Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dawkins a Deist?

I'm providing a commentary for this article found via the Spectator:

Dawkins moved it onto safer territory– and at the very beginning made a most startling admission. He said:
A serious case could be made for a deistic God.

This is true. A serious case could be made for a deistic God. Although I did not say so in my Review of Antony Flew's book, There is a God, the deist position is far more reasonable than Christianity. It is still weak and practically unfalsifiable, but it is an improvement from the fairy man of the sky that the Christians worship.

In Oxford on Tuesday night, however, virtually the first thing he said was that a serious case could be made for believing that it could.

Anthony Flew, the celebrated philosopher and former high priest of atheism, spectacularly changed his mind and concluded -- as set out in his book There Is A God -- that life had indeed been created by a governing and purposeful intelligence, a change of mind that occurred because he followed where the scientific evidence led him. The conversion of Flew, whose book contains a cutting critique of Dawkins’s thinking, has been dismissed with unbridled scorn by Dawkins – who now says there is a serious case for the position that Flew now adopts!

That book was probably not written by Flew. Flew does not seem to be in a sound state of mind, and the new book does not read like his other writings. I might also point out that the book is filled with potshots at Dawkins, which are totally unnecessary to the points "Flew" makes in the book, and look as if someone with a grudge against Dawkins inserted them in there to try and discredit him to the reader.

I put to him that, since he is prepared to believe that the origin of all matter was an entirely spontaneous event, he therefore believes that something can be created out of nothing -- and that since such a belief runs counter to the very scientific principles of verifiable evidence which he tells us should govern all our thinking, this is itself precisely the kind of irrationality, or ‘magic’, which he scorns. In reply he said that, although he agreed this was a problematic position, he did indeed believe that the first particle arose spontaneously from nothing, because the alternative explanation – God -- was more incredible. Later, he amplified this by saying that physics was coming up with theories to show how matter could spontaneously be created from nothing. But as far as I can see – and as Anthony Flew elaborates – these theories cannot answer the crucial question of how the purpose-carrying codes which gave rise to self–reproduction in life-forms arose out of matter from which any sense of purpose was totally absent. So such a belief, whether adduced by physicists or anyone else, does not rest upon rational foundations.

I have elaborated on the something-from-nothing question here, and I have elaborated on the question of abiogenesis here.

The rest of the article is rubbish. The writer says that Dawkins thinks "Jesus probably did not exist" (which is a position he absolutely does not take in his book) and that Einstein was an atheist (Which Dawkins did not say, he was careful to distinguish between Look-at-the-stars-in-awe "Einsteinian" Religion and Jesus-is-magic-Lunatic-Whacko-Fairytale religion).

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