Chapter 4 is interestingly titled, “Why There Almost Certainly is No God.” However, don’t be fooled: the author is showing no evidence of an open mind. This chapter is basically dealing with the design argument. Dawkins’ refutation basically boils down to, “who designed the designer?” as if theists didn’t think this would be a potential objection. But never mind that. Dawkins doesn’t expect his readers to read theistic works for themselves, for if they did, they’d see how elementary his arguments really are.
I found it very interesting that of all works which could be referenced, “Life—how did it Get Here?” (Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) was referenced. Dawkins is absolutely right that this is a popular work with eleven million published copies. But what Dawkins forgets to mention is that the vast majority of these books are owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves. Furthermore, a snowball in a blast furnace has a better chance than a Jehovah’s Witness actually taking the time to evaluate the arguments presented in “The God Delusion.” But never mind that. Dawkins isn’t concerned with presenting the best that the other side has to offer. Instead, he refers to one of the most closed-minded religions in the world in presenting arguments against evolution. After all, why appeal to the hundreds of books and articles that have been written by Ph.D scientists in refuting evolution when you could refer to a book published by the Watchtower?
To be fair, Dawkins does reference Michael Behe in his dealings with irreducible complexity. But, as stated before, the author’s attempt to refute is pathetic. “Without a word of justification, explanation or amplification, Behe simply proclaims the bacterial flagellar motor to be irreducibly complex.” (p. 131) Rather than go into the complex arguments involved with the bacterial flagellum, I ask that you read Darwin's Black Box for yourself and see if Behe argues his point “without a word of justification.” Those who do so will find Dawkins’ statement to be utterly dishonest, even if one disagrees with Behe.
In attempting to deal with the flagellar motor, Dawkins borrows Miller’s argument in appealing to the TTSS pump as evidence that the motor could function as something else before actually becoming a motor. Thus, the author concludes, “evidently, crucial components of the flagellar motor were already in place and working before the flagellar motor involved.” (p. 132) I ask that the reader look at the responses offered by Behe and others to see if Dawkins actually dealt with the arguments fairly, as the issues would be too complex to discuss in this book review.
Dawkins then deals with some of the other theistic proofs, such as the “fine-tuning” argument, but falls into the same trap of not bothering to look at the counter-refutations or modern developments. Instead, the author presents the same tired argument of,
“A God capable of calculating the Goldilocks values for the six numbers would have to be at least as improbable as the finely tuned combination of numbers itself.” (p. 143)
However, Dawkins completely misses the boat with his objection, which actually doesn’t explain anything. This is in light of his example of the man who is sentenced to death by a firing squad, but they all miss. In reacting, the man exclaims, “Well, obviously they all missed, or I wouldn’t be here thinking about it.” (p. 144) This is a classic case of circular reasoning.
I. The universe is set up with specific parameters.
II. Life is here.
III. Therefore, it happened by chance. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.
The problem with Dawkins is that he neglects the specified and purposeful tuning of the universe. Its not just the mere fact that its improbable. After all, the structures to which a bucket of toothpicks forms after being dumped on the floor is extremely improbable. But finding toothpicks arranged on the floor to read the first page in “The God Delusion” would not just merely be an improbable event, as if it happened by chance. Instead, it would display specification, function, and purpose. This is the lens to which we view all things that are functionally and purposefully specified. But when it comes to the natural world, we have to advocate unproven and unnecessary “multiverse theories.”
Chapter 5 deals with the roots of religion; where it comes from and why we have it. Certainly, I have my disagreements with Dawkins on this issue. However, the issue doesn’t really matter if, in fact, Christianity is true. That is, you can speculate all you want to and come up with innumerable convincing theories. But if something is actually true, then it doesn’t really matter to me how you think it might have originated. And this is a big problem I have with Dawkins’ book; there is far more content that assumes the case is closed than actual arguments against theistic proofs. The number of pages devoted to Dawkins’ opinions on religions is far too numerous in comparison to the shallow level to which he has dealt with the theistic arguments.
I was very disappointed with chapter 6, where Dawkins attempts to answer the question, “why be good?” And the reason I was disappointed is because the question is not, “why be good?” Instead, the question should be, “if there is no God, then what is the basis for good and evil?” In other words, you can come up with all the evolutionary explanations you want to as to “why” we should be “good.” But the problem is, what if your “good” is not the same as my “good?” The “why” becomes completely irrelevant.
Chapter 7 is an attempt to disprove the Bible as any sort of “good book.” But the argument assumes too much; namely, that Dawkins has an objective basis for judging the Bible. Even if the Bible were the most cruel and sadistic book in existence; if it is true, then its morality is true. Dawkins fails to realize this and simply argues on the basis that he is the objective beholder of true morality. But what he forgets is if atheism is true, then morality is up for grabs. In other words, what’s wrong for you might be right for me. Later in the chapter, Dawkins sought to list his “10 commandments,” as if they were somehow authoritative and binding upon all men. Sure, you might find a lot of people who think that its moral to obey, “in all things strive to cause no harm (Commandment #2).” But if you talk to the countless thousands who are in prisons worldwide for causing unjustified harm to others, they might just be there because they disagreed with the “second commandment.” So here, Dawkins assumes what he is trying to prove; that these “commandments” are somehow the yardstick of morality.
Chapters 8 and 9 could probably be lumped together, as they are the epitome of Dawkins’ hostility towards religion. In fact, the title of chapter 8 is, “What’s wrong with religion? Why be so hostile?” Most of the arguments Dawkins makes are primarily based on “religion’s” moral ills. Thus, because “religion” does things to hurt people and disobeys Dawkins’ “ten commandments,” he sees fit to be hostile. And with moral objectivity aside, I don’t blame Dawkins for his hostility. In other words, Dawkins thinks that his morality is right, and so he acts accordingly. I do the same thing, since I believe that my morality is right. But what is Dawkins really arguing here? Everything that is “so wrong with religion” is only wrong because the neurons firing in his brain causes him to think that it is wrong. This says nothing about moral objectivity. Its all assumption, and does nothing for someone like me who believes that God, not Richard Dawkins, is the beholder of morality.
Overall, I was very disappointed with “The God Delusion.” Had Dawkins spent more time in actual argument than expressing his hostility, I might have provided a better review. But it wasn’t Dawkins’ objective to actually convince people like me; those who are familiar with the arguments and are willing to look stuff up. Instead, Dawkins is targeting people who are on the edge of doubt; those who aren’t going to look up the facts or counter-refutations by theistic apologists. And sadly, these people are embracing Dawkins’ brand of radical atheism.
The only way this book can be at all profitable is to be familiar with the so-called “new atheists” and how they might present their arguments. However, in my opinion, your time would be much more well spent in reading arguments by the more sophisticated, less-hostile atheists who actually engage the best arguments from the other side. “The God Delusion” is a complete waste of paper and would have much better use in a recycling bin.