Monday, April 09, 2007

Book Review: The God Delusion

Warning: LONG POST! Richard Dawkins is probably the most well-known atheist in the world at the moment. In his book The God Delusion (Dawkins 2006) he argues against what he calls the God Hypothesis and presents an alternative view. Here they are side-by-side: The God Hypothesis There exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. Naturalistic Evolution Any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. The God Delusion attempts to disprove the first but never proves the second. These statements come in Chapter 2 after he has made two general observations in the first chapter:
  1. Physicists and other scientists, who use the word "God" in a metaphorical sense, are frequently misappropriated by religious people who want to co-opt their statements to bolster their belief in God.
  2. Religion has an inappropriate dominance in the world and is afforded a level of respect and advantage that it doesn’t deserve and is privileged in ways that other worldviews are not.
Both of these statements are, in my view, geenrally true. And Dawkins makes a good case for these using recent events to illustrate them. In Chapter 3, Dawkins turns to a discussion of the traditional philosophical "proofs" for the existence of God. It is clear that Dawkins doesn’t have much depth of understanding of these truths (or, if he does, he doesn’t show it). He presents them simplistically and superficially and doesn’t engage with any of the extensive Christian literature discussing them. Even Christian apologists accept that some of the arguments criticised by Dawkins are flawed. And yet Dawkins never discusses this. He frequently engages in ad hominen attacks and disparages professional theologians whom he believes have nothing to say of any worth. Instead of dealing with the best of Christian apologetics, Dawkins is essentially responding to immature understandings of faith and belief and believes that, by undermining these, he is dispensing with all arguments in support of believing in God. Dawkins also critiques the suggestion, by a number of people, that science and religion deal with completely separate domains of knowledge and that each should keep to their own area of inquiry. Many Christians would also critique this approach so Dawkins’ criticisms are not unique to atheists. Once again, Dawkins descends into disparaging remarks with statements like, ’What expertise can theologians bring to deep cosmological questions that scientists cannot?’ For Dawkins, theologians have nothing to offer and he arrogantly suggests that scientists are much more capable of dealing with cosmological issues. Dawkins’ discussion of the nature of the Bible once again avoids any engagement with Christian scholars who have rigorously and critically dealt with the issue. Dawkins’ comments on the Bible reveal a shallow, decontextualised understanding of hermeneutics and exegesis. He shows no understanding of the differences between the canonical gospels and the gnostic gospels, arguing that the canonical gospels were chosen arbitrarily from the larger sample of gospels that included the gnostic gospels. All this shows how deficient Dawkins’ knowledge of the historical development of the canon is. Dawkins is a clever rhetorician with statements like this:
Although Jesus probably existed, reputable biblical scholars do not in general regard the New Testament (and obviously not the Old Testament) as a reliable record of what actually happened in history...’ (p. 97)
Notice how Dawkins implies that the those who disagree with this position are not reputable? This is complete nonsense. There are also reputable scholars (eg, N T Wright) who most certainly do believe that the gospels describe actual historical events. Dawkins makes the ridiculous statement that ’[t]he only difference between The Da Vinci Code and the gospels is that the gospels are ancient fiction while The Da Vinci Code is modern fiction.’ (p. 97) One wonders whether he has actually read either of them. One could go on interminably showing how Dawkins’ discussion of the arguments for God’s existence avoid interacting with the best Christian scholarship - apologetic and philosophical. But I suppose that, if Dawkins views theologians with such disdain, why would he wish to listen to dialogue with them? The next chapter entitled Why There Almost Certainly Is No God is a slight (but only slight) improvement. When Dawkins moves into his discussion of evolution then he becomes most articulate - clearly he is an expert in this area. But there are problems here as well. He persistently lumps Intelligent Design (ID) theorists in with creationists when ID theorists, themselves, make it very clear they do not wish to be seen that way. But the fallacy of guilt by association ploy works well for Dawkins. If he combines them then he doesn’t have to deal with ID theorists on their own terms and the reader is led to believe that there is no real difference between the two positions. In addition, Dawkins incorrectly describes ID theory as nothing more than the old ’God of the gaps’ theology so popular in previous years. Dawkins is just plain wrong about this as any reading of ID theorist literature would show. ID theorists make it very clear how ID theory is quite different to gap theology. Also, Dawkins’ critique of irreducible complexity demonstrates that he doesn’t understand what ID theorists are actually saying. In fact, Dawkins caricatures irreducible