Well we all know The Reason Rally is around the corner. This event promises to be the largest gathering of atheists in the country. As someone who is the director of an apologetics ministry on the largest campus in the nation, I have talked to my share of atheists. I have listened to them and asked questions. As a recent t-shirt says, “I love atheists, I just don’t agree with their worldview.”
Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I do agree that perhaps some of the resurgence in atheism has finally forced Christians to ask, “Is an unexamined faith worth having?”
As I looked at the publicity for The Reason Rally, I notice that one of the keynote speakers is Richard Dawkins. Dawkins recently said that he is looking forward to witnessing the “complete death of organized religion.” I find myself asking if the people that are attending this rally actually think The God Delusion has given the world a convincing argument that Christians and religious people are truly the irrational ones. Have any of these people bothered to read the reviews of The God Delusion? Are they aware that even Michael Ruse (a well-known philosopher and atheist himself) has said The God Delusion makes him embarrassed to be an atheist? I can’t speak for everyone that will be attending the event. But regardless of who agrees or doesn’t agree with Dawkins, I wanted to address the central argument in The God Delusion.
For Dawkins, a delusion is “a persistent false belief in held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” Dawkins goes onto say, “When one person suffers from delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called Religion.” (pg 5)
Here is the central argument of the book– pgs 157-158.
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 design 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 explanation
5. We don’t have an equivalent explanation in physics.
6. We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as something Darwinism is for biology.
7.Therefore, God almost certainty does not exist
We can observe that Dawkin’s conclusion does not follow from his previous six statements. Now I don’t plan on giving a long apologetic for the fine-tuning argument here. But I know there are other atheists such as Martin Rees and Stephen Hawking who think the universe is fine-tuned. And I am well aware that they don’t attribute it to design. However, why should I infer that God does not exist based on an argument against the design of the universe? As a Christian, I could still believe in God’s existence for a variety of reasons other than the design of the universe. The point is that for Dawkins to attempt to put all his eggs in one basket here is a huge mistake.
And what about the objection-#3: “The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.”
This is where Dawkins’ argument got worse. And this objection has carried over into many discussions with atheists and theists. In this case, Dawkins commits a category mistake by assigning to something a property which applies only to objects of another category. In other words, Dawkins confuses two categories- the made and the unmade. Whatever is made has composition. Obviously, from the Orthodox Christian view, God has no composition. The Hebrew word for one is “echad” which leaves room for a plurality within a unity of substance- but there is no implication of a plurality of beings or parts within a being. Scripture admonishes mankind about making any physical image of God (Exodus 20:4). God is pure spirit ( John 4:24). He has no parts and is an immaterial Being. Hence, the God of the Bible is unmade.
Furthermore, the laws of nature cannot exist without nature itself existing but the origin of nature cannot be explained scientifically without pre-existing laws. So the question becomes where did the laws of nature come from? Dawkins generally appeals to what he calls “the blind forces of nature” as being able to explain all the observable complexity (such as anticipatory, irreducible and specified complexity) But this makes no sense. How do the blind forces of nature have the causal power to do anything? I agree that the laws of nature don’t have minds or are conscious. However, while they may be blind, what Dawkins and others forget is that these laws are mechanisms.
It also seems that Dawkins misunderstands the law of causality which states that everything that comes to be had a cause. Since God did not come to be, he does not need an explanation. If we had to continually offer an explanation for an explanation it would lead to an infinite regress. Hence, there would be no science.
# 4: The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural explanation
In this case, Dawkins assumes that Darwinian evolution has provided a real defeater to God’s existence. Dawkins has claimed that Darwin made it possible to be a fulfilled atheist. But is this correct? Apparently, Darwin himself didn’t see God and evolution in conflict with each other. Darwin wrote in The Origin of Species (1859), “To my mind, it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes . . . .” And again: “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one . . . from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” But there’s more for the atheist to consider. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, orig. pub. 1859 (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, n.d., corr. ed.). Quotations from pp. 459 and 460.
#6: We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as something Darwinism is for biology
As I said, Dawkins thinks it is an established fact that since Darwinism has provided a real blow to the existence of God, we should expect physics to do the same. Stephen Hawkings made an attempt in his book The Grand Design when he tried to show the laws of physics are responsible for the existence of the universe. But Hawkings made a mistake when he thought the laws of physics are casual agents. See more here:
In the end, I can’t see why anyone would be an atheist from reading The God Delusion. I have not even bothered to criticize the books attempt at theology. But to say that atheists are the champions of reason because of a book like The God Delusion is rather laughable.