HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

Reply to The Dawkins Delusion
 
The Dawkins Delusion by Alister McGrath with Joanna Collicutt McGrath, SPCK, London, 2007
 
A book claiming to answer Richard Dawkins book, The God Delusion, has appeared. It makes for interesting reading and it gets more interesting when one probes its lies and claims and distortions. The book is a totally inadequate reply to The God Delusion.
 
Having a delusion means you are mentally deficient or insane or maybe a bit of both.
 
Richard Dawkins sees delusion as a strong but wrong belief that is not justified by the evidence in front of the person. He has tried to refute the allegation that he used delusion in the sense of a psychological disorder. People with religious delusion must exist. They need help. It is my perception that those who know certain things about religion that refute it and who still believe are deluded and unwell. High level Christian scholars would be in that category. For example, the theologian Pope, John Paul II.
 
Some say Dawkins has diagnosed all religious people as deluded when he cannot and has not evaluated all religious people individually. But if all people started saying that water is all turned into blood would you need to personally evaluate them all? Dawkins sees religion as divorced from reality as saying that there is no water any more but only blood.
 
Believers always say that if anybody criticises their version of God or religion that they are criticising not them but a misperception of them or a straw man. They tar critics with the one brush so they are certainly prone to delusion. They refuse even to argue that people like Dawkins do not criticise their God but their perception of God. Or that he is criticising his perception of their perception!
 
Dawkins says that God and science contradict each other.
 
Some respond that logically working out that God exists is a job for philosophy not science. Science is said to depend on evidence and experiment and not on logic. This is not true. Experiments are based on reasoning - if x then y.
 
It is said that since God is not an object in the universe he cannot be discovered scientifically. But surely there would be indirect signs that he must exist? Science could verify those. And I thought Jesus as God incarnate is an object in the universe and out there somewhere? It is not true that the God question is necessarily beyond the expertise of science. Yet it is true that science only deals with physical energies and entities. Vernon, M. The Big Questions, God, (Quercus, 2012), p. 29.
 
Religion says that science alone is not enough. It leaves us with gaps. But it does not follow that religion can fill those gaps. And filling the gaps is one thing but filling them with the correct filler is another. The argument that faith and reason complement and fulfil one another is dishonest. If a faith fits the holes and could be reasonable that does not mean that it is actually reasonable. Also, faith claims that there are mysteries and that God is a mystery. Faith gives you paradoxes - where one doctrine of faith contradicts another. Faith says you have to hold both views and hope that one day you will find out how they can be reconciled. It calls its paradoxes mysteries. But that means you do not know if the faith is even non-contradictory. If it is then it is irrational. Instead of faith and reason complementing one another as equals clearly reason has to come first. Faith is terrible at dealing with the unknown where reason fails to take us.
 
Reason and science then take priority over faith. If there is no proof for God then we have the right to deny his existence. Dawkins does just that! 
 
Page viii

 

The author says his free-thinking led him to God

 

We will see that that is not so. The book glosses over the cruelties commanded by God in the Bible. The book gives another demonstration of being anti-free thinking. It is there is the subtitle! The book is subtitled Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine. But there is no atheistic orthodoxy. Atheists may have disbelief in God in common but little else. You don’t have to be in a movement to be an Atheist but you cannot be a Catholic without being involved in a movement called Catholicism. Where there is no orthodoxy there cannot be any fundamentalism which is extreme orthodoxy that desires to persecute. Dawkins is not interested in persecuting believers – he only wants to deliver them from an illusion. Are liberal Christians fundamentalists because they wish to deliver their more stringent co-religionists from what they see as fundamentalist illusion?
 
Page ix and x

 

It is mad to think that those who believe that evolution and God are compatible and who believe in both are fools

 

Evolution cannot be separated from the problem of an-all good God who lets evil and suffering happen. Yet those same people cannot explain how God could be justified in this. Unless you can experience all the suffering that has ever been or ever will be you have no right to argue that it is part of a good plan. It is something for experience not theory. You become evil at worst and partly callous at best if you say there is an all-good God who wisely lets evil exist.
 
