Monday, May 1, 2017
Alyssa Davis - Installment Part 2
The God Delusion
The novel off with Richard Dawkins discussing prominent atheists, such as Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, and how in their work they speak with great awe and reverence about a God. He explains that when they said God, they don’t mean it in the way religion often interprets. The word God itself can bring about much confusion, but when used by these physicists and cosmologists it’s meant to describe the greater mystery of the universe, a useful label that is widely known and easily understood. Dawkins laments that because creationists only see the use of God in the religious context, many claim that Einstein himself was religious. Dawkins states that when Einstein said “God does not play dice” he meant it in a metaphorical way, not literal.
In the beginning of chapter two, Dawkins starts off by calling the God of the Old Testament a slew of unflattering things, before stepping back and saying this was not going to be the tone for the rest of the novel, nor did he care to point out all the flaws the Old Testament contained. He sees no point in poking fun and insulting the God described in the Bible. Dawkins discusses how ridiculous he finds that churches and religious organizations receive tax exempt status, and calls for them be no longer tax exempt. Examples of over bloated religious figures come to mind, like Pastor Shepherd Bushiri, who owns three private jets. Because what they do is technically religious they’re tax exempt, which is what allows them to own things of ludicrous extravagance. Dawkins then starts a new section stating his case that some of the founding fathers were more than likely atheists themselves. While it’s known that most of the founding fathers were deists. Among those he argues are atheists are James Madison, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Dawkins draws quotes from all these men, but the most prominent quote is from Thomas Jefferson saying “ Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
The next big topic Dawkins deals with is arguments for the existence of God. Dawkins goes into how the credibility of the New Testament is practically nonexistent, pointing out many of its glaringly obvious inconsistencies. As for the argument of prominent scientist of the past believing the Bible, that itself does nothing to prove its credibility. The opinions of a few men, no matter their position or admirability, cannot prove the credibility of the Bible. If they were not personally there to witness it there belief means as much as anyone else's. Dawkins also takes the time to point out that only a small handful of Nobel Prize winning scientist have been Christian. Anecdotal evidence has no way to prove it really happened, so it’s not a reliable form of argument.
Dawkins concedes that he think creationists are correct in thinking it’s just too impossible for sheer chance to set up our planet in a way that facilitated the creation of our existence, but he finds it just as impossible that a divine creator made everything we have today. Evolution and natural selection don’t happen at random, they only happen when necessary for progression. Dawkins states that just because someone doesn't understand how something came to be doesn't mean they can’t find out. Just because we don’t have all the tools necessary now does not mean we won’t in the future, as science is always progressing. Not to mention, if a divine being created Earth and all of its life forms, then who created the divine creator? In order for it to make this world, it would have to be just as complex, if not more, than our current state.
Many attribute religion as to why we have morals, and claim that without it we’d all be hedonistic savages, bound by no laws and only caring for what personally affects us. However, morality is universal, and stems from our desire of kinship, popularity, reciprocation, and reputation. It’s something we evolved into, not something we started caring about only because we feared God was watching us. So why then, do we have religion? Why has it persisted for so long? Dawkins states that it’s to fill a much needed gap. People feel helpless when they think there’s no higher power, nothing to make everything better in the end or validate the good deeds committed in life. He compares religion to a burka, only allowing us to see out the gap it allows us. And by removing the burka, by discarding religion, we open our eyes to a wide range of possibilities and answers never thought possible before.