Monday, July 16, 2007

Is Richard Dawkins Scamming Us?


I was in Barnes and Nobles yesterday browsing through the Science section, when I opened up “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. (I didn’t buy it – but I probably will when the paperback comes out.)

Sometimes I cannot help but wonder if Professor Dawkins, who is apparently so intelligent and well educated, is really serious.

First of all, he explains that the most convincing proof against God is that theists have offered no explanation of how God was created. However, doesn’t the professor realize that by definition God is an eternal being? Seemingly, what Dawkins should do is prove that an eternal being cannot exist (he doesn’t do that), not harp on the ridiculous question of “who created God”. That’s like asking, “Who is the bachelor’s wife”.

In any case, since Dawkins believes evolution answers everything, why can't he believe that God evolved somehow as well.

Second of all, he repeats again and again the deceptive concept that “natural selection is non-random”. That’s true, it is, but it is also non-creative. Natural selection simply means that all living things, which exist today, are capable of reproducing, otherwise they would not exist. I agree. But what created all those successful reproducers? According to Dawkins, pure, dumb, blind, incredible good luck, gradually dribbled out over a few billion years. Blind chance chemical combinations created the brain, the eye, the hand, etc. etc. Natural selection just means that all those poor animals created with no brains, eyes, etc. perished. For one, I cannot convince myself of that. And the fossils offer no support whatsoever.

Sometimes one really wonders whether Dawkins is serious, or whether he is giggling secretly about having duped so many fools as he collects his royalties.

12 comments:

Cameron said...

JP said: I was in Barnes and Nobles yesterday browsing through the Science section, when I opened up “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. (I didn’t buy it – but I probably will when the paperback comes out.)

CH: Ah, so we are going to bash a book we haven't even read. Only on a religious blog!

JP: Sometimes I cannot help but wonder if Professor Dawkins, who is apparently so intelligent and well educated, is really serious.

CH: Coming from the person who penned the line "When they close the oven doors on you, don't come crying to me" I find the concern for Dawkins seriousness to be quite touching.

JP: First of all, he explains that the most convincing proof against God is that theists have offered no explanation of how God was created.

CH: I think the argument about God's origins qualifies as a sub-argument relating to the incoherency of God in general.

JP: However, doesn’t the professor realize that by definition God is an eternal being?

CH: It wouldn't hurt for you to occasionally make the effort to define God, or at least, come up with a list of characteristics. Here's what I can gather;

- Intangible
- Omnipotent
- Omnipresent
- Omni-benevolent
- Omniscient
- Eternal
- Ineffable (and this is always my favourite, one of God's characteristics is that we don't get to know what She is!)
- Is in particular, the God of the Jews (at least for the purposes of debating Her existence on this
blog)
- Is candy flavoured
- Enjoys having bulls, peasants, and even entire countries sacrificed to Her greatness.

Let me know if you think I missed any.


JP: Seemingly, what Dawkins should do is prove that an eternal being cannot exist (he doesn’t do that), not harp on the ridiculous question of “who created God”.

CH: If we look at the table of characteristics I listed above, you'll see that some of them are mutually contradictory, and that ultimately the list makes even talking of 'God' incoherent. What does it mean to be 'Omni-benevolent' and yet to also have created everything - including evil - in the universe? How do we reconcile the list of Her qualities with the notion that She is supposedly ineffable?

Can we even conceive of something being 'intangible' yet also having physical/human characteristics like emotions given that all of our experience with these emotions comes from physical beings? In short, it's a wish list of characteristics that cannot add up - and yet you insist that Dawkins must prove eternal beings don't exist? Pshaw. Start with the beam in thine own eye.

JP: Second of all, he repeats again and again the deceptive concept that “natural selection is non-random”. That’s true, it is, but it is also non-creative.

CH: And we no return you to regularly scheduled programming where an Orthodox Jew tells a professional evolutionary biologist what's what with evolutionary biology. Set your irony meters to stun, or risk being killed by the radioactive Hubris.

JP: Natural selection simply means that all living things, which exist today, are capable of reproducing, otherwise they would not exist.

CH: Sigh. That is simply not what natural selection means.

JP: But what created all those successful reproducers? According to Dawkins, pure, dumb, blind, incredible good luck, gradually dribbled out over a few billion years. Blind chance chemical combinations created the brain, the eye, the hand, etc. etc.

CH: As I said, this is not Dawkins position at all. Life is a trial and error exercise of imperfect beings reproducing in a hostile environment.

JP: Natural selection just means that all those poor animals created with no brains, eyes, etc. perished. For one, I cannot convince myself of that. And the fossils offer no support whatsoever.

