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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How very dare you, Dr Dawkins!, 17 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths (Mass Market Paperback)
I was about to add some fulsome comments about this book when I saw that Mr Haswell had done it before me and very well, too. My copy of David's book has pencil notes down most pages and Mr Haswell has covered most of them and most articulately. I must add: I too was annoyed at the slur on anyone asking about the origin of God. This is a common response to this fundamental question.('Treat it with disdain or we may have to consider it seriously'!) David fails to understand that by asserting that the universe is so wonderful that it requires a creator, Christians have invoked a specific principle, viz, anything wonderful requires a creator. The 'Who created God?' question is merely to apply the self-same principle to justify the existence of God! If you don't like the principle, don't use it! David's attempt to ridicule the question as worthy of a six(teen?) year old is not only regrettable but also displays a shallowness of thinking born of his dependence on the existence of God.

And that is the problem really. Someone who feels that their life would be meaningless without God is hardly likely to be able to discuss evidence about his existence objectively. This is evident in the many books written to challenge Dawkins or atheism generally. It becomes clear that the writers have a common starting point - two immovable assumptions: a) God exists b) he is all those things that Christians believe him to be. One could have more sympathy with those who say 'I can't answer that'. There is also a tendency to try to paint atheism as a belief system diametrically opposite Theism, rather like devil-worship because it's then easier to counter-attack. But atheism is not a belief system, any more than belief in a round earth. It's simple disbelief! Atheism is based on evidence, theism on need. A theist needs God; an atheist doesn't need the absence of God. In fact most atheists wouldn't care tuppence if there actually were a Christian God (though not an Old Testament God with his psychopathic tendencies). It would be rather like a flat earth. It would change things but we would adjust!

Very few theists seem consider the significance of their use of the word 'faith' to describe their belief. The whole mantra of theism is shot through with the uncertainty encapsulated in the word. I am always reminded of this by the burial prayer 'in the sure and certain hope of resurrection'. Evidently it is not resurrection which is 'sure and certain', merely the hope of it! But why this uncertainty if theists are as confident as David Robertson? I do not have mere faith that sun will rise or birds fly tomorrow. I KNOW they will. To say that I had only 'faith' that these things will happen would display a considerable and disconcerting level of uncertainty. And so it is with faith in theism.

David's rather disdainful, nit-picking approach is perhaps understandable in view of the abrasive and combative style of Dawkin's book, which for all its length failed to highlight the simple fact that belief in an all-powerful, caring, and above all, good God is rendered totally untenable by the evidence of the millions of innocent men, women and, especially, children, who have been drowned, suffocated, incinerated and crushed in those little quirks of 'God's wonderful creation' - floods, tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquakes. I find theists' response to that evidence is always a little less assured than David's to Dawkins.
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Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 47 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Jan 2012 13:28:19 GMT
I know one shouldn't comment on reviews of one's own books but this one is so funny that I have to. It is the ultimate in circular arguments. The Theist believes in an uncreated God. The atheist argues against a created God - and then does not understand why the Theist does not defend the concept of a created God. The fact is that the faith of the atheist is extraordinary - believing without any evidence that the universe created itself out of nothing (aka Hawking) or that it created itself out of uncreated matter. So the atheist believes that there cannot be an uncreated God, but there can be uncreated matter! It is so illogical and irrational that it is breathtaking. But one thing I have learned - don't expect the New Fundie Atheists to be rational. It is all predicated on emotion. Their creed is 'there is no God, and I hate him'. This 'review' is sadly all too typical of that approach. And by the way - the sure and certain hope of the resurrection is precisely that - a real hope based upon fact.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2012 08:55:12 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jan 2012 09:36:59 GMT
Andrew says:
Dear David

It seems to me you are entitled to comment as you see fit - more so if you feel a review is unfair. However you do tend to misrepresent opposing arguments in order to shoot them down. Perhaps I do the same?

So:

`The atheist argues against a created God'

The atheist does not argue against a created God; he argues against the existence of any God, however he is said to originate. He merely points out that the principle of needing to explain the existence of something is only applied when it suits.

Then

`..believing without any evidence that the universe was created out of nothing...

Most atheists do not purport to say how the universe came into being. They accept that they do not know. But to them `God made it' explains nothing, especially as there is actually no evidence remotely worthy of the word to support this, and such as is claimed as `evidence' comes mainly from a bible which was written within cultures steeped in superstition, writing what they wanted to be true rather than what there was evidence for. Most societies were dominated by superstition until a few hundred years ago, and most of us, atheists included, are sadly still touched by it (touching wood etc). It is the science you so roundly condemn that has lifted most of western society out of this superstitious Stone Age.

