Friday, 27 June 2008

Halfway through Dawkins

Alright, I just finished the chapter on "Why There Is Almost Certainly No God."

Has anyone read this book? Has anyone gone past this chapter? Does he ever explain why (he thinks) there is almost certainly no God? Does he? If so, please let me know. Because I seemed to think it might happen in this chapter, and it didn't. (Or maybe I missed it...somehow?)

I especially thought it might have been supposed to happen in the chapter when he ended it by saying (paraphrased very slightly for effect), "And that is why there is almost certainly no God." I was left to think, "Wait, what is why...?"

As I said before, I want to wait until I've finished the book before a launch a formal response. However, if he is really done arguing for God's improbability, and is really now working on explaining 1) why there is religion and 2) why it is bad, there's going to be a bit of a problem. He hasn't even done what he said he had wanted to do/had succeeded in doing with this chapter, and the rest of the book promises to rest on this chapter having proved its point.

OK, he gives a shot at it. But he starts with all sorts of interesting premises (some of which I find problematic anyway), and then he tries to refute a few points, and then he makes some assertions, and then he assembles them all into a list. But he never explains where his assertions come from, he tries to justify his premises (or those he explicitly states) with reasoning