Saturday, November 25, 2006

Homer for Children

Elsewhere on this blog I mentioned reading Padraic's The Children of Oden to Matthew. Now I've just finished Padraic's The Children's Homer to him. I supplemented it with Rosemary Sutcliff's's The Wanderings of Odysseus, filling in the bits that Padraic's version left out and always following along with the supurb illustrations that Alan Lee did for Sutcliff's book. Alan Lee was one of the two illustrators that worked on the Lord of the Rings films, and his interpretation of Homer is absolutely amazing. He gives you the feel of really being there while still preserving the sense of the fantastic. To view some of his illustrations in the book, click HERE.

Now that we've finished Homer, I'm reading Sutcliff's retelling of Beowulf to Matthew. It isn't illustrated by Alan Lee, but it still promises to be good.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why Europe is Morally Unserious

A very interesting article recently appeared in The American Thinker, titled Sparing Saddam: Why Europe is Morally Unserious. Here are some snippets:

Hitler was never caught. Stalin and Mao died in their beds, and Jean-Paul Sartre, Europe’s most famous philosopher of the 20th century, passionately supported them at the height of their reigns of terror. The entire French intellectual elite worships Sartre as well as Nazis like Paul de Man and Martin Heidegger. The whole gang of bloody-minded European professors either sided with the Nazis or the worst Leftist tyrants, just as today they are passionately attracted to Hamas and Hezbollah....

The dirty little secret is that every mass-murdering ideology in the last two centuries had its origins and supporters in Europe. Pol Pot was Cambodian by birth but learned his revolutionary ideology in Paris. He was trained by the French Communist Party and the Russian KGB, went home, and massacred two or three million of his countrymen. Even Saddam’s Baathist Party was modeled on the European fascist parties of the 1930s.

Yet Europe wants to spare Saddam’s life.

The most infamous massacres of the 20th century, the Nazi genocide of some six million Jews, was inspired by a European nativist ideology.'

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Reply to counter argument

My review of review of The God Delusion has been under attack HERE. This is my response, which is also posted on Dawkins' discussion forum.

Thanks for all the comments. I’ll reply to the points I think are relevant.

You ask what my point was in citing Dawkins’ long list of accusations against the Christian God. But then you answer the question for me, announcing that I didn’t have a point. Well, actually I did. I quoted that list of unpleasantries to give a flavour of Dawkins’ venomous antagonism towards God (I mean, the God of the Bible – thanks for catching that). This, I thought, might help to suggest why the professor feels so emotionally compelled to produce half-weight pseudo-philosophical arguments against Christianity.

“But”, you say, “it’s all right there in the Old Testament. 100% everything in that sick list and Dawkins was far from the first person to point this out.”

Well, Dawkins can hardly be considered a very reliable source for understanding the content of the Old Testament since he believes that Christian theology (and therefore, we may presume, the Bible) is “Devoid of…content.” As various scholars have pointed out, Dawkins presents a caraciture of the Bible because he is unwilling to face the long hard slog of serious theological scholarship.


Thanks for answering my question “How…could Dawkins possibly defend atheism using the scientific method?” I’m not sure about your answer, though. You say, “It’s how science works. You don’t start by believing in something. You start without belief. You start atheist to the concept of every God ever invented by man and if proof of any of them existed for their wild claims Dawkins and all atheists would become theists.”

You seem to have committed the logical fallacy known as ‘equivocation.’ You are using the term ‘atheist’ in a difference sense to Dawkins to defend something he says about the term. You are using the ‘atheist’ to refer to No God Concept. In that sense, infants and plants are ‘atheist’ since they don’t have a conscious (cognitive) belief in God, as far as we know. But they also don’t have a concept of God’s non-existence. Dawkins, on the other hand, defines atheism quite clearly in The God Delusion as being belief in God’s non-existence. And he also maintains that THIS kind of atheism can be defended with science. So I think my original question still stands.

A bit of a side-road, but I’m not convinced that science does ‘start without belief.’ Surely, a mind that was a blank slate would not be equipped with the conceptual apparatus necessary to make scientific inferences. Even the most simplistic scientific inductions presuppose belief in such things as continuity, order, logic. There are many beliefs that we just take for granted but which are the preconditions to intelligibility and therefore prior to all scientific endeavour.

While we’re on the subject of science, I noticed no one replied to my rebuttal of Dawkins’ scientific disproof of God. I’d value any feedback you might have to offer.

