A Review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion

Is God a Delusion?

(by David Graieg)

 

Who is Richard Dawkins?

  • Born March 26, 1941. An evolutionary biologist

  • Books include: The Selfish Gene 1976, The Blind Watchmaker 1986, The God Delusion 2006…

 

A Delusion?

  • Dawkins states “The dictionary supplied with Microsoft Word defines a delusion as 'a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of psychiatric disorder'” (Pg 5).

  • So, is theism true?

 

Reasons for thinking Christianity is true (covered in other meetings)

  1. Belief in God can be properly basic

  2. There are good reasons to believe God exists

  3. There is solid evidence for Jesus’ resurrection

  4. The Bible is historically accurate

  5. Christianity offers your best life now and hope forevermore

 

Dawkins Central Argument (Pg 157-8)

  1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the centuries, has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.

  2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself. In the case of a man-made artefact such as a watch, the designer really was an intelligent engineer. It is tempting to apply the same logic to an eye or a wing, a spider or a person.

  3. The temptation is a false one, because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer. The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable. We need a 'crane', not a 'skyhook', for only a crane can do the business of working up gradually and plausibly from simplicity to otherwise improbable complexity.

  4. The most ingenious and powerful crane so far discovered is Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Darwin and his successors have shown how living creatures, with their spectacular statistical improbability and appearance of design, have evolved by slow, gradual degrees from simple beginnings. We can now safely say that the illusion of design in living creatures is just that - an illusion.

  5. We don't yet have an equivalent crane for physics. Some kind of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology. This kind of explanation is superficially less satisfying than the biological version of Darwinism, because it makes heavier demands on luck. But the anthropic principle entitles us to postulate far more luck than our limited human intuition is comfortable with.

  6. We should not give up hope of a better crane arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology. But even in the absence of a strongly satisfying crane to match the biological one, the relatively weak cranes we have at present are, when abetted by the anthropic principle, self-evidently better than the self-defeating skyhook hypothesis of an intelligent designer.

  • Therefore, there is almost certainly no God.

 

William Lane Craig’s Response

 

An update since 2006

  • Richard Dawkins: “Darwin kicked [God] out of biology, but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace.”

  • In reference to Hawking: “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 2010, 180.

 

WLC’s Response to Hawking

  • “Here it is said that the nothingness spoken of in Chapter 6 is not really nothingness after all but is space filled with vacuum energy. This goes to reinforce the conviction that the no boundary approach only describes the evolution of our universe from its origin at its “South Pole” to its present state but is silent as to why the universe came to exist in the first place.”

  • “What this implies is that Hawking and Mlodinow have not even begun to address the philosophical question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” For “nothing” in their vocabulary does not have the traditional meaning “nonbeing” but rather means “the quantum vacuum.”” https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/science-theology/the-grand-design-truth-or-fiction/

 

Other Issues Dawkins Raises

  • False arguments for God: Aquinas, the ontological argument, beauty, personal experience, scripture, admired religious scientists, pascal’s wager.

  • Natural selection, Irreducible complexity, The worship of gaps, The anthropic principle.

  • An evolutionary explanation of religion.

  • We don’t need God to be good.

  • Issues with the Bible.

  • Problems with religion: homosexuality, the sanctity of life, faith.

 

 

Who made God?

  • Once you understand what God is (by definition) you realize this question is incoherent. Who made the unmade?

  • Also “Who Designed the Designer?” is like asking “Who designed the undesigned?”

  • God if he exists, exists necessarily. If God is not eternal, then he’s not God.

 

Dawkins on Natural selection

  • “Natural selection not only explains the whole of life; it also raises our consciousness to the power of science to explain how organized complexity can emerge from simple beginnings without any deliberate guidance.” Pg 116

  • Natural selection: is the idea that traits which bestow a reproductive advantage on their possessors tend to spread throughout a given population, and traits which are reproductively deleterious tend to disappear.

 

Game Analogy: Snake

  • Almost no Christian (young earth, old earth, theistic evolutionist) would disagree with natural selection.

  • But natural selection does not explain away God. It is like saying just because a game (like snake) can run without a programmer constantly having to “be there” adding to it as it goes, shows that there was not programmer in the first place to set it all up.

 

Dawkins on the worship of gaps

  • “Searching for particular examples of irreducible complexity is a fundamentally unscientific way to proceed: a special case of arguing from present ignorance. It appeals to the same faulty logic as 'the God of the Gaps' strategy condemned by the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Creationists eagerly seek a gap in present-day knowledge or understanding. If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it. What worries thoughtful theologians such as Bonhoeffer is that gaps shrink as science advances, and God is threatened with eventually having nothing to do and nowhere to hide.” Pg 125

 

Objection – God of the Gaps

  • Lack sufficient reason to invoke God.

