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A Review of
Nov 9, 2007, Wausau, Wi — Last time in my review of Richard Dawkins’, “The God Delusion” I looked at the flaws in the first three point of what Dawkins calls “the central argument of my book.” Again, he summarizes this argument in the following six points:
1 – The appearance of design is one of the greatest challenges to the human intellect.
2 – The temptation is to attribute design to a designer.
3 – The designer hypothesis is false because it does not explain who designed the designer.
4 – Evolution, the best explanation so far, shows that design at least for biology is an illusion.
5 – Since in evolution, apparent design is an illusion, it could be an illusion in other areas such as physics.
6 – We
should not give up hope of finding better explanations elsewhere and the
weak explanations we do have are better than the explanations that rely on God.
When we come to point four, that evolution shows that design in biology is an illusion; this of course assumes that not only is evolution a valid theory for the origin of new life forms and biological structures, but that it is a completely explanation.
Space here does not permit a discussion of all the problems with evolutionary theory, and in any event, these are well discussed elsewhere. So I will just mention two points that cast serious doubt on Dawkins argument. The first is that the problems with evolutionary theory have not decreased over the years, as our understanding has grown, but rather have increased to the point that, as I discuss in my book Evidence for the Bible, even the definition of evolution itself is now unclear, as supporters keep shifting the definition to avoid these problems, frequently in contradictory ways.
The second is that, contrary to the claims of evolutionists like Dawkins, evolution is not questioned simply for theological reasons, and not are all of those who question it are even theists. In fact, evolutionists have increasingly had to resort to the suppression of differing views, in order to maintain their dominance, as the evidence contrary to evolution and in support of intelligent design has grown. In short, the claim that evolution has shown design to be false is simply untrue despite how much evolutionist like Dawkins might want to believe in it.
Point five, which claims that the apparent design in areas other than biology might also be an illusion, correspondingly falls apart. Yet even if this was not the case, point 5 would still have a huge problem as it is fallacious. It simply does not follow that even if evolution shows design to be an illusion in biology, that it was therefore an illusion elsewhere. This would be like claiming that just because some apparent suicides turn out to be murder, all apparent suicides could be murder, and therefore we can reject the concept of suicide itself.
This brings us to last point. It can hardly be called a conclusion. Rather it is a plea to “not give up hope.”(158) I must commend Dawkins for his honesty. Most atheists strongly deny that hope, and it counterpart faith, play any role in their thinking, and in fact are highly critical of theists when they express hope or faith. But at least theists do not confuse expressions of hope, with logical arguments that make opposing views untenable.
Dawkins’ does acknowledges that there are problems in the view he defends, but see hope in an old argument frequently employed by atheists. Chance + enough tries = certainty. Such reasoning has another name: The Gambler’s fallacy, and the error of such reasoning can be clearly seen in the lavish displays of wealth in such places as Las Vegas.
Based on Dawkins estimates, where concerning the number of planets he even knocks off a few zeros “for reasons of ordinary prudence”, and where he assumes that life is a one in a billion chance, there would still be billion planet with life, and ours would only be one of them.
This is at least better that Carl Sagan’s famous estimate of billons and billons of planets. Yet like Sagan’s it is seriously flawed. Sagan only considered a few of the factors needed for life. Far more rigorous looks at these numbers have shown that if all of them are considered the chance of having even one planet in the entire universe that would support life, are less than 1 in 100, odds that even Dawkins says are to be laughed at. And this is just for a planet that could support life. It does not begin explain how life itself could start. The odds against life starting by chance are so incredibly huge that they are truly beyond comprehension, odds so large that even other atheists have compared them to a miracle. (For a more complete discussion of these odds, see chapter four in Evidence for the Bible)
So Dawkins’ hope is based on an off the cuff estimate that are not even close. Where he estimate billions of planets with life, serious estimates of all the relevant factors show that there should not even be one planet that could support life, much less actually have life.
So Dawkins argument has serious problems with each of his six points. It ends with a hope that could only reasonably be called misplaced. Rather than showing that God is untenable, the evidence points to the existence of God, and this conclusion as grown stronger over the years, not weaker, as we have learned more about life.
See www.consider.org for additional information.
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