By Prayson Daniel
This article is a result of edited answers on objections, and comments rose by brilliant atheists on my blog With All I Am God. The topic is Richard Dawkins’ view of religion, logical errors, and Moral value and duties in his different work.
Non-Sequitur: The God Delusion’s Central Argument
Richard Dawkins’ Central Argument of The God Delusion(On pages 157-8 ) commits Non sequitur(Latin “it does not follow.”) Fallacy.
In Non Sequitur a conclusion is drawn which does not follow from the premises. This is not a specific fallacy but a very general term for a bad argument.
- Evolution is true
- Evil exist
- Therefore God does not exist.(The conclusion does not follow from the premises)
Dawkin’s The God delusion’s central argument:
- One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.
- The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.
- The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.
- The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.
- We don’t have an equivalent explanation for physics.
- We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.
- Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.
To this William Lane Craig(Ph.D. in philosophy) comments as follow :
“This argument is jarring because the atheistic conclusion that “Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist” seems to come suddenly out of left field. You don’t need to be a philosopher to realize that that conclusion doesn’t follow from the six previous statements.”
Dawkins Conclusion(7) does not follow from its premises 1-6. Thus even if all the premises where true, his conclusion is does not follow from them.
An atheist/anti-theist blog-commenter Thomas Førland brought a wonderful distinction when one reads Richard Dawkins works, though he do not see The God Delusion logical errors:
I have personally read 6 of his 11 books, the first thing you have to do is to make a distinction between his professional works on biology and his books on religion. The God Delusion is not as well-written as I would like, but I don’t see any logical errors with it(Thomas, Comment on Atheist Ashamed of New Atheism, 13/12/2010)
Moral Value and Duties And Richard Dawkins
Reply to Thomas;
Thank you for your honesty and tone above. I do agree with you, completely on what one ought to do when reading Richard Dawkins works, namely making a distinction between his professional work as a zoologist and his personal-philosophy on religion(the areas which his works gives evidence, he know little of).
It is great you brought up Dawkins’ naturalistic view of Morals.
In November 1995’s Scientic American p.81-85 Dawkins made it clear after his publication of River Out of Eden(BasicBooks, 1995) his position on Morals values and duties.
He writes in God’s Utility Function:
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the mine that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is , at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A. E Housman put it:
For nature, heartless, witless nature
Will neither care nor know
DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.
Four years earlier Richard Dawkin commented at Royal Institution Christmas Lecture, ‘The Ultraviolet Garden’, (No. 4, 1991), :
We are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA. … This is exactly what we are for. We are machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object’s sole reason for living.
Some atheist, wants to give there own subjective meaning to what Dawkins says on Morals, namely applies only to nature, outside ourselves. But that is not what Dawkins is try to set forth. He clearly nails his meaning in his book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995), p112
Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous—indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.
The hardest lessons even for himself to learn because in The God Delusion, as we can learn in his attack on evil, is absurd, since it does not exist. Example the Child molestation per his chain of thinking should be admitted as neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous-indifferent.
You and Dawkins are quite right, If atheism is true, the universe doesn’t care what we call it. It is just nature. A brutal fact which we have to live with.
I failed as an atheist because, as Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, In the Possessed – 1966 portrayed a dialog between his character Kririllov(Man about to die in an hour) and Pyotr Stepanovitch, If God does not exist , everything I, Prayson Daniel do is permissible.
Kririllov: “You ape, you assent to get the better of me. Hold your tongue; you won’t understand anything. If there is no God, then I am God”
Pyotr: “There I could never understand that point of yours: Why are you God?”
Kririllov: “If God exists, all is His will and from His will I cannot escape. If not, it’s all my will and I am bound to show self-will.”
As Jean-Paul Sartre(1905 – 1980) French Philosopher, novelist, playwright sum up:
“The existentialist… thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plane where there are only men. Dostoievsky said, “If God didn’t exist, everything would be possible.” That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to. He can’t start making excuses for himself.”(Existentialism and Humanism, 1945 Bold emphasis added)
If God does not exist(atheism is true) then we are bound to show our selves-will, like shark biting off our legs, or dogs in heat, or a catholic priest child molestation to which Richard Dawkins’ condemns is nothing but a self-will expression.
But If this is so, why then does Dawkins spend lots pages in The God Delusion condemning this “natural” act? The reason I failed as an atheist is because atheism is unlivable Worldview.
Suppressed Evidence and The God Delusion
Another thing, is that Dawkins does great to pointing the evilness of religion to which I completely agree(Mostly when it comes to Christians) . But he does not answer the atheistic states’ evil or other evil done in other different ideologies(e.g Rwanda Genocide(1994), American Revolutionary Wars(between 1754-1774), World War I(1914-1919 and II(1939-1945) etc.).
Example;The Soviet Union long history of state atheism under Joseph Stalin, Marxism-Leninism and Maoism in People’s Republic of China, How much livable were this “atheistic” worldviews? Were they evil-free? or less evil? or not evil?
It is for this reason, Dawkins’ The God Delusion Suppressed evidence namely only confirming evidence(that religion is evil) is presented and self-Contradicts, namely affirming evil and the same time and sense deny it.
Negating Richard Dawkins’ Meaningless, Purposeless Life
C.S. Lewis‘ Classical work, Mere Christianity, rose an interesting argument for the meaning of our universe worth pondering.
“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” p.45-46
In Contrapositive form this argument can be formulated as follows:
If not p, not q
not p = Universe has no meaning
p= Universe has meaning
not q = Never(not) have found out the universe has no meaning
q= Have found out the universe has no meaning
- If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning,
- We have found out the universe has no meaning,
- Therefore, the universe has meaning.
I agree with Atheist Scholar Micheal Ruse(PhD Philosopher of biology) conclusion on The God Delusion:
Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion would fail any introductory philosophy or religion course. Proudly he criticizes that whereof he knows nothing.
Dangerous Richard Dawkins’ Ideas?
I titled this article Dangerous Richard Dawkins’ Ideas because, if we are to live the way Dawkins’ ideas ought us to namely:
We are survival machines, robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still with astonishment. The Selfish Gene (1976), Preface.
Then we ought to start writing obituaries for objective moral values and duties; Fare well justices as delusional. For if God exists, all is His will and from His will we cannot escape. If not, it’s all our wills and we are bound to show selves-will.
Note: This does not mean atheist can not live a moral life, not at all, I think many atheist live a better moral life than many “Christians”. What is atheists’ transcendent objective moral values and duties base, to which Christian call God?
Turn to the articles for full comments