Archive for May, 2011

The God Delusion Ch. 2

Posted: May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

It is somewhat refreshing to know where one stands, however with Dr. Dawkins as he relates to the Christian, the refreshment is lost with the categorization of the entire Bible as fiction. Such categorization only seems apt and deserving when the Bible is approached from popular knowledge and opinion, however this is not the position from which Dr. Dawkins is claiming to approach. He claims a scholarly perspective. I will be just as refreshingly open as to my stance on this second chapter of The God Delusion and tell my readers that Dr. Dawkins here again exhibits a lack of understanding of what Christians believe according to scripture, neither does he display any real understanding of the transmission and preservation (on the part of God as He has power over those systems He created, to work IN them and not always AROUND them as some would prefer christians to claim) of the same.

Just as I ended my last chapter review, I will begin this one by pointing out that Dawkins here resorts to name calling. I will once again ask how this qualifies as scholarly writing? Without listing all the names here, it will suffice to note that Dawkins has no concept of the self-defining, self-existing God of scripture. Even if one does not believe in creation; does it logically follow that one who creates a piece of art has no right to do with it as he/she pleases, even to the extent of destroying it? Of course he/she does. Such is the case with God as He is revealed in the Bible. He alone is free, and He alone is judge. The name calling shows Dawkins’ desire to judge God, and thereby he confirms the message of the Bible. People, at their very core, desire to be God; that is why the idea of a sovereign (in the most full sense of the word) God is so appalling to most. How dare God think He can control my life, decide my future, tell me I am wrong, tell me I’ve sinned, make me feel bad, etc.? No! How dare we think He can’t do exactly as He pleases with His own creation. We do not judge God, even if we attempt to or desire to. He remains Holy, as a matter of propositional truth.

Amongst these names is one of the most blatant emotional appeals I have read, given the context of modern culture. Dawkins calls God a homophobe. So according to Dawkins God is afraid of homosexuals. Surely by utilizing the benefits of his doctorate Dawkins could somehow explain why, according to the Bible homosexuality is wrong. Is there room in Dawkins’ system for a God who makes rules…and then keeps them, under threat of punishment? Is this not what we do as parents? We make rules we expect to have followed, communicate them clearly, and then inflict punishment when they are not obeyed. I am confused as to the sort of God Dawkins is implying would be better. Would he prefer a God who makes rules, communicates them clearly, and then institutes no punishment against subsequent transgression? I’m fairly certain Dawkins would have a problem with that too. Paul Washer puts it this way:

“If a judge let a proven rapist go free because he wanted to be forgiving, you’d be appalled and would cry out for justice. By all accounts that judge would be as bad or worse than the rapist him/herself.”

Why must God exhibit injustice to be counted as a God worthy of honor and praise in our eyes? God punishes those who sin. He must or He ceases to be God. This by no means counts as unforgiveness, but justice.

The logical discourse I just displayed could be put to good use for each title Dawkins wishes God to assume. This name calling is also merely the false judgement of a man who hates the very idea of God, who will not allow for the acknowledgment of any sort of accurate representation of the other side, and who therefore argues against himself. I say again: Dawkins thus far fails to present interaction with Biblical Christianity.

Jealousy is the next charge upon God, and one to which He happily admits. God is jealous in the sense that there is no other like Him and therefore none other deserves honor and glory as He does. We see jealousy as a bad thing because there are others around us who deserve attention, fair treatment, equal consideration, etc. Who else is there with God? Are there other equal beings of whom God must consider the feelings? Are there other gods with whom God simply doesn’t want to share, and so His jealousy is pernicious? Obviously I don’t think so (according to scripture). But what is odd is that Dawkins later states that the idea of polytheism is, in his eyes, just as absurd as monotheism. So Dawkins couldn’t be saying that there are other gods of which God should consider. The only thing left to imply is that we are somehow equal with God and he therefore owes us equal consideration and fair treatment. But does the Bible say we are equal with God so as to expect equal treatment? No. Do Christians believe we are equal with God? No. So one must ask, why is this a valid accusation? It is empty, just as the rest of the list of labels.

Finally a definition!

“any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.”

