arthur Eddington, realised that Einstein’s law of general relativity implied a beginning to the universe and to Einstein’s dismay this implied the existence of God that he was trying to deny. The cosmological argument is now one of four arguments for the existence of God that is robust and successfully argued in debates with atheists in academic circles.
Kalam cosmological argument:
- Everything that beings to exist has a cause
- The universe began to exist
- Therefore, the universe has a cause
Please see the attachment which details the argument in more detail. In essence the logical conclusion is that the cause of the universe must necessarily transcend space, time and matter – it is spaceless, timeless, unchanging, immaterial, uncaused personal agent – which is entirely consistent with the God of the Bible who is an eternal spirit.
I won’t detail the other arguments for God but just list them:
- Fine tuning argument (for a cosmos that supports intelligent life)
- Genetic information argument (in native DNA and RNA)
- Moral argument
Each of the four arguments are syllogistic arguments (i.e. deductive reasoning, ala this famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle). Each of these are independent arguments for the existence of God via natural revelation – i.e. natural theology or inferred by revelation of God in the natural world. See attachment Does God Exist.doc for more details (it can be viewed at Does God Exist? ) [editor]. The Genetic Information argument dismisses the theory that life can arise by random, unguided and unintelligent processes because intelligence is the best explanation for information.
The argument for resurrection of Christ is based on inference to the best explanation of four widely accepted historical events:
- The burial of Jesus Christ
- The empty tomb
- Post-mortem appearances of the risen Christ
- The origin of the disciples’ beliefs
The criteria for establishing the best explanation of these historical observations have been detailed by a Melbourne philosopher C Behan McCullagh and include:
- Explanatory scope
- Explanatory power
- Ad hoc
- Disconfirmation by accepted beliefs
- Hypothesis exceeds its rivals in fulfilling the above conditions
Again, see attachments for more details: Resurrection of Jesus Christ_Contemporary Scholarship & The Historical Evidence.
Acts 17 reminds us that Jesus’ resurrection is the universal proof that HIs radical claims should be taken seriously:
He commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.
None of the above arguments depend upon whether God created the world in 7 days or not. They do not demand the atheist to accept the Bible as the inerrant and inspired Word of God.
Einstein remarked that scientist are poor philosophers:
The man of science is a poor philosopher.
Richard Dawkins is no exception. Please see the attachment for a critique of his central argument in the God Delusion. Dawkins Delusion (This attachment is reproduced in REVIEW 3 below [editor]). The next attachment is quite lengthy for your reference if needed; you may not necessarily want to read all of it, The New Atheism and Five Arguments God.
“What the the heart desires, the mind justifies.” Intellectual arguments are often the means to justify one’s rejection of God. It is encouraging to see that the Christian faith can robustly withstand the intellectual onslaught of atheists. The average modern Christian is ill-equipped to deal with the arguments of atheists – Christian apologetics is not taught because it is a neglected branch of theology in most churches. I have found the following website to be an invaluable resource: http://www.reasonablefaith.org. Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with James writing to his son (http://220.127.116.11/~thedebri.routing.yourhost.co/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/2011PeterTheGod-DelusionWS11.pdf), the witness of the Holy Spirit is essential and without His conviction, His work and His leading, these intellectual discussions on their own would not lead to the joy, satisfaction and abundance of eternal life in Christ.
by William Lane Craig
From Contending with Christianity’s Critics, pp. 2-5. Ed. Paul Copan and Wm. L. Craig. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman and Holman. Used by permission.
Richard Dawkins has emerged as the enfant terrible of the movement known as the New Atheism. His best-selling book The God Delusion has become the literary centerpiece of that movement. In it Dawkins aims to show that belief in God is a delusion, that is to say, “a false belief or impression,” or worse, “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.”1 On pages 157-8 of his book, Dawkins summarizes what he calls “the central argument of my book.” Note it well. If this argument fails, then Dawkins’ book is hollow at its core. And, in fact, the argument is embarrassingly weak.
It goes as follows:
Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.
This argument is jarring because the atheistic conclusion that “Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist” seems to come suddenly out of left field. You don’t need to be a philosopher to realize that that conclusion doesn’t follow from the six previous statements.
Indeed, if we take these six statements as premises of an argument intended to logically imply the conclusion “Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist,” then the argument is patently invalid. No logical rules of inference would permit you to draw this conclusion from the six premises.
A more charitable interpretation would be to take these six statements, not as premises, but as summary statements of six steps in Dawkins’ cumulative argument for his conclusion that God does not exist. But even on this charitable construal, the conclusion “Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist” simply doesn’t follow from these six steps, even if we concede that each of them is true and justified. The only delusion demonstrated here is Dawkins’ conviction that this is “a very serious argument against God’s existence.”2
So what does follow from the six steps of Dawkins’ argument? At most, all that follows is that we should not infer God’s existence on the basis of the appearance of design in the universe. But that conclusion is quite compatible with God’s existence and even with our justifiably believing in God’s existence. Maybe we should believe in God on the basis of the cosmological argument or the ontological argument or the moral argument. Maybe our belief in God isn’t based on arguments at all but is grounded in religious experience or in divine revelation. Maybe God wants us to believe in him simply by faith. The point is that rejecting design arguments for God’s existence does nothing to prove that God does not exist or even that belief in God is unjustified. Indeed, many Christian theologians have rejected arguments for the existence of God without thereby committing themselves to atheism.
