23 of 60 people found the following review helpful
A Fitting Response to a Vacuous Book,
This review is from: The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine (Paperback)
A number of the reviewers complain that this book is thin on evidence for traditional Christian beliefs. They don't seem to realise that it's not meant to be a comprehensive apologetic tome (or they do, and just want to mark down the book). This is a small, focussed response to a large, vacuous rant. Dawkins presents very little to engage with, beyond the rhetoric and hyperbole that we've come to expect from the "new atheists". The McGraths do an admirable job in highlighting the logical inconsistencies and philosophical blunders made by Dawkins in "The God Delusion". If you're looking for more general apologetics try something like "The Case for Christ". If you're looking to see Dawkins' sophistry exposed, this is a good place to start.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Nov 2007 21:52:18 GMT
Frank Fennelly says:
Great stuff! I notice no one from the Dawkins' cult has had a 'go' at you yet but I am not surprised; they can't cope with precision. Thanks!
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2007 15:09:06 GMT
R. Willcox says:
'a small focused response'.....
yes, well, it is certainly small in that it refuses to tackle head on all the arguments presented by Dawkins, which leads one to think that this is simply because it can't. Very disappointing.
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Dec 2007 12:55:58 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Mar 2008 13:57:35 GMT
Dear R Willcox,
If that's your view may I suggest that you re-read both books. I agree that McGrath doesn't seek to defend / tackle the straw men arguments that Dawkins deceptively erects, only to knock down. Why would he defend a misrepresentation of the Christian theist view?
Let me spell out Dawkins' central argument for you from p157-8 of TGD:
"1. The universe, and life within it, is very complex.
2. We can't conclude this is due to the activity of an external designer as that immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.
3. Darwinian evolution by natural selection is the best explanation currently known in the biological world. We don't have an equivalent for physics but one day might.
Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist."
All McGrath has to do then, to respond to and refute TGD, is to show that this main argument does not hold water. If anyone is not convinced of the paucity of Dawkins' logic and inaccuracy of his facts after reading McGrath's 96 pages then it seems to me they're really reading the wrong subject.
If we grant the truth of step 1 and 3, step 2 is laughably ignorant of orthodox Christian theology and is easily answered in all of the responses to TGD that I have read. Either Dawkins knows that is not a valid criticism and is hence being misleading or is unaware and thus helplessly out of his depth in the waters of theology and philosophy. In addition no logical rules of inference would permit you to draw the conclusion "Therefore God almost certainly does not exist" from the preceding premises and thus even if steps 1-3 were true, the conclusion is unsound based on the argument presented.
TGD will continue to attract a following and a number of defenders amongst those who find that it confirms their preconceptions, however by any objective measure this book adds nothing but rhetoric and sophistry to a debate which, sadly, seems to be well over Dawkins' head.
Please examine your heart and see if you're allegiance to Dawkins' worldview is based on sound, rational analysis of evidence or a convenient excuse to not take the claims of God over your life seriously.
Thanks for your comment,
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2008 17:02:43 BDT
A. J. Davies says:
Dear Sam, I examined my heart and found it to be entirely made of muscle fibre, veins, arteries and sinew. When the sky-fairy comes down and tells me it is otherwise I will believe it. Examine your brain and find salvation here: http://flyingspaghettimonster.com/
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Oct 2008 18:35:38 BDT
A. J. Davies
It would seem that the poetic genre is beyond you. You have my sympathy.
Ironic, isn't it, how people claim that they would change their mind if only God would provide exactly the evidence that he has already provided. Your wilful ignorance fools no-one.
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2009 15:00:31 GMT
R. Davies says:
Hi Sam, 2 things...
1. I think that when you leap from point 3 to "Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist", you grossly mis-represent Dawkins. He spends alot of time showing how mainstream theology has withdrawn the position of God as new scientific information has displaced Him/Her. By putting everything science knows together, he argues that there's no need for Him/Her for answers, and without any other reasonable evidence, S/He almost certainly doesn't exist.
2. You say "If we grant the truth of step 1 and 3, step 2 is laughably ignorant of orthodox Christian theology and is easily answered in all of the responses to TGD that I have read".
I've read a number of responses too. The majority say something along the lines of:
"What? He doesn't know how that's stupid? He must be really thick! Everyone knows why his point is wrong". Problem is, very few expand.
Those that have expanded have only got to... "Well God doesn't need a creator. He created himself".
Could you let me know if I've been reading the wrong reviews, and if so, why Dawkins is so "laughably ignorant of orthodox Christian theology"? Because surely that isn't the best answer there is!
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Apr 2009 17:18:17 BDT
Hi R Davies,
Thanks for your comment and sorry I've only just spotted it.
