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Feedback archiveFeedback 2007

Dawkins’ Delusion (continued)

by

Published: 10 March 2007 (GMT+10)
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Our article ‘Atheist with a mission’, our detailed refutation of The God Delusion by the eugenicist Clinton R. Dawkins, generated a number of feedbacks, with a high ratio of hostile to complimentary ones. Apparently Dawkins has many devotees who share his single-minded purpose of showing that there is no purpose. And some of these fans patronize our website and are incensed at finding their hero exposed.

Never mind that Dawkins’ fellow Oxford professor, theologian and Ph.D. scientist Alister McGrath, not a creationist, has written a book with his wife called The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine. Famous evolutionary philosopher Michael Ruse writes in the blurb, ‘The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why.’

[Update: Ruse also said in an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, 7 April 2007, p. 7 (thanks to Frans Gunnink, who provided the translation):

Question: What do you think of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins? Your approach is a lot milder? (the book lays open on his bed in the hotel room in Amsterdam where Ruse is interviewed)
Answer: I am just as critical of this book as of the work of Intelligent Design authors like Michael Behe, despite the fact that I as an agnostic am closer to Dawkins, and am 99% in agreement with his conclusions. But this book is stupid, politically disastrous and bad academics. If someone spoke about biology and evolution as he does on theology, Dawkins would react without mercy.
A good academic will inform himself in depth in a subject he is writing about. Dawkins did not. He is neither a philosopher nor a theologian. I am not a biologist myself, but at least I study the subject in depth before I write about it. And that arrogance and that pedantic attitude of his. …
Dawkins’ book confirms my analysis of evolution as pseudo-religion. His secular humanism has quasi-religious characteristics.]

We publish here two of the hostile feedbacks, with responses from Jonathan Sarfati. The first is from Patrick W of the United Kingdom, who regales us with a litany of criticisms (all thoroughly addressed in our Q&A index). Included among his criticisms are ones arising from a misunderstanding of the role of axioms in assessing competing historical scenarios. Our response to these could be of benefit to readers. The second is from Ben L, also from the UK, who feels that the way we treated Dawkins in our review was biased. He may be surprised to find that we agree! But is bias bad? Read our response to learn how to rebut the accusations of bias (and intolerance, extremism, etc.) which are constantly being made against Christians. And note that neither correspondent demonstrated the slightest error in our review!

We also publish a favorable response from a reader who appreciated our exposure of Dawkins’ fallacy, and also asks a question about a new book by Michael Ruse.

Truth is independent of what you want it to be

I have read your piece on Dawkins new book.

Like thousands.

Unfortunately, you have fallen into the classic trap on personal attack to avoid wrestling with the issues raised. THIS DOES NOT WORK!

“ Evolutionary theory reduces ‘mind’ to being a mere epiphenomenon of motions of atoms in the brain. ”

Would you please send us a copy of your letter of rebuke to your hero Clint D., criticizing his personal attacks on God and Christians that were amply documented in the review? Or are we not allowed to defend ourselves when atheists attack? It’s even more amusing that while the Bible is full of satirizing and mocking of unbelief, and Christ used harsh language in His challenge-riposte method, some atheists claim that it’s unbiblical and unchristian for CMI to raise the slightest peep against the most vociferous christophobes.

Only if however, you are so eager for your particular viewpoint to be supported, you’ll take anything.

Yes, we are eager for truth to be supported.

You go on to contradict yourself.

We’ll see …

I nearly left the site then, however, I consider myself a reasonable person (who has thoroughly rejected religion in all guises as a waste of time)

So you wouldn’t waste time considering reasons for Christianity?

so I wanted to leave you with some thoughts.
You state that ‘Dawkins’ absolute dislike of the message of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures’ then quote Dawkins himself thus ‘‘I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.’
Eh? A contradiction. You have not started well.

Seemed good to me. Where exactly was the contradiction? Both statements are true. Dawkins hates all theism, but reserves his most visceral attacks for Christianity.

You must think that since the bible has 1000’s of contradictions and I believe that therefore I can also contradict myself!

Yet the critic couldn’t even provide even one of these alleged contradictions (cf. the recent feedback Does the Bible teach error?).

Good style. As Peter Cook said, ‘it’s not enough to keep the mind alive’.
Certainly evolutionary theory reduces ‘mind’ to being a mere epiphenomenon of motions of atoms in the brain, and has no good explanation for consciousness itself, so Mr Cook’s statement would apply. However, the Christian doctrine that man is made in the image of God is plenty of justification for a Christian mind.
I just wonder if you will agree that a very convenient self serving doctrine of faith is that any thought of doubt is to be seen as a temptation from the devil, is therefore evil and must be resisted.

I just wonder why you didn’t read what we actually said about doubt, as per our feedback rules. Martin Luther once told a doubter, ‘Don’t worry, your doubts are the best sign of your faith because if you didn’t really deep down believe, you wouldn’t bother to doubt and worry about it.’ He was following the Biblical teaching, ‘have mercy on those who doubt’ (Jude 1:22). Indeed, doubt may lead to resolution, e.g. the firm confession of Jesus as Lord and God by ‘doubting Thomas’ (John 20:24–29; note that neither this passage nor any other identify biblical faith with credulity, or disparage logic). However, this is different from doubt of Christianity for its own sake (James 1:6).

And you evidently have no doubt that life made itself, and that Dawkins is right!

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who wants their vein of thought to prevail. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to put something in that would prevent you from leaving?

You must have confused us with Islam, because many in that tradition believe in executing apostates.

Something of a threat? If you leave me, the carpet gets it! Or eat my carrots and I’ll scratch you car? Obviously it has to be nasty— fear is an easy and strong motivation tool. Do you agree that?

What I think of this handwaving is irrelevant to the truth claims of Christianity, which are a matter of history, as explained before in an earlier feedback.

This is interesting. It wasn’t that long ago that the majority of the general populace was illiterate. The main point of this is the fact that ignorance would not have been too far away at anyone time. Any person, can see that the notion of a spirit, or ‘agent’ is behind an action such as a storm, or bad luck is nothing more than primitive superstition. Thos cannot be denied.

It was Christianity, including the doctrine that the universe was made by a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33), that helped defeat superstition. Conversely, superstition often returns when biblical absolutes are denied, as even a Skeptical Inquirer article admitted. It’s notable that the Australian Skeptics recently whinged in their magazine that the notoriously antichristian Australian ABC TV gave too much credence to quackery, yet Skeptics could always count on plenty of its unchallenged airtime (when we have a chance to challenge on equal terms, the skeptics come off a distant second—see booklet).

Cavemen, if you admit they existed,

Of course. In fact, they still exist (i.e. people live in caves today).

looked up at the sky and did not see the expanse of the universe, they merely rationalised to the limit of their knowledge. A rudimentary cause and effect.

Causality is actually foundational to most science. It is those who believe that the universe was uncaused that are exercising blind faith.

‘I do something to make it happen, ergo (I doubt cavemen knew Latin) that happens SO SOMETHING MUST HAVE MADE IT HAPPEN’.

Genetic fallacy, anyone? That is, all this theorizing about the origin of Christian belief has nothing whatever to do with whether it is true.

I’d be desperate to try anything if what I cherished was shown to be a stupid broze age set of ‘beliefs’. However, I think this is important, you must learn that one is able to question themselves HONESTLY and arrive at the truth. The truth here is independent of what you want it to be. It just is.

Exactly, so Jesus rose from the dead, and life didn’t crawl out of a primordial soup, regardless of your atheistic wishful thinking.

Can you genuinely feel that you are up to looking at all the evidence, and I mean science—genetics, fossils, carbon dating, and the like which show that the earth is not 6000 years old.

Photo Stefanie L., SXC.hu

PicDescription

Who has all the evidence? Only God. But since we are on the topic of carbon dating, maybe you would like to explain why 14C is in diamonds and coal that are allegedly millions of years old? Since 14C has a half life of only ~5700 years, it should have decayed long ago if the samples were really as old as they claim. So its presence is consistent with an age of only a few thousand years. See Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend: Radiocarbon in diamonds: enemy of billions of years.

That it was not made over 6 days and nobody rested on the seventh.
And suffering in the world. I thnk most resentment from religion comes from their dismissal of suffering—‘god’s work’—how banal of him.

I agree that suffering is the source of most resentment, but evidently you haven’t bothered to read our answers, e.g. Problem of evil.

And we’re in ‘his image’— how do we know that?

Because He told us (Gen. 1:26–28), and became one of us (John 1:14).

How about siemese twins? Dwarfs?

Of course. Why not? We leave eugenics (invented by Darwin’s cousin Galton) to your hero Dawkins.

Chimps are in our ‘image’ 2 legs, 2 arms and a head all in the same place—where’s the boundry of likeness for this ‘image?’

No ape could have replied as I did.

And your god didn’t do a very good job for an omniscient being—we keep breaking! Cancer for example?

Because we live in a fallen world, as we’ve explained many times (and which should not have been difficult to find—see Death and Suffering Questions and Answers).

As for your worry about the kids being affected— have you seen jesus camp?

Not personally. We have written about atheist camp though.

Its enough to give you lack of sleep for a year!
But then there’s intelligence. Dawkins does show that brain power and ‘religious’ thought aren’t that common. Oh sure, you can name some, what Newton? that neurotic paranoid bad-tempered individual? His one contribution to the commons was to ask for the window to be closed! Great man!

“ They cling to Darwinism even as the contrary evidence accumulates, because it allows them to ignore God … [and they] will not admit evolution is a crock until they have concocted a new creation myth that also excludes God ”
—Ann Coulter, Godless

Most people would consider Newton great even if you wouldn’t, considering that he discovered the inverse square Law of Gravity, the Three Laws of Motion, the exponential law of cooling, and the spectrum of light; invented the reflecting telescope and co-invented calculus. If anyone had discovered just one of those things, that would have been enough to earn a prominent place in history, yet he discovered all of them.

But there’s another side to that. He wrote alot about revalations — hmm, I suppose he has to do something to offset the good contribution! It makes me smile we religo’s claim a scientist as one of their own as if this makes the bible 100% true! Classic. I just wonder what % of scientists do believe and do not just participate in personal wishfull thinking (what else is the ‘afterlife’?)?

Rather, what else is wishing that you will not be accountable to your Maker after death? Ann Coulter in her book Godless: The Church of Liberalism nailed Darwiniacs like you:

‘They cling to Darwinism even as the contrary evidence accumulates, because it allows them to ignore God … [and they] will not admit evolution is a crock until they have concocted a new creation myth that also excludes God.’
One last thing – you are extremists. You believe Jesus was born of a virgin. Apart from the explanation that mary maybe asexual somehow, this is impossible.

How is it impossible? It is certainly not logically impossible, because there is no logical contradiction involved in ‘Jesus was born of a virgin’— please make sure you understand the meaning of contradiction in logic as a and not-a. A male mother is logically impossible, a virgin mother is not.

If you mean scientifically impossible, then of course all reports of a virgin birth are false. But how do you know it is scientifically impossible unless you know in advance that the reports are all false? This circularity is a problem for atheistic pronouncements against all miracles. In reality, you disbelieve in miracles because of a dogma against them, while Christians believe because of evidence for them (see Miracles and Science for more information on miracles, and The Virginal Conception of Christ for a defence of this specific miracle).

Therefore it is an extremist view.

Extremism has nothing to do with believing the allegedly impossible. Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were atheists who would be classed as extremists. Dawkins seems very extreme in his misotheism. However, extremism isn’t always bad, e.g. Wilberforce was an anti-slavery extremist.

The big J came back from the dead? Same again.

I must have missed your alternative explanation of at least 17 factors that meant Christianity could not have succeeded in the ancient world, unless it was backed up with irrefutable proof of the Resurrection (The Impossible Faith: Or, How Not to Start an Ancient Religion).

Yes god is a delusion and you are proving it.

I must have also missed the logical connection between our article and your conclusion.

Patrick W
UK

Jonathan Sarfati
Australia

Is bias bad?

Dear Sir,
I read your ‘review’ of The God Delusion recently and I was surprised by the tone of the article.

What specifically was wrong with the tone? And can we take it that you approve of Dawkins’ vitriol?

Aside from the many misconceptions you hold about Atheism (which I shall leave aside for sake of brevity)

More likely, these are the self-serving definitions of atheism that I addressed in Atheism is more rational?

you make a claim against the book that is ironically illustrated by your own article.
You begin by castigating Dawkins for a lack of objectivity and balance,

We also castigate the MMM for dressing up antitheistic editorializing to look like objective reportage.

and accuse Dawkins of being ‘driven by an unholy zeal to depose the God he claims to disbelieve in but transparently hates.’

And this is all true. Do you dispute this?

