First Chapter `The God Delusion', Richard Dawkins, The New York Times, October 22, 2006 ....
Graphic: "The God Delusion," Amazon.com
A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection with supernatural belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species - the famous 'entangled bank' passage, 'with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth'. ... Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. Dawkins conveniently quotes from the 1859 First Edition of Darwin's Origin of Species, thus evading where Darwin from his 1860 Second Edition, and all subsequent editions, ascribed the origin of life itself to "having been originally breathed by the Creator":
"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, Senate: London, 1994, pp.428-429).
Darwin's 19th century readers would naturally assume that by "the Creator" Darwin meant the Christian God and that most definitely has a "connection with supernatural belief." Even Darwin's friends, like the botanist Joseph D. Hooker, apparently thought that is what Darwin meant, because Darwin had to set him straight in private correspondence that he in fact did not mean "the Pentateuchal [i.e. the first five books of the Bible] term of creation" but rather "`appeared' by some wholly unknown process":
"It will be some time before we see `slime, protoplasm, &c.,' generating a new animal. But I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion, and used the Pentateuchal term of creation, by which I really meant `appeared' by some wholly unknown process. It is mere rubbish, thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter." (Darwin, C.R., Letter to J.D. Hooker, March 29, 1863, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.202-203) .
But if Darwin had, as early as 1863, really "long regretted" that he had "used the Pentateuchal term of creation" when he "really meant `appeared' by some wholly unknown process," he could have corrected that by substituting "`appeared' by some wholly unknown process" for "having been originally breathed by the Creator into" in the Origin's 1869 Fifth Edition or 1872 Sixth Edition, but he did not do so.
Therefore this is more evidence that, Darwin, far from being "surely one of the most admirable men that ever lived" could when seeking to have his theory accepted, be a deliberate deceiver and liar!
Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote: How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' The quote of Sagan's which Dawkins refers to is revealing, in that it depicts "science" in competition with "religion":
"In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, `This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed'? Instead they say, `No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.52-53. Emphasis original)
and predicts that "Sooner or later, such a" science-based "religion will emerge"!
But as for "hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought," I don't have a brief for "religion" in general, but quite clearly Old-Earth creationist Christians (like me) who: 1) accept the scientific evidence for the increased age and size of the Universe, e.g. that it might have "125 billion galaxies":
"AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Looking back in time at a tiny section of sky, the Hubble Space Telescope found there may be 125 billion galaxies in the universe, about 45 billion more than the last best estimate, astronomers reported Thursday. The new number was based on observations by the orbiting telescope's Deep Field camera last October, when it looked at a speck-sized area of the southern sky, taking what amounts to a visual core sample of the heavens. ... The Hubble telescope took a similar view of the northern sky in 1995, and then estimated that there might be 80 billion galaxies in existence. Harry Ferguson of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which studies Hubble findings, said the ... Deep Field-South project looked 12 billion light years away in distance, back in time to a period perhaps one billion years after the theoretical big bang that astronomers believe created the universe. Hubble's glimpse of the southern sky took in an area that would appear to be `about the size of a grain of sand held at arm's length,' Ferguson told reporters .... But in that small segment of the sky, the telescope spied 620 galaxies. Scientists extrapolated from that sample to theorize that there might be 125 billion galaxies over the whole sky." (Zabarenko, D., "Experts Estimate 125 Billion Galaxies In Universe," Yahoo!/Reuters, January 7, 1999)
and 2) accept the Biblical evidence that God created the Universe, e.g.:
Nehemiah 9:6. You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
and is far greater than the Universe, e.g:
2 Chronicles 2:6. But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?
it therefore has increased our (my) appreciation of the greatness of God!
A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
The problem with Dawkins' and Sagan's god ("the Universe as revealed by modern science") is that it is still too small! The Christian God always has been revered as greater (indeed infinitely so) than His creation, e.g. the entire Universe is but a handbreadth (as it were) to the God of the Bible:
Isaiah 40:12. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
God totally controls the entire "starry host" and indeed "one by one, and calls them each by name":
Isaiah 40:26. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
That is, the Biblical God knows every star (as well as every planet, asteroid, meteor, etc - since the Hebrew words mean "all these [things]" in "the heavens") in all those "125 billion galaxies in the universe"!
Moreover, compared to the God of the Bible, the Universe is likened to a "garment" that will inevitably "wear out" and be "discarded," while God will "remain the same" because His "years will never end":
Psalm 102:25-27. 25In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. 27But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
So Dawkins is (as is usual for Darwinists) displaying his own ignorance of the Christian God (describing Him as "a little god") and therefore Dawkins is knocking down a strawman caricature that he has himself set up. As Dawkins' fellow Darwinist, philosopher Michael Ruse put it (not referring to Dawkins' book), "Dawkins... has never been overburdened with an undue knowledge of philosophy or Christianity"!:
"Despite Dawkins's savage rhetoric, he has never been overburdened with an undue knowledge of philosophy or Christianity. Perhaps things are not quite as cut and dried as he thinks." (Ruse, M.E., "Darwinism and the Problem of Evil," in Dembski, W.A., ed., "Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, p.145)
Therefore Christian theologian Albert Mohler calls Dawkins' book, "The Dawkins Delusion!" (my emphasis):
"The God Delusion is sure to garner significant attention in the media and in popular culture. Dawkins, along with the other fashionable skeptics and atheists of the day, makes for good television and creates an instant media sensation. In one sense, we should be thankful for the forthrightness with which he presents his arguments. This is not a man who minces words, and he never hides behind his own argument. Furthermore, at several points in the book he correctly identifies weaknesses in many of the arguments put forth by theists. As is so often the case, we learn from our intellectual enemies as well as from our allies. The tone of the book is strident, the content of the book is bracing, and the attitude of the book is condescending. Nevertheless, Dawkins insists that his strident attack upon the faith is limited to words. `I am not going to bomb anybody, behead them, stone them, burn them at the stake, crucify them, or fly planes into their skyscrapers, just because of a theological disagreement,' he insists. He even allows that `we can retain a sentimental loyalty to the cultural and literary traditions' of organized religion, `and even participate in religious rituals such as marriages and funerals,' he asserts. Nevertheless, all this must be done without buying into the supernatural beliefs that historically went along with those traditions.' Further: `We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage.'All this raises more questions that Dawkins answers. If belief in God is so intellectually abhorrent, why would anyone want to retain the traditions associated with these beliefs? Why does Dawkins acknowledge that all this amounts to `a treasured heritage?' It must be because, in the end, even Richard Dawkins is not as much of an atheist as he believes himself to be. If Dawkins is so certain that theism is dead, why would he devote so much of his time and energy to opposing it? A man who is genuinely certain that Christianity is passing away would feel no need to write a 400-page book in order to urge its passing." (Mohler, A., "The Dawkins Delusion," Crosswalk.com, September 26, 2006) .
Perhaps the best refutation of Dawkins' book is the book itself, i.e. as Mohler observes above, "If Dawkins is so certain that theism is dead, why would he devote so much of his time and energy to opposing it? A man who is genuinely certain that Christianity is passing away would feel no need to write a 400-page book in order to urge its passing"!
To be continued in part #2 (other priorities permitting-my wife is enroute to Colorado for the birth of our second grandchild, and I rashly promised her I would paint all the ceilings in our house in the ~5 weeks she will be away)!
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 7:6-12. 6Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. 11In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month-on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.