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

  3. Therefore, it is due to design.

See: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/finetuning

 

Dawkins on an evolutionary explanation of religion

  • “The general theory of religion as an accidental by-product – a misfiring of something useful ... For the sake of illustration, I shall continue to use my 'gullible child' theory as representative of 'by-product' theories in general. … Part of what I want to say is that it doesn't matter what particular style of nonsense infects the child brain. Once infected, the child will grow up and infect the next generation with the same nonsense, whatever it happens to be.” Pg 188

 

Could this cut both ways?

  • “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind.” Nagel, Thomas, The Last Word, pp. 130–131, Oxford University Press, 1997.

 

  • “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

  • “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons (review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, 1997), The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.

 

Atheism and Methodological Naturalism

  • Given naturalism, all life including humans have evolved by way of natural selection with the fittest surviving. As such human beings have no reason to think that their cognitive faculties are aimed at producing true beliefs but rather are only aimed at survival value. Consequently, given naturalism, there is no reason to suppose that one’s beliefs including naturalism is true. Hence, naturalism is a self-defeating view. For more information see Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 307-346.

  • “Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in…feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.” Patricia Churchland, “Epistemology in an Age of Neuroscience,” Journal of Philosophy 84 (1987), pp. 548-549; emphasis in the original.

  • “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” Charles Darwin to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin (1897; reprint, Boston: Elibron, 2005), 1:285.

Dawkins on the Roots of Morality: Why are we Good? (chp 6)

  • Pg 226, “If there is no God, why be good?” when asked Dawkins responds, does that mean you are only good because someone is watching, then you are a suck up.

  • Pg 233, “people who claim to derive their morals from scripture do not really do so in practice”

  • Dawkins also basically argues that Darwinism can explain the way we act the way we do…

If there is no God, why be good?

  • Dawkins comments on whether if one stopped believing in God would one start doing immoral things confuses moral ontology (the grounding of morality, whether there is objective good, bad, right and wrong concepts in the first place) and moral epistemology (how does someone know that a particular thing falls into the category of being wrong). If there is no God then all one’s actions would seem to be amoral (non-moral, basically subjective).

For more information see: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/moral

 

Dawkins on Faith

  • Dawkins definition of faith: “Faith the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate the evidence. Faith is belief in spite of the lack of evidence, even perhaps because of the lack of evidence”. Richard Dawkins, Untitled Lecture, Edinburgh Science Festival (1992)

 

A Christian understanding of Faith

  • (1) notitia that is knowledge of the actual intellectual content of a matter; (2) assensus that is the assent, acknowledgement and agreement to the information; (3) fiducia trust or apprenheniso fudcialis faithful apprehension, that is an act of the will appropriating the agreed upon content. These three components help clarify that faith is not mere cognitive reasoning or willful trust but is a combination of the two.

 

Dawkins on why there almost certainly is no God

  • If there were such a person as God, he would have to be enormously complex, and the more complex something is, the less probable it is: "However statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by invoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the Ultimate Boeing 747." Dawkins, God Delusion, Pg 114.

  • Doctrine of Simplicity

  • The Unity of God

 

Dawkins on Aquinas

  • Thomas Aquinas: 1 The unmoved Mover – nothing moves without a prior mover. 2 the Uncaused Cause – nothing is caused by itself. 3 The cosmological argument – something non physical must have caused the physical.

  • Dawkins, “All three of these arguments rely upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it. They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress” (Pg 77).

 

St Thomas Aquinas’ Second Way: Argument from Efficient Causes

  1. We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.

  2. Nothing exists prior to itself.

  3. Therefore nothing is the efficient cause of itself.

  4. If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results.

  5. Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

  6. The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.

  7. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

List here if you weren’t familiar with Aquinas’ own statement of one of his arguments, see: http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasFiveWays_ArgumentAnalysis.htm

 

Types of Causation (listed here in case you are not familiar with Aristotelian causation)

  • The material cause: “that out of which”, e.g., the bronze of a statue.

  • The formal cause: “the form”, “the account of what-it-is-to-be”, e.g., the shape of a statue.

  • The efficient cause: “the primary source of the change or rest”, e.g., the artisan, the art of bronze-casting the statue.

