Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dawkins' Delusion

I’ve been meaning to pick up Richard Dawkins’ infamous book, The God Delusion, for quite some time; I just haven’t had the chance. Now, more than ever, I think I will pick it up. Just a couple of days ago a friend of mine, Jonathan, wrote a blog titled Conceding Dawkins. In that blog, Jonathan posted several quotes by Richard Dawkins that gave me a bit of insight into what Dawkins thinks of faith. Furthermore, Dawkins was quoted as saying that the more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed towards atheism. Additionally, Dawkins is also quoted as saying that "even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes."

Now, I’ve always been a believer in religious freedom, in people having the right to believe what they believe without fear of repercussion. That said, I absolutely cannot stand it when non-theists (and theists, for that matter) say things regarding belief in God that are incredibly false. As I’m sure you can guess, Dawkins has done this, and I intend to point it out.

First up is a quote by Mr. Dawkins wherein he claims a case for ones beliefs does not have to be made:

“Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe.”

While it is indeed virtuous to have faith without evidence, belief in God and Jesus Christ is not dependent upon it. It is actually demanded that we test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21). As for making a case for what we believe, this too is a staple of the Christian faith. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to defend our beliefs and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says we are to cast down arguments. Mr. Dawkins’ assertions on this topic are in fact unfounded.

Next, Mr. Dawkins asserts that an understanding of evolution would naturally push one towards an atheist view. What I find hard to believe is that such a reasonable scholar of science would come to such a conclusion. The truth is, evolution (and science, in general) is neither theistic nor atheistic. And neither is there definitive proof through evolution that would push one towards atheism. The evidence simply does not exist. Mr. Dawkins, being the good scientist, has failed to check his metaphysical baggage at the door. And the truth is that none of us properly check our metaphysical beliefs at the door. We all carry with us something that prevents us from totally unbiased and rational decisions, whether it is metaphysical assumptions, experiences, or something else. What this means is that the purveyor of rationale and logic is himself, like he claims theists to be, somewhat deluded.

And finally, "even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes." If religious wars rage because varying faiths believe each other to have caused some wrong to occur, then how are Dawkins and the new atheists any different? Don't they "wage war" on Christianity (mostly) because they feel we've done some wrong in the world? Don't they believe Christianity to be nothing more than a delusion? Aren't their atheist beliefs lacking in true reason and logic, as they so adamantly claim ours are? The only difference between them and other extremists is that they don't brandish weapons and actively hunt down theists. But then again, there is always a time before fanaticism occurs.

I am by no means implying that atheism will evolve to an extremist position like those of terrorists. But the issue isn't about what I believe can happen, but what Dawkins believes can happen. And if he believes that the moderately religious can eventually evolve into fanatics, then surely it follows likewise for the moderately irreligious. We are all subject to our own bodily desires and emotions, previous experiences and metaphysical assumptions. These things help shape us and bring us to our ultimate positions and stances. The irreligious are no different.

It is through these emotions, experiences, and metaphysical assumptions that Mr. Dawkins comes to the conclusions he does (as seen within this blog). Mr. Dawkins has fallen prey to false reasoning. And by the false reasoning that leads Mr. Dawkins to atheism, he may himself become susceptible to that which he fears can/does eventually happen to religious moderates.

This is not limited to Mr. Dawkins. Any and all who claim a logical and rational position and bring to the table their emotions, experiences, and metaphysical assumptions are all guilty of false reasoning.

1 comment:

Rachel Hollingsworth said...

Thank you, Andy! I want to add, as I'm sure you know, that there are other and more Scripture that back up your thesis that Scripture does encourage study and testing. And John Wesley himself encouraged a process of theological reflection based in Scripture, but including church tradition, experience, and reason.