Consistent, But Not So Coherent


There are more than a few public figures today that are espousing theories or modes of logic detrimental to Christianity in particular, but when you actually read their arguments you come to find out that they are quite lacking. In other words, very smart people can make quite a few mistakes when it comes to spiritual truths. To help illustrate this, I recently viewed a video of a talk given by Greg Koukl (Christian apologist). Koukl was examining some of the arguments popular today regarding the New Atheist.

Richard Dawkins (renown atheist) in particular is quite popular for his seductive use of language and wit, but (as Koukl demonstrated) when we actually stop to look at his arguments, we can see the inconsistencies in the logic. Now I want to make it clear from the outset that I am not just picking on Dawkins. Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, and the like are equally popular among the nonbelieving crowd; and all get into the same trouble. Lets take a look in this post at some of Dawkin’s key arguments against the existence of God from his book ‘The God Delusion.’ This book came out some years ago, and is standard reading for many atheists today. The points below are from page 187 of this book, where Dawkins lists all of his major precepts for why he doesn’t believe in God. Keep in mind while you are reading that his final assertion is … therefore God almost certainly does not exist. To that end, what his arguments should do is further that conclusion with each premise. Lets read below and see what actually happens. I have added my own comments after each of his points:

* “One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.” Now this is true, but does nothing to further Dawkins’ argument that ‘God almost certainly does not exist.’ It is just an interesting introductory note. We will give him a pass on this one, hopefully his next proposition will be more compelling.

* “The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design with actual design itself.” Also interesting, and possibly true, but does nothing to further the specific conclusion that ‘God almost certainly does not exist.’ Not yet anyway. Remember a good argument consists of premises that should in the very least help propel the thesis to its end result. If Dawkins is arguing against God, he hasn’t succeeded yet.

* “Although we currently have no natural explanation for the appearance of Design, we should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in Physics as powerful as Darwinism is for Biology.” This statement reflects Dawkins’ hope that his atheism will someday be verified beyond a shadow of a doubt. An interesting piece of information about himself, but again – does nothing to further his end conclusion.

* “The temptation to infer a Designer is a false one because the Designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who raised the Designer?” Also an interesting opinion, but posing the question “who made God” in no way speaks to whether or not there is a Designer. It just pushes the question back. This premise also does nothing to further his conclusion!

* “The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian Evolution by natural selection… Therefore God almost certainly does not exist.” Remember this is an opinion without a logical construct. The premises prior to this conclusion have in no way built a supporting foundation. It is entertaining reading; but that is about it. After all, does Darwinian Evolution explain the cosmos, the fine-tuning of the planet, etc.? Can this one theory really be enough to arrive at the conclusion that God doesn’t exist?

Okay, now we have had some fun at the expense of Mr. Dawkins. But what I am getting at is that even the most elite academics make emotionally charged mistakes when it comes to spiritual things. If he were to stick with biology I’m sure he would be quite competent. But when transitioning into the realm of philosophy, logic, and theology - he (and many like him) remain less than proficient. Bill Maher says in his new film Religulous, “you don’t know what happens when you die, because I don’t know what happens when I die, and you don’t possess any special powers that I don’t.” I would answer that he is off the mark a bit. The special power that we possess is God.
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Comments

  1. Interesting points, but something bothers me about the way your write, no offense of course, but its less like your looking for a debate with a atheiest and more like your pick and choosing things to make it seem like they are less credible. Last time i checked thats pretty close to slander. Also, if god created all of us equaly than your wrong about your special power, god surley endowed us with all those same "powers" you have. The truth is that you DONT know what happens when you die, because it is your OPINION, as your so blantently stated against Mr. Dawrakins. I have no problem with people not being consistant or even really factual with there opinions, because thats what they are, there opinions. But when somone is pointing out that somone else is inconsistant while that person is being inconsistant, well, with all due respect that sounds kind of like a hypocrite. Please give me an email response back, I would love to further this conversation with you.

    -Brandon

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  2. Hello Brandon,

    Good stuff. Really I was trying to say that people who are "saved" are privvy to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as compared to those who are not. This would be the only "special power." As for stating my opinions, you are correct. Thank goodness for blogs! I don't know about the slander angle, because anyone who publishes their work for all to see is fair game for debate (similar to how you are challenging me). The main thing that bugged me about Dawkins' arguements, were that these were his MAIN points, and from them we were supposed to come to the conclusion that "God doesn't exist." I couldn't make that jump.

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  3. I think you might have misunderstood the central idea of that particular chapter in Dawkin's book. It’s aimed at attacking the God behind intelligent design, and its objective is to show his readers that you do not need a supernatural power to explain how the diversity of life came about. If one can show that this is an entirely natural process then you do not need a supernatural power to stand in this gap of knowledge. I feel that Dawkins did a wonderful job showing how a supernatural power isn’t needed when trying to identify how the diversity (and complexity) of life came about. Since no supernatural power is required to explain this phenomenon we shouldn’t postulate one. When you look at the sub-chapter titles in that chapter you’ll see that they all deal with a supernatural power behind intelligent design and why it’s not needed.
    If you’re interested in his arguments against a “classical theistic” god you will need to back track a few pages. Pages 100-136 deal more with what you’re expecting Dawkins to address.

    Also, you said…

    “Bill Maher says in his new film Religulous, “you don’t know what happens when you die, because I don’t know what happens when I die, and you don’t possess any special powers that I don’t.” I would answer that he is off the mark a bit. The special power that we possess is God.”

    Careful, you are doing the same thing you are criticizing Dawkins of. That last bit about what special power you possess is simply an assertion – you haven’t provided us with anything showing how that is true.

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  4. "Bill Maher says in his new film Religulous, “you don’t know what happens when you die, because I don’t know what happens when I die, and you don’t possess any special powers that I don’t.” I would answer that he is off the mark a bit. The special power that we possess is God."

    This isn't a good argument because it is subjective and could be used to advance any belief. Look at it from the angle of other religions. A Muslim could claim that he has special "access" to Allah; the ancient Greek priests of Apollo had special "access" to their god; Scientologists have special "access" to their beliefs.

    Specifically this is the fallacy of reification. Nobody disputes that these other gods or the Christian God exists as an idea - what hasn't been demonstrated is that they exist as anything other than concept.

    The fact that these ideas of gods are powerful to their respective believers is not in dispute. But again, that's all it shows; ideas are powerful - especially religious ones.

    -Adam

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