Those who do actually believe the universe was created out of nothing - Hawking et al - most certainly do have hard evidence which, since you queried it I can briefly explain. If you're not interested in, or don't like, hard science you can skip this bit.

It is an established, if not widely known, scientific fact that matter is positive energy and gravitational energy is negative, which means that any quantity of matter can indeed be created from nothing (i.e. no matter OR space) so long as an equal quantity of gravitational energy is created at the same time. This can be assured if the matter is blown apart as it appears. All the indications - hard evidence again - are that this is precisely what happened in the `big bang' and so Hawking et al are perfectly entitled to suppose that the universe `coming out of nothing' is in fact the scientific `best buy'.
You will recognise this apparently weird process in a different context. If you have nothing you can still go to the bank and take out a positive £1000 so long as you accept an equal amount of negative debt. But you appear to have created £1000 from nothing. It's the same with matter in the universe. Matter is the credit, gravitational energy the debt. Cosmologists disagree about if and when this debt is ever going to be paid back! Very topical, eh?

The science is indeed breathtaking - but not because of any inconsistency, illogicality or irrationality, just good, wholesome science. The stuff that I suspect gives you indigestion.

`New Fundie Atheist' is a new one on me. I suspect to you, too. I assume it's meant to be disparaging. However I don't think it fits me very well. I'm 65 and I discarded religion as superstition fifty years ago. The accusation of a creed of `hating God' is rather like an accusation of hating goblins. We would hardly hate something that doesn't exist. As I'm sure you are aware, my point, which is notoriously difficult to counter, is simply that the fact of barbaric cruelty in natural disasters means that God can be a) not all-powerful, b) heartless or c) does not exist. Of these options you will never find an atheist who believes either of the first two.

Regarding the hope of resurrection, I'm not aware of any `fact' that hope is based on. Perhaps you can enlighten me on this one?

With best wishes

Andrew

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2012 10:12:50 GMT
Andrew -

Dawkins argues against a created God. The most frequent argument I hear from atheists about the existence of God is 'who created God'? You even contradict yourself by talking of a God who 'originates'. That is the point. Monotheists argue that there is no created God and God has no origin. So I am not misrepresenting the argument. It is the atheist who refuses to deal with the actual question and just makes up another one - based on the pre-supposition that everything that exists must have an origin.

Re the hard science - I suggest you order John Lennox's critique of Hawkings position. Your analogy of the bank is actually helpful. You are only able to get £1,000 because the £1,000 exists. Likewise when HAwking says that the universe created itself out of nothing and then talks about gravity. That is nonsensical. And non-scientific. For a start there is not nothing. There is gravity!

Your point about natural disasters is not difficult to counter. The choice is not between a God who creates a perfect world where nothing goes wrong and no-one makes any choices, because there are none, or an imperfect world where stuff just happens. The Bible's account is of a God who creates a world in which human beings are free to choose - and to affect and infect the world in which we live. The notion that if I fall and cut myself this proves there is no God is as nonsensical as that the universe created itself!

The hope of resurrection? The fact of Jesus's resurrection is the basis of that hope. Again can I suggest you read Lee Strobels book on that. Also available on Amazon.

All the best

David

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2012 12:08:05 GMT
A. Hawkins says:
Hello David

Allow me to step up to the mark and address the illogicality of an uncreated God in general and your Christian God in particular.

I believe that an eternal uncreated God is a bigger problem to overcome than matter that can just pop into existence at the big bang. There are many problems with your uncreated God, to list a few on my mind:

1. God is uncreated with knowledge of how not only to create matter but to allow that matter to create life and then complex life. How did he gain this knowledge if there is supposedly no matter other than him? Or is he made of something other than matter such as spirit or pure consciousness? How can uncreated spirit-ether-consciousness be super intelligent and omnipotent? If there is simple uncreated matter existing with him (for him to practice on) then what is the problem of matter just popping into existence?

2. God is uncreated with knowledge of how to create a moral framework for us to follow even before we are made and begin to interact. But apparently he isn't very good at following his own rules.

3. God isn't just uncreated: He is uncreated in three separate centres with one centre ready-made for self-sacrifice. It would be a problem for just one centre, but then we have to multiply the centres by three to increase the craziness. Then we have to factor in that one of those centres is uncreatedly-ready-made for self-sacrifice.

I believe that simple matter being created out of nothing has less problems than a fully-formed, fully-knowing, fully-moral complex God being uncreated. Victor Stenger is useful to this argument and he states (and I paraphrase) that, "It would take an intelligent agent to stop something coming into existence; the fact that we have something means that there isn't an intelligent agent at work"

You then say "believing without any evidence that the universe created itself out of nothing (aka Hawking)". Well, I'd say there is good amounts of evidence as scientists assure us that the conditions nano-seconds after the big bang can be recreated and understood. Admittedly there is no evidence of what came before the big bang. So, in a way I am agreeing with you. But there certainly isn't any evidence that a supernatural agent was the prime mover.