Referring to my comments about Dawkins ethical theory, you write, ‘You just don’t like his scientific explanation.’ Whether I like it or not is really beside the point. The real question is whether the theory can hold up under rational investigation. Ad hominem fallacies won’t get us anywhere.

Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood you, but all your comments about ethics seem to be addressing arguments you’ve heard other Christian use but which I didn’t actually employ in my book review. My point was simply that Dawkins’ explanations for ethics only show WHY we are moral but not why we OUGHT to be moral. Hume pointed out that moving from an IS statement to an OUGHT statement is a non sequitur yet Dawkins, who admires Hume, does it all the time. Dawkins then lets the cat out of the bag by conceding that ‘it is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones’ and lapsing, by implication, into consequentialistialism and all the logical fallacies of utilitarian theory. His only trump card is an ad hominem attack on Christians which runs a bit thin when it begins to look suspiciously like a cover.

You’re right, my explanation for morality is the Biblical one, though from what you say I’m not convinced you’ve properly understood the Biblical system of ethics. I’d be happy to explain about that after we’ve got these other issues cleared out of the way.

I admit the ‘meme’ always did seem like a bit of a joke to me. I’ll be sure and make clear, however, that the meme is merely ‘like’ a virus which is ‘analogous’ to something jumping around from brain to brain. Thanks.

You make the point between good memes and bad memes. It looks fine in theory to put scientific and ethical ideas into the category of ‘good memes’ and religion into the category of ‘bad memes.’ However, this very distinction has no ontological basis within the context of memetic theory. This is because if ideas are naturally selected according to how they help or inhibit human survival, and if they compete, cooperate and mutate similar to the way genes do, then the very idea of ‘truth’ or ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is a category mistake. The reason it is a category mistake is because it assumes a neutral, objective, outside vantage point where we can stand and assess the value of ideas. Yet ironically, if all ideas are characterised by these memetic processes, then the person making these distinctions is only doing so because HE has been programmed to do so by his memes. In the end the whole theory becomes epistemologically self-defeating.

You acknowledge that all evidence points to us actually living in ‘objective reality.’ Okay, but that statement comes with a price. You can’t just say things like that without holding a worldview that cannot sustain objective truth claims. Dawkins worldview does not sustain anything of the sort (see above paragraph).

All that stuff about Hitler being a catholic is beside the point. I just used Hitler as an example because everyone agrees he was evil. But I might equally have said Cardinal Wolsey. All evil becomes trivialised under Dawkins’ radical Darwinism.

Yes, I didn’t define God and that was because I wasn’t trying to prove His existence or anything about Him in my book review. Rather, I was trying to refute Dawkins’ arguments. So I don’t think you can dismiss it as an ‘easy out’ of the debate.

Finally, I’d like to reply to the point that the problem with negative reviews is that they are written by theists. How is that a problem but its not a problem the other way round? Might I equally dismiss Dawkins for writing negative reviews of the Bible on the grounds that ‘after all, he’s an atheist’? Surely the real question is the content of what the reviews are saying. It seems a bit of a fudge to dismiss everything on the grounds that someone is a theist.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Book Review under Attack

Some atheists at Richard Dawkins’ site are having a real go at me because of my book review of The God Delusion. In particular, see the rebuttal to my review that someone called azryan has written on the discussion forum. If anyone thinks my ideas are worth defending, why not write a response to azryan on the discussion forum. I shall be doing so myself in a few days.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dawkins: Justifying Ignorance

Timothy van den Broek has shared a quote from Dawkins on his blog, in which the professor tries to justify his ignorance of Christian theology. This would not be so lamentable if it were not for the fact that Mr. Dawkins has set himself up as an expert on the Christian faith in his book The God Delusion.

Mr. Dawkins' comments occured after McGrath challenged his knowledge of Christian theology. Dawkins replied: “Yes, I have, of course, met this point before. It sounds superficially fair. But it presupposes that there is something in Christina theology to be ignorant about. The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject. It is empty. Vacuous. Devoid of coherence or content.

I was glad to see Mr. Dawkins put in his place by Terry Eagleton, who wrote,

'Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday.'

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dawkins and the Myth of Secular Tolerance

In 2003 John Coffey wrote an excellent article titled 'The Myth of Secular Tolerance' in which he levelled a pretty devastating critique against Richard Dawkins' view that religion tends to produce intolerance. Coffey quotes Dawkins' statements about religion and shows, in a persuasive appeal to history, that the shoe is actually on the other foot: 'the horrible history of atheism shows that whenever secularism grabs temporal power it turns lethal.'

