Archive for April, 2011

No further into The God Delusion than the preface to the paperback edition (which is the first of two prefaces) do I come across endlessly repeated misrepresentations of Christianity.  I here only address Christianity because I don’t believe in other systems, and truthfully would hold them to be as damaging.  That being said, and only considering how this book interacts with Christianity, allow me to comment on those misrepresentations.

At the very beginning we are met with the assessment of anyone who says “I am an atheist, BUT”, or the related statement “I used to be and atheist, but”, to be “unhelpful, nihilistic” and “suffused with a sort of exultant negativity.”  So there can be no meaningful and/or reasoned position within such a view as Christianity.  It is discounted at the outset.  This and a few others are the faulty presuppositions upon which both prefaces precariously perch.  I will agree with Dr. Dawkins, that far too many use this statements referenced above as some sort of credential, so as to say “you should listen to me because I am coming from your point of view”, or some thing similar, but on both parts (Dawkins’ and the one making the statement) there is a fundamental ignorance of where epistemic truth comes from.  Dawkins presents a straw man argument here (although he says its not later in the preface, he fails to state why it’s not).  It’s a straw man argument because both Dawkins and Christians believe that that statement is no basis of authority, as it is most often attempted to be used.  For the Christian, the Bible is the Epistemic basis of truth, and therefore what other Christians are doing or saying is irrelevant.  Nothing is here gained by Dr. Dawkins’ assessment of these statements.  They are therefore truly meaningless, and hardly damning.

Dr. Dawkins states that those of us who believe have never realized or been told “unbelief is an option”. Really?  It’s that easy?  Thank you for relieving me of my ignorance Dr. Dawkins.  I never once considered that my faith was the result of the inadequacy of our (do you mean ours [America] or yours?) educational system.  Clearly I am too ignorant and poorly educated to grasp those things which I’ve studied, think on them critically, and apply them.  Unbelief is an option?!  Brilliant!

Much to the contrary, such an assessment is intellectually dishonest as it dismisses weighty, meaningful arguments at the outset by labeling them as unhelpful and nihilistic.  Dr. Dawkins couches his convictions of stupidity, ignorance, and dependency in the assertion that what he is saying is not shrill or intemperate when compared to food critics, a sampling of whom He then quotes on page 16.  I can’t help but think that even in their abrasiveness the food critics are at least honest.  They want us to know they didn’t like it, and more accurately hated it.  Yes, there is a bit of exaggeration there, but the message is an honest one.  A better comparison of Dawkins to a food critic would be one who says “I didn’t like your food, but you’re too stupid to know that making anything better is even an option.”  Dawkins disguises such statements (unbelief is an option) in this manner to ease the blow and stroke the ego, hopefully making the hearer/reader more apt to listen.  Spare us!

Granted these were just he prefaces, but if Dawkins insists on finding an epistemic basis for the truth of Christianity in what most Christians think or do or say, I am afraid the rest of this book will be simply addressing objections that aren’t really there…the very definition of a straw man.  There is no demonstration of even an attempt to understand the Christian position, so Dr. Dawkins goes to bat against something which he has constructed and therefore knows how to demolish.  This is not Biblical Christianity that Dawkins presents.

Both of Dr. Dawkins’ prefaces (without considering the convictions of stupidity, ignorance and dependency) can be combatted with the simple retort: “have you ever considered that belief is an option?”  It will be disappointing if the full force of Dr. Dawkins’ doctorate, as applied in this area amounts to these few straw man arguments.  I refuse to think that Dr. Dawkins can’t understand, and I will not call him stupid, but I will say that perhaps he won’t understand, which is an indication of the assertion of his will in accordance with his clear bias.  I continue to read and remain hopeful, however knowing what I do about the author and his work, I doubt that things will get better as I progress.

Chapter one coming soon.

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As an off shoot of my last post, oh so long ago in January of this year, I will be reading Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion.  As I read I will respond to each chapter as best I can, taking into consideration the arguments and subjects used therein.

Since you all know that I already stand at odds with Richard Dawkins’ work, it is rather obvious that I will be presenting refutations of Dawkins’ arguments, answers to his questions, and hopefully (if I can find resources) counters to his research.  My goal will be to show how even someone like me (barely educated compared to Dawkins), using a Biblical position and that as my presupposition, can show such people as even Dawkins to be the embodiment foolishness itself (1 Corinthians 3:19).

I will use the same sort of contextual analysis I do with the Bible to do my best in representing Dawkins position accurately.

Stay tuned in…this should prove interesting.