Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Richard Dawkins

I am into my summer reading and am most of the way through Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. I bought the book when it looked like the library was not going to have a copy available for several weeks. I wish now that I had not spent the money. The cover says, "New York Times bestseller." For the life of me, I do not know why it is a best seller. Dawkins has several other books that are far better. He says nothing new in TGD (The God Delusion), and what he does say is more rant than reason.

His primary argument, for example, against the Cosmoslogical Argument for God's existence (for those unacquainted with that, it is that there had to be a first uncaused cause for the universe) is to dismiss the argument by asking who caused God - all this in less than a page. His argument against the arguments from beauty, from religious experience, and from scripture are equally dismissive. I wonder if he even uderstands the arguments. Of course, these are only preliminary to the meat of the book, according to Dawkins, in which he promises to show that the existence of God is highly improbable. It is there he engages the teleological argument, the argument from design - or he says he does.

We would expect Dawkins to focus on the Design Argument, of course, since it has much to do with design in the biological world, and Dawkins is a Biologist. What is disappointing is that he fails to defend natural evolution or refute design any better than any of the other arguments he has dealt with. In fact, and I am not making this up, his best argument is that any designer capable of the level of design we see in nature must be very complex, and since we know that complexity is evolved from things less complex, we must ask who designed the designer. And he leaves the argument there.

Not only does he fail to deal adequately with the design issue in the biological world but he goes on to say regarding design in the universe that although we don't know how to explain design in the universe we'll figure it out bye and bye, and it will be a natural explanation, he assures us. (But remember, Dawkins is a biologist, not a cosmologist. He is really not interested in those things.)

At this point I am half way through the book and am wondering why I am wasting my time. I think it must be the humor value. I look forward to the quotes from Dawkins' supporters, people like Douglas Adams the novelist and George Carlin the comedian.

Sorry, I'm getting a little sarcastic. I was hoping to find a cogent treatment of Neo Atheism. Instead I found a rant. I do intend to finish the book, and I'll post some final comments when I do, but don't waste your money on this one. Get it from the library if you must read it. In the meantime, you could look a little further at

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