The Dawkins Delusion

 

The word ‘new’ is being attached to many philosophies and movements nowadays. One of the newest News is a militant form of atheism promoted by people such as Richard Dawkins.

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I have written this short article to provide some background reading into one of the better known books coming out of the New Atheist camp; ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins.

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I am not an apologist; and I make no apology for this. An apologist is a person who offers an argument in defence of something, and in theological circles that ‘something’ is the Christian Faith. I do not believe that God needs defending: the very idea is as absurd as an ant attempting to justify to another insect that Richard Dawkins exists (comparison intended). And that brings me to the subject of this post.

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A short while ago I chanced upon a televised interview of Professor Dawkins. I knew of him but hadn’t taken time to read his books, so I stayed tuned and listened for a while. A number of things struck me but I have already mentioned these in a sermon I preached that same week, so I will only cite two here – his very narrow world-view and his obvious contempt for those who include a spiritual dimension to their concept of reality.

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The Dawkins world-view has no room for anything beyond what can be scientifically observed and quantified. I, on the other hand, believe in a spiritual realm on a number of grounds. I have experienced it, it makes sense to me, the bible describes it, and Jesus spoke much about it. Of course folk like Dawkins regard the bible as a collection of ancient myths and theologians as benighted souls who peddle these myths. This is what he says; ‘I have listened to theologians, read them, debated against them. I have never heard any of them ever say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false’. He has indeed debated with some church men but seems to carefully avoid those who could easily refute his views. Dr William Lane Craig is a highly trained and articulate theologian who has repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, attempted to engage Dawkins. In his justification, ‘Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig’ Dawkins writes; ‘Don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve never heard of William Lane Craig. He parades himself as a philosopher, but none of the professors of philosophy whom I consulted had heard his name either. Perhaps he is a “theologian”’. Note particularly the dismissive use of inverted commas.

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For interest I looked up the Wikipedia entries for both Dawkins and Lane Craig. The article on Dawkins contains a mere 6 lines describing his education. Lane Craig on the other hand… well see for yourself – I know whose CV impresses me the most: No wonder Dawkins does not want to debate him!

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Here is Lane Craig’s evaluation of Dawkins’ logical argument – as they say in my part of the world, “Ag shame”. By the way, I borrowed the title of this post from this particular article although I doubt if Lane Craig is the only one to use the catchy description of Dawkins Think.

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As one of the despised theologian class I of course heartily agree with Lane Craig, but I chose rather to consult some non-Christian critics in order to get a non-spiritual view of the Dawkins Delusion. Robert Stewart, writing in the Journal of Evolutionary Philosophy, produced a detailed summary and review of Dawkins’ book ‘The God Delusion’. In this paper Stewart points out that Dawkins claims that he can prove that the probability of God’s existence is almost zero. He goes on to mention that Dawkins based the entire credibility of his book on his ‘proof’ of God’s non-existence, but that the only proof that he delivered was a rhetorical hypothesis… Again, “Ag shame”.

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I went one step further and downloaded a Kindle book titled ‘Illogical Atheism’ by a doctor of Laws writing under the name of Bo Jinn. The book’s title speaks for itself but just to clarify one reviewer wrote; ‘In his book Illogical Atheism, Bo Jinn incisively lays down the failure of atheism to provide a grounding for reason’.

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I can’t do better to end this short article than by quoting Lane Craig’s conclusion to one of his articles on the same subject ‘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.” 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’.

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5 Responses

  1. Grant

    Dear Chris,
    As is the case with most of your articles, this one challenges my thinking and makes me want to explore the issues you raise in greater depth. I have recently finished reading “Answering the New Atheism; Dismantling Dawkins’ Case Against God” by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker. I will be following up on some of the published articles by Lane Craig.

    One thing I do find curious is your comment regarding an apologist. It’s interesting that you say a christian apologist is a person who defends the christian faith, and then in your very next statement indicate that God does not need defending. While I agree entirely that God is more than capable of defending Himself, I think defending the Christian faith is entirely different . The absurd example you offer regarding the ant trying to prove the existence of Dawkins to another ant does apply, but only to a degree.

    I’m possibly assuming too much, but surely a Christian, who is trying to answer an honest question from a non Christian about the existence of a loving god who allows evil in the world, is an apologist.

    The issue for me, is whether the protagonist is actually asking an honest question. I see no point in “defending the faith” when this person is postulating from a point of view which neither encourages nor accepts dialogue.

    What do you think?

    • chrispeppler@telkomsa.net

      Thanks for the comments Grant. The underlying reason for my negative comment on apologetics is this: I understand that the Christian Faith is based on a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and not on knowledge. Religions are knowledge and ritual based systems and therefore need to be argued and ‘sold’ in order to attract adherents. Apologetics seems to be based on the assumptions that (a) the Christian Faith needs to be explained intellectually, and (b) by doing so unbelievers will become believers. In three decades of pastoral ministry I have never succeeded in persuading or arguing anyone into the Kingdom of God. I present the Gospel and point to Jesus and the Holy Spirit convicts and gives new spiritual life. As a believer, I am constantly thrilled and deeply satisfied with the logic and sublime order of God’s creation and the functioning of His Kingdom … as a believer …. apologetics, however, aims to convince the unbeliever. My belief is that God reveals and humanity perceives His revelation. God cannot be scientifically or even logically ‘proven’ for we can not even perceive of who He is without first being born again (JN 3 Jesus to Nicodemus). So, in my opinion, apologetics is based on a wrong assumption and fails to achieve much more that generating argument and a demand for further ‘proof’ from the unconvinced. When I, as a believer, try to explain to a genuine seeker how I understand evil and suffering then I do so, not as an apologist, but simply as a child of God wanting to point someone to the love, grace, and mercy of God. I am not seeking to argue or convince, but simply to testify.

  2. brother daniel

    excellent highly relevant topic ( gaining in poppularity), so much knowledge can be downloaded at the click of a button but wisdom such as Chris lays it out is from the Father Above. i will certainly be passing it on. thank you Chris

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