Though I rejoice in the appearance of a definition, I am disappointed in its assumption of authority. One must ask, why should this definition stand as authoritative? Why must it be that a creative intelligence comes into existence only as the end product of an extended precess of gradual evolution? Should we just take your word for it Dr. Dawkins? Forgive me but I am less than inclined to do so given the state of your work thus far, and there are certainly no end notes to refer me to any meaningful research on this definition. From here, neither is there any exposition on the proposed definition; it becomes an assumption upon which Dr. Dawkins continues to build to his climax where God is evolved, and therefore a late-comer in the universe (note this is one of the few times Dawkins does not use a capital “U” for universe), and therefore a delusion, and can’t then be responsible for designing anything.

Since Dawkins defers this line of thought to other later chapters I will hold any in depth comment, except to say that there is no defensible evidence for the sort of evolution to which Dawkins refers, where one species becomes a completely different one. I will also say that even if there were this sort of evidence, the logical conclusion does not disqualify God, but requires Him more-so.

Dawkins asserts that the Christian should warm to polytheism because of the doctrine of the Trinity, saying that this should be the case because our explanations of the trinity are non distinct, as he quotes Thomas Jefferson. The first objection to this is happened upon when the reader realizes that Dawkins uses, not scripture as an accurate statement of what is truly believed about the trinity, but repeatedly refers to the Catholic Encyclopedia and certain other monks/theologians of past centuries from the pages of the same encyclopedia. Is the Catholic Encyclopedia a primary source when it comes to scripture? No. Certainly not. Scripture itself is the primary source, especially when commenting on what is contained therein. Short of going into a lengthy synopsis of those scriptures which deal with this topic of the trinity, I will simply say that this, again, is not Christianity Dawkins is addressing but his own presumption of Christianity. For a clear and reasoned treatment of the scriptures and history relevant to the doctrine of the trinity I refer you to The Forgotten Trinity by Dr. James R. White or here for a more brief discussion. In contrast to Dawkins’ work which carries no references to supporting research which might solidify his position and satisfy the mind of the inquisitive reader, Dr. White’s work does not fail to provide at least adequate references to appropriately support the assertions he makes. In the claims made by Dawkins on the trinity, one need only ask “why” when he presents such quotes as:

“Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them, and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” -Thomas Jefferson (God Delusion p. 55)

Again I ask, why? Why does Thomas Jefferson, and so in agreement, Dr. Dawkins assess the trinity to be non distinct? We are not given an indication as to the founding of this assertion, so all we have here is a meaningless opinion, which as Dawkins pointed (though in the context of religious expertise), could well have been founded on the ‘consultation of fairyologists’ for all we know.

“The other thing I cannot help remarking upon is the over weening confidence with which the religious assert minute details for which they neither have, nor could have, any evidence.” (God Delusion p.55)

And again, why? Ignorance of the evidence, sir, does not constitute a lack thereof, but an unwillingness to engage with the content of said evidence. The purposed disqualification of scripture (i.e. evidence) and the means by which it is indeed reliable and accurate only demonstrates straw man argumentation and unwillingness to address the real issues thus far.

Seeing as how I have only made it to page 6 or so of a 50 page chapter, and the next section brings up some rather surprising issues from he first sentence on, I will stop this post here and continue my review of chapter two in the next few days.

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Book Giveaway!

Posted: May 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

After a year or two of the sorriest blog traffic ever, I have decided to have a giveaway. I will be giving away Letters to a Mormon Elder by Dr. James White of aomin.org.

First entry: leave a comment here on this post (not on facebook).
Earn one extra entry for each of these:
– tweet this giveaway with a link
– facebook this giveaway with a link
– follow my blog

Please leave a separate comment for each one you do. Winner will be randomly selected using random.org.

Giveaway starts now and will close June 1, 2011 at noon EST.

