C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Examine: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Preface and Chapter 1

As most of you know, or may not, Richard Dawkins has written the book The God Delusion. Since he is an open atheist, there is no reason to ponder why such a title. I do not personally know Mr. Dawkins, nor have we ever met, but I would like to take a look at his book to glimpse inside the mindset of one who openly, excitedly denies the existence of God.

What I shall present, continually in sections as I continue to read his story, is my questions and observations based on certain parts of his book. I will do my best to note the pages and places of each thought, based in Mr. Dawkins’ book so any owner of the book will easily be able to follow my thoughts, and so I will hopefully not be found guilty of taking things out of context.

RD = Richard Dawkins

Preface

P. 1
The very first page of the Preface RD speaks of “Imagine, with John Lennon, a world with no religion.” I can’t help but wonder if he also noticed that Mr. Lennon would have us remove not only religion, heaven, and hell, but also countries and possessions. How many ready to give up religion are equally ready to give up country and all their possessions right now, today, also? Interestingly, it isn’t country or religion why we are unable to live in peace, but it is the sinfulness of man, which may use country and religion as a means, but it is merely just an outward expression of man’s inward deceitful, prideful, lustful heart of rebellion against God and a desire to make oneself a god.

P. 3 - 5
Interestingly, on page 3, we find RD claiming, “Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about. On the contrary, it is something to be proud of, standing tall to face the far horizon, for atheism nearly always indicates a healthy independence of mind and, indeed, a healthy mind.” Yet, on page 5 he notes, “Indeed, organizing atheists has been compared to herding cats, because they tend to think independently and will not conform to authority.”

So, it appears that the same qualities (notably independence and pride) which RD says is “healthy” are equally detrimental to his cause. Not to mention that these very qualities were the cause of the fall of Satan [Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19; Job 41:34], and the cause of every man, woman, and child rebelling instead of coming to Christ for salvation [Mark 7:21-23; 1 John 2:15-17]. A desire for independence from God and pride in oneself are not virtuous qualities.

Could you imagine a world run by atheists instead of religious persons (regardless of the fact that religious person are not always Scriptural or godly)? Can you “Imagine”?

Imagine there’s no Christians
Only atheists in sight
They reject all authority
For independence from each other they fight
Imagine all the people
Living for themselves…


(Now, don’t get upset, if you have read Dawkins book he enjoys poking fun at Christianity.)

RD also gives his opinion, on page 4 that, “Clearly we have a long way to go. But atheists are a lot more numerous, especially among the educated elite, than many realize.” On the surface this may appeal to the atheist readers as to give credibility to atheism simply because he claims some of “the educated elite” are atheists, but simply because “the educated elite” believe something to be true does not make it true (Isn’t this the very thing atheist claim of Christians?). Who exactly or what exactly are these “educated elite”, meaning are they “the educated elite” in all knowledge or merely their current field, whatever that may be?

To show that “the educated elite”, by itself, is not necessarily a fail proof policy to say “we should do as they do and believe as they believe”, Scripture declares Christ proclaimed, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Continuing by the moving of the Spirit, Paul declares, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” We must remember, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”


Chapter 1

P. 11
At the beginning of Chapter 1, RD reminisces a moment about his past concerning his school chaplain, an Anglican priest. He recalls, “Why the same emotion [idea of nature/universe] should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer.” He makes notes that looking at the universe and nature, “He [his chaplain] interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led him eventually to the priesthood”, whereas evidently it did not do the same for RD.

This again leads us to Scripture. [Romans 1]
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

The Psalmist declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” And Scripture declares the things are written upon our heart for while the law was given to the Jews, Scripture declares,“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)”

So whereas RD’s chaplain choose to embrace the things of God which were within and without in nature, RD decided to rebel against them, therefore becoming a nonbeliever of that which is both inside of him and is observable in nature. It is simply acceptance verses rejection of the Truth revealed by God to every man, for Christ, “lighteth every man that cometh into the world”, but “men loved darkness rather than light”.

Clearly I haven’t covered all of my thoughts and objections, but here is a little to consider and I will continue as I have time, for I usually read more than one book at a time. If you desire to comment, whether agree or disagree, let's please try to stay within the current portion of the book presented. Currently the preface and Chapter 1. Thanks.

26 comments:

BEAST said...

Gosh.....it took you so long to read that book???? And you only manage to review Chapter.....1?

A word of advice: Read one book at a time.....I find that you have this tendency to misinterprete the writing s of others. And surprisingly for an American, your standard of English is very,very poor,and I base my judgment based on your poor writing and comprehension. Besides, Dawkins' book is more difficult to understand than others.

Try Hitchens' "God is not great, and how religion poisons everything" instead.

Beast

BEAST said...

Since you mention Lennon, his vision for the world is one in which one would describe as the ultimate "Utopia".

The idea that one should not be confined by boundaries and possessions is not a new idea: Buddhism and Taoism are both based on similar ideas, and for the most part, so did Jesus, who told his disciples to abandon their wealth in order to seek a better afterlife.

Not exactly practical, but surely, Lennon's version of a grand life is worth dreaming about.

