Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The God Delusion

For one of my classes I am required to read two chapters from a book (there is a choice of three) and then write about it. What the author is trying to accomplish in the chapters and how he went about doing it (at least, I think that's what the assignment is, I'm working on the first part right now, reading and writing about what the chapters are about). The book I chose is 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins because when the book was released there was a huge fuss made about it by many people.

For those who are unfamiliar with this book or with the author, I will try and do it some justice without knowing a ton about it myself. Richard Dawkins is a devout atheist who wrote this book with the intent that "religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down". His thesis (at least, in the introduction of his book) is that many people have simply been brought up with religion forced down their throats; that our children have simply been indoctrinated and so there are really more atheists out there than people would admit. He also claims that he is trying to debunk all religions, (although he then only mentions Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which leads me to believe he is gunning for theists as opposed to deists or polytheists...).

As I read through one of his chapters which is focusing on the existence of God and how there is no God, I find myself getting frustrated with his choice of arguments. Sam has pointed out that Dawkins is a scientist, not a philosopher, but still...the man (Dawkins) is like a child on a playground. He will take a theists argument for the existence of God (be it Aquinas' five proofs or the ontological argument---yeah, don't feel dumb if you don't know what those are, I just learned about them in my fourth year of seminary) and he will write it out in the simplest terms he can. He will then attack the argument using the most technical words that he can. His conclusion then is that he is so smart and Christians are dumb so...guess who's right!? He is also trying to argue that God cannot exist because most of the scientists in the world are atheists, which means that smart people know what's going on and Christians simply can't be smart.

Now, I write much of the above paragraph with tongue in cheek, but I'm not that far off base with his arguments. Before anyone accuses me of being biased, I have to say that our youth group just went through a book called 'The Ten Most Common Objections to Christianity'. This book was written in a similar fashion as Dawkins except flipped. Scientific arguments were simplified and then shown to be stupid, and that book frustrated me as well. Why can't people sit down and actually treat one another with respect?

Why can't Christians and atheists sit down and acknowledge that each person's ideas can be valid to a point. My beliefs aren't stupid or based off of some false knowledge that only backwoods, fundamentalist baptists believe and I have to believe that atheists out there aren't simply blindly ignoring truth but that many have looked to answer the God question for themselves and simply are unsatisfied with the answers they have found.

I'm not saying that people should be relativists, stating that we all have truth. There really is only one truth, and that's a logical argument (think about it; 2+2 will always = 4. It can't sometimes = 5, no matter how many people believe that it does). I'm just saying that we should respect others and sit down like adults to discuss things instead of slandering people for their beliefs and calling them idiots.

The thing that bothers me the most about this book (Dawkins) is that he mainly attacks Christians. He has mentioned a few things about Muslims, but all of his disparaging comments have been directed towards Christians. Some of his 'pot shots' if you will have been directed right at specific people, without any explanation why. For example, he was talking about different colleges, and he mentioned Wheaton (which is actually a pretty prestigious school) and said that even though it was ranked high for academics it still produced Billy Graham. What does that have to do with anything? I don't know what his beef is with Billy Graham, but lots of prestigious colleges have probably crapped out pretty awful people, but we can't hold the institution responsible!

So, those are my thoughts right now. I just needed a place to process and I thought some people would appreciate my thoughts (I know, pretty egotistical of me, right?). Let me know what you think! I'm interested in all view points!

1 comment:

ksev said...

Earlier when I read your post I'm certain I had a brilliant addition to make. Now, after trouble shooting a wireless connection for hours, I'm not sure.

Atheists seem to make a religion of their beliefs. I think the fact that all cultures and most people have a sense of soul and a higher power of some unknown sort leaves them at loose ends as there are no quantifiable explanations for the inexplicable.