Fundamentalist Christianity is right to argue that evolution and God don’t agree. Those who think they do quote experts. Anybody can play the quoting of experts game.


Page 5

 

Dawkins teaches that faith in God is a stubborn belief held regardless of what the evidence says - he is wrong, that is not true.

 

Unfortunately most believers do not care for good quality evidence. What Dawkins says is true of most if not all believers.
 
To this it is answered that Dawkins thinks just because he sees God as ridiculous that everybody has blind faith in God. People can believe in something having made a mistake interpreting the evidence. It doesn’t make their faith to be blind faith. Wrong faith and blind faith are not the same thing.
 
But what if Dawkins is right and it is ridiculous? There is no better way to work out if somebody is exercising blind faith than to determine how silly their faith is.
 
Also the answer overlooks one thing. God by definition is more than just a doctrine or theory. God is a demand for total commitment for us. God is not your God if you are not committed wholly to him. The belief then calls for intransigence.
 
Believers do fall into unbelief or become unbelievers. The reason is that they treat God more as a doctrine or theory than somebody to whom they must give total devotion. In other words, they were half-atheists anyway.

 

Page 7

 

Dawkins’ refutation of Paley’s argument, a watch means there was a watchmaker so design in the universe means there is a God, is valid and correct. The five ways of Thomas Aquinas do not prove the existence of God but only that God is a sensible or coherent assumption to make.

 

One argument, the argument of the uncaused cause, says that nothing causes itself or is uncaused and then says either that God causes himself or is uncaused. That is really saying something can cause itself after all so that the nothing causes itself is untrue. Or it is saying that nothing is uncaused and then that God is uncaused. It’s incoherent. The arguments do not show the coherence of God for they all derive and are based on the uncaused cause argument.
 
And if person x can devise a coherent concept of God or a creator or maker or whatever, person y can do a different one. Coherence is not enough.
 
If God is coherent then isn’t the idea of an impersonal unconscious intelligent force making all things far simpler and therefore more coherent?
 
God is supposed to be that which is to come first and attract us to perfect goodness. It is not about coherence but about that. A god of coherence is an idol. You end up worshipping coherence and you worship by proxy the person who comes up with all that and puts it all together.
 
 
Page 10

 

Dawkins denies that God is probable. But the issue is that our existence is improbable and yet we are here so we should be asking not is God probable but is God actual.

 

This is just a dodge to get around the fact that god is as improbable as us if not more. We have to ask if God is probable for he is not like a person you can just go and meet.
 
It is only natural to ask if something you cannot see or find (like a virus in somebody’s blood) is probable. This has to be asked before it can be asked if it or he is actual.
 
Page 12

 

It is foolish to use God as an explanation for the things in the universe that cannot be explained. This approach is now outdated and what we want is to show how explicable the universe is. We want to use God to explain how we have such a rational and explicable universe. Its explicably needs to be explained. We can assume that God is this explanation.

 

But God is a supernatural being. Supernatural means inexplicable. You cannot go to a supernatural God looking for an explanation for an explicable universe.
 
Does Ward want us to look at the unexplainable and say, "Ok I will not consider that as having anything to do with the existence or otherwise of God?" If we do then it follows that miracles ruin faith though the Bible says they are signs from God telling us what scriptures and religion to believe.
 
However, the argument that the universe may indicate the existence of a rational God in so far as it is explainable is a far better one than the superstitious notion that God does parlour tricks such as spinning suns at Fatima and magic to get our attention. It is more dignified and healthier and mature.
 
Page 36

 

Dawkins makes the mistake of seeing religion and belief in God as two sides of the same coin. They are not for Buddhists don't believe in God and are spiritual.

