Richard Dawkins is a former professor at the University of California at Berkeley; more recently he was a lecturer in “animal behavior” at Oxford University in England. Currently Dawkins is a “Professor of the Public Understanding of Science” at the same institution.
His main passion is spitting venom towards the God he believes does not exist. This is much like a man composing a vitriolic diatribe against “fairies.” Who expends time in such an endeavor? Clearly, the professor is bothered seriously by the “God” issue.
Dawkins’s newest literary fiasco is called The God Delusion. A laudatory review by an unnamed author in a recent issue of The Economist (2006, 93-94), celebrates Dawkins as “an atheist, an evolutionary biologist, and an eloquent communicator about science.” He is represented as one who has “finally marshaled a lifetime’s arguments against believing in God.”
To get a feeling for the temperament of the celebrated professor, Dawkins depicts the non-existent God as “a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Anyone who analyzes this linguistic tantrum certainly cannot anticipate a calmly considered, logical series of arguments against the existence of God. A reflection upon The Economist review certainly confirms this assessment.
Dawkins on the 9/11 Tragedy
The reviewer begins by suggesting that several of Dawkins’s recent books (including the current one) are reactions to the 9/11 attacks by Muslim terrorists. Generalizing from the particular to the general, the professor draws the conclusion that since the terrorists “believed they were doing God’s [Allah’s] work and would be justly rewarded in the afterlife,” this must imply that belief in God per se is evil and is responsible for such atrocities.
This is nonsense. Abuse by some religionists does not indict all religious people, or religion generally. This is too elementary to need response.
It is truly a thing of wonder that most atheists appear to be unable to foresee the consequences of their arguments. Has it never occurred to our skeptical friends that the administrations of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin—atheists all—were responsible for the slaughter of more than one hundred million souls who would not yield to godless communism?
Does that suggest that all atheists are murderers? Of course not. But such exterminations cannot be condemned upon the basis of the philosophy of atheism. Atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre expressed it like this:
Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself. . . Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimize our behavior (1961, 485).
Another atheist, Bertrand Russell wrote, “Outside human desires there is no moral standard” (1957, 62).
Again, there is this foolish statement from Russell:
When a man acts in ways that annoy us [like the extermination of Jews in World War II, or 9/11?] we wish to think him wicked, and we refuse to face the fact that his annoying behavior is a result of antecedent causes which, if you follow them long enough, will take you beyond the moment of his birth and therefore to events for which he cannot be held responsible by any stretch of imagination (1957, 40; emphasis added).
The 9/11 attack was antagonistic neither to the ideology of atheism nor fundamentalist Islam; but it was wholly adverse to Christianity’s imperative to love one’s enemies (Matthew 5:43ff; Romans 12:17ff).
According to his reviewer, Dawkins thinks that if all religion could be obliterated (his ideal), “any positive aspects of religion [could] be replaced by equally beneficial non-religious substitutes.” Like those glorious “benefits” that reigned supreme, one supposes, during the Communistic regime of the former Soviet Union!
Universality of Religion
Dawkins is puzzled that interest in religion is so widespread. “Worshipping deities would seem to be an irrational and wasteful habit, yet it has been found in all cultures” (The Economist). Is religion any more “irrational” than spending a vast amount of time in writing books against a God one believes does not exist?
The author even toys with a potential problem in his reasoning. From his storehouse of “logical firepower” he raises the possible objection that if the theory of evolution were true, and natural selection eliminates that which is harmful in the development of the species, why hasn’t the religious impulse become obsolete, since, according to Dawkins, it is an unnecessary, even harmful, impediment to human development?
The popular British “animal inspector” suggests that evolution “programmed” offspring to believe what they learn from parents, and one unprofitable by-product of this process is the belief in religion.
But how could the non-intelligent, materialistic forces of nature “program” anything? Can there be a program without a programmer?
And what about the opposite side of that coin? Could it not be argued with equal force that atheism has been passed from parents to children, and is an “irrational” and “wasteful” form of mental aberration? The famous theorist once again has met himself limping down the road of logical inconsistency.
For further discussion of the “religious faculty” that appears to be unique and intrinsic to the normal person, see the author’s book, Fortify Your Faith (1974, 14-16).
The English author takes aim at four needs that religion is believed to satisfy: explanation, exhortation, inspiration, and consolation. These items are worthy of analysis.
Dawkins alleges that religion does not provide an explanation as to the origin of the universe and man, any more than it explains: “who created God?” The biblical answer is: no one created God. God is an eternal being (Psalm 90:2). No atheist, of course, would grant credence to the Bible testimony. The fact is, however, plain logic reinforces the scriptural affirmation.
- If something exists now, something must always have existed, for something cannot come from nothing. Something does now exist; thus, something has existed always.