CH: You are well off in your own delusion now. It sure looks like a pleasant one though.

JP: Sometimes one really wonders whether Dawkins is serious, or whether he is giggling secretly about having duped so many fools as he collects his royalties.

CH: Another stunning critique of the godless atheists ruining the world. I stand in awe.

Actually, I stand flabbergasted, a typical state of affairs for me when visiting here.

avrum68 said...

JP...it would seem Dawkins is quite serious. As well, when religious people fly planes into buildings, thwart medical progress, etc., secular folks get upset. As a religious person, I get that. If I'm correct, Dawkins believes that he can convince the "sitting on the fence" religious folks - silent majority - that their seemingly innocent attitude re: God, is harmful, and possibly wrong. That he thinks he can do this is nothing short of megalomania, and possibly delusional as well. It would be like trying to convice people that "love" is a delusion (and hence, marriage is a failed experiment), by showing them lots of statistics about divorce, etc.

Anyway, he's keeping religious folks on their toes. And that's never a bad thing.

jewish philosopher said...

I think Dawkins would be keeping me on my toes if he would write something really smart and original. "So who made God" sounds more like an eight year old. I really wonder what he's thinking.

Cameron, I have a post about what God is.

badrabbi said...

Cameron;

I stand in awe of your writing. As always a magnificent rebuttal of JP.
love "Set your irony meters to stun, or risk being killed by the radioactive Hubris"!
What I hope for, on your own blog, is some more comprehensive writing.

jewish philosopher said...

Just for the record, does Professor Dawkins hold any advanced degrees in theology or philosophy? So does his publishing a book "proving" the non-existence of God contain perhaps a grain of hubris?

avrum68 said...

"does Professor Dawkins hold any advanced degrees in theology or philosophy?"

This is an excellent point, and has been made by others. To be fair though, it was the religious leaders who provoked the ire of the scientists by using (perhaps abusing) scientific claims to bolster their own ideas.

jewish philosopher said...

I still find it unnerving that whenever a rabbi criticizes something we are reminded "he's no authority, he's not a scientist". And if a religious scientist makes an argument favoring religion it is also disqualified since, after all, he is biased by his religion. So any religious arguments are automatically disqualified by ad hominem attacks.

Yet, if rabbis do the same to atheists and claim they are all biased by their desires, this is just laughed off as a huge joke and proof that the rabbis have no logical position.

avrum68 said...

"And if a religious scientist makes an argument favoring religion it is also disqualified since, after all, he is biased by his religion."

This is also true.

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

FYI, Vic Stenger's book, "God - The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Proves that God Does Not Exist", is packed with even more ridiculous "logical" arguments. You should check it out - it can provide fodder for more than a few entertaining posts.

Cameron said...

JP: I still find it unnerving that whenever a rabbi criticizes something we are reminded "he's no authority, he's not a scientist".

CH: The problem is that when a rabbi criticizes 'science' on theological grounds it actually is the case that the rabbi is NOT an authority on science!

The scientist is an expert in what the evidence of the natural world says, whereas the rabbi - well, I'm not confident at what exactly they are experts in, but we can rule out the 'natural' world.

To be less snarky for a moment, a rabbi would have every right to offer her opinion on the Torah - a field she could certainly claim some expertise with. I'd even accept that she can offer a fair opinion on philosophical matters - despite the fact that strictly speaking, theology is a retarded philosophical construct.

Indeed, should I ever have a question about what the Torah says about a particular subject matter I would certainly respect a rabbi's opinion on the matter more than just about anyone else.

But why would anyone ever take the word of a rabbi regarding a matter requiring scientific expertise?

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, a wise man is one who is willing to learn from everyone. Ancient Jewish proverb.

On my shelf next to my desk, I have Dawkins next to Darwin, the Koran, the New Testament and the Torah.

FACTSANDFACTS said...

If relativity is the seed of creation, such as left can not exist without right etc., then we are presently existing in a relativisticly structured reality. For that relativistic reality itself to exist, it must also relate to another. It would relate to a holistic reality which extends across all time, rather than always being confined to the present time as is the plane of reality that we are familiar with.

And so we have two planes of reality that work together. One is like a record, and the other is like a needle playing the record. Since the two are connected, one can effect the other. With this being the case, I would say that its present structure is based on an eventual settling that occurred to set a stable agreement between the two planes of reality.

With this being the case, the present God may not have been the original. The son of God may have become the father, and the father the son. Is this true ? Ask the son.

http://www.outersecrets.com/real/biblecode2.htm
http://www.outersecrets.com/real/biblecode_shroud_turin.htm