  • The final cause: “the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done”, e.g., the statue is made as a memorial of the figure, or to show off the artists skills, or to inspire those who see the statue.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-causality/

 

WLC’s Kalam Cosmological Argument (listed here in case you weren’t familiar with a modern version of the Comsological argument that is defended today)

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

  2. The universe began to exist.

  3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/kalam/

 

Dawkins on the incoherence of the concept of God

  • Dawkins says, “omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible” and approving quotes Karen Owens “Can omniscient God, who Knows the future, find The omnipotence to Change His future mind?”

 

A Definition of Omnipotence

  • Descartes is one of the few people to endorse universal possiblism – that God can do absolutely anything.

  • But there are things God cannot do: 2 Tim 2:11-13 “God cannot deny Himself” meaning he cannot do anything contrary to his nature.

 

A Better Definition of Omnipotence

  • Either “God lacks nothing by way of power.”

  • So, God not being able to sin, suggests that sinning is not a power but lacking the power to restrain oneself from sinning (hence there is no power to sin).

  • Example: a man shooting another man. Is this a sin? What if the shooter is a police officer and the one shot is a criminal. What if it was the other way around.

  • Or “The ability to bring about any state of affairs which is logically possible for anyone in that situation to bring about.”

For more discussion see: http://www.iep.utm.edu/omnipote/

 

A Definition of Omniscience

  • God lacks nothing by way of knowledge.

  • Isa 46:9-10 (NIV2011) I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.

 

The Coherence of Omniscience?

  • Scope? What does God know?

  • All things. Everything possible to known. All and every true proposition and no false proposition.

  • Source? How does He know it?

  • We know as humans some things by reason, testimony, sense (sight sound touch) experience, memory, trial and error, there is no “How does He know”, there is no mediated knowledge for God. He just knows. God’s knowledge is immediate and innate.

 

Fatalism

  1. Necessarily, if God foreknows x, then x will happen.

  2. God foreknows x.

  3. Therefore, x will necessarily happen.

 

  • (3*) Therefore, x will happen.

  • Not that it will necessarily happen. (3) would only follow from (2*) Necessarily, God foreknows x.

 

Does God change his mind?

  • Does not change his mind: 1 Sam 15:29; Psa 110:4; Num 23:19.

  • Does change his mind: Jer 18:5-10; 26:3; Joel 2:13-14; Exo 32:14; Amos 7:3;6; Jonah 3:9-10;4:2.

 

Dawkins on Aquinas (cont)

  • Aquinas 4, Argument from degrees, there are degrees of say, goodness, we must judge these degrees only by comparison with a maximum = God.

  • Pg 79, Dawkins, “That’s an argument. … Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God.”

 

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg 38.

  • " My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal; a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part or reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning; just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known that it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning."

 

Dawkins on the Ontological Arg

  • 'Bet you I can prove God exists.'

  • 'Bet you can't.'

  • 'Right then, imagine the most perfect perfect perfect thing possible.'

  • 'Okay, now what?'

  • 'Now, is that perfect perfect perfect thing real? Does it exist?'

  • 'No, it's only in my mind.'

  • 'But if it was real it would be even more perfect, because a really really perfect thing would have to be better than a silly old imaginary thing. So I've proved that God exists. Nur Nurny Nur Nur. All atheists are fools.'

 

Consider an Actual Modern Ontological Argument

  1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

  2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

  3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

  4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

  5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

  6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

For more information see: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/ontological/

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Beauty

  • “Maybe it is to be seen as yet another version of the argument from design: Schubert's musical brain is a wonder of improbability, even more so than the vertebrate's eye. Or, more ignobly, perhaps it's a sort of jealousy of genius. How dare another human being make such beautiful music/poetry/art, when I can't? It must be God that did it.” Pg 87

 

The Axiological Argument

  • The issue is, are there objective values? In the case of beauty, we are asking about objective aesthetic value or is everything subjective?

  • i.e. “Medieval theologians liked to talk of the “Beatific Vision” which the blessed in heaven will receive. There the veil will be removed, and we shall see Christ in all of His loveliness and majesty. The vision of Christ, the source of infinite goodness and love, will be so overwhelming” WLC https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/can-people-in-heaven-sin/

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Personal Experience

  • “You say you have experienced God directly? Well, some people have experienced a pink elephant, but that probably doesn't impress you.” Pg 88

 

The Argument from Religious Experience

  1. Generally, when someone has an experience of something, they are within their rational limits to believe the experience is genuine.

