‘The God delusion’ Book review

Posted: October 24, 2006 in Theo/Philo


Richard Dawkins distinguishes himself with his latest Book release, and now has to live with the consequences.

Here is a a great review by Terry Eagelton, exposing the absurd simplistic nature of Dawkins approach towards Christianity. ‘The God Delusion’  seems full of caricature’s and propaganda -designed not to enlighten but to foster uninformed bias, a study In the argument not from logic but incredulity.

Here’s a snippet:

‘Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday.’

  1. edarrell says:

    But, we frequently get people holding forth on biology with less information than they’d get from the “Book of British Birds,” if there is indeed such a book. Most creationists do that with regularity.

    Dawkins, on the other hand, is a scholar of scripture as well as biology.

    If only most creationists were 10% as familiar with biology as Dawkins is with scripture, we’d be a lot better off.

  2. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Ed,
    Thanks for so many posts –please give me time to reply to them.
    You said: ‘But free will is not an issue in evolution’
    As a process, evolution as outlined by Darwin and including Drift has consequences, which need to be addressed by those advocating a purely closed naturalistic beginning middle and end for life.
    Without agency in the picture –how do we account for the apparent appearance of agency? Is Dennett’s ‘intentional stance’ real –or way of avoiding the presence of agency in our experience, knowing that only agency can begat agency.
    So the appearance of it must be an illusion or it must be real. The burden of proof lies with those who say agency is an illusion to prove this.
    I know we have a sequence, a gene, a gene product and an effect in the organism, I’m not arguing against this. I am asking a question of the wider implications of this mechanistic view that of agency and determinism –it seems to me that exclusive mechanistic origins imply determinism, chemical and naturalistic.
    Yet as I stated at the bottom of the post:
    ‘It then becomes a serious problem how the “intentional stance”, which attributes goals and designs to an agent, can be so successful In interpreting and explaining the scientists own behaviour in constructing theories and in designing experiments.’’
    I’m not arguing for an abandonment of the Scientific method, I am arguing for it, we can’t brush the appearance and success of agency in our descriptions under the carpet with a single made up phrase like ‘intentional stance’-if the Scientific method can be used to describe everything (something I doubt) then it will be able to deal with agency.

  3. edarrell says:

    Before we go charging off on purely mechanistic proposals, let’s remember that Darwin was Christian, especially the younger Darwin who proposed evolution.

    Darwin’s closing paragraph of Origin of Species is cited often — and there he points back to Genesis:

    It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

    With very few exceptions, biologists do not generally suggest that there is no room for God in creation; those who do suggest it are generally careful to say that their views are subject to change with evidence, that any statements they make against deity are faith statements, just as any statement made in favor of deity is a faith statement.

    Ultimately, it seems to me, you’re saying that you don’t accept a view of the world without agency. Fine. No one proposes that, scientifically.

    So what’s your complaint?

  4. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi edarrell,
    I don’t know enough about Darwin’s own life to judge his beliefs accurately. However the only mandate the Bible gives for judging is here:
    Matthew 7:16 (New American Standard Bible)
    16″You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
    It is too simplistic to say for instance ‘The fruits of Darwin’s idea of ‘survival of the fittest’ are evident for all to see-just look at 20th Century history’ there are many ideas that lead to actions such as the Holocaust –there are many groups responsible including the church.
    However Darwin’s ideas have had a negative destructive part to play in History along with other ideas such as anti Semitism as expounded by the church. With this in mind, I tend to suspect Darwin’s Christianity.
    This post is specifically regarding Dawkins new book-I know he scoffs at scientists who profess belief. In the God Delusion he says: “Great scientists of our time who sound religious usually turn out not to be so when you examine their beliefs more deeply,” (There is another quote-but I can’t find it).
    Generally there is room for belief and science-science was born out of a Christian consensus, many of the founding fathers of Science were Christians or had belief.
    My complaint is straightforward, its that a materialistic worldview is inconsistent with our experience of life, It is inconsistent with logic It is dishonest to pretend that atheists can now be intellectually satisfied. There are many problems with that worldview, which seem insurmountable.
    Dawkins, whose influence is global, is proposing a world without agency that’s the logical and only conclusion atheism allows.

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    It’s not too simplistic to note that most of the fruits of evolution theory have been positive — diagnosis and treatments for diabetes, new pharmaceuticals, understanding of effective crop pest control (as oppose to DDT’s scorched Earth policies, which ultimately proved more damaging than helpful), new crops, new understanding of history, prehistory, geology, etc., etc., etc.

    I think it is fair to note that biological evolution plays no significant role in the development of any of the harms you cite, especially any of the social harms. You’re confusing Herbert Spencers sociology, summarized sometimes as “social Darwinism,” with biology. They are two separate entities, with much of Spencer’s work not only not supported by Darwin’s work, but completely contradicted.

    You’re confusing your definitions of “materialism” as well. The materialism you complain about, the materialistic methodologies of science, are the same ones Jesus urged. Being overly affected by the pursuit of material things is a different matter. Jesus never urged departures from reality, and in fact among Jesus’ miracles are counted cures of the mentally ill.

    Dawkins does indeed propose a world without supernatural agency. Why you confuse that with Darwin, I can’t figure.

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