The God Delusion

The God Delusion Richard Dawkins    * out ****

Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned scientist and bestselling author. In his book The God Delusion, Dawkins makes it clear that he is out to attack all things supernatural. He says, “I am attacking any particular God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.”

We ought to take this book seriously because it has had influence on the uninformed and the inexperienced. I have heard stories of believers struggling with the book and in danger of losing their faith (though after reading the book, I can’t see how).

Let me start with what little praise I can give. Among the New Atheists writing against religion, at least Dawkins takes a stab at dealing with God. All the other books seemed to criticize God’s followers and never dealt with God directly. At least Dawkins attempts to wrestle with the arguments for and against God.

Now, let me also say, Dawkins is not a philosopher. He is moving into philosophy and theology and it is not is strength. No more is this evident than in chapter 3, when he introduces Aquinas’s major arguments for the existence of God. Instead of tackling the major arguments, he glosses over them without ever refuting them. He calls them “infantile” but never shows why they cannot stand as legitimate arguments. In others words, after Dawkins is done, the arguments seem stronger, not weaker.

In chapter 4, Why There Almost Certainly is No God Dawkins arrives at what he calls the heart of his book. I do not mean to be flippant, but the chapter Dawkins calls the center and heart of his argument against God actually encouraged my faith. After reading it, I felt like Darwinian Atheism is in real trouble. When he discussed the argument for fine tuning it sounded so theistic I almost forgot I was reading an atheist.

What Dawkins calls the heart of the book suffers under the burden of trying to prop up Darwinian Natural Selection. This is what Dawkins says of Natural Selection:

Not just chance (page 113)

Explains all of life (116)

Raises our consciousness (116)

Teaches us to be skeptical of design hypothesis in physics and cosmology (118)

Makes choices (191)

Dawkins description of Natural Selection is much more than chance, I will give him that. In fact, it is so much more than chance that it seems like a Person. This is why I chose to capitalize Natural Selection, it is much more than a force in nature, it is supernatural.  

Still, after all of this, it appears the Natural Selection emperor has no clothes, as Dawkins concludes, Natural Selection “needs luck to get started.” Then he says that other evolutionary gaps need “major infusions of luck.” So, after all of his berating religion for placing God in the gaps, what does Dawkins place there to make Darwinism work? LUCK. That’s right, good old fashioned luck.    

The other serious defect in chapter 4 is Dawkins argument of improbability. Yes, he admits it is highly improbable that evolution could occur. It is as improbable as a hurricane roaring through a junk yard and assembled a 747 (Fred Hoyle’s statement on improbability).

How does Dawkins defend improbability? On 121, Dawkins says, “The answer is that natural selection is a cumulative process, which breaks the problem of improbability up into small pieces. Each of the small pieces is slightly improbable, but not prohibitively so.” The creationist is wrong because “he doesn’t understand the power of accumulation.”

So, using Hoyle’s example (which Dawkins does throughout the chapter, though not right here):

The 747 will come together slowly over time. It will not happen in one event. Slowly, as each storm blows in and assembles the 747 the plane will come to life in more and more complexity. Add time and (as Dawkins says) major infusions of luck and TADA – a 747.

One problem, this does not sound like science at all. It sounds like magic. (So, I guess it is no wonder that the book gets an endorsement from illusionists Penn and Teller on the back cover.)

And he says Christian belief is delusional.

I wish I had the space to discuss other points in the book that fail to stand up to further scrutiny (particularly his argument for a natural morality), but this review is already getting long.    

Not even sure this deserves one star, but at least he took a shot at it.

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