The God Delusion Ch. 1

Posted: May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized
As I review the first Chapter of The God Delusion I am disappointed to be hearing the same old tune.  A tune which we are coaxed to believe is accurate and true.  I mean, one who has an advanced degree is presenting this material and you would think this one has learned to do research, and learned to think inductively…right?  Sadly no.
After a short anecdote, a quote from Darwin, and Carl Sagan (of which I will comment on later), we find a quote from Steven Weinberg.  As a side note, it is interesting that these people’s credentials are sourced in their own work (advanced degrees) or others noticing the like (Nobel Prize).  This is the source of their authority, as if that somehow trumps, or even competes with the source of Christian authority.  
Steven Weinberg says “Of course, like any other word, the word ‘God’ can be given any meaning we like.”
I’m afraid not Dr. Weinberg!  Words have clear and indisputable meaning.  Perhaps what Dr. Weinberg meant was that we are free to choose the semantic usage of any particular word?  Even so, the only one endowed with that freedom of choice is the original user of the word.  However, when we choose the words we use to communicate some meaning, we stand the risk of using them improperly; as does our readership and/or listeners stand the risk of assigning wrong meaning to our words.  In such a case, the one using words in err or the one hearing/reading words in err also stands the risk of being corrected.  Dr. Weinberg’s statement is a wonderful example of this.  Yes, we are clearly able to ascribe the word ‘God’ to anything we like, but we also may very well be wrong, as compared to those authoritative documents which clearly communicate God’s attributes and character.  Just as one who asserts that Green Eggs and Ham was written by William Shakespeare is able to easily be proven wrong, so can Dr. Weinberg.  Like Dr. Weinberg, one who wishes to ascribe any meaning to any word must thereby realize that the consequences of their desires destroys any meaning of any word.  No word has clear meaning, so everything then means nothing outside of what the reader/hearer wants it to mean…or it means everything (semantically) all at once and then loses any authority of meaning.  This is the post-modern, relativistic view at it’s finest.  Everything centers around the meaning one finds for oneself, but that meaning isn’t and shouldn’t be the same for everyone.  Meaning no longer exists, but those of us who demonstrate clear meaning in language and find reasons why any one word can’t mean the other semantic usages in it’s domain are labeled intolerant, disrespectful, and ironically ignorant, amongst other colorful language.  Alas, words have meaning, whether Dr. Weinberg, Dr. Dawkins, or anyone else wants them to or not.  In the Christian context the word God has a very specific meaning which is so repeated in scripture that one wonders if any of these men have read the Bible.  If they have, they are being dishonest to what they have read; if they haven’t, they are being dishonest about their research.  Which is it?
What Dr. Dawkins does a great job doing is explaining what he sees atheists as believing.  However, one is left with a nagging question.  Who cares?  Who cares what people believe?  Upon what authority is that belief founded, and is the information accurately represented as to support such a belief?  These are the important questions.  So much of the first chapter of Dawkins’ book assumes the authority of science as interpreted by whomever, Ph.D. holders, Nobel Prize winners.  While I admit these people have expertise, they lack any real authority.  Likewise their beliefs and statements lack any real authority.  At best they refer back to other people.  I say this so confidently because all of science points back to God, and therefore Dr. Dawkins’, and Dr. Weinberg’s authority is false and empty.
“Great scientists of our time who sound religious usually turn out not to be so when you examine their beliefs more deeply.” – Dawkins
“What most atheists believe is that although there is only one kind of stuff in the universe and it is physical, out of this stuff come minds, beauty, emotions, moral values – in short the full gamut of phenomena that gives richness to human life.” – Julian Baggini
These statements also beg the question, who cares?  Christianity does not rely on “Great scientists” or “most atheists” for its authority, so why do these statements matter or have bearing on the subject?  The answer is THEY DONT, which is the very definition of a straw man argument.  Once again, Dawkins fails to engage with Biblical Christianity.  Without enumerating them (because there are far too many), further statements in this chapter call into question “religion” as a field (though I have never heard of such a field…rather Theology would be the field Dr. Dawkins is speaking of.  Who ever heard of a Religiogian?  More like Theologian).  Other statements try to associate Catholicism with Christianity, as if they were synonymous, when they aren’t even similar.  And still other comments seek to rob ‘religious faith’ of rational justification.
I hope I have demonstrated the lack of rational justification of Christianity as it seeks to read and use words accurately and honor the writer’s original meaning.  If this is a lack of rational justification, I wonder what is Dawkins’ justification?  We shall see in coming chapters.
NOTE:  If you are reading along with me, you will do well to notice that Dr. Dawkins’ source for defining God, faith, religion, etc. is “what most (people, christians, deists) believe.”  No reliable source has been used and no analysis of ANY religious primary documents has been offered.  Doctoral caliber research???  This sort of material would not get me a ‘C’ in even an undergraduate class.