complexity as a position where, whenever we can’t understand how something has happened or happens, it gets labeled as irreducibly complex. This is completely inaccurate. A quick browse of Dawkins’ bibliography at the back of the book, which lists books he has cited or recommends, shows he hasn’t referred to one of the major scholars in the ID movement and who has done significant work on design inference, William Dembski. Either Dawkins has read Dembski’s work and has ignored it, or he hasn’t read it and, therefore, does not understand how ID scholars define the concept of design and how it might be identified scientifically. This is a major oversight by Dawkins who is clearly more interested in mere rhetoric to support his position than careful reasoning and argument which actually dialogues with his opposition. In fact, Dawkins spends more time quoting people who agree with him than actually engaging with the work of those who don’t. When Dawkins turns to the anthropic principle - the fact that the universe seems built for human existence - he makes a profound claim. We know that our universe supports life because we are here to talk about it. Wow! His major criticism of the inference to a Creator from the evidence that the universe appears built for human life is that we are left with the problem of Where did the Creator come from? Dawkins seems to forget that all theories of origins are left with where the first materials for the universe come from. Even cosmological theories have to either postulate something existing eternally or everything coming from nothing. Another arm of Dawkins’ argument is that, if the assertion of a Creator is true, then the Creator would need to be more complex that anything that exists. And yet, traditional theology argues that God is simple. How could something so complex as the universe be created by a simple God. Dawkins sees a contradiction here. But Dawkins doesn’t actually understand the concept of simplicity in relation to God. As Erickson (1986) defines it, simplicity refers to the unity of God as a being. God ’is not a composite and cannot be divided.’ (p. 152) An additional problem with Dawkins’ argument, though, is that the so-called simplicity of God is only one model of God proposed by Christian theologians. Dawkins doesn’t discuss the complexity of the debate of the nature of God but seems to choose the particular theological positions that suit his need to shoot down his opposition. Dawkins does an excellent job of describing the anthropic principle, but his critique leaves much to be desired. In Chapter 5, Dawkins turns his attention to "The Roots of Religion". If there is no Creator, and natural selection is the best explanation for the origin and development of all things, then Dawkins needs to provide an evolutionary explanation for religion. The striking thing about his discussion is the number of times terms like presumably occur. Evolutionary explanations for the occurrence of religion across cultures are pure conjecture. Dawkins begins this chapter with the statement that ’[e]verybody has their own pet theory of where religion comes from and why all human cultures have it.’ (p. 163) Indeed they do, including Dawkins. For Dawkins, the a priori assumption is natural selection. This is the absolute given for Dawkins. And given this assumption, Dawkins must find a suitable explanation that is driven by natural selection. So Dawkins explores a number of possible theories. Is it the need for consolation? Does it protect people from stress (the evidence is mixed on this)? Is it a placebo that prolongs life? These immediate (proximate) cause possibilities don’t really interest Dawkins. Appropriately, he is interested in ultimate causes. Might religion be the result of group selection? Group selection is the ’idea that Darwinian selection chooses among species or other groups of individuals’ rather than natural selection of individuals. Dawkins finds this theory wanting. Dawkins’ own view hypothesises that religion is ’a by-product of something else.’ (p. 172) Maybe
[t]he religious behaviour [is a] misfiring, an unfortunate by-product of an underlying psychological propensity which in other circumstances is, or once was, useful. On this view, the propensity that was naturally selected in our ancestors was not religion per se; it had some other benefit, and it only incidentally manifests itself as religious behaviour. (p. 174)
What is that benefit? Dawkins suggests that it might be the result of adult authority figures passing on stories to children that originally had the intent of protecting them. It is worth quoting this central paragraph from Dawkins:
Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival ... But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses. For excellent reasons related to Darwinian survival, child brains need to trust parents, and elders whom parents tell them to trust. An automatic consequence is that the truster has no way of distinguishing good advice from bad. The child cannot know that ’Don’t paddle in the crocodile-infested Limpopo’ is good advice but ’You must sacrifice a goat at the time of the full moon, otherwise rains will fail’ is at best a waste of time and goats. Both admonitions sound equally trustworthy. Both come from a respected source and are delivered with a solemn earnestness that commands respect and demands obedience. The same goes for propositions about the world, about the cosmos, about morality and about human nature. And, very likely, when the child grows up and has children of her own, she will naturally pass the whole lot on to her own children - nonsense as well as sense - using the same infectious gravitas of manner. (p. 176)
