So Richard Dawkins is out on a lecture tour, promoting his new book, Science in the Soul. Rory Shiner writes about attending the Dawkins event in Perth, Australia.
Dawkins treated his audience to a passage from the book, in which he substitutes belief in God for belief in Thor, thus demonstrating (to his own satisfaction) the absurdity of the claims of theologians and believers.
Of course, humankind has had its gods for millennia: Thor, Zeus, Baal, Marduk, Ra, Mars, Jupiter, and so on. …
The account (in Genesis 22) of how God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, is one of the most problematic in the whole of scripture. It seems to teach that blind, irrational faith is a ‘good thing’, even the result is that you are willing to slaughter a member of your own family because you think that God has told you to do it. Of, course, God prevented Abraham from killing Isaac in the end (Gen 22:12), but that does not seem to get us off the hook: we presume that Abraham would have gone through with the terrible deed if God had not intervened.…
In Richard Dawkins’ celebrated book The Selfish Gene, there is a passage which (rather typically for him) smuggles non-empirical assumptions into a statement that purports to be a scientific one.
The passage reads as follows:-
[Genes] swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence.
The best short summary and discussion that I have seen of Richard Dawkins’ view that science has ‘eliminated’ God is that of Alister McGrath in an article published the journal Science and Christian Belief.
Although published in 2005, and not interacting directly with Dawkins’ The God Delusion, the article nevertheless takes account of the opinions of Dawkins as they have developed from 1977 (The Selfish Gene) onwards.
McGrath expresses admiration for Dawkins’ scientific writing, but notes that when he touches on the subject of God, evidence-based reasoning seems to have been left behind, to be replaced by over-simplification and, not infrequently, misrepresentation.…
In chapter 4 of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins attempts to demonstrate that the existence of God is extremely improbable. He gives pride of place to his ‘Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit’. This argument, he says, is ‘the big one’.
The starting-point is the comment attributed to Fred Hoyle that the probability of life originating on earth by chance is no greater that a tornado in a junk-yard asembling a fully-functioning Boeing 747. Theists often like to say that that the universe is so complex that only God could have brought it into being.…
Richard Dawkins is no philosopher, nor theologian, nor biblical scholar. None of which automatically disqualifies him from expressing his opinions on religion, but all of which should make him exercise a little more care and caution in expressing those opinions.
For a man so committed to evidence and reason, it is remarkable that Dawkins pays so little attention to both in certain sections of The God Delusion. It is clear that before he wrote that book, he had read Alister McGrath’s Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life (2005). …
As evidence for the nastiness of the Old Testament and its God, Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, 240f) can find no better example than the account of an unnamed Levite and his concubine while travelling in Gibeah (Judges 19:11-28).
Quoting the Authorised Version (why?), Dawkins outlines the ghastly unfolding of events. The two of them spend the night in the house of an old man. While eating their supper, the men of the city come to the door and demand that the old man hands over his male guest so that they can have their way with him. …
It is not difficult to find sceptics who will dismiss the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus with a casual wave of the hand. Richard Dawkins, for example, says:-
I don’t know where the story of Jesus rising from the dead comes from. The actual documentary evidence is very bad as historical evidence goes, and so, given its enormous inherent implausibility, I’d be much more inclined to suspect it. You needn’t go as far as to say ‘hoax’ – it’s just that when very, very charismatic people die, legends grow up about them in a very mysterious way.
Here is an interview with Dr Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House. With the criticisms of Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, ch. 7) particularly in mind, Williams gives a cogent series of responses to some of the more difficult and pressing worries that we (whether we are believers or not) may have about the morality of some of the things we find in the Old Testament.
Of course, Williams cannot offer, in the limited time afforded by an interview, a comprehensive set of answers. …
On 21st October 2008, a debate was held between Professor Richard Dawkins and Dr John Lennox in Oxford’s Natural History Museum.
An earlier debate between the two of them can be downloaded here, and a talk by Lennox can be downloaded here.
The subject of the recent debate was Has Science Buried God? – echoing the title of a recent book by Lennox.
Melanie Phillips has a piece in The Spectator in which she notes, among other things, that
Dawkins now concedes that ‘a serious case could be made for a deistic God.’
And this in the light of his previous pronouncement that
…all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection…Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.