Richard Dawkins sails as the flagship of the movement that is known as New Atheism. He  had an interview on Radio 702 yesterday.

In the book Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists & Other Objectors, Paul Copan summarises the way things are:

We are living in a time when certain critics of Christianity have abandoned all delicacy and decorum in debate. Rather than sticking to rational, carefully reasoned arguments, they have taken off the gloves to launch angry, sarcastic, and sloppy argued attacks. They lob their rhetorical grenades in hopes of creating the (incorrect) impression that belief in God is for intellectual lightweights who believe ridiculous, incoherent doctrines and are opposed to all scientific endeavor and discovery.

Usually I don’t respond to these debates and reamrks because reasoning really takes us nowhere and I actually don’t want to be a part of this debate. Two things made me wright this post. The first one was that people conclude that as we are saying nothing we don’t have any arguments against Dawkins.Well that just is not true. Just visit Paul Copan, or William Lane Craig or Ben Witherington and discover there are other sweet and well organized arguments to the contrary. Apologetics is not my field of speciality, but I do read sopme from time to time.

Second, was the “angry, sarcastic, and sloppy argued attacks” creating the impression that if you use your brain and listen to Dawkins you will agree that he is right, and if you don’t, well it is because you dont use your head, that made me wright this post.

The problem is that there is a serious flaw in Richard Dawkins primary argument in his book The God Delusion. William Lane Craig makes this point in Chapter 1 of the book I mentioned above.

In his book Dawkins aims to show that belief in God is a delusion.

Craig takes us to page 157-158 of Dawkins’s book. According to Dawkins that is where he summarizes what he calls “the central argument of my book.”

Well sometimes, and this is one of those cases, it is better to hide your “central argument” and hope your disciples find it and your critics don’t. Because if your critics find it, they just may take it apart.

Try following Dawkins’s reasoning:

1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.

2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of desigin to actual design itself.

3. The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

4. The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

5. We don’t have a equivalent explanation for physics.

6. We would not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.

Craig’s response to this is:

This argument is jarring because the atheistic conclusion that “therefore, God almost certainly does not exist” seems to come suddenly out of the left field. You don’t need to be a philosopher to realize that that conclusion doesn’t follow from the six previous statements.

Now if Dawkins calls this the central argument of his book and if the central argument of his book is flawed in this manner, the rest of the book…

Craig continues:

Indeed, if we take these six statements as premises of an argument intended logically to imply the conclusion “therefore, God almost certainly does not exist” then the argument is patently invalid. No logical rules of inference would permit you to draw this conclusion from the six premises.

And that ladies and gentleman is Philosophy 101.

The point is that Dawkins is under the impression that the apperance of design in the universe is the only line of reasoning to be followed if you wan’t to justify your belief of God’s existence.

There are other arguments as well… the ontological argument; the cosmological argument; the moral argument. Or maybe… just maybe our belief in God is not based on any of these arguments whatsoever. Maybe we believe in God based on our religious experience and the divine revelation. Maybe God wants us to believe in Him by faith.

In this chapter Craig continues to take some of the other premises apart as well. Philosophy 101 teaches that if only one of your premises seems not to be true, your conclusion will be false.

A last word from Craig:

Several years ago my atheist colleague Quentin Smith unceremoniously crowned Stephen Hawking’s argument against God in A brief History of Time as “the worst athesitic argument in the history of Western thought.” With the advent of The God Delusion the time has come to relieve Hawking of this weighty crown and to recognize Richard Dawkins’s accesion to the throne.

Allow me to close with sonme wordas form Ben Witherington:

It is interesting that most of the adamant and now famous atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens are in fact unreconstructed modernists, who have simply taken for granted the rationalist paradigm for analyzing reality set in motion by Descartes and his Enlightenment successors.

Seeking for proof for everything is not the post-modern crown people try to wear. Seeking for proof for everything just means that  you are stuck in modernism. As Post-Modernity neither involves a flight from reason back into faith, nor a rejection of reason in favor of faith, but rather an attempt to get beyond the impasse.

I think it is time to get beyond the impasse. Atheism will not succeed in killing religion or God.


Add yours

  1. Enigste opmerking: Party mense probeer slimmer as ‘n mens wees. Daar wag eendag ‘n baie groot en hartseer ontnugtering op die mensdom as die volle waarheid aan ons geopenbaar gaan word en ons nie meer deur ‘n dowwe spieel kyk nie.

  2. Ek het al BBC programme gesien oor hom en sy argument nie net met Christene nie, maar ook met Jode en Moslems. Sy argument is soos mot om kers. Altyd dieselfde. Ek moet hier die moslem Imam krediet gee want die het hom goed op sy plek gesit en Dawkins hou nie daarvan om skielik aan die ontvang kant te wees van sy argument nie. Ek het al baie lankal geleer dat dit is nie my plig om God se bestaan te bewys nie. Ons moet sy bestaan en liefde uitleef sonder woorde en preke.

  3. Hier is die probleem met Dawkins, Darwin en al die ander. Om evolusie te bewys kort hulle tyd. Hulle plaas dit tans op 5 biljoen jaar. Lewe het tyd nodig om divers te word. Die kanse dat DNA op sy eie kan vorm is ZERO. Statisties ZERO. Die kans dat hierdie nuwe DNA die vermoe het om voort te plant is ZERO. Geen hoeveelheid tyd kan dit verduidelik nie. Die kans dat die DNA en lewe op aarde 5 biljoen jaar oorleef deur meteoriete, vulkane, planeetbotsings, solar flares etc is ZERO. Die kans dat die aarde vreedsaam om die son spin vir 10 biljoen jaar sonder om deur enigeiets getref te word is ZERO. Die son is massief en Jupiter is massief en almal glo maar net salig dat ons 5 biljoen jaar net kan draai en draai sonder om te bots of sonder dat iets van ‘n ander sonnestelsel, of ‘n sonnestelsel self ons net uitvat. Ons sien dit elke dag deur teleskope gebeur op ander plekke in die heelal. Hierdie is nie ‘n geloof gesprek nie, dit is basiese statistiek. Daar is geen waarskynlikheid in die redenasie nie, maar steeds bly dit ‘mainstream.’

  4. ‘Christianity has fought, still fights, and will continue to fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.’

    G. Richard Bozarth, ‘The Meaning of Evolution’, American Atheist, p. 30. 20 September 1979.

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