Of course, this is all highly creative conjecture. Dawkins, however, makes the point that he is not so much interested in this as an accurate portrayal of what the real reason for religion is. This is merely an ’... example of the kind of thing ...’ that might be at the heart of the fact of religious experience. Dawkins appeals to the ’developing field of evolutionary psychology’ (p. 179) in support of his case. In essence, this view asserts that,
... just as the eye is an evolved organ for seeing, and the wing an evolved organ for flying, so the brain is a collection of organs (or ’modules’) for dealing with a set of specialist data-processing needs. There is a module for dealing with kinship, a module for dealing with reciprocal exchanges, a module for dealing with empathy, and so on. Religion can be seen as a by-product of the misfiring of several of these modules, for example the modules for forming theories of other minds, for forming coalitions, and for discriminating in favour of in-group members against strangers. (p. 179)
This is the heart of Dawkins’ view. He writes that ’[t]he general theory of religion as an accidental by-product - a misfiring of something useful - is the one I wish to advocate.’ He goes on to say that ’[t]he details [of this theory] are various, complicated and disputable.’ (p. 188, emphasis supplied) Indeed they are. Following all of this conjecture, Dawkins turns to his own controversial theory of memes for an "explanation" of the details of a possible selection theory of religion. I will not go into detail regarding meme theory here. I don’t know enough about it. Instead, I will refer the reader to Alister McGrath’s excellent book, Dawkins’ God which includes a telling critique of Dawkins’ meme theory. McGrath points out a number of critical problems with the idea of memes:
  1. ’Darwinism itself seem[s] very poorly adapted to account for the development of culture, or the overall shape of intellectual history.’ (McGrath 2005, p. 126) In particular, ’... the model [of memes] is singularly uncompelling, perhaps because it is singularly inappropriate. Biological and cultural evolution have their points of similarity; they seem, however, to proceed by quite different mechanisms.’ (p. 128)
  2. ’... the meme idea is ... inadequately grounded in the evidence... Dawkins talking about memes is like believers talking about God - an invisible, unverifiable postulate, which helps explain some things about experience, but ultimately lies beyond empirical investigation.’ (p. 129)
  3. A ’flawed analogy between gene and meme’ (p. 130ff.)
In other words, there are lots of problems with Dawkins’ meme theory. In Chapter 6, Dawkins turns to the origins of morality. It opens with a sensational series of tirades from clearly deranged fanatics against Darwinism and Darwinists. (Dawkins doesn’t give even one example of a positive Christian response.) The rest of the chapter is an argument that ’a sense of right and wrong can be derived from our Darwinian past.’ (Dawkins 2006, p. 214) Dawkins presents an argument, in this chapter, that you ’... do not need God in order to be good - or evil.’ (p. 227) Dawkins describes research by Hauser and Singer who showed that ’... there is no statistically significant difference between atheists and religious believers in making [moral judgments in relation to the research scenarios].’ I have some sympathy for this conclusion. Christians too often assume that the only basis for any morality is the existence of God. But as many people point out, there are many pragmatic and utilitarian reasons that we might wish to behave well in a society. The next chapter, Chapter 7, is, perhaps, the weakest part of the entire book. Dawkins’ primary intention is to show that people, in general, do not get their morals from the Bible - including Christians. Dawkins parades in front of his reader the most difficult, bizarre parts of the Bible he can find and that have some of the most challenging theological questions attached to them - Old and New Testaments. He catalogs what he sees as the evidence that the God of the Bible is a vindictive, angry, people-hating, self-aggrandizing, sadistic, etc etc etc being. His point is to show that even Christians don’t get their morals from the Bible because they don’t believe that Christians should be vindictive, angry, people-hating, self-aggrandizing, sadistic etc etc etc people. So, according to Dawkins, even those who believe in the Bible don’t live by what the Bible teaches! This whole argument is complete nonsense. Dawkins is raising school-boy arguments against the Bible. He completely ignores any scholarship on Biblical hermeneutics, the range of understandings of the theology of the Bible, or consideration of the text in its historical and cultural context. He also completely ignores the enormous amounts of scholarship on Christian ethics and the way moral principles are derived from Scritpure. Dawkins is completely biased and selective in his presentation of the content of the Bible. Dawkins then turns to respond to the suggestion, made by some, that atheism has produced its own evil. He specifically discusses Hitler and Stalin (along with some others). Dawkins’ argument? Those who perpetrated evil in the name of atheism