 

Buddhism is a philosophy not a religion. It doesn't have dogma like religion does. Only an almighty God can claim the right to tell you what to think and threaten you if you don't comply. Religion is about the community worship of the supernatural in the way authorised by the supernatural and so it includes doctrines and ethical precepts and scriptures. Therefore proper religion and God are indeed two sides of the one awful coin.
 
Page 47, 48

 

Atheism has led to great bloodshed and persecution of priests and the destruction of Churches in Russia so Dawkins is naïve to say that atheists are incapable of persecuting and religion is

 

It was political socialist ideologies that did this. Atheists don’t necessarily have to get involved in politics or socialism or extreme socialism. It is as absurd to say that these killings were done in the name of tallness if it is tall people who did the killing as to say it was done in the name of atheism just because atheist ideologies did these things. The more atheistic you are and the surer you are that you are right, the less need you will see for persecuting. The best way to fight dangerous forces such as religion and superstition is with confidence and facts and politeness and firmness. The atheists who engaged in such persecutions were unsure of their atheism and held it more for political reasons than intellectual. Atheism shouldn’t lead to bloodletting and venom. Religion can for it is possible that if God exists and because we don’t live in an ideal universe he might want you to kill people. Atheists do not have books of authoritative scripture that command them on infallible or divine authority to slaughter but religion does. If an atheist kills over atheism then the atheist has failed to see the utter horror of killing somebody. If all we have is this life then we cannot hurt others. Also, what peace can you have in this life if you unleash harm? You cannot feel safe when you become an enemy for that is experiencing the world as an unsafe place.
 
A believer in a life after death won’t be able to see death as utterly evil. The atheist kills in spite of his atheism and not because of it.
 
Killing is a human problem not an atheist problem. One may say, "Killing is a human problem not a religious problem." This actually is saying that any religion advocating murder or capital punishment is not a religion. There is dishonesty in that. It also allows religions that kill to thrive for they are not recognised for the religions they are. You must identify the enemy or danger before you can work out how to handle it. A evil religion is often described as a perversion of religion - it should be described as a religion. It may be described as a perverted religion if its evil deeds really do not follow from its scriptures and its doctrines. But a perverted religion is still a religion.
 
Atheism attempts to be open and hide nothing and welcomes full examination and logical evaluation. As for religion, you can only assume that the religion is man-made until its proven to be divinely made. Otherwise you run the risk of following men as if you were following God. And even if the religion is of God and you cannot prove it, your motivation is to follow the religion out of devotion to men.
 
There are so many different religions therefore most of them if not all are man-made.
 
People tend to prefer a God that suits them.
 
Religion makes huge claims and offers paltry or fraudulent evidence for them. You need better than that. You need proof before you can tell your child that he will go to Hell forever if he doesn't believe in Jesus. You need proof to declare something a fact. The person who thinks his favourite assumptions and beliefs are facts is self-deluded or play acting.
 
We assume that the criminal must be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. We cannot take that attitude with every religion. It has to be a case of guilty of being merely human until proven divine.
 
To worship a God made by men is to worship an idol. Christianity teaches that sin is preferring something to God who deserves all our devotion. The actions of sin are really indications of that attitude. Sin is not just wrong actions for the believer. It is primarily an attitude that is expressed by those actions. Thus a person could seem to be very holy and still be in fact worshipping things other than the real God.


Page 50

 

Dawkins uses religious suicide bombers as an example of how religion leads to violence. He ignores studies that show the real reasons why some people are driven to do these things. They might see themselves as fighting for their people for example. Religious belief is not enough or is it necessary to cause suicide bombers to kill.

 

But why suicide bombings? The suicide bomber thinks they are ethical and ethics is a part of religion meaning the bombings are religious. Also, one doesn’t need to be a suicide bomber to kill. The bombers certainly believed there was a reward for them and religion is to blame for that. Christians and Muslims though they may die to save people that is only the result of what they do, not a motive, for their motive is to sacrifice for God. Remember how Jesus said that loving God with all your being is the most important commandment and loving yourself and your neighbour isn’t so important? Jesus said we must love others for God's sake meaning his sake is what matters not the other people.
 