In light of Dawkins' recent militant atheism and War on Christmas, Coffey's words are more than a little ironic, not least because the professor has accused Christians of intolerance in his best-selling diatribe known as The God Delusion.

You can download Coffeys article HERE.

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Dawkins and the War on Christmas

Richard Dawkins will not be content simply to tax churches and shut down Christian schools. The atheist professor is now wanting to abolish Christmas.

What I want people to do with Christmas,’ Dr. Dawkins said in a discussion posted on YouTube, ‘is give all their Christians friends a copy of The God Delusion.’ The professor also advocated ‘something like an advertising campaign: “fed up with Christmas, right, give an anti-Christmas present.”

Dawkins is not alone. The ‘Rational Responders’ are currently involved in a ‘War on Christmas’ campaign along with three other groups belonging to the ‘No God Network.’ According to the End Christmas website, the anti-Christmas campaign is based on the view that ‘Christianity holds us back in an archaic world unable to advance society to the fullest of human potential.

Although it began as a left-wing joke, the ‘War on Christmas’ has been gathering global momentum. Last December, UK campaigners distributed 500 free copies of ‘The God Who Wasn’t There,’ many of which were given to Christians going to church. The film, which includes a presentation by Richard Dawkins, ‘lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed’ according to Newsweek.

This Christmas season, the Rational Response Squad are aiming to distribute 1,000 copies of the DVD, published by the atheistic organisation Beyond Belief Media.

The anti-Christmas campaign is part of a global movement to take Christ out of Christmas. In USA last year, Beyond Belief Media organised a 300-strong ‘street team’ to descend on Christmas-themed public events with ‘guerrilla giveaways’ of the ‘The God Who Wasn’t There.’

‘No Christmas pageant or Nativity display is safe from our troops,’ said Brian Flemming, president of the organisation.

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Dawkins and the Rise of Militant Atheism

Atheist Richard Dawkins is campaigning to criminalize Christian education and eliminate Christmas.

In a recent discussion with the ‘Rationalist Response Squad’, the bestselling author stated that Christianity is ‘a viral disease analogous to a computer virus.’ (For a fuller explanation of this, and a discussion of the ethical implications, see My Review of The God Delusion) During the conversation, which was recorded and later posted on YouTube, Dr. Dawkins outlined specific objectives for eliminating the Christian virus from society, making The Myth of Secular Tolerance more than a little ironic.

This included Dawkins' War on Christmas and his campaign to persuade Government to tax religious organisations by removing the charity status they currently enjoy. He also proposed that Christian education should be made illegal.

The science professor referred to an earlier conversation with lawyers from the Dover School Board Intelligent Design case, in which he asked what could be done to stop Christian education. The professor, who is particularly concerned about homeschooling, criticised the American legal system for ‘[taking] it absolutely for granted that parents own their children.’

Dr. Dawkins, who believes the entire human race descended from a self-replicating molecule, said ‘Young children should be taught the truth of where we came from.’ To achieve that, he favours state intervention, on the grounds that children have ‘the right…to be protected from their parents.’

‘The idea of even calling a child a Christian child seems to me to be immoral and child abuse’ said Mr. Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins and the ‘Rationalist Response Squad’ represent a growing movement in militant atheism. With slogans such as, ‘Believe in God? We can fix that’, the RRS’s mission (as stated on their website) is ‘to free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism.’

Given that Dawkins supports Eugenic, we can wonder whether he would favour using more direct means to eliminate this 'viral disease.'


‘Many secularist commentators argue that the growing role of faith in society represents a dangerous development,’ said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. ‘However, they fail to recognise that public atheism is itself an intolerant faith position.’

On 7 November, the Times collected together just some of the examples of ‘secularism on the march.’ They pointed out that

Last year Lambeth council renamed its Christmas lights “winter lights”, although it claimed subsequently that the decision was made by a junior and was not binding

Torbay Council removed a cross from the wall of a crematorium for fear of upsetting other faiths

The Welsh Assembly stopped public funding of Teen Challenge, one of the world’s largest Christian drug and alcohol ministries, because it was felt that the drug rehabilitation programme included spiritual elements that counted as proselytism

A church-run shelter for the homeless in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, was warned that its funding would be cut off if it continued to say grace before meals, make Bibles available and refuse to remove Christianity from its legal objectives

Several Christian unions have come under pressure to admit non-Christians on to their boards

The University of Edinburgh considered banning Bibles from student halls of residence on the basis that they were “discriminatory” and made students of other religions feel unwelcome.