weren’t really working out atheistic principles; they were operating on some other agenda! In other words, people like Stalin claimed to be atheists but weren’t practicing "true" atheism. And yet, when Christians respond to claims that Christianity has produced enormous amounts of evil in the name of God over the centuries by saying that they may have been Christian in name, but were not practicing true Christianity, Dawkins won’t accept the argument! But if that argument is good enough for Dawkins he should accept it as being good enough for Christians. This chapter in Dawkins’ book is so pathetic that it took me some courage to continue reading. The main point - that morality is socially determined by working toward some form of consensus - is fair enough. But Dawkins is so completely unfair in his presentation of evidence; so simplistic in his understanding of theology; so ignorant (or maybe deliberately avoiding) of the best scholarship in Christianity; that I had little hope for the rest of the book. Dawkins was so patently hostile toward religion (and Christianity, in particular) that he seemed just as fundamentalist than the most rampant Christian or Islamic fundamentalist. As I flicked to the next chapter, I discovered that Dawkins was about to deal with this very criticism of his approach. In Chapter 8, entitled What’s Wrong With Religion? Why Be So Hostile? Dawkins responds to the ’distressingly common’ ’accusation of fundamentalism’ (p. 282) laid against him. It begins with the wonderfully ironic assertion that, ’I do not, by nature, thrive on confrontation.’ Mmm... maybe not. Whether Dawkins is confrontational by nature is not the issue. The fact is, he is confrontational when it comes to his fight against religion. And he admits, by implication, that to be hostile toward religion is appropriate. Except Dawkins labels his approach passionate rather than fundamentalist. He writes:
It is all too easy to confuse fundamentalism with passion. I may well appear passionate when I defend evolution against a fundamentalist creationist, but this is not because of a rival fundamentalism of my own. It is because the evidence for evolution is overwhelmingly strong and I am passionately distressed that my opponent can’t see it - or, more usually, refuses to look at it because it contradicts his holy book. My passion is increased when I think about how much the poor fundamentalists, and those whom they influence, are missing. The truths of evolution, along with many other scientific truths, are so engrossingly fascinating and beautiful; how truly tragic to die having missed out on all that! Of course that makes me passionate. How could it not? But my belief in evolution is not fundamentalism, and it is not faith, because I know what it would take to change my mind, and I would gladly do so if the necessary evidence were forthcoming. (p. 283)
Ah! So the difference between a religious fundamentalist and Dawkins’ passion is that he knows he is right! The evidence proves him right! And how sad it is that those poor deluded fundamentalist souls should die without knowing the truth. The paucity of Dawkins’ pleading here can be seen by reversing the protaganists in the quote. Imagine an Intelligent Design theorist (who Dawkins incorrectly lumps in with ’fundamentalist creationists’) saying this same paragraph to Dawkins:
It is all too easy to confuse fundamentalism with passion. I may well appear passionate when I defend intelligent design against a fundamentalist evolutionist, but this is not because of a rival fundamentalism of my own. It is because the evidence for intelligent design is overwhelmingly strong and I am passionately distressed that my opponent can’t see it - or, more usually, refuses to look at it because it contradicts his a priori assumptions. My passion is increased when I think about how much the poor fundamentalist evolutionists, and those whom they influence, are missing. The truths of intelligent design, along with many other theological truths, are so engrossingly fascinating and beautiful; how truly tragic to die having missed out on all that! Of course that makes me passionate. How could it not? But my belief in intelligent design is not fundamentalism, and it is not faith, because I know what it would take to change my mind, and I would gladly do so if the necessary evidence were forthcoming.
If you can’t imagine an intelligent design theorist saying this, then may I suggest that you need to read more intelligent design literature. Dawkins can rationalise his fundamentalism away all he likes. But, his protestations to the contrary, his language and behaviour are hardly distinguishable from the fundamentalists he is so worried about. Now, it so happens that I actually agree with Dawkins on much that he says in criticism of fundamentalist thinking. It is often dangerous, arrogant, abusive, manipulative, ignorant, and all the other things that Dawkins calls it. The problem is that Dawkins, in his whole argument against ’the God delusion’ is breaking one of the most fundamental rules of critical thinking - the Principle of Charity. This principle states:
If a participant’s argument is reformulated by an opponent, it should be expressed in the strongest possible version that is consistent with the original intention of the arguer. If there is any question about that intention or about implicit parts of the argument, the arguer should be given the benefit of any doubt in the reformulation. (Damer 2005, p. 5-6)