The Catholic Church blackmailing women in the poorer parts of the world to have sex with their HIV husbands without condoms isn't mentioned. Religion does lead to evil.
 
Page 53
Page 55

 

It is bizarre how Dawkins can say Jesus meant love your neighbour only for Jews when he told the parable of the good Samaritan and condemned the love of enemies. Jesus was opened to persuasion for Jesus is not believed to be omniscient by orthodox Christians

 

If Jesus was open to persuasion then he wasn’t infallible. Jesus didn’t need to be omniscient but he did need to be infallible in his religious teaching and in matters of faith and morals. If he wasn’t then he is not Lord and God to us for we can dispute what he says.
 
Page 56

 

Dawkins is wrong to condemn Jesus for advocating bad family values. Jesus defended marriage against divorce and commanded respect for children and made sure that his mother was looked after when he was dying. Also, Jesus condemned the Jews for letting men off the hook with regard to caring for their parents if they made a vow to God.

 

Jesus never said he banned divorce because of the family. He said that when a husband and wife part or divorce they are still married in the sight of God so it was law that was his concern not the family. Jesus didn’t express a paternal concern for children but a religious concern. He never even mentioned the children when condemning divorce. Plus girls were made to marry though they didn't want to and were too young and immature. Their consent didn't matter and was never asked for in the wedding service. These were the girls Jesus sought to trap in marriage. Instead they should have been given freedom to leave their husbands for their marriages were invalid shams anyway. The husbands had the right to impregnate them though their bodies were undeveloped and that was dangerous in those cruel times. It was dangerous for a grown woman never mind those girls many of whom had been raped by their husbands before puberty.
 
Jesus only told the beloved disciple that Mary was this disciples’ mother. He didn’t say the disciple had to look after her now.   
 
The criticism he made about men being permitted to abandon their parents by the Jewish leaders is about the interpretation of the Law not about any genuine concern for the abandoned parents. Jesus made lots of anti-family statements and said that a man should abandon his family in those harsh and terrible times to preach for him in foreign lands.
 
Page 58, 59

 

Jesus did not see the Old Testament law as wrong but wanted it to be interpreted through him being seen as the correct interpretation. It is for this reason that Christians have never used the cultic law given out in the Law.

 

Christianity which doesn't execute adulterers should be doing it at least sometime. Jesus taught mercy and the law commanded that adulterers be stoned to death. The only way the two could agree is if some adulterers were forgiven but to forgive all is to do away with the Law. Mercy should prove the Law not abolish it. What the book is saying here is plain intellectual dishonesty.
 
At least Ward is saying that Jesus approved of the killings endorsed by the law of adulterers. They were stoned to death as were heretics. Jesus said that even wanting to commit adultery is adultery. To apply the law now would mean stoning everybody. So for that reason the killings do not take place anymore. It is not because they are wrong but because they are right but impractical. Ward is right for Jesus said he came not to relax the law but to fulfil and perfect it and make it tougher.
 
Ward does not complain that Dawkins paints godly people as deluded while Jesus who claimed to be God is stated by him to maybe have made an honest mistake! Ward probably realises that delusion and honest mistakes are compatible.

 

Page 60

 

Dawkins says that the Catholic Church harms health by making people with less than normal intelligence morbidly guilty and ignores research that indicates

that religion is good for you

 

Religion is never good for people. It only seems good for people who don't understand its teaching, who are being fooled by clerics who are not true devotees of the faith or people who pick out the nice bits. The Catholic who picks and chooses from his religion and feels happy doing that is happy not because of his religion but because he is acting like he is his own god like a humanist would. He is happy in spite of his religion and not because of it. This

 

Catholic is good and happy because he is closer to atheism and the independence from God advised by them. He borrows from outside worldviews. That's all.

