Disproving God – 1

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!

4 Responses to “Disproving God – 1”

  1. Paul Burri Says:

    Very interesting. I have been reading and pondering this subject for some time. Presently I have no problem reconciling evolution and the Big Bang theory with the concept of God. What more beautiful and mystical creation than a Big Bang and the whole concept of evolution. For me that’s far more awesome than the somewhat naive and simplistic molding a lump of clay into a man – undoubtedly conjured up for a much less sophisticated society.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    Welcome to the fray, Paul!  Glad to have another voice in the room!  

    Evolution and natural selection would certainly be an amazing and intricate form of creation, but there are far too many holes in the theory for me to be comfortable with it.  

    You raise interesting and pertinent questions about the Genesis narrative.  A literal reading does seem so very simple, yet simple in and of itself certainly doesn’t preclude the possibility that it’s accurate.  Occam’s Razor comes to mind in this regard.  

    From a theological perspective, we need to come to grips with what evolution and natural selection tell us about the world and ourselves, and then decide if this is reconcilable with Scripture.  As I most often encounter it, I don’t think it does, and that we’re trading far more away than we think we are initially.  As for simplistic societies, some of the ancient creation myths are fascinatingly complex, full of intrigue and passion and violence on a rather stunning scale.  I think that, similar to us, ancient peoples were probably fully able to deal with complexity, and that the Genesis account made for a difficult position amidst a myriad of other peoples with far more elaborate creation myths than a God who simply speaks and the universe is created!  

    Looking forward to continued input & dialogue!

  3. william b Says:

    What book are you reading?

  4. Paul Nelson Says:

    Sorry for the delayed response – I’m working through Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.  

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