  2. Across all socio-historical contexts, people have had experiences they purport to be of a transcendent realm.*

  3. Therefore, it is rational to believe there is a transcendent realm.

See: http://jwwartick.com/category/philosophy/philosophy-of-religion-philosophy/apologetics/arguments-for-god/religious-experience/

 

Properly basic beliefs

  1. Beliefs which are appropriately grounded may be rationally accepted as basic beliefs not grounded on argument.

  2. Belief that the biblical God exists is appropriately grounded.

  3. Therefore, belief that the biblical God exists may be rationally accepted as a basic belief not grounded on argument.

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/does-god-exist/

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Miracles

  • “David Hume's pithy test for a miracle comes irresistibly to mind: 'No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish.’” Pg 91

For a discussion of this see http://www.iep.utm.edu/miracles/

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Scripture

  • “since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he must have been either right or else insane or a liar: 'Mad, Bad or God'. … A fourth possibility, almost too obvious to need mentioning, is that Jesus was honestly mistaken. … In any case, as I said, there is no good historical evidence that he ever thought he was divine.”

 

A H.A.N.D.S on Approach to Showing Jesus is God

  • Jesus shares the Honour due only to God (Matt. 14:33; Heb. 1:6; Rev 1:17)

  • Jesus shares the Attributes of God (John 1:1-3; 8:58; Matt 28:18; John 21:17; Rom 8:35-39)

  • Jesus shares the Names ascribed to God (Phil 2:9-11; John 20:28; Acts 1:24; Rev 1:7-8; 19:16; Luke 2:11)

  • Jesus does the Deeds that only God can do (John 1:3-4; 5:21; Heb. 1:2-3; Matt 8:23-27; 9:1-8)

  • Jesus is Seated on the throne of God (Rev 3:21; 5:13; John 10:27-33)

See: Bowman and Komoszewski. Putting Jesus in His Place. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007.

 

  • Dawkins is right there are other options such as Jesus being mistaken, but If Jesus was raised from the dead the mistaken option is less likely.

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Scripture

  • “All were written long after the death of Jesus, and also after the epistles of Paul, which mention almost none of the alleged facts of Jesus' life. All were then copied and recopied, through many different 'Chinese Whispers generations' (see Chapter 5) by fallible scribes who, in any case, had their own religious agendas.” Pg 93

 

Dates

  • Matthew not long before AD 70, Mark in the late 50’s or early 60’s, Luke in the mid to late 60’s, John AD 80-85, Acts mid 60’s, Romans AD 57, 1 Corinthians AD 55, 2 Corinthians AD 56, Galatians AD 48, Ephesians early 60’s, Philippians mid 50’s to early 60’s, Colossians late 50’s to early 60’s, 1 Thessalonians late AD 50 or early AD 51, 2 Thessalonians early AD 51, Philemon early AD 60’s, 1 Timothy mid AD 60’s, 2 Timothy ca. AD 65, Hebrews AD 60-100 most likely before AD 70, James early or mid AD 40’s or shortly before AD 62, 1 Peter AD 62-63, 2 Peter just before AD 65, 1 2 3 John early AD 90’s, Jude mid to late AD 60’s, Revelation mid AD 90’s

(D. A. Carson, and Douglas Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.)

Manuscript Transmission

  • There are 5809 Greek New Testament manuscripts though some are missing some are parts of others, so there is more like 5603 manuscripts.

  • There are 59 complete NT manuscripts. The oldest being http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/ from the fourth Century.

  • The earliest fragment is P52 containing John 18:31-33, 37-38 dated about AD 125.

 

Textual Variants

  • There are about 138,000 words in the NT, there are about 400,000 textual variants, most being spelling errors that make not translational different. The most common variant is “a” and “an.” There about only a few thousand meaningful variants. i.e. Luke 24:53 “and were continually in the temple courts blessing* God.” * could read, “praising.”

  • Meaningful But Not Viable: Variants that would affect the meaning of the verse, but they are not likely original because they are limited to only one manuscript or family of manuscripts. An example is 1 Thess 2:9, where most manuscripts read “the Gospel of God.” One late medieval manuscript instead has “The gospel of Christ.”

  • Meaningful and viable. Only 1% of all variants in the New Testament (These are basically the 3000 or so variants in NA28). These do not affect any core doctrine. i.e. Rom 5:1 “we have peace with God,” or “let us have peace with God.” The difference in Greek is only a single letter.

  • The two longest are Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11. For commentary on these and other variants see the tc notes in http://net.bible.org

  • No core doctrine is affected by any variant. i.e. Matt 9:29 has a variant concerning whether demons are cast out “by prayer” or “by prayer and fasting.”