Dawkins, in order to argue that religion is a delusion, has taken the very worst forms of religion (especially Christianity) and demolished it. He generalises his attack on religious fundamentalism to all forms of religion rather than dealing with the best forms of religion and restricting his criticism to specific destructive forms (ie, religious fundamentalism). But the error of lumping everything together is part of Dawkins’ strategy, because he not only wants to argue that fundamentalism results in all sorts of evil, but that even ’moderation in faith fosters fanaticism’ (p. 301). For Dawkins, suicide bombers

do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools ... not necessarily by extremist fanatics but by decent, gentle, mainstream religious instructors, who lined them up in their madrasas, sitting in rows, rhythmically nodding their innocent little heads up and down like demented parrots. Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong. (Dawkins 2006, p. 308)
Yes, faith can be very very dangerous. But not all faith is. In Chapter 9, Dawkins turns to the issues of Childhood, Abuse and Religion. This chapter is a compelling read and anyone with any sensitivity to the plight of children would have to agree with its essential point - a lot of childhood abuse (not necessarily physical, but intellectual as well) goes on in the name of religion. Without diminishing, in any way whatsoever, the dark side of religious "education", it must be pointed out that Dawkins once again fails to present evidence showing that it is possible to believe in God without raising your children to be un-thinking fundamentalists. His picture of religious faith and experience is extremely one-sided. I know of Christians, for example, who raise their children with a broad view of the world, survey various intellectual options with them, ask them to think critically about everything they are taught, and have a richly nuanced view of the relationship between faith and reason. As an argument against childhood ’brainwashing’ and intellectual abuse, Dawkins’ discussion is very helpful. As an argument against all forms of faith and religion, it is sadly lacking. In the final chapter, Dawkins asks whether or not humans need God as a psychological/emotional gap-filler for inspiration or consolation. Obviously, his answer is ’No’. Science is all that is needed because it provides all the inspiration and consolation needed by humans. This, of course, is highly debatable. As Dawkins so rightly points out, some atheists are despondent and some happy and there are some Christians who are despondent and some happy. So the argument from emotional need is pointless. I at least agree with Dawkins here. If we cannot be consoled with reality/truth then it is not worth being consoled at all. So, what do we make of The God Delusion? Dawkins has written a passionate, biased, subjective, account of his views in which he occasionally makes some good points. He is highly unlikely to change anyone’s mind with it. In the preface of the book, Dawkins writes:
If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down. What presumptuous optimism! Of course, dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods that took centuries to mature (whether by evolution or design). Among the more effective immunological devices is a dire warning to avoid even opening a book like this, which is surely a work of Satan. But I believe there are plenty of open-minded people out there: people whose childhood indoctrination was not too insidious, or for other reasons didn’t ’take’, or whose native intelligence is strong enough to overcome it. Such free spirits should need only a little encouragement to break free of the vice of religion altogether. At very least, I hope that nobody who reads this book will be able to say, ’I didn’t know I could.’
Dawkins is very rhetorically clever here. At the beginning of his books he divides the whole world up into two groups:
  1. died-in-the-wool faith-heads open-minded people
If one agrees with Dawkins’ view, you must be in the second group. If you don’t, then you are a died-in-the-wool faith-head immune to argument. This is a false dichotomy. As I know from experience, there are people who believe in God and who are intelligent, thoughtful and open to argument. More than that, they value reason highly in pursuing their faith. These people will not label The God Delusion a work of Satan. Instead, they will engage with Dawkins using rational argument in a true dialogue of ideas without resorting to some of the fallacious thinking within the covers of The God Delusion. The only people who will be convinced by Dawkins’ book are those who are already atheist true believers. It certainly won’t (or, at least, shouldn’t) convince a critical thinker whether they be Atheist or Christian. References Damer, TE 2005, Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments, 5th edn, Thomson/Wadsworth, Australia. Dawkins, R 2006, The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. Erickson, MJ 1986, Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. McGrath, A 2005, Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life, Blackwell Publising.

