Thanks to technology, hopefully not.
Archive for November, 2011
I’ve started on the next section where Dawkins purports to quickly & easily dismiss all of the so-called ‘proofs’ of God’s necessity/existence. I was interested to start this, since I’m interested in apologetics and curious how one of the most vocal critics of Christianity handles the traditional arguments for the necessity of a god.
He tackles Aquinas’ various related arguments against infinite regressiveness first. Essentially, Aquinas argues that since nothing in our universe is the cause of itself, something has to exist as the cause of everything else, and this we call God. To put it another way, we live in a causal universe where everything that happens does so only because it was caused directly or indirectly by another entity or action. Like a row of dominoes, one domino falls only when prompted to by another domino. But since no domino in the universe seems to have a self-impelled property for causation – so that it does what it does without any prompting, there must exist something outside of the created order responsible for setting things in motion.
This isn’t an argument for a deistic sort of watch-winder God who starts off the Big Bang and walks away. While one could go that direction with this sort of argument, it’s obviously not where Biblical Christianity goes. Just sayin’.
I was stunned at Dawkin’s refutation. Not because it was so brilliant, but because it was so non-existent. He basically says (doesn’t even argue) that regression doesn’t need a God at the beginning of it. He argues that a Big Bang type of event is just as good an answer, even though nothing in scientific inquiry appears to demonstrate matter just ‘appearing’. And then he resorts to a red herring – an informal logical fallacy that shifts the focus of the argument into another arena from where it began. He moves very quickly to questioning/mocking the concept of an omniscient and omnipotent God, arguing that if God knows everything including what He will do in the future, then He is incapable of changing his mind and therefore is not omnipotent.
Firstly, this is not directly relevant to Aquinas’ proof. Dawkins is skirting the issue by playing to the friendly readers. Secondly, he is attempting to disprove God by mischaracterizing him – something he’s done already in reference to Bertrand Russell’s celestial teapot analogy. Dawkins is asserting that God is subject to the experience of linear time in the same way that we are. This is hugely misleading. If God reveals himself to be eternal – without beginning or end, he seems to logically stand outside of time as a progressive element that we experience. In other words, God created time, He is not subject to it the way you and I are. While the poem is pithy and cute, it’s arguing against a God that is not the God described in the Bible. Dawkins acts as though it is, which either uncovers his massive ignorance of the very thing he’s so dead set against, or it’s deliberate because he doesn’t have a better argument. Either way, I was underwhelmed. Woohoo!
I think it’s rather ironic that one of the few bones of contention about where to draw the line to protect families is what time the stores should open for the biggest shopping day of the year – Black Friday.
Not in my backyard. NIMBY.
Yesterday I joined about 20 other area religious leaders for a meeting with the school superintendent for our county. At his invitation, we were gathered for lunch and to discuss how the school district and religious leaders might work more closely together for the benefit of the county’s children.
It’s been a busy few weeks for death, though I suppose that describes most weeks rather than just my particular last few. I conducted a memorial service this week for a member of the congregation, and I attended a memorial service this afternoon for the father of a close friend & associate. And in mostly unrelated news, the pastor who confirmed me passed away yesterday, but I won’t be doing or watching his memorial service.
Many years ago, I remember dimly an exchange with my pastor (and eventual father-in-law) about Advent services at our little campus ministry in the desert.
We live in an interesting time when the scattered, random thoughts that we all sift through daily can be freely shared instantly with literally everyone we know. Facebook status updates, Tweets – Lord only knows what’s hip and popular now that I don’t even know about – all of these not only invite us to share every little up and down in our life, they almost compel us to. The fear of being silent is too great for too many, I suspect. And while there’s rich irony in a pastor lamenting talking too much, there’s truth as well.
Blogging motivation is low these days, as you may have noticed. It seems as though the headlines fixate on one crisis after another. Most of these are things I’ve dealt with at one point or another over the last five years or so, and sometimes beating the proverbial dead horse doesn’t seem very appealing.