The Mendacious Logic of Richard Dawkins

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Richard Dawkins is arguably the most prominent atheist that is alive today.  Growing up in a Christian home, he became very interested in the natural sciences from a young age.  After learning about Darwin’s theory of evolution, he soon converted to an atheistic worldview.  Dawkins deserves some credit as a biologist.  However, I can give him absolutely no credit as a philosopher.

I opened the book that Dawkins released back in 2006 entitled The God Delusion.  This book has raised so much awareness toward atheism, and it is ultimately the reason Dawkins gained the amount of fame that he did.  I figured, if this piece of work was as cracked up as everyone makes it out to be, I ought to check it out.  I opened up to a random page and the first piece of text I read was this:  “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”  Wow.  This leads me to think two things.  First this book was written to attack Christians.  Second, Dawkins has in incredibly ignorant view of the Christian religion.

Dawkins takes a scientism worldview.  He believes that if it cannot be explained scientifically, then we have no basis to say that it exists.  So, from what I have read of him, his reasoning goes like this.  For many years we have thought that the great complexity of life had to have been the result of a creator.  Since we now have evolution, we do not need a creator anymore, for we start with something simple and progressively get more complex.  Since life can be explained without a designer, then we should never assume that the details that we see in our universe are the result of a creator, but of scientific properties, even though they can’t be explained by these properties yet.  On this basis, we have no reason to believe in a God, but rather certain scientific properties can reduce the “probabilities” and other factors in our universe, just like it did with biological life.  Also, if God did exist, he would have to be much more complex than His creation, so therefore, He can’t exist, because He can’t be reduced to something simple.

There are some big problems with these arguments.  First of all, it is not science like he claims that it is.  As a supporter of evolutionary theory, I can easily say that life can be explained using certain scientific properties.  However, to extrapolate that out and claim that, because of evolution, we can explain every detail without the need of a designer is a PHILOSOPHICAL view, not a scientific one.  You cannot test any of that scientifically, you have to look beyond.  You can’t even bring the topic of God into question without leaving the scientific realm and diving into philosophy, it’s just not possible.

Every scientific property is automatic, but just because there is an automatic mechanism there (gravity, thermodynamics, evolution, etc.) does not mean that the designer of these mechanisms is superfluous.  I can explain how a watch works in very great detail, but that does not mean that I exclude the designer who made this watch work.  Also, Dawkins does make a point that God would have to be more complex than his creation.  This is true, however it is irrelevant.  God is outside of time and the laws of our universe.  He cannot be measured by these properties, and since He is supernatural, there is no reason why He cannot be an infinite regression.  The ultimate problem with Dawkins is he views everything with a scientific worldview, and that leaves people with empty answers.

Richard Dawkins, though he has contributed much to the field of biology, has done nothing in the field of philosophy except confuse the minds of people.

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9 thoughts on “The Mendacious Logic of Richard Dawkins

  1. Dawkins does not, to my knowledge, conflate atheism with science, and ignoring the logical problem of infinite regression by claiming arbitrarily that logic doesn’t matter with god is just special pleading.

    • Everything that I have read about Dawkins has to do with him conflating science and atheism. His purpose is to show how scientific principles can explain everything, thus eliminating the use for God.

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that God is an infinite regression. To assume that He is not would be subjecting Him to time. Because of Big Bang cosmology, we have scientific evidence that that universe has not always existed, so we can see that at one point, space and time began to exist. Also, cause and effect has strictly to do with time, and if God is outside of that, then He doesn’t need a cause.

      • Using scientific facts in a philosophical argument is not the same as saying “science proves atheism” or claiming atheism is scientifically testable, you are putting words in his mouth.

        And time is a man-made concept, it is how we quantify relative motion, it has no geometric boundaries to be “inside” or “outside” of. And to assume that your deity is magical and use that to conclude that he therefore exist no matter how illogical the concept of a deity is is arbitrary. It is fine to do this of course, to change your hypothesis to fit new evidence, but the hypothesis must then be tested and supported by evidence.

      • Dawkins uses scientific “evidence” to show how God has no use. So, you are right that he doesn’t use it to “prove” atheism, but he definitely conflates the two.