Personally I wouldn't try to label atheists as New and Fundie as you well know there isn't a social gathering of atheists or a body to which they all belong. As the saying goes it's difficult to herd cats. Their creed isn't, "there is no god, and I hate him", because how can you hate something which doesn't exist.

Oh dear, after labelling atheists as fundamentalists with extraordinary faith you then play your trump card. The resurrection is a real hope based upon fact. Real hope? Real hope of what? Your God has created an unplanned hell after his creation ate an apple. If we believe in the self-sacrifice of one of his uncreated-ready-made centres we are to spend eternity in his company and if we choose not to believe we face a painful and eternal hell? This isn't hope this is just ridiculous. Then you mention that the resurrection is based on fact. I suggest that you should read John W. Loftus's works as well as Bart Ehrman's. Maybe you should take John's debunking Christianity challenge this year and then come back with renewed faith knowing that your faith has withstood, what I believe is, the greatest challenge that it can face. I say this because I don't believe that Dawkins is the best there is at debunking the Christian faith and necessarily a theistic God.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2012 19:40:09 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2012 09:38:52 GMT
Andrew says:
Dear David

At the risk of appearing to gang up on you I just have to clear things up. Regarding `who created God?', I simply said that if YOU invoke the principle that everything that exists must have a creator, that principle justifies the question `Who created God?', and so the question is logical, not childish. But let's be clear, it's your principle not mine. I don't think the universe needs a creator, and I don't believe God exists so the question of his origin is of no interest to me.

Regarding nothing and gravity, you will notice in my explanation that matter and gravity appear together. `Nothing' means there was no matter OR gravity, so Hawking isn't being unscientific - perish the thought!

Regarding the point about natural disasters, though you say they are easy to counter, you do not actually do so. You do not deal with the fact of earthquakes, tsunamis etc in which innocent people have perished by the million. Are you really easily able to counter THIS evidence for the non-existence of God?

And lastly, you say the `fact' of Jesus's resurrection. Atheists find themselves in an unlikely alliance with most non-Christian religions in dismissing this as fiction. But we do so not through dogma but through lack of evidence, just as we dismiss Uri Geller's spoon-bending, even though, unlike the resurrection, we have at least been able to watch it!

Having been so negative, I'd like to finish on a constructive note. Paul Davies, cosmologist AND theist, has acknowledged that in an eternal, i.e. infinite, universe, anything that can happen MUST happen and this must include us and our lives. So science actually gives us a chance of a very real resurrection - as ourselves. It means that when you die, you instantly `awake' in your `next life' unaware of the vast period of time that has passed (if you've had an anaesthetic you'll be well aware of this phenomenon).

Now I can almost feel your urge to scoff. But before you do you should understand that though this is strange, it is a theory for which, unlike belief in a supernatural God, there is solid evidence - indeed Davies says it is inevitable - and there is no evidence against it.

With best wishes

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2012 19:51:00 GMT
Sadly you are arguing against yourself. As I have to keep pointing out - if you are going to argue against someone's position then you must represent their position fairly. I am not arguing for a created God. Nor am I arguing for a God who 'gains' knowledge. As for Stenger's 'argument' - surely you can work out how illogical it is.

As regards heaven and hell - why would you want to spend eternity with a God you despise? And you are right about Dawkins - Michael Onfray is much better.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2012 19:55:26 GMT
Andrew - I'm afraid you misunderstood me. I don't invoke the principle that everything that exists must have a creator. I believe that God exists and he is uncreated.

I don't really have the time to deal with the rest of your posts and I suspect that no matter what I wrote it would make no difference. Your mind is already made up. I do though urge you to think again about the principle that anything that can happen must happen. So do you really believe, along with Dawkins, that you exist in another universe with a green moustache? Or that there right now a universe where Richard Dawkins is pope, Christopher Hitchens is Mohammed and Scotland win the world cup. If so in your desperate attempts to escape the blindingly obvious truth about God, I am afraid you are already way beyond logical redemption...!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jan 2012 01:01:09 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Jan 2012 07:48:36 GMT
Andrew says:
David

I notice that once again you have studiously avoided what you call the 'easily countered' question of natural disasters. I really would like to hear your response to the evidence of millions of people perishing in these God-created events.

Regards

Andrew

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Feb 2012 17:03:46 GMT
Last edited by the author on 16 Feb 2012 17:04:25 GMT
Andrew says:
'No answer' came the reply!

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2012 13:21:14 GMT
Sorry Andrew - I didn't realise you were making a serious point. In general I don't accept your premise that they are God-created events.
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