Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Problem With the God Delusion

Richard Dawkins may have written a popular book, but it seems that he should be quite obvious he has failed in his goal to convert anyone who was not an Atheist already to convert to his position.

I may be skeptical about the existence of God or Gods, simply because such a thing has not been scientifically proven, so my point will not be made with the problems that stem from religious arguments, but rather the same problem that always boils down to any debate between someone who believes in God and someone who doesn't.

The basic argument boils down to, "If there isn't a God who created the Universe?" The counter response is typically, "Who created God?" Neither question can be answered with our current level of understanding, and the models Dawkins proposes seem just as ludicrous as the creator, if we are looking at it from an objective perspective.

The God Delusion, along with Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World, have been on my reading list for a long time. I've finally managed to check them out a local library. The ideas presented are interesting, but they will not convert me to his position of hard atheism, but then I am more likely to believe scientific explanations than a sheer religious one for elements that have already been proven -- evolution for example. The origin of life, as of yet, remains a mystery. It is possible that life DID come about by chance, but we need more evidence of this, rather than assuming that a *lack* of evidence of a designer is proof.

Now, Dawkins relies on some inaccurate definitions in The God Delusion, particularly misinterpreting the meaning of pantheism. He also places Mormon, on page 36 of his book, as not being a Christian religion. I can only assume this is ignorance based on lack of research. It can be forgiven because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints features very little into any points of The God Delusion, but there is one area of particular concern when ex-Mormons quote from this book.

I have seen the line, "The problem with religion is that it makes people comfortable with not having the answers" quoted by many former Mormons. These are people who should really know better as part of breaking with the faith is coming to understand that you *no longer* have the answers to everything. The Mormon faith, does after all, provide ready answers to many of life's question. These often follow some kind of internal logic, but most claims that the religion makes can be easily disproven scientifically.

We don't need DNA evidence to prove the Book of Mormon is a product of the nineteenth century. Writing analysis is enough, and only a BYU study has shown that the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants were not a product of the same author. (One was conducted by the UTLM, whose motives I am just as suspicious of as BYU. The secular analysis is harder to ignore.) In fact, what Dawkins meant to say was that religion makes people comfortable with having the wrong answers. It even makes them defend the wrong answers vehemently in light of better evidence. (Science is just as guilty of this, but change happens much faster. Many Creationists who attack Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection do not realize that much of Darwin's notions about the evolution of different species were wrong, but instead of looking into the science, they are more comfortable attacking him as a religious figure, a staus which Darwin himself would not have wanted.

The fact is, The God Delusion won't win any converts. It is a book who appeal to people who are already Atheists, or Agnostic theists like myself who merely want to see what the man has to say. Former Mormons should be a little more leary of quotes like the one above and not include them in their signatures as they had to learn to become comfortable with no longer having all the answers.


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