        How we measure time is a man-made concept, but time in it of itself is not. It is there and it is objective. Time is also measured strictly in our universe, so it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that time did not exist before the universe. I completely disagree with the idea something cannot be inside or out of time (if I read you right on that). If at one point time did not exist, which I think we have reason to believe that it didn’t, then there is no reason to assume that a being could not exist outside of that.

      • “Dawkins uses scientific “evidence” to show how God has no use. So, you are right that he doesn’t use it to “prove” atheism, but he definitely conflates the two.”

        If using scientific facts in a philosophical argument is the same as calling atheism or theism science, then you are doing the same thing yourself, as is every evangelist.

        “How we measure time is a man-made concept, but time in it of itself is not. It is there and it is objective.”

        I take it you’ve never heard of relativity. Einstein’s whole thing was that it isn’t objective and can only be measured relative to a given point of reference. And what we are measuring is not time, but motion. We call one spin of the earth a day but we could just as easily call it an hour or a bleem or six and a half weeks. It’s arbitrary. We use the concept of time so often we think it’s real, but it is only a concept. For instance if the entire universe was made up of just one particle then no one could measure time. Ignoring for the sake of explanation that you’d need lots of particles to make a person that could measure anything, if in our hypothetical universe there was just one particle then you could not measure whether that particle was moving, because there is no frame of reference. If you have 2 particles you can then tell if they are moving toward or away from each other, ie relative motion. Then you can say that x amount of distance is a bleem and y spin of the first particle is a blorg and say they’re moving at 2 bleems per blorg, or in the case of our universe 2 (or 20 or however many) miles per hour. Time is a mathematical function of motion, motion is in reality all that exists, time is how we conceptualize it. We use this concept to organize and synchronize human activity, but it all boils down to clock hands and planetary spin and decaying atoms in atomic clocks, ie relative motion. So for instance if you were in a car going 50 miles per hour how fast are you going? 50mph, right? Yes and no. You are going 50mph but only relative to the ground under the car, your body is at rest relative to the car itself and traveling at over a thousand miles per hour relative to the core of the earth (because the earth is spinning far faster than the car is moving). There is no objective time because there is no objective motion, the motion of particles and objects occurs differently under different conditions. “Time”, ie motion, is distorted by things like gravity. So for instance the clocks in GPS sattelites are engineered to go slower than clocks on earth because time travels a little bit faster in space than it does on earth. It even travels measurably faster at the bottom of a mountain than on the top of one.

        “Time is also measured strictly in our universe, so it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that time did not exist before the universe.”

        Once you realize that time is conceptual and that all we are talking about is motion I don’t see why this would even matter. If motion is occurring over here what does that matter over there?

        “I completely disagree with the idea something cannot be inside or out of time (if I read you right on that). If at one point time did not exist, which I think we have reason to believe that it didn’t, then there is no reason to assume that a being could not exist outside of that.”

        Existing inside or outside of it to begin with is an illogical concept. It’s like saying that because I am in the universe and broccoli is in the universe I exist inside of broccoli and god is outside of broccoli. Or saying god is “outside of heat”, what would that mean, heat is a phenomenon it has no boundaries to be inside or outside of. Do you mean immune from heat? Cold? Do you see my dilemma?

        I think the basic idea is “god is off limits to logic”. But if we’re going to play that way, why pretend to make an argument or think about it at all?

      • Evangelists who use this “outside of time” or “logic doesn’t count” reasoning have set up the rules so that logic is okay for arguing that is a god, but can’t be used to argue against any god concept.

    • “If using scientific facts in a philosophical argument is the same as calling atheism or theism science, then you are doing the same thing yourself, as is every evangelist.”

      I’m not calling atheism or theism a science. They are philosophical terms but Dawkins always seems to assert atheism “as if” it is a science. I’m not saying that he actually thinks it is, but all of his reasoning comes from a scientific standpoint, and with this realm of knowledge I don’t think that science can cut it.