See: Komoszewski, J. Ed; M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace. Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2006.

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Scripture

  • “Luke screws up his dating by tactlessly mentioning events that historians are capable of independently checking. There was indeed a census under Governor Quirinius - a local census, not one decreed by Caesar Augustus for the Empire as a whole - but it happened too late: in AD 6, long after Herod's death. Lane Fox concludes that 'Luke's story is historically impossible and internally incoherent', but he sympathizes with Luke's plight and his desire to fulfil the prophecy of Micah.” Pg 94

 

Apparent Conflicts?

  •  Luke 2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register all the empire for taxes. 2 This was the first registration, taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

  • NET Bible Note: “This census (a decree…to register all the empire) is one of the more disputed historical remarks in Luke. Josephus (Ant. 18.1.1 [18.1–2]) only mentions a census in a.d. 6, too late for this setting. Such a census would have been a massive undertaking; it could have started under one ruler and emerged under another, to whose name it became attached. This is one possibility to explain the data. Another is that Quirinius, who became governor in Syria for the later census, may have been merely an administrator for this census.” https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Luke+2

  • See: Bock, BECNT Luke, Excursus 2, or a summary video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWm0O93unDY
     

Dawkins on the Arg from Scripture

  • “Robert Gillooly shows how all the essential features of the Jesus legend, including the star in the east, the virgin birth, the veneration of the baby by kings, the miracles, the execution, the resurrection and the ascension are borrowed – every last one of them - from other religions already in existence in the Mediterranean and Near East region.” Pg 94

 

Borrowed from Pagan Myths?

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Scripture

  • “Shouldn't a literalist worry about the fact that Matthew traces Joseph's descent from King David via twenty-eight intermediate generations, while Luke has forty-one generations? Worse, there is almost no overlap in the names on the two lists! In any case, if Jesus really was born of a virgin, Joseph's ancestry is irrelevant and cannot be used to fulfil, on Jesus' behalf, the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah should be descended from David.” Pg 95

See: Archer, Gleason L. Jr. New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Scripture

  • “The four gospels that made it into the official canon were chosen, more or less arbitrarily, out of a larger sample of at least a dozen including the Gospels of Thomas, Peter, Nicodemus, Philip, Bartholomew and Mary Magdalen.51” Pg 95

See: Bart D. Ehrman, Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. New York: NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. 240 pages.

Or my response would, “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” (Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve, 2007), 150.)

 

Dawkins on the Arg from Admired Religious Scientists

  • Dawkins basically says that was the main option in the past, many probably did it for financial or social reasons and besides there are virtually none today and studies demonstrate.

 

On studies

  • “This is committing an elementary fallacy that social scientists know about, namely, it’s, it’s a post hoc, propter hoc fallacy: thinking that because it is after this, it is because of this. And I have here the study by Elaine Ecklund of Rice University, conducted between 2005-2008 on scientists at major first-rate research universities. And what she found was that scientists do not become irreligious as a result of their becoming scientists. Rather, and this is a quotation, “their reasons for unbelief mirror the circumstances in which other Americans find themselves: they were not raised in a religious home; they have had bad experiences with religion; they disapprove of God or see God as too changeable.”[15] The fact is these folks became unbelievers before they went into science. Their unbelief is not a result of their science. So these polls just are committing elementary fallacies.” https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/debates/life-the-universe-and-nothing-i-has-science-buried-god/ 15 Elaine Howard Ecklund, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 17.
     

  • "As I try to discern the origin of that conviction, I seem to find it in a basic notion discovered 2000 or 3000 years ago, and enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient Hebrews: namely that the universe is governed by a single God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each governing his own province according to his own laws. This monotheistic view seems to be the historical foundation for modern science. " Melvin Calvin, Chemical Evolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 258.

 

Dawkins on Pascal’s Wager (pg 103-105)

  • Why would God care about belief.

  • What if you got the wrong god.

  • Non-belief generally makes you a better person anyway.

 

Dawkins on the Anthropic Principle

  • Pg 135, “We exist here on Earth. Therefore Earth must be the kind of planet that is capable of generating and supporting us, however unusual, even unique, that kind of planet might be.”

  • “Goldilocks zone – not too hot and not too cold, but just right”

 

Anthropic Principle: A Response

  • If God didn’t create us we wouldn’t be here [This is equally unhelpful reasoning]

  • Why not Boltzmann Brains?

 

 

Bibliography

© 2015-2019 by Reasonable Faith Perth.

  • mail
  • facebook-square
  • Meetup