 

Ward knows fine well that even if religion is good for you, only a certain type of religion would be good for you. Does he consider it good to be a Jehovah's

Witness and controlled by the Watchtower?
 
Page 74

 

Jesus’ notion of forgiveness was about freedom from bondage not about moral exoneration

 

No reference is given from the Bible to support this lie. Jesus said the Law of Moses was right. This Law forced people into bondage by demanding obedience under threat of severe punishment. When Jesus said that God doesn’t forgive those who don’t forgive he meant they were too immoral to forgive and be forgiven. Jesus made it a sin to love your baby or your spouse or your parents more than yourself - he said only God should be loved supremely and commanded that we love him with all our being. A man like that is seeking to put us into bondage.
 
Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven a day. Bondage from a failure to forgive would imply extreme self-damage. You ruin yourself with bitterness and anger. But most of the things we fail to forgive do not do us much harm. Jesus' command proves that it was indeed about moral exoneration primarily. Peter could not have been at risk of bondage for everything he failed to pardon. 
 
Other Critics of Dawkins Say...
 
They say Dawkins and the New Atheists say they have all the answers while they criticise religion for making this claim.
 
They say the true religion or the true philosophy will have all the answers though that does not mean it will make much of an effort to teach these answers.
 
If somebody has all the answers then why can't it be Dawkins and his New Atheists? Perhaps Dawkins and the New Atheists do not have all the answers but have all the main answers?
 
They say Dawkins and the New Atheists condemn blind faith as bad but blind doubt is bad too. Blind faith is faith that may use evidence but which doesn't really give a toss about evidence. A person who believes his dog is God may claim to have some evidence such as answers to prayer and a miracle cure from cancer. If you explain the answers to prayer and the miracle cure as mere coincidence and as unconnected to the divine dog the person will still believe without the evidence. Blind faith may not use evidence at all. It may ignore all the evidence that it is wrong. When you have blind faith, you are telling the world that you want to believe something but don't want to think about it or think it through. In other words, you have no belief of any kind and are engaging in self-deception.
 
But back to blind doubt. Blind doubt would mean you are doubting something in the absence of evidence that it is suspect or wrong. Or you are doubting in spite of the evidence that it is right.
 
Blind doubt is more acceptable than blind faith. It may do terrible damage in individual situations but generally it is less dangerous than blind faith. The blind doubter will be unwilling to blow an airplane up for Allah. The blind believer may be willing to do it.
 
In relation to religion, secularists act as if they are doubters and so they keep neutral and do not let religion tell the state what to do. Because there are so many religions and so many unbelievers, secularism is the right attitude to politics. Religion has the arrogance to challenge this. Christianity complains that it is a denial that God is best for us meaning that faith in God is best for us too.
 
Dawkins and the New Atheists are accused of blind doubt - and this despite the fact that they have accumulated more evidence to justify their unbelief than most believers do to justify their belief! The accusation is a vicious insult. It is scornful.
 
They worry about how certain Dawkins and the New Atheists purport to be so certain. But they base their non-belief on evidence - thus they only claim to be certain in so far as the evidence speaks and there is nothing the matter with that!
 
Dawkins and the New Atheists would agree that we must not hurt innocent babies for fun. Christians would say that this is wrong not because it hurts the babies but because God forbids it. They have to say that for God comes first and Jesus said he is to be our only value when he told us to love him with all our being. They will say that we must help the babies whether God is believed in or not. They will say that it is not helping the babies that is wrong but merely doing it for the babies and not for God. So they contradict themselves. If it is wrong to help the babies for the babies and not God then unbelievers are really mocking good by the good they are doing. It would seem that the unbelievers then should get no praise at all for the person who dresses up evil as good is worse than the person who lets their evil be plainly seen. Their action is only outwardly good while they are inwardly evil. Belief in God infers that unbelievers should not do good works at all. If Dawkins the New Atheists are fundamentalists and bigots and arrogant then the Christians surpass them by far in fundamentalism and bigotry and arrogance. And that tacitly and implicitly at best and explicitly at worst.
 