On your first point I don't think I misrepresent Dawkins. Given how stupid the argument appears when drawn out in deductive form it might seem like a straw man, but I really don't see anything more coherent in TGD, especially on the pages where he says he's explaining his "central argument".
I agree that Dawkins spends a lot of time showing how evolution by natural selection could account for much of the complexity of life. That's premise 3 of the argument I presented. It's true that some religious people explain the same complexity as acts of special creation by God, but Dawkins rules that out by philosophy (premise 2) not by science. When you think about it that's really the only way you could argue that point. After all the fossil record would look just the same whether God used an evolutionary process to create human beings or whether we are the output of an entirely unguided process.
But let's grant that Dawkins does as you say. Let's assume he makes a compelling case for God not being necessary to explain X number of things. Then on what basis is he justified in inferring from sample size X to the whole population of events? i.e. How would you substantiate your claim that "there's no need for Him/Her for answers" - assuming you mean that in a universal sense?
As it happens Dawkins is clear that the scope of things he does not need God to explain is limited to certain features of the biological realm. He admits that we have no naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe, the laws of physics or even the creation of the first mutating self-replicator. So, far from saying we can explain everything with naturalistic science, he acknowledges that atheism's explanatory scope is limited but trusts that science will one day expand it universally. At that point his atheism is a faith position, not a scientific one. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, but given his invective against faith (even though he misunderstands the concept) this makes for yet one more point of confusion in TGD.
As to whether there's any evidence for God's existence, it's astonishing that in a book like TGD Dawkins fails to engage with the best arguments for theism. I don't know if you read much modern Christian apologetics but as you read through TGD you don't find Dawkins engaging with the strongest opposing arguments from philosophy (e.g. objective moral values), history (the life, death and resurrection of Jesus), science (the origin of the universe) or mathematics (the improbability of naturalistic explanations for the creation of semiotic information). It's as if Dawkins thinks the only reason people believe in God is because they can't explain biological complexity and therefore armed with evolution he can destroy all faith. If he were to really argue and debate the evidence that would make him a sceptic; but to deny it even exists makes him, frankly, a fool.
Incidentally if you haven't read it I would strongly encourage you to get hold of a copy of "God's Undertaker" by John Lennox. It's a great book for a thinking person of any persuasion.
On your second point, David Robertson's "The Dawkins Letters" does a pretty good job of answering the creator's creator question. Have you read that book and if so what did you think of his response? But quite simply the objection is flawed because as an uncreated being God doesn't need a creator. The universe is something that began to exist at the big bang, therefore it needs a cause. God did not begin to exist as he has existed timelessly, so he doesn't have a cause. Any introduction to Christian theology will explain the timelessness / eternality of God. That is mainstream Christian theology - a God who has always existed and therefore needs no creator. It's like Dawkins' saying "but who is the bachelor married to?". A response "bachelors aren't married" highlights the logical incoherence of the question. Similarly when Dawkins asks "Who created God", the simple answer "God is uncreated" highlights his logical flaw. I wonder, do you really find Dawkins' question a compelling argument, or just an attractive semantic game?
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2009 16:40:07 BDT
R. Davies says:
Hi, cheers for the reply.
I should start by saying that no, I haven't read either of the books you suggest - maybe I will get round to them one day! You are obviously much better read and more interested in this subject than I! To be honest, I wasn't even a massive fan of TGD, I just thought you were being a bit unfair on Dawkins (whose other works I am a fan of). While I am a fellow atheist, I disagree with much he says about the effects of organised religion.
The crux of my 1st issue hinges on this paragraph: "But let's grant that Dawkins does as you say. Let's assume he makes a compelling case for God not being necessary to explain X number of things. Then on what basis is he justified in inferring from sample size X to the whole population of events? i.e. How would you substantiate your claim that "there's no need for Him/Her for answers" - assuming you mean that in a universal sense?"
I guess I mean Dawkins has extrapolated from the diminishing number of 'things' formerly explained by God! Maybe that's faith, I don't really care!! And while you're right that there aren't specific naturalistic explanations of many things (you cite the origin of the universe, the laws of physics or even the creation of the first mutating self-replicators), each has highly plausible hypotheses.
...Which brings me on to the second point - maybe it's my "materialist" thought patterns, but for me an "uncreated being" doesn't exist, be it mainstream Christian theology or not. To be honest I could ask you about the use of the married bachelor logic and whether you really find it a compelling argument, or just an attractive semantic game?!!
Finally, and without wishing to provoke and argument (a rare thing for this subject), a disagree with what you forward as the strongest opposing arguments against Dawkins (I also wonder why he was expected to 'oppose' anything, considering it was his polemic). I've never been swayed by anyone arguing theism has a lead on objective moral value; and I don't think the origins of the universe or semiotic information oppose the atheist position at all (I left out the history of Jesus because, frankly, I know nothing of the research into the validity of the biblical description of events).
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to reply.
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