Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dawkins' Incomprehensible God (2)

It's been a crazy few weeks so I am drastically behind my "desired" posting schedule, but I did want to follow up on my last one with regard to Richard Dawkins' view of God. Though I touched on the point that Dawkins' seems woefully unaware of the amount of complexity cosmologists have discovered in makeup of the universe, the second point is more profound. Before I begin, I just want to re-offer the exchange (between Dawkins and Francis Collins) that prompted the whole thing.

In discussing the improbability that there is a Creator who could be responsible for the grand design we find, here are the comments that jumped out at me (and were expertly addressed by Robert Hart in the March issue of Touchstone):
DAWKINS: There could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding.

COLLINS: That's God.

DAWKINS: Yes. But it could be any of a billion Gods. It could be God of the Martians or of the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri. The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small -- at the least, the onus is on you to demonstrate why you think that's the case ... we were talking about the origins of the universe and the physical constants, I provided what I thought were cogent arguments against a supernatural intelligent designer. But it does seem to me to be a worthy idea. Refutable -- but nevertheless grand and big enough to be worthy of respect. I don't see the Olympian gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur. They strike me as parochial. If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.
To this, Robert Hart asks, "How is this an argument against the Christian faith?" Good question. In fact, as Hart suggested in the subtitle to his piece, this guys sounds more like St. Augustine than the leading atheist critic of Christianity in the contemporary world! A couple of observations:

1) "The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small -- at the least, the onus is on you to demonstrate why you think that's the case."

Fair enough, Mr. Dawkins. But contrary to the straw-man defenders of a thought-free faith you like to repeatedly argue against, there are some who are doing exactly that. While I disagree about the "vanishingly small" chance that such a God exists, many have provided evidence-based support for the idea that is perfectly consistent with the God described in the Bible. You have dismissed that evidence either because your presuppositions won't allow you to consider it, or because you don't like its implications. Whichever of these you base your dismissal of theism on, it rings hollow when you suggest no one has offered it.

2) "I don't see the Olympian gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur."

Of course you don't! The Olympian gods are nothing but anthropomorphic myths that the educated of Athens never believed in. There is no evidence for their existence and the stories about them sound like the tales in a children's book. Agreed.

But the evidence that Jesus came down and died on the cross is in no way similar.

We have historical documents, inscriptions and archaeological finds that have confirmed much of what the New Testament says. We have, in those documents, stories that could easily have been refuted by opponents of the apostles, and embarrassing details that no self-respecting myth-maker would include if he/she were "making up" a religion. Finally, we have the writers of those stories going to their deaths in defense of the notion that those facts were not only verifiable through witnesses, but true and therefore worthy of martyrdom.

No, Mr. Dawkins, this is not the kind of pie-in-the-sky god you want to argue against. It is not the kind of god you want to show himself in the way you think he should. Instead, we have historical, scientific and philosophical evidence for an infinite God who made himself finite, suffered the cruelties of this world, and died for a a cause that defines the whole reason for our existence. No, it wasn't what you would expect.

And, as Robert Hart notes, that was exactly the point.

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