      On your point of relativity, I have heard of relativity but I will admit that I do not know a whole lot about it. “Objective” was not a good word to use. I agree that what we are measuring is motion, and you used the analogy of the earth revolving around the sun. Yes, we can call it whatever we want, a day, an hour, a week, and so on. But that does not change the fact that the earth is moving at the exact same speed, the exact same way every time. Just because we can coin any term for it that we want, does not change what is actually happening. And what is actually happening is things are moving at a certain rate, in a certain motion all over the universe. Even if that rate does change under certain conditions, the fact of the matter is that it is moving at SOME rate, no matter what. Yes, “time” changes due to whichever kind of viewpoint you may have on the situation, but it does not change the fact that motion is constantly happening. I do not think the rate of it matters. What I think matters is the fact that we can see, on a scientific basis, that the universe began at one point in “time.” Since motion is something that we measure within our universe alone, what happened before that is outside of that range of motion, or “time” and we cannot even begin to try and test that with the scientific principles that we use to test things in our universe. There may not have been a beginning to “time” as you are describing it, but there was definitely a beginning to motion as we know it. We have to have some explanation to the beginning of motion, because what we see as motion did begin to exist at one point. You made the comment “If motion is occurring over here what does that matter over there?” It matters everything. We have absolutely no reason at all to say that motion is happening outside of our universe, because everything that we know about motion is tested with our own scientific principles that, to our knowledge, apply only to this universe.

      “Existing inside or outside of it to begin with is an illogical concept. It’s like saying that because I am in the universe and broccoli is in the universe I exist inside of broccoli and god is outside of broccoli. Or saying god is “outside of heat”, what would that mean, heat is a phenomenon it has no boundaries to be inside or outside of. Do you mean immune from heat? Cold? Do you see my dilemma?”

      Yes, heat is a phenomenon that has no boundaries, but no boundaries WITHIN our universe. If something exists outside of our universe, which I believe God does, then I absolutely think that He can be outside of heat. I can see where your dilemma lies, but I do not think it is in issue once you realize that everything you are talking about (motion, heat, broccoli) is only testable within our universe.

      Also, (I don’t want to put words in your mouth) you claim that I am only using logic to talk about how there is a God. Yes, that is true, because I believe in God. I do not think logic can be used to show how there is no God, because I do not think that is the case. Likewise, however, you are doing the exact same thing by using logic only to show how there is not a God, or how God does not even matter.

      • Just as a general reply to the argument as a whole…
        1.) If you don’t believe that Dawkins conflates science with atheism, you’ve probably never read anything by Dawkins. Dawkins himself would admit that he does. However, this doesn’t necessarily take away from his scientific knowledge or his arguments.

        2.) You are correct, time is subjective. Here is something I find curious about your argument, though: Time does require two objects. There does have to be something to measure in relation to something else. So, when the infinitesimally dense ball of matter at the beginning of the universe imploded to birth the universe, it also birthed time; if you take for granted that it was a singularity, then time must not exist, for there is nothing to measure in relation to the singularity. So this singularity did exist outside of time.

        3.) God would not be off limits to logic, however it would be off limits to science for pure methodical reasons. Again, this doesn’t provide any evidence for the argument for or against God. To read any kind of science into (or out of) the Bible is ludicrous. The 2nd century BC Hebrew people had no concept of physics and would not have written a text that relied on it. Similarly, there would be a significant cultural difference due to the structure of the language and the cosmology of the time. Truth to an ancient Hebrew, as it is with Native Americans, was not contingent on voracity or historicity. Something that was true spoke to the character of the thing it was describing. An understanding of a God isn’t going to come from science, and an understanding of science isn’t going to come from a God (i.e. the Bible).

      • “I’m not calling atheism or theism a science. They are philosophical terms but Dawkins always seems to assert atheism “as if” it is a science. I’m not saying that he actually thinks it is, but all of his reasoning comes from a scientific standpoint, and with this realm of knowledge I don’t think that science can cut it.”

        How is that different from putting words in his mouth? I could do the same with anyone who mentions anything about nature in an apologetic argument. The only difference is that there are whole libraries of books actually trying to equate religion with science and millions of people trying to get them taught in science classrooms. There is no secular equivalent, nobody is trying to get atheism into the science textbooks.

        “On your point of relativity, I have heard of relativity but I will admit that I do not know a whole lot about it.”

        It’s pretty deep and hard to think about, but fascinating. I read a short book called “the universe and dr. einstein” that does a wonderful job of explaining the basic concepts. I recommend it if you ever want a mind-bender.