So Dawkins’ argument for atheism is a failure even if we concede, for the sake of argument, all its steps. But, in fact, several of these steps are plausibly false in any case. Take just step (3), for example. Dawkins’ claim here is that one is not justified in inferring design as the best explanation of the complex order of the universe because then a new problem arises: Who designed the designer?
This objection is flawed on at least two counts.
First, in order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t have an explanation of the explanation. This is an elementary point concerning inference to the best explanation as practiced in the philosophy of science. If archaeologists digging in the earth were to discover things looking like arrowheads and hatchet heads and pottery shards, they would be justified in inferring that these artifacts are not the chance result of sedimentation and metamorphosis, but products of some unknown group of people, even though they had no explanation of who these people were or where they came from. Similarly, if astronauts were to come upon a pile of machinery on the back side of the moon, they would be justified in inferring that it was the product of intelligent, extra-terrestrial agents, even if they had no idea whatsoever who these extra-terrestrial agents were or how they got there.
In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t be able to explain the explanation. In fact, so requiring would lead to an infinite regress of explanations, so that nothing could ever be explained and science would be destroyed. So in the case at hand, in order to recognize that intelligent design is the best explanation of the appearance of design in the universe, one needn’t be able to explain the designer.
Second, Dawkins thinks that in the case of a divine designer of the universe, the designer is just as complex as the thing to be explained, so that no explanatory advance is made. This objection raises all sorts of questions about the role played by simplicity in assessing competing explanations—for example, how simplicity is to be weighted in comparison with other criteria like explanatory power, explanatory scope, plausibility, and so forth. If a less simple hypothesis exceeds its rivals in explanatory scope and power, for example, then it may well be the preferred explanation, despite the sacrifice in simplicity.
But leave those questions aside. Dawkins’ fundamental mistake lies in his assumption that a divine designer is an entity comparable in complexity to the universe. As an unembodied mind, God is a remarkably simple entity. As a non-physical entity, a mind is not composed of parts, and its salient properties, like self-consciousness, rationality, and volition, are essential to it. In contrast to the contingent and variegated universe with all its inexplicable physical quantities and constants (mentioned in the fifth step of Dawkins’ argument),3 a divine mind is startlingly simple. Certainly such a mind may have complex ideas (it may be thinking, for example, of the infinitesimal calculus), but the mind itself is a remarkably simple entity. Dawkins has evidently confused a mind’s ideas, which may, indeed, be complex, with a mind itself, which is an incredibly simple entity.4 Therefore, postulating a divine mind behind the universe most definitely does represent an advance in simplicity, for whatever that’s worth.
Other steps in Dawkins’ argument are also problematic; but I think enough has been said to show that his argument does nothing to undermine a design inference based on the universe’s complexity, not to speak of its serving as a justification of atheism.
Several years ago my atheist colleague Quentin Smith unceremoniously crowned Stephen Hawking’s argument against God in A Brief History of Time as “the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought.”5 With the advent of The God Delusion the time has come, I think, to relieve Hawking of this weighty crown and to recognize Richard Dawkins’ accession to the throne.
1 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 5.
2 Ibid., 157. Indeed, he fancies himself to have offered a “devastating” and “unrebuttable refutation” of God’s existence.
3 Otherwise known as the fine-tuning of the universe for life. The optimism expressed in step (6) of Dawkins’ argument with respect to finding a physical explanation for the cosmic fine-tuning is really quite baseless and represents little more than the faith of a naturalist. For discussion of the design argument from the fine-tuning of nature’s constants and quantities, see William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 157-79.
4 His confusion is evident when he complains, “A God capable of continuously monitoring and controlling the individual status of every particle in the universe cannot be simple. . . . Worse (from the point of view of simplicity), other corners of God’s giant consciousness are simultaneously preoccupied with the doings and emotions and prayers of every single human being—and whatever intelligent aliens there might be on other planets in this and 100 billion other galaxies” (God Delusion, 149). This conflates God with what God is thinking about. To say that God, as an immaterial entity, is extraordinarily simple is not to endorse Aquinas’ doctrine that God is logically simple (rejected by Dawkins on 150). God may have diverse properties without having the sort of complexity Dawkins is talking about, namely “heterogeneity of parts” (ibid., 150).
5 Quentin Smith, “The Wave Function of a Godless Universe,” in Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 322.
William Lang Craig takes his argument against Dawkin’s “new atheism’ further in here . [Editor]
This could be your review!
Send it to the Editor the Editor
Make a General Comment