I finally got around to reading the God Delusion last week. Though I am in agreement with 99% of Dawkins' views on the subject of God, I do have to say that the book was a little weak in some areas. As a person who spent most of her life around academic debate, I just couldn't help wondering why Dawkins would jump straight into the "does God exist" fray without doing a better job of defining the terms of the proposition. "Existence" and "God" are never well-defined, and as a result, he never really scores a knockout punch on ol' SkyDaddy. On the other hand, I love "The Mother Of All Burkas" at the end, where he vividly describes how very little of the world we actually see. I'm not sure this really extends his argument, but it sure is a great wakeup call nonetheless.
As much as I think Dawkins could have done better, his critics have resorted to the most shoddy counter-arguments I have seen outside of a high school novice debate round.
From Depak Chopra, at Beliefnet.com:
1. Science is the only valid way to gain knowledge. Nothing about God is needed to explain the world. Eventually science will uncover all mysteries. Those that it can't explain don't exist.
This is the bedrock of Dawkins' argument, as it is of most skeptics and scientific atheists.
Only it's not. Not by a mile. Dawkins NEVER says things science can't explain don't exist. Ever. This is not the last time Chopra comes off looking like he didn't even read the book. He goes on about how the sainted Einstein believed in God (he didn't, and Dawkins went to some effort to point that out), he continually said that Dawkins said the universe was created by random chance (wrong again), and even referred to one of the analogies Dawkins debunked (the 747 put together by a hurricane) to support his arguments about the non-random nature of the universe. Sheesh. This guy calls himself a doctor? He also obviously woefully misunderstands quantum physics, and mistakes Dawkins for some sort of 19th century objective materialist who subscribes only to the narrowest interpretations of Newtonian physics. Of course, this is all crazily off-base. And his coup de grace? His way of knowing there is a God? Because consciousness transcends matter. We can think thoughts with our mind, which has to be more than just the chemicals it's made of. Well doesn't it? He even petulantly asks, "Do you think you are conscious and intelligent, or are you being fooled by random chemical reactions inside your skull?"
I think Chopra's chemicals must be pretty random for this to seem like an argument to him. Here's a crazy idea- consciousness and intelligence are byproducts of certian chemical reactions. The two things aren't mutually exclusive. Oh, did someone say neuroscience? Chopra must have been too busy listening to his "greater consciousness" to hear about that little fringe field of study.
While Dawkins makes a better argument for skeptical agnosticism and a general mistrust of organized religion than atheism, he sure does a better job than those who wish to disagree with him.
Next: the man who tortures logic in the service of God
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Posted by Kitty at 8:41 PM