11 comments:

  1. I have one for you to review Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. You can either get the book or here is a clip from the DVD. I am here to help with the truth. The evidence is compelling if you have an open mind and are truly searching for truth, if not we will see in your review.

    Just a concerned family man,

    Dan

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  2. This is a horrible review. You charge that Dawkins has probably not read the bible or the gospels, that scholars agree that the gospels represent historical truth, etc. It really makes one question, have you read the bible, do you have any clue about the history of the gospels? Not what is IN the gospels, but how they came to be? I doubt it. Do you know what "Q" is? Do you have any idea of when the gospels were written?

    These are just a few questions. As you annouced at the top of the post, it is a really long post, and you lost me early on. I read enough to know a biased review from a honest.

    As for our friend above, the "concerned family man", if you are really concerned, you should keep your kids alway from the bible, specially the old testament. As Dawkins clearly shows, the amount of violence and cruelty in books like joshua, judges, numbers, and others is grotesque by any moral standards.

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  3. Dembski? Dembski? Sheesh.

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  4. This blog exposes the main problem with the Creationist/ID/Christian vs Science/Evolution argument.

    Quote: "The God Delusion attempts to disprove the first but never proves the second."

    One of the main points of science is that theories have to be DISprovable. A theory can be developed, refined, adapted, but must always be open to being disproven.

    Most religious based "theories" state that, as they are based on the word of one "god" or another, that they are "true" and are not open to disproof.

    One can't argue against the other on any meaningful level.

    Take a good hard look at what physicist are saying. Yes, there could conceivably be a god who created the Universe, but he would have also created time. Yes, time itself. Now, if god continues to create things it implies that he didn't get things right at the moment of creation, that he made a mistake....he's altering his creation?

    Which, correct me if I'm wrong, is blasphemy? I think evolution is a rather elegant concept, and if there is a god then good on him, it's a lovely bit of programming.

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  5. Thanks for your comments, Geoff. You suggest that a changing creation implies imperfection at the beginning. This, in my view, is the product of Greek thinking about perfection rather than a Hebraic/Christian one. The Greeks saw perfection as necessarily requiring changelessness. I don't believe that is a biblical concept. So, in principle, the idea that God might go on creating is not necessarily blasphemy. Also, many Christians accept evolutionary processes as the way that God created. So there is nothing inherently incompatible between science and religious thought.

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  6. "The only people who will be convinced by Dawkins’ book are those who are already atheist true believers. It certainly won’t (or, at least, shouldn’t) convince a critical thinker whether they be Atheist or Christian."

    ... when logical arguments become emotional arguments, you've fallen into one of the same traps you've accused Dawkins of in my opinion.

    As a person brought up and Educated in the Seventh Day Adventist Church for the first 20 years of my life (in Adelaide no less), I found it refreshingly confronting and very interesting to read the views expressed by Dawkins, especially when so many of them resonated with my own views.

    A seperation I have always maintained is the one between "should I believe in god" and "should I be religious". Since the first time I witnessed people flocking like sheep to be baptised mostly because it was expected of them (yes, thats what my peers almost always, with only one notable exception that I recall, said to explain their "decision to commit their lives to god") I decided I would not follow unless I could answer "yes" to the question "do I truly believe". I've always been a critical thinker, both in my personal life and particularly my professional life where it has served me extremely well and I've never been able to answer "yes" to that question.

    Whilst I dont think Dawkins book will be a work that 'converts' anyone one way or the other, I believe there will be many who read it and find resonance on many points, particularly the relatively fundamental question of whether a supernatural/mythical being has a place in their lives or whether their time is better spent dealing with reality.

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  7. EXCELLENT BOOK DAWKINS IS THE MAN

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  8. The God Delusion is a spectacular book, very thoughtful and it completely flattens the fallacy that is religion.

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  9. I was agnostic before reading the book. I am fully atheist as a result of reading it. QED.

