Monday, March 05, 2007

Dawkins' Dangerous Idea

Regular readers of The Rambling Prophet will know that I have been sloughing through The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. For some reason Dawkins has chosen God as his sworn enemy and has declared an all-out war on faith; and not just Christianity but faiths of all stripes. Whether you are Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, Muslim, or you rub sticks together chanting while you sit cross-legged on a rock, you are on Dawkins' radar.

His book serves as a piece of atheistic evangelism, encouraging atheists and all would-be atheists to come out of the closet and be unashamed of their true colors. Dawkins' problem however is that he is a great scientist; but a poor philosopher. This is proven true in a recent refutation of the book by Alvin Plantinga, brilliant philosopher from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Plantinga does an amazing job of showing how Professor Dawkins misses the real points of his own arguments.

Dr. Dawkins' primary problem, his delusion if you will, is his a priori commitment to naturalism. As Dr. Plantinga observes:
The real problem here, obviously, is Dawkins' naturalism, his belief that there is no such person as God or anyone like God. That is because naturalism implies that evolution is unguided. So a broader conclusion is that one can't rationally accept both naturalism and evolution; naturalism, therefore, is in conflict with a premier doctrine of contemporary science. People like Dawkins hold that there is a conflict between science and religion because they think there is a conflict between evolution and theism; the truth of the matter, however, is that the conflict is between science and naturalism, not between science and belief in God.
Often throughout the course of the book, Dr. Dawkins resorts to ridicule and vitriol without seriously addressing some of the major claims of Christianity (even though he asserts his primary beef is not with the Christian God). This is the sign of a poor argument, that one cannot seriously rebut, only mock and ridicule. At times I have found his smart-aleck, "I'm brilliant and I know it" tone quite annoying. As Dr. Plantinga concludes:

The God Delusion is full of bluster and bombast, but it really doesn't give even the slightest reason for thinking belief in God mistaken, let alone a "delusion."

The naturalism that Dawkins embraces, furthermore, in addition to its intrinsic unloveliness and its dispiriting conclusions about human beings and their place in the universe, is in deep self-referential trouble. There is no reason to believe it; and there is excellent reason to reject it.

Perhaps this is why Dr. Dawkins can claim only one convert to his religion. On page 117, his apparent affection for Douglas Adams, deceased author, is admirable and he refers to him as "possibly his only convert." Prayerfully, it will be his last.


Geoff Baggett said...

I'm glad you read it. I don't think I could stand to.

Dawkins is a smart one, there's no doubt. But his "science" is so much theology ... pure and simple. His faith is in naturalism. The cosmic blob of snot that exploded in his "big bang" is his god (little g).

The only thing that i really respect him for is his appearance on Star Trek TNG (playing poker with Data and Einstein). :)

Gordon Cloud said...

Last Friday night, Dr. Ergun Caner was to have a debate with Richard Dawkins, Brian Fleming and some othes. It would have been interesting to hear.

Tony said...


I am a huge fan of TNG and I don't remember that episode!

It is an offensive book, no question; however, he unapologetically claims that is his point. I had a difficult time reading it, but while I was reading, I continually reminded myself of a line from The Hunt for Red October.

Jack Ryan addresses Captain Ramius in his native tongue and he responds incredulously, "You know Russian?"

Ryan responds, "It is always helpful to know the language of one's adversary." :)


That is not the first time I have read where the good professor bailed on a debate. He was in Lynchburg not too long ago, but sadly, I missed it.

Geoff Baggett said...

I'm such a bone-head. It was Stephen Hawking in the TNG episode. My stressed out brain somehow confused Dawkins and Hawking. At least I didn't get him confused with Richard Dawson of Family Feud fame! :)