For more examples of secular intolerance, see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE .

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Review of The God Delusion

Mr. Dawkins has certainly produced a book worthy of his reputation as Britain’s leading atheist. In The God Delusion, the internationally best-selling author has taken 406 pages to tell us that God does not exist, that the Bible is total fiction, that religion is a virus of the mind and that Christianity is dangerous to society.

Professor Dawkins’ self-appointed task has been to discredit the religious ‘infection’ in all its forms. While this has also been the goal behind many of his other books, The God Delusion takes things to a new height. Being an all-out tirade against theists in general and Christians in particular, the professor has now abandoned any pretence of civility.

Believers are ridiculed, mocked, slandered and bullied throughout the entire volume. Apparently Christians are a bunch of self-deceived idiots who ‘dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight.’

The only consolation for Christians is that they remain in good company since Mr. Dawkins has reserved his most stinging abuse for the God of Abraham (‘the most unpleasant character in all fiction’ he says). Among the charges he lays at God’s door are that He is ‘jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.’

Wow, that’s quite a list. Jesus fares slightly better. While being ‘a huge improvement over the cruel ogre of the Old Testament…Jesus’ family values, it has to be admitted, were not such as one might wish to focus on.’

The Trinity also takes a few good knocks.


Dawkins’ hostility towards Christianity frequently leads to scattershot reasoning. No where is this more apparent than his argument for the non-existence of God.

According to Dawkins, belief in God is as infantile as believing that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden or that there is such a thing as a Flying Spaghetti Monster lurking invisibly in the sky. As thinking people, he says, we can be sure God does not exist. Well…almost sure. As a scientist, Dawkins will not completely close the door to God’s existence (‘we can never absolutely prove the non-existence of anything’). Nevertheless, he maintains it is highly probable that God does not exist.

To prove that ‘there almost certainly is no God’, Dawkins appeals to the scientific method: ‘the presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question.’

A scientific question? That’s right. Whether or not a Being exists beyond time and space is just as much a question for empirical observation as the nature of our DNA.

That certainly pricked my curiosity. How, I wondered, could Dawkins possibly defend atheism using the scientific method? When he does finally get round to trying to disprove God, it is a bit of a let down. His arguments for the probable non-existence of God, it turns out, have nothing to do with science at all. Instead, his defence of atheism rests on some speculative metaphysical assumptions about the God he doesn’t believe in. In short, he presupposes that if God exists, then He must: (A) have ‘come about’ once upon a time or have always existed within time; (B) be limited by the laws of science, time and contingency.

Although these assumptions are never made explicit, they underpin his entire project and allow Dawkins to argue that God is at the wrong end of the evolutionary time scale. As he puts it: ‘any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.’ Because ‘any God capable of designing a universe, carefully and foresightfully tuned to lead to our evolution, must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs an even bigger explanation than the one he is supposed to provide’ it follows that ‘a God capable of designing a universe, or anything else, would have to be complex and statistically improbable.’

The idea that the Creator of time and the laws of the universe might, in fact, not be subject to time and cause-and-effect contingency, is an idea Dawkins dismisses with scathing polemic rather than reasoned argument. Yet this should not be such a hard idea for Dawkins to grasp, seeing that on page 145 of his book he allows that the laws of our universe might be merely one among a number of ‘by-laws’ in a ‘multiverse’ containing ‘many universes, co-existing like bubbles of foam.’ He can conceive that possibility, yet he will not allow, even hypothetically, a reality that is not time-bound. At least, not when the subject in question is God. However, if we are talking about the universe itself, Dawkins is more generous. In an earlier book, Unweaving the Rainbow, Dawkins remarks that

'further developments of the [big bang] theory, supported by all available evidence, suggest that time itself began in this mother of all cataclysms. You probably don’t understand, and I certainly don’t, what it can possibly mean to say that time itself began at a particular moment. But once again that is a limitation of our minds….'

Chapter 4 of the book is a classic example of trying to blind people with science. It would be very easy for unphilosophical readers to think Dawkins has proved his point when he appeals to seemingly irrefutable scientific data. In reality, even if all his science is correct (and specialists will know it is not) his conclusions simply do not follow. He commits what is called a non sequitur – when the conclusion is out of sequence with the preceding premises.

Just as Dawkin’s notion of God hinges on certain unverifiable assumptions, so most of his objections to Christianity rest on misunderstanding and ignorance. Because he has failed to do his research properly, many of his assertions are embarrassingly ill-informed.