(Note: I have proven elsewhere that belief in a God of perfection and love does not suggest he has the right to confer moral obligations on us. So have I contradicted this by saying unbelievers should get no praise from believers at all if they do good? No. Its only evil if you assume God lays down moral laws and it is his business what we do. To say it is God's affair what we do is always always a fundamentalist supposition and is about trying to manipulate people to do what the Church determines is God's will. God can take care of his own problems so he has no right to demand that we do his will. And unbelievers cannot get praise from consistent believers but that does not mean the latter are right. They are wrong. Unbelievers should get praise.)
 
They criticise Dawkins hostility to the creation story in the Bible. They argue that he fails to perceive that it is a good thing to believe that God made you for no reason but out of his creativity and that you were made good. Genesis and the Bible never assert that God made us for no reason but his creativity. Religion says that even though God is all-powerful he does not get all his own way for his own creatures turned against him against his will. So it follows that there could be reasons we do not know why God had to make us the way he did. He might not have had as much free rein with creativity as we think. And as for us being made good according to the believers, they ignore the rest of the Genesis story which says the whole goodness thing went all wrong when the first sin was committed and creation was ruined. Also we are not partners in creation. God made us and keeps us in being and we do nothing to help him. The doctrine of creation is not inspiring. It is not beautiful no matter who persuades themselves that it is. It is not dignifying.
 
Dawkins and the New Atheists go along with society's hypocrisy at times but not to the extent that Christianity does. Dawkins and the New Atheists will pretend that your counsellor who believes abortion is wrong is not judging you as you tell her or him about your abortion. If an atheist does this it is not a huge crime. But if you believe in a God of truth and infinite goodness then your hypocrisy is a serious affront to him. Belief in God as a lawgiver who has a right to be obeyed means you intend more evil when you are being evil or hypocritical than you would if you were an atheist. Belief in this God exacerbates evil.
 
Creation teaches that God made all things out of nothing. This treats nothing as a material out of which something can be made which is nonsense. When you point that out, they start saying that God merely asked or willed creation to exist and it appeared. That denies that God really made anything. He just said, "Exist!" and all things exist. Telling something to exist is not making it. God uses no power to make the universe so he did not make it. It just happened to appear. Creation is pure nonsense. The New Atheists need to focus more on the logical absurdities of creation theory than on dissecting the creation story in the Bible.
 
They criticise Dawkins for saying that before science people were stupid. In relation to Christianity, this was certainly true. They even went as far as to say Jesus was fully man and also God. They said that though he couldn't sin, he deserved praise for not sinning! Only a being with real free will could deserve praise! Christianity boasted about how it loves sinners and how God loves them while it pretended to judge the sin and not judge the sinner as if a sin could be guilty of murder and not a person! Their virtue and their belief in the love of God was all based on lies and deceit. To call a person a sinner is to admit that the sin is not separate from them and that sin is in people not in actions. It left the Christians without genuine moral boundaries so they were easily able to pray the rosary one minute and butcher heretics the next and then praise God for their success in extirpating the unfortunate people they classed as heretical vermin.
 
Love the sinner and hate the sin is delusion. Sin is the sinner for sin shows what you are as a person so when you rephrase it as love the sinner and hate the sinner you see its deception. To regard John's essay as bad is to say John is bad at least in so far as he is an essay writer. Without the love sinner hate sin delusion one cannot believe in God because it would mean believing in an evil god who hates us. God by definition would be good. An evil God would be defective and insane and not capable of full and real control of anything and would not be a real god. Dawkins has been vindicated!
 
Conclusion
 
The Dawkins Delusion is unfair and why it has a quote on the front saying than Atheist Michael Ruse is embarrassed to be an atheist because of The God Delusion is simply amusing. The God Delusion is hardly a statement from an infallible atheist pope! Atheists don’t have to agree on everything! There is a lot more to refuting God than anything in Dawkins book.