Sunday, July 17, 2011

Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion

By Richard Dawkins

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

Richard Dawkins is British. He is a scientist and an avid supporter of Darwin and the concept of Natural Selection. He is a professor at Oxford University. He is also an atheist – or as close as one can get to an atheist by his own definition. He offers no support for “faith” or religion. The Bible and the God of the Old Testament are not two of his favorite things. In case there is any doubt about where Mr. Dawkins stands on those issues let me quote a snippet from page 31 of this text:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty, ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously, malevolent bully.”

I should think that quote by itself should absolve the author from any returns made by purchasers claiming that they bought this book by mistake. They thought that the author was a Christian Theologist and now they would like their money back.
He defines “faith” as belief beyond reason. And he further states that this is not a good thing. To encourage others to believe in what is not reasonable, or beyond logic and scientific reasoning, is the source of most of the world’s problems and has been for centuries. He feels it should be discouraged.

He is not a supporter of organized religions. He supports those who feel that teaching religion to children is a form of child abuse. He feels that educating children into religions should be stopped. Everyone notices the outrage of this practice when viewing the practice among religions not of their choice but find the whole process legitimate with their own children and their religious choice.
I would say that this book is basically an argument against belief in God or a God and the dangers of organized religion. The author deals with this controversial subject intellectually and reasonably. His views are very strong but he supports them with logical arguments and science.

He dismisses the proofs for the existence of God by St. Thomas Aquinas in as quick and a simple a fashion as I have ever read. He covers many of the basic philosophical arguments in a simple and direct language. For a more in depth analysis of this subject I would recommend “The Impossibility of God” edited by Michael Martin and Rici Monnier.

The author says that he is attempting to open people’s awareness and especially their awareness of the ramifications of Darwin’s principle of Natural Selection.
He has got my curiosity. I am interested in his explanations and I am certainly not as aware as he would like me to be.
For example: At one point in the book he argues with those who contend that the Universe and Life could not have been a matter of chance. The author agrees but contends that the argument is not between chance and design by a supernatural creator but between chance and Natural Selection.

I’m of the opinion that chance is fine. It is the only reasonable alternative and an acceptable answer. To posit God as an answer to the complicated origin of life and the Universe when there is no evidence of the existence of such a phenomenon is the same as saying Santa Clause did it or it was the Fairy Queen who is responsible for life and the Universe. It is a non-sequitur.
I can understand the author’s position in choosing Natural Selection as the origin of life but I do not see how Natural Selection answers the question of the origin of the Universe. Natural Selection is also subject to the infinite regression argument as is God.

To say that the Universe always was and always will be in one shape or form or another is fine with me. I see no other rational alternative at this time. To say that it “came about” via a process of “Natural Selection,” I find confusing. Clearly I need to be made more aware. I have another of the author’s books on my reading shelf “The Extended Phenotype.” I will read that and see if I can become more aware.
This book, The God Delusion, is simple, easy to read and covers the basics of apostasy as I see it. The author pulls no punches and presents his view confidently and unabashed.

I commend the author, Richard Dawkins, for speaking out as forcefully as he does. Theologists and the modern crowd of evangelicals are not the least bit timid in making their superstitions public. I see no reason why those of a contrary and more rational opinion should not do likewise.

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