One of the useful things about The God Delusion is that it shows the consequences of atheism. If there is no God, then right and wrong have no ultimate meaning and we are left with an ‘each man for himself’ approach to ethics.

Dawkins denies this. In fact, the purpose of chapter 6 is to show that you can have morality without God. Yet the best he can do is subject all ethics to a vigorous reductionism, arguing ‘that our sense of right and wrong can be derived from our Darwinian past.’ In short there are

'four good Darwinian reasons for individuals to be altruistic, generous or ‘moral’ towards each other. First, there is the special case of genetic kinship. Second, there is reciprocation: the repayment of favours given, and the giving of favours in ‘anticipation’ of payback. Following on from this there is, third, the Darwinian benefit of acquiring a reputation for generosity and kindness. And fourth, if Zahavi is right, there is the particular additional benefit of conspicuous generosity as a way of buying unfakeably authentic advertising.'

Okay, thanks Dawkins. I always knew there was something wrong with the way Hitler treated the Jews and now I know why.

But wait a minute? What about situations where we do something right that does not directly benefit ourselves our advance our own evolutionary progress? Dawkins has an answer for that one as well. Our ‘Good Samaritan urges’, as he puts it, are ‘misfirings’ or ‘by-products’ of one of the above reasons. These ‘misfirings’ are a kind of ‘Darwinian mistakes.’ Lest anyone worry that this invalidates all ethics, Dawkins hastens to add that they are ‘blessed, precious mistakes.’

Blessed mistakes? For Dawkins to even use the word ‘blessed’ in this context involves smuggling in an outside ethical standard not established by his theory. It also raises more problems then it solves: was Hitler wrong because he didn't make the right Darwinian mistakes?

Being content with explaining (some would say ‘explaining away’) our ethical standards, Dawkins does not attempt to establish that we are under any obligation to follow such standards. And how could he? After all, if ideas of right and wrong are simply the by-product of a long stage in evolutionary history, what do you say to the person who decides to leave right and wrong behind and move on to the next stage? Proving that certain impulses we normally consider ‘ethical’ are useful to our evolutionary growth is as much an argument for no ethics as it is for ethics. This follows from the fact that at one time it may be useful for my evolutionary growth to be kind to my wife, at another time it may be useful to murder my neighbour and steal his car. The question of whether such actions are right or wrong belong to a different category to the question of whether they are useful. Yet Dawkins moves rather sloppily from the first category to the second.

Dawkins is aware of the problem. Summarising his dilemma through the mouth of an imaginary apologist, he writes,

‘If you don’t believe in God, you don’t believe there are any absolute standards of morality. With the best will in the world you may intend to be a good person, but how do you decide what is good and what is bad?… The Christian, the Jew or the Muslim, by contrast, can claim that evil has an absolute meaning, true for all time and in all places, according to which Hitler was absolutely evil.’

For all Dawkins’ skill, he cannot answer this objection. In fact, he does not seem particularly concerned even to try. He spends two paragraphs over Kant’s view that moral absolutes can exist without religion, yet he finds this inadequate. With the exception of patriotism, he confesses that ‘it is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.’ This only leaves him one option left: the consequentialist school of moral philosophy, which includes theories such as utilitarianism. Although the book is full of utilitarian reasoning, Dawkins acknowledges that it forms an insufficient base for deriving moral absolutes. As he says elsewhere, "Wrong and right are not things that you can prove scientifically.” (From
an interview available on Youtube) He concludes chapter 6 by apparently conceding the point. His only trump card is an ad hominem attack on Christians: ‘in any case, people who claim to derive their morals from scripture do not really do so in practice.’


One of the most chilling aspects of The God Delusion is the ‘Meme’. The word first appeared in Dawkins book The Selfish Gene to explain what he believes is the social equivalent of the gene. According to memetic theory, ideas such as belief in Jesus, prayer, miracles, (all religious ideas, in fact) spread from one mind to another mind like a kind of genetic infection. These mind viruses then replicate by infecting the minds of gullible children and then jumping around from brain to brain after that.

Religious memes, like ethics, are misfirings of impulses that were originally useful in our evolution. This applies to all religion. Islam, he suggests, may be ‘analogous to a carnivorous gene complex, Buddhism to a herbivorous one.’ Our minds are vulnerable to ‘catching’ various religious memes rather like our bodies are prone to catch the common cold. But whereas the common cold is relatively harmless, the religious meme is a complete enemy to the health and even survival of the human race.

The irony is that the theory of the meme, combined with Dawkins ruthless utilitarianism, is actually what is dangerous. Dawkins does not advocate the forced extermination of religion from society, but I kept expecting that as the corollary of memetic theory. After all, if we are all the products of natural selection, then what would be wrong with using self-guided evolution to eliminate certain corporate brain infections (i.e. Christianity)?

One of the paradoxes of the meme is that if the theory is correct, then Dawkins’ own ideas could be brushed aside as memetic. As Jim Holt pointed out in The New York Times, ‘The story Dawkins tells about religion might also be told about science or ethics. All ideas can be viewed as memes that replicate by jumping from brain to brain.’


In many ways The God Delusion is a throwback to the 18th and 19th centuries, when people still believed science could give us absolute truth. For all its problems, this viewpoint is a refreshing contrast to the postmodern relativism that says ‘You have your truth, I have mine.’

The book is also an antidote to the widespread assumption that religion is a private matter, outside the realm of objective analysis. Dawkins and Christians agree about one thing: Christianity is just as much about objective truth-claims as science (1 Cor. 15:13-15).

Although Christians can admire Dawkins’ commitment to truth, such admiration must be short-lived. He works on the premise that there is objective truth, yet if his worldview is correct, he has no right to that assumption. After all, if ideas are naturally selected according to how they help or inhibit human survival, and if they compete, cooperate and mutate just as genes do, then the very idea of ‘truth’ is a category mistake. In the end, ideas cannot be true or false, only useful or harmful.

And that includes all the ideas in his book.

Thus, Dawkins has shot himself in the foot. He leaves himself no basis for really knowing anything, let alone his premise that Christianity is false and dangerous. The book only works on an emotional level for those willing to be carried along in the flood of his scorn and derision. Looking beyond the emotional polemic, however, we find no evidence to support his claims, only slipshod reasoning and emotional propaganda. If he has proved anything, it is the truth of the Bible's statement that it takes a fool to say in his heart 'there is no God.'

Further web resources:

List of Anti-Dawkins Resources

The Odd Delusion

Dawkins and Eugenics

Dawkins: Justifying Ignorance

Dawkins & The Rise of Militant Atheism

Dawkins & The War on Christmas

Richard Dawkins on Gorillas' Rights

Reply to Counter Argument

Beyond Belief

If You Can’t Beat Them, Embarrass Them

Marilynne Robinson on Dawkins

Christopher Booker’s Notebook

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching

Tilic Thoughts

Dawkins the Dogmatist

Brown on Dawkins

The Dawkins Delusion

The Myth of Secular Tolerance

Platinga’s Review

[i] Alister McGrath challenged Dawkins’ knowledge of Christian theology. Dawkins responded by saying, “Yes, I have, of course, met this point before. It sounds superficially fair. But it presupposes that there is something in Christina theology to be ignorant about. The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject. It is empty. Vacuous. Devoid of coherence or content.” Yet Dawkins also advocates teaching the Bible as literature (pp. 340-343). But if the Bible (from which Christian theology is derived) is meaningless, then how can it be studies as a literary source? Further, if there is no content to Christian theology then why does Dawkins spend so much energy criticising various aspects of its content? To justify such ignorance on the grounds that is nothing there to misunderstand seems like the ultimate ad hoc, and I am sure Dawkins would not have very nice words if a Christian took that approach to his ideas. It is simply a convenient way for Dawkins to let himself off the hook of doing the real work of understanding his opponents’ positions.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Consistent Abortionists

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has come under a lot of fire recently for burning the bodies of aborted babies in the furnace used for incinerating trash.
What I found interesting was that The Cambridge Evening News reported outrage among women who had recently had abortions at the hospital. ‘I am furious and very hurt,’ one woman was reported as saying. ‘Imagine my horror when I discovered that my baby was incinerated in the same furnace as the hospital rubbish.’

Think about those words for a minute...

If a foetuses’ value is determined solely by the mother’s ‘choice’, then what right does the mother have to complain if her baby is treated as rubbish after it has been killed? After all, once the baby is dead, the linkage to the value-determining fiat of the mother has surely been severed.

The public outcry against Addenbrooke’s Hospital’s policy suggests that our society still does consider a foetus to be a human being, deserving the same dignity after death that we would afford any person. It suggests that implicitly we think that there is a value that persons have independent of the mother's choice and it is this value which causes us to instinctively want human persons to be treated with dignity even after they are dead. 
Those who are shocked at what is going on at Cambridge there should reflect that the hospital’s appalling policy is simply the consistent outworking of the pro-abortion viewpoint.

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