As for dropping religion, hell yeah. Without stupid dogma, the world will be a better place to live in.

Beast

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

I appreciate your critique of my "poor writing and comprehension" skills. I figure as I continue to read and write I can't help but improve in both areas.

As I find time to read Mr. Dawkins book, I will post such chapters. Maybe then I will check out Mr. Hitchens.

evelyn h. said...

>>And surprisingly for an American, your standard of English is very,very poor,and I base my judgment based on your poor writing and comprehension.<<

To BEAST:

Based on the typos and structural errors in the sentence prior to the one I have copied above, I find it galling for you to critique anyone's writing at all.

evelyn h. said...

To Tim:

I am not familiar with this book, although from your thoughts, I have begun to get a feel for this man's opinions.

In speaking with atheists I personally know, I have always been surprised at how many grew up with a religious background. Several of them have family members who are believers.

It does give one pause for thought as to what would cause one to turn to God and another to turn away.

evelyn

L>T said...

Hi Tim

Who exactly or what exactly are these “educated elite”, meaning are they “the educated elite” in all knowledge or merely their current field, whatever that may be? "educated elite" is never used in a positive or flattering sense, as I see you are well aware of & have used to your advantage. Why Dawkins is using the term "educated elite" is puzzling to me, though.
I don't have the book & I haven't read it either, could you maybe print the paragraph that sentence is in? I'm just curious if Dawkins had some special reason to use that particular negative connotation.

BEAST said...

Could you imagine a world run by atheists instead of religious persons (regardless of the fact that religious person are not always Scriptural or godly)? Can you “Imagine”?

Imagine there’s no Christians
Only atheists in sight
They reject all authority
For independence from each other they fight
Imagine all the people
Living for themselves…

Now, now, Tim:

What makes you think that atheists "reject all authority" and love to indulge in "in-fighting".

I am an ex navy man who has served my country. Are you saying that I am a deserter???

Can't imagine a country run by an atheist? Well, judging by how your Christian President runs your country, I will say anyone, even a chimp, can do better than a Christian President.

Washington, Jefferson, Madison.......These were great Presidents who were not religious....and they serve with distinction. Got the reality of the picture???

BEAST said...

Dawkins love poking fun at Christianity, and so should everyone else. A perusal of the Old Testament is enough for me to laugh and guffaw over the stupidity of its contents. If only people are not so stupid to believe in such crap.

Anyone with a good grasp of common sense should mock at Christianity. Its so stupid that it doesn't deserve an ounce of respect from any rational, thinking person.

akakiwibear said...

Tim, I think you missed the real weaknesses in RD’s book – in fact I think you missed the point of his book! RD’s finely worded attack on Christianity and religion in general is based on false premise and some selective misrepresentation. OK but think about where is RD going with the book.

He has a valid point that religion has been used as the excuse for inflicting much misery on humanity. However, this is also the basis on which he builds some rather flawed thinking, specifically that if religion was eliminated the world would be a “better place”, that is one devoid of the atrocities and injustice perpetrated in the name of religion. Yeah right! This type false logic, taking an accepted fact (preferably one with strong emotional overtones to cloud reason) and then drawing unsubstantiated conclusions does RD no credit and certainly should be transparent to all.

Clearly there is no rational basis for this so called logic. Tyrants (large and small) will always find a catch cry to sow division among people in the quest for power and resources. In fact that is exactly what RD is doing with his book, promoting a “them” and “us” division which can be exploited.

Neva said...

Tim
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil agains you because of me."

Peace
neva

Pure Search said...

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Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

akakiwibear,

You are mostly probably right, but I am only into chapter 2 so don't spoil the conclusion of the book. :)

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Here you go l>t,

***
I need to say something to American readers in particular at this point, for the religiosity of today's America is something truly remarkable. The lawyer Wendy Kaminer was exaggerating only slightly when she remarked that making fun of religion is as risky as burning a flag in an American Legion Hall. The status of atheists in America today is on a par with that of homosexuals fifty years ago. Now, after the Gay Pride movement, it is possible, though still not very easy, for a homosexual to be elected to public office. A Gallup poll taken in 1999 asked Americans whether they would vote for an otherwise well-qualified person who was a woman (95 per cent would), Roman Catholic (94 per cent would), Jew (92 per cent), black (92 per cent), Mormon (79 per cent), homosexual (79 per cent) or atheist (49 per cent). Clearly we have a long way to go. But atheists are a lot more numerous, especially among the educated elite, than many realize. This was so even in the nineteenth century when John Stuart Mill was already able to say: "The World would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments, of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue, are complete sceptics in religion."
***

BEAST said...

I disagree with Tim's insinuation that Dawkins chose darkness over "Light and Truth". As far as the bible goes, I do not see a shred of truth or anything particularly enlightening.

Dawkins made the right decision to embrace, rational thinking, reason and science. Christians want to claim exclusivity to "truth", but yet cannot muster a single piece of verifiable proof to justify their deluded nonsense.

Beast

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

For one to say, “As far as the bible goes, I do not see a shred of truth or anything particularly enlightening”, I find most interesting.

