Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reactions and Responses to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Part 10

[This post is the second dealing with chapter four, “Why There is Almost Certainly No God.” To read the first post, go here.]

Some “creationists,” Dawkins says, argue for the existence of God based on the “gaps.” That is, when there is a gap in the fossil record or in some other sphere of knowledge pertaining to evolution, and when there is no other explanation for that gap, they employ God to fill the gap. Dawkins argues that such an argument is faulty because further scientific research often fills in a supposed “gap.” I agree with Dawkins who agrees with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s belief that Christians ought not reach conclusions about God based on such gaps: “What worries thoughtful theologians like Bonhoeffer is that gaps shrink as science advances, and God is threatened with having nothing to do and nowhere to hide” (p. 125). What worries Dawkins, on the other hand, is his belief that when religious people see mystery they want the mystery to remain whereas when scientists see mystery they want to get to work to attain the knowledge that will solve the mystery and fill the gap.

What worries me is the assumption that such is in fact how believers regard mystery. I agree that it is faulty reasoning for someone to detect a gap in the evolutionary evidence and to say automatically that one must posit God in order to fill the gap. I, and many other Christians think the same way, want scientists to proceed full steam ahead in their efforts to advance knowledge as much as they can. And I and many other Christians would never think to assume that every presently unanswerable question can be answered by just saying “God.” I would maintain, however, that were we able to leap ahead in time to a point when all scientific progress that can be made had been made and when all knowledge that it is humanly possible to attain had been attained (were such possible), there would still be mystery. Then, I maintain, it would be appropriate to name that mystery “God.” And I say that because it seems to me that there is a point beyond which we cannot know.

I do not know what that point is. I think that we should push and push to expand our knowledge and that we should never accept “I don’t know” as an answer when it comes to questions about the physical universe. I do not know if we would know that we had reached the point beyond which we cannot know when we reached it. But I do believe that there is such a point. Dawkins, who possesses what seems to be an ultimate faith placed in human reasoning, would not accept that. But I, who place my ultimate faith in God, do.

No thinking Christian is content to say “That is a mystery so just chalk it up to God and leave it alone.” But many thinking Christians say, “There is at the source of everything a mystery that we cannot get past and that mystery is God.” We would go even farther and say, “And that Mystery has chosen to reveal himself in nature and in history and in Scripture and most fully in his Son Jesus Christ.” But then, we accept the knowledge that comes through revelation, which Dawkins does not accept.

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