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  10. 2.’... the meme idea is ... inadequately grounded in the evidence... Dawkins talking about memes is like believers talking about God - an invisible, unverifiable postulate, which helps explain some things about experience, but ultimately lies beyond empirical investigation.’ (p. 129)

    It is a Scientific theory, which when dealing with things we cannot see, has to speculated based on things we know to be true and have observed throughout history. Talking about how things we can't see work for instance, magnetism, is different than talking about god (lower cased on purpose). Magnetism is measurable, and it's affects observable. god on the other hand is different then a force or anything of the sort. It suggests a thinking entity in charge of the universe that can do as it pleases. Things happen in ways we understand for the greater part of things. And that which we don't understand we don't just allow people to say, "well that's god". We study, observe and learn. We know that hurricanes aren't sent to punish the gays. Especially when the hurricane is in a hurricane prone area, during hurricane season. We just think, hurricanes happen. To think anything else is delusional to it's definition. There's a storm on Jupiter the size of many earths... we don't presume that it's punishing it's residents homosexual life, we observe it's atmosphere and can predict the storms patterns over time. Again, these are things we can see or measure and can justify by means other than an all knowing entity that has the ability to do as it wishes. To Dawkins' point if there were a god and he wanted to assert a belief in himself... he could do so in one unquestionable moment if he pleased. I don't foresee this coming and nor does any rational person. To say that Dawkins is unable to 100% prove any theory presented is accurate and stated by him. However if you get anything from his book, it's this. If you cannot prove or disprove the existence or non existence of god, does not give them the same statistical probability. It, based on both scientific evidence, as well as common sense. Is much more probable that a supernatural god, DOES NOT exist.

    "When I was a child I used to pray for a bike. But then I realized, god doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike, and prayed for forgiveness.

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  11. John 5: 47
    (the Lord Jesus speaking).But if you do not believe in his writings (moses), how will you believe my words?

    God spoke through Moses and gave the world Genesis, so that we may know of God and our beginnings. Every one in the world is blinded by Satan, and their own evil heart. Because of sin, no one believes in God, its their natural state. The Lord clearly tells everyone that you dont believe in the writings of moses and his works, then you wont believe in him. He also says this because everyone wants to see clear evidences/miracles in order to believe. Jesus said.. you wont get them!

    Romans 1:20
    For his (God/ Jesus Christ) invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they (thats everyone in the world) are without excuse
    How I love this verse!!! Praise God. I dont even have to argue with any one, and most certainly have to give account to people like Dawkins. God clearly tells us that he shows himself, his character, his power through his creation.... and no one , not one, has an excuse to say they dont believe.
    What stops a man from believing is his blindness, his sinful heart, and this fallen flesh.

    Everyone is in need of a saviour. And because God so loves the world, he sent his son into the world that through him they may have everlasting life. That is.. forgiveness of sin, and a renewed relationship with the creator. Jesus is God, all things that exists were created through Him, and by him and for Him. And in him the fullness of God dwelled. He is the word, and the word became flesh and dwelt amoungst us. How truly amazing that God would come down to us, and die for us, taking our sin and nailing it to the cross so that in him we can be saved. For that is God's will. By the grace of God, you can be saved. For those who deny Christ, Christ will deny them on that day when we all stand before him and give an account. Heaven and hell is real, and Jesus spoke of hell more than he did Heaven! His heart is for you, and he wants to save you. Turn, believe in Him, call out to God and ask him to show you himself. For those that humble themselves, he will exhault. For those that seek, they shall find. Satan/the world in every capacity is antichrist, the who system of it is against God. Listening to a man who is a sinner like us all and believing his words is just plain folly. His heart is fallen and he is dead in his trespasses and sins. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and no one can go to the father (God/Heaven) except through him. Everyone wants to go to heaven.. its just that they dont want Jesus/God there! You reject the very person you need the most in denying Him. He is full of grace and truth, and not only does he have power to forgive sin, he has power to redeem, to transform and to change your life so much so , that you will weep on that day because you will know he is reality, and you denied him. He doesn't want that.. he loves us with an everlasting love. No matter what you have done, he will forgive you and accept you and bring you into his family. Dawkins needs to love of God. But he rejects it. Whatever the reasons for his deep hate of God, that is his business. You would be fools to listen to him! Make your peace with God for yourselves before its too late. Jesus is waiting. Shalom.

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