For even if one refuses to acknowledge the authority and inspiration of the Bible, to say, “I do not see a shred of truth or anything particularly enlightening” is to turn a blind eye to the logical fact that indeed the Bible does contain truth and enlightenment, even for one that does not believe in God.

Historians discover things that have proven the Bible contains facts.

If one wishes to not believe in God or the Savior Jesus Christ concerning man’s unregenerate state and need of repentance and forgiveness found only in the gospel message of Jesus Christ, that is one thing, but to say the Bible contains not, “a shred of truth” there is simply not a shred of truth to back up that statement.

BEAST said...

Really, Tim?

History has no records of any type of flood reaching the mountains......the history of the Pharaohs, Phoenicans, Persians, Chinese, Aztechs mention nothing about the calamitous floods mentioned in the bible........

There is not a shred of evidence to prove the exodus of the Israelis in the desert.......

Bible morals include, amongst other things, to treat women like goods (The story of Levite in the book of Judges suggests it is better for a woman to be gang raped than for a man to harassed), disobedient children be killed, people who break sabbaths be punished, and other stupid, deluded nonsense. Enlightening? Hardly.

Jesus had this piece of gem to say too:"I came not with piece but a sword". Amongst other things, he cursed a fig tree, did some amusing magic tricks which no credible magician would bother to try (Turning wine to water is neat in a kiddie's birthday party). Oh, let's not forget, he cast demons into pigs, causing them to commit suicide. Poor farmers. Their livelihood was destroyed by a son of god.

Tim, I can list countless examples of the depravity, intellectual and moral corruptness of the bible you allude to. For you to say that I have "not a shred of truth" to back up my statement is a little bit fallacious.

Beast

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

You completely missed my point in reference to your point, and are simply trying to turn the tables.

You said, “As far as the bible goes, I do not see a shred of truth or anything particularly enlightening.”

Any person would take the logical meaning of this statement to mean, you are saying, there is no truth in the Bible.

Your statement is without warrant, for indeed historians have discovered FACTS that hold the Bibles mentioning of them as TRUTH. To deny this is to deny Truth and Fact. So to claim that one cannot “see a shred of truth” in the Bible is to misspeak at best or a lie at worse.

As I stated before, you do not have a shred of truth that the Bible does not contain a shred of truth, for indeed the Bible does contain Truth, noted by believers and nonbelievers.

BEAST said...

"As I stated before, you do not have a shred of truth that the Bible does not contain a shred of truth, for indeed the Bible does contain Truth, noted by believers and nonbelievers."

Tsk tsk. All these shredding and gnashing...... pray, tell me, why is it that secular historians rarely ever authenticate biblical history?

As far as I know, modern historians don't even think the real historical Jesus ever exists. At best, he is a rehash of earlier mythical-messianic Gods, and at worst, a figure which was invented to break the Jewish monopoly of monotheism.

I'd be convinced if someone comes up with a real authenticated scribe written by Jesus, or some artifacts to prove the Jewish exodus. But truth be told, there isn't.

Of course, you have Christians who climb up Mount Ararat from time to time, hoping to find some inklings of an ark......of course they have failed.

So, Tim, tell me, since I don't have "a shred of truth", what about you? At least I have science. You know why?

Cos it works, that's why.

Beast

L>T said...

Thanks. I see how he was using the term educated elite. The rest of the paragraph explains it.

To put in my two cents in concerning the OT & the truth & enlightenment contained therein.

I just finished a course on Ancient Near Eastern Mythology, The OT was an important point of reference for this course which included the myths & history of the Ancient Hebrews, because of course they have near eastern roots. Interesting that when i was a Christian I saw the OT in a very different light. Well, as a Christian & as it was explained to me by Christians, of course. Now I see it in a secular historical context, it's still an interesting book & makes a lot more sense too.

akakiwibear said...

Tim you should not Beast get away with 'not a shred of truth' unchallenged. It is too easy to make broad sweeping statements - often incorrect - and then use them to draw conclusions - Hitchins does it a lot, so does RD.

As an example of biblical accuracy (although of course the bible is neither literal nor inerrant) I do think this OT example is interesting - and typically ignored by Beast and fellow travelers

www.timesonline.co.uk
/tol/comment/faith
/article2056362.ece

BEAST said...

Akiwi:

Don't bother. Tim is not smart enough. I would be surprised if he has the intelligence of an amoeba.

Beast

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Actually "amoeba" are pretty impressive.

BEAST said...

amoeba

/meeb/ (US also ameba)

• noun (pl. amoebas or amoebae /meebee/) a microscopic single-celled animal which is able to change shape.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Apparently they are still a mystery, and "If you observe their lifestyle you will find that amoebas are really sophisticated."

So, I guess I can take it as a compliment. :)

BEAST said...

Indeed, Tim, your "sophisticated" persona amazes me to no end.

Unfortunately, sophistication does not necessarily equate to intelligence. A mentally incapacitated person can possess the necessary neurons and synapses and yet exhibit all the signs of lunacy.

If you like to be a sophisticated amoeba, by all means, go ahead.

Beast

akakiwibear said...

Beast, I guess the evidence speaks for itself on the "smart as an ameoba question".

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.