        “Objective” was not a good word to use. I agree that what we are measuring is motion, and you used the analogy of the earth revolving around the sun. Yes, we can call it whatever we want, a day, an hour, a week, and so on. But that does not change the fact that the earth is moving at the exact same speed, the exact same way every time. Just because we can coin any term for it that we want, does not change what is actually happening.”

        As I said though it is only moving at any speed given a particular point of reference, it is moving at the same speed relative to the sun, but a different speed relative to everything else, thus motion is relative as opposed to being absolute. And as I said things like gravity distort time so a year as measured by an atomic clock is longer at sea level than it is at the top of a mountain, or in outer space. There is no objective time. On a side note you might enjoy this classic bit of comedy:

        “And what is actually happening is things are moving at a certain rate, in a certain motion all over the universe. Even if that rate does change under certain conditions, the fact of the matter is that it is moving at SOME rate, no matter what. Yes, “time” changes due to whichever kind of viewpoint you may have on the situation, but it does not change the fact that motion is constantly happening. I do not think the rate of it matters.”

        I don’t think time is something to be inside or outside of. And if you want to say that “time” is just the properties of the universe controlling relative motion then making the claim that a being exists outside of or immune from those properties is fantastic and unjustifiable, even if it might be true. It’s like claiming that there are aliens controlling the government, even if it turns out that that is true for now the claim would not be justified as mere speculation.

        “What I think matters is the fact that we can see, on a scientific basis, that the universe began at one point in “time.” Since motion is something that we measure within our universe alone, what happened before that is outside of that range of motion, or “time” and we cannot even begin to try and test that with the scientific principles that we use to test things in our universe. There may not have been a beginning to “time” as you are describing it, but there was definitely a beginning to motion as we know it.”

        Maybe. Conventional wisdom says that motion (and therefore time) stops inside a black hole but we don’t have the whole picture yet – what caused the big bang is still unknown, all we know is that the expansion took place (and is still happening). Scientists call the force behind it “dark energy” as a place holder because we don’t know what it is yet but I am not confident enough about what goes on inside a singularity to close the book on it. But even if motion did begin in our universe at some point it’s not as though invoking a god gives us an understanding of the mechanism or mechanisms involved in the formation of the universe, so to me it’s still a useless hypothesis.

        “We have to have some explanation to the beginning of motion, because what we see as motion did begin to exist at one point.”

        I don’t see how invoking a mysterious being and saying that it caused something by an unknown mechanism explains anything.

        “You made the comment “If motion is occurring over here what does that matter over there?” It matters everything. We have absolutely no reason at all to say that motion is happening outside of our universe, because everything that we know about motion is tested with our own scientific principles that, to our knowledge, apply only to this universe.”

        We have no basis to claim anything about anything outside of our universe, or even if there is such a thing as “outside” of our universe at all. You say that to claim time or motion exists beyond our universe is unjustified but you are the only one here making claims about what is beyond our reality.

        “Yes, heat is a phenomenon that has no boundaries, but no boundaries WITHIN our universe. If something exists outside of our universe, which I believe God does, then I absolutely think that He can be outside of heat.”

        But as I said, what does that mean? I can say that something is inside or outside of a box, or a solar system or a galaxy or the universe only if the thing has an inside and an outside. To say something is outside of bananas on the other hand is a non-sequiter, because bananas do not have geometric boundaries to be inside or outside of.

        “I can see where your dilemma lies, but I do not think it is in issue once you realize that everything you are talking about (motion, heat, broccoli) is only testable within our universe.”

        So am I inside of our outside of broccoli?

        “Also, (I don’t want to put words in your mouth) you claim that I am only using logic to talk about how there is a God. Yes, that is true, because I believe in God. I do not think logic can be used to show how there is no God, because I do not think that is the case. Likewise, however, you are doing the exact same thing by using logic only to show how there is not a God, or how God does not even matter.”

        I don’t think logic can be used to show there is not a god either, only to show flaws in arguments that there is or is not one. I am not an atheist because I believe there is no god, I am an atheist because I see no good reason to think there is one. I also have not been arguing against there being a god, I just took issue with some things you said.

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