On The God Delusion, and discernment: Part 2

This is the second part of my reply to faithcatalyst who suggested that my comments on Dawkins’ book, “The God Delusion”, “lacked discernment”. Enough introductions, on to the remaining responses:

Using only skeptics for his quotes His constant use of skeptical atheists to back up his arguments is rather like a socialist going into a Conservative club, entering into a debate with a Conservative member who simply appeals to all the other conservative members to support his argument against the Socialist.

And what, precisely, is wrong with that!? A conservative is hardly going to quote the communist manifesto to support pure capitalism! If the conservative is going to quote the communist manifesto it will purely be to demonstrate the falsity of the communist idea, not the rightness of capitalism.

Does faithcatalyst really believe that one could quote – say – the pope or the archbishop of Canterbury in support of the idea that belief in god is delusional!

Deriding his fellow scientists who disagree with him Richard’s constant deriding of his own colleagues in the scientific world who clearly disagree with him, comes over as just shear arrogance and the exhibition of an utterly closed mind.

There is a gulf of difference between disagreement, and derision. The obvious example of this is the well known difference of opinion between Stephen J Gould and Dawkins, both over punctuated equilibrium, and the principle of Non-Overlapping Magisteria. It is absolutely true that Dawkins is – rightly – derisive of the concept of Non-Overlapping Magisteria, it is not, however, true that therefore Dawkins constantly derides Gould.

Even when dealing with the laughable concept of Irreducible Complexity and the microbiologist Behe – hardly someone who could be regarded as a “colleague” of Dawkins – Dawkins sticks to the facts that surrounded Behe during the Dover trial. If anything, Dawkins erred by not heaping derision upon the likes of Behe.

The only other point I can recall other scientists being mentioned specifically in reference to the existence of god begins on page 97, “The Argument from Admired Religious Scientists”, and in the whole section I fail to find a single instance of derision. The fact is that the claim is spurious.

Basing many of his arguments on speculation and not scientific evidence Richard works on the premise that one day everything will prove what he is now saying. The only trouble is that so much of what he is saying is not based on science – and even flies directly in the face of established science – but is pure philosophical speculation.

This is a book contending that there is no God! What scientific empirical objective evidence is there for the existence of god: None. Right, that’s the necessary scientific rigor disposed of.

At no point does Dawkins contend that, “one day everything will prove what he is now saying”. At no point. Even Chapter 4 dealing with arguments against the existence of a god is entitled, “Why there almost certainly is no God”. “Almost Certainly”. Not, “absolutely, definitely, and eventually everything will prove I’m right”.

That is not, however, to say that Dawkins is engaging in idle speculation. Ultimately there is both no objective, empirical evidence for the existence of a thing, “God”; nor is there any good reason to pre-suppose – in the absence of evidence – that such a thing exists.

Failing to know the Bible Probably the major failure is picking out bits of the Bible that he feels suit his argument and carefully omits the large amounts that run contrary to his beliefs. Those bits he does refer to, he clearly doesn’t understand.

Cite?

Just one example would do. It is an all-too-common objection amongst theists. If it is mentioned that their holy book states X, and fact X is inconvenient then it is simply, “taken out of context”, or the person objecting simply does not understand. If I note, for example, that Exodus 20:5-6 (of the “10 commandments” fame) states:

Thou shalt not bow thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me

And, if in quoting this, I have the temerity to point out that the god described in the bible is clearly self-confessedly jealous, and a evil tyrant; then I am clearly the one with reading comprehension difficulties, instead of the person who believes that this god is a “loving” god.

Appealing to the most bizarre use of illogical use of statistics to reach a conclusion. His use of statistics to prove the impossible is possible must cause many an insurance underwriter to have nightmares.

Huh? Once again I must ask: cite! “The God Delusion” is not even trying to “prove the impossible”, that’s the job of the religious! Unless faithcatalyst is talking about evolution, in which case… oh boy.

Having a Dogmatic Approach that is not open to reason Although he disclaims this, this is actually how he comes over, as a variety of his scientific colleagues have commented.

Once again, “huh?”. Just because someone disagrees with your position does not make them “dogmatic”. I refer once again to the chapter title, “Why there is almost certainly no god”. Compare and contrast this with the christian viewpoint: “There is precisely one god: and it’s male. And it impregnated a virgin and created Jesus, who’s also a god. And there’s a ghost too, that’s also a God. But they’re all the same person”. I’m paraphrasing, of course, probably don’t understand the bible, and was most likely suffering from a reading comprehension problem when I read the new testament…

So that’s it. Thankfully.

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