- The “something” that has existed always must either be matter or mind. But the eternally existing “something” is not matter, for matter is conceded to be temporal, not eternal (as evidenced by the Second Law of Thermodynamics). Thus, the eternal “something,” by default, must be “mind.”
- If the universe is characterized by order (kosmos) or “design,” then the cause that produced it must be intelligent. Intelligence implies personality. Hence there must be a personal cause responsible for the universe.
While this argument is abbreviated, and limited, it is sufficient for the moment to reveal the folly of the “explanation” quibble.
In one of his books Dawkins concedes that the complexity of living organisms manifests “apparent design”; and then exclaims, “If anyone doesn’t agree that this amount of complex design cries out for an explanation, I give up” (1986, ix). He might as well raise the white flag, for materialism has no solution to the problem.
Later the professor wrote that “design” is “probably the most powerful reason for the belief, held by the vast majority of people that have ever lived, in some kind of supernatural deity” (1986, xii).
So the “vast majority of people that have ever lived” have been wholly irrational, while the miniscule cult of atheists are the only ones capable of reasoning. Incredible!
Dawkins contends that religion cannot be exhortative since it is not a legitimate source for re-enforcing morality. Get this stunning statement: “If it were, Jews would still be executing those who work on the Sabbath” (The Economist).
The author reveals that he knows virtually nothing of the Book of which he is so critical. The Jewish economy was a temporary system designed by God to prepare the Hebrews (and others through their influence) for the coming of Christ, the Savior. There were strict measures enforcing the concept that God is the sovereign ruler of mankind, and that his revealed will must be obeyed. That law system, however, was abrogated with the implementation of the Christian economy. The Sabbath is not even a requirement for today, much less is the penalty for violating it still operative.
Dawkins thinks that contemplation of the natural world is sufficient for any “inspiration” needs man might have. But reflection upon the natural world, lovely as that is—though marred by human abuse—raises a myriad of complex questions.
How did the ingenious “uni-verse” (not multi-verse) come to be? If the theory of evolution were true, how did living creatures derive from the non-living? How did dead matter create “awareness” and moral sensitivity? From the atheistic vantage point, these questions are more frustrating than inspiring.
Where is the consolation in atheism? Totally absent! Skepticism is a black hole of despair. Here is what Dawkins said in an interview some years back regarding human beings.
You are for nothing. You are here to propagate your selfish genes. There is no higher purpose in life (Bass 1990, 60).
Coming perilously close to being critical, Dawkins’s admiring reviewer in The Economist was forced to concede (after referring to the professor’s discussion of the amazing discoveries of modern physics) that “only a minority will find as much consolation in quantum physics as in the prospect of reuniting with their dearly departed in heaven.”
Can you picture the sad scene of a father and mother who have just lost a precious child to death? As they sit by the body of that lifeless babe, sobbing with broken hearts, Richard Dawkins consoles them with these sentiments. “Just remember that little Mary was nothing, and she had no purpose in life other than to propagate her selfish genes.”
The confusion of atheism would be humorous if not so tragic. Dawkins says we are here “to propagate” (an infinitive of purpose) in order to prove there really is “no purpose” in life. A purposeful, non-purposeful existence; how incoherent! And how can there be a “purpose” unless there is someone who purposed?
The only “consolation” that Dawkins and his ideological kin can offer is a “cold hole in the ground.”
The words of the pathetic Bertrand Russell form a fitting conclusion:
I do know the despair in my soul. I know the great loneliness, as I wander through the world like a ghost, speaking in tones that are not heard, lost as if I had fallen from some other planet (1968, 145).
More pitiable even:
[T]he loneliness of the human soul is unendurable, nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of the sort of love that religious teachers have preached; whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at best useless (quoted in Monk 1996, 135).
Again from the tormented pen of Russell (Monk 1996, xix):
Through the long years
I sought peace,
I found ecstasy, I found anguish,
I found madness,
I found loneliness.
I found solitary pain
that gnaws the heart,
But peace I did not find.
Such is the “consolation” of Dawkins’s atheism!
Finally I must note that the professor depicts Christ as a teacher of “dodgy [suspect, dishonest, untrustworthy] family values.” His admiring reviewer says “Dawkins dreams of a day when atheists are as well-organized and influential as Christian conservatives.” His greater dream is that Christians (and all religionists) will someday vanish from the earth!
Dream on! Two centuries from now the impact of Richard Dawkins will be but a fly-speck note (if that much) on a yellow page of some obscure bibliography—while the name and influence of Jesus of Nazareth will reverberate around this globe (provided it still is here) as it has for virtually twenty centuries.
Atheism robs us of much and provides us with nothing.