A reading of your article allows one to make an equal accusation about yourself, namely that you lack objectivity

“ A judge can try a criminal objectively even though he is biased against crime. ”

No, that is a different concept. A doctor can diagnose a bacterial infection objectively, without ‘balancing’ the ‘rights’ of the life of the bacteria with the life of the patient. A judge can try a criminal objectively even though he is biased against crime, and thus doesn’t ‘balance’ the trial with the viewpoint that there is a right to commit crime. The Israeli prosecutor of Adolf Eichmann, Gideon Hausner, wrote a book on the trial, Justice in Jerusalem (1966), which had a detailed objective section on Nazi atrocities against the Jews, but he certainly did not give any ‘balance’ to Holocaust deniers or excusers.

and that you hate atheism (and atheists?).

No, not the latter.

The pretence of a balanced review evaporates when one follows the links in your article that all lead to other articles by your organisation or equally religious websites.

We never pretended to have a balanced review. We were perfectly open that it was from a biblical Christian perspective. However, we do claim to have treated facts as facts, and pointed out when Dawkins confused his opinion with a fact.

Even when you refer to the coverage of the issue in the ‘mainstream media’ it does not link to the media in question, but to an article about the media by your website.

I very rarely see links to creationist sites in the MMM, or by Dawkins.

Your readers are therefore not ‘allowed’ to judge for themselves what the mainstream media has to say; rather what you think about what they say. Indeed even the article on this ‘liberal bias’ in the mainstream media does not even contain any link to the original articles you are criticising. Which leads me to ask if your website ever provides a link to sites offering an opposing view to your own?

I agree, we may be expecting too much of misotheists—the very idea that they can Google for these articles which are properly sourced, or even just watch TV, attend a typical university course or open a newspaper. For the record, we don’t link very much to sites offering a supporting view to ours, either—we aim to be a destination site, not a link farm.

In addition you accuse Dawkins of feigning ‘even-handedness when he claims that he would gladly give up evolution in the light of new evidence that rules it out.’ Effectively, you are saying he is a liar.

You can take this effect if you want, but what would be wrong with lying if Dawkins were right that morality evolved?

This strikes me as exactly the sort of biased, ad hominem attack that Creationists often accuse the evolutionary lobby of making.

As the review documents, these accusations are true. Conversely, you have not shown that our review was false.

This is another example of a lack of balance that you so clearly deride in others.
It is a free society (one hopes), and both yourself and Dawkins are entitled to write and say what you like.

However, Dawkins advocates extreme intolerance of Christians, e.g. calling religion a ‘virus of the mind’ (never showing why his atheism is not similarly a virus or meme), or calling parental religious instruction ‘child abuse’.

However it is rank hypocrisy to accuse Dawkins of lacking objectivity in a book ‘review’ that is anything but balanced itself. Dawkins may be wrong, but he at least allows links to opposing views on his website, even offering them up to open discussion. It this censoring of debate and its consequent labelling as ‘offensive and blasphemous’ that is at the heart of many atheists’ distrust of religion.

Censorship would be stopping you from reading his nonsense. But we couldn’t even if we wanted to. And even if we did, how exactly would this disprove the truth claims of Christianity or prove those of atheism? This is an emotional distrust on the part of these many atheists, not an objective one, despite the way atheistic organizations portray themselves as the epitome of objectivity.

Regards,
Ben L
UK

Regards

Jonathan Sarfati
Australia


You guys are great! Your ministry is one of the most important in the world. I wanted to tell you that I loved Philip Bell’s review of The God Delusion. It’s great to have someone else who sees the lack of substantiation in the statements being made. I also really appreciated the length of the work; I thought it was a great effort. I found it intellectually satisfying. Thanks Philip!
I was also wondering if Philip or another of your team was planning on reviewing Michael Ruse’s book that just came out, Darwinism and Its Discontents. His book is a direct attack on the work you are doing, and I would love to see what you have to say about it.
I thank Jesus for you guys.
Love in Christ,
Jason B
USA

We’re glad our website has been a blessing to you, and we appreciate your encouraging words of support. Yes, one of our regular contributors, Lael Weinberger, has written a powerful review of Darwinism and its Discontents for our Journal of Creation. It will probably appear in issue 21(3), due out late this year. —Ed. [Update: see Journal of Creation 21(3):32–36, 2007.]

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