Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Reactions and Responses to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Part Five

Chapter Three of The God Delusion is entitled “Arguments for God’s Existence.”

In this chapter, Dawkins plays word games in order to refute the conclusions drawn by others who were also playing word games.

He spends a lot of space describing and then attempting to dismantle the arguments put forward by theologians and philosophers (Aquinas and Anselm, in particular) for the existence of God. It is not surprising that Dawkins scores some points here. I remember very clearly the required “Christian Philosophy” course that I took at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1981. One part of the course dealt with the classic arguments for the existence of God. I remember not being terribly impressed with them then and I’m not terribly impressed with them now. They are based on logic and they can therefore be refuted with logic. You just have to decide whose logic sounds more logical to you.

That being said, I must admit that the one notion behind Aquinas’ proofs for God’s existence that I cannot shake is that there must have been something or someone that preceded and caused physical creation and we call that something or someone “God.” Dawkins will have none of that, of course, and I partly can understand that. After all, there is no physical proof that there was anything or anyone prior to the physical existence of the universe. Dawkins says that we would do just as well to posit a big bang or some other kind of singularity. Still, I continue to wonder how something came from nothing unless God caused it to be. Someone who is committed to discounting any possibility of the existence of God would have to come up with some other explanation, but I have no idea what it would be. If there was a “big bang,” and there seems to be good evidence that there was, we still have to explain from where that concentrated matter that exploded in the big bang came, do we not?

Again, though, such arguments pit words against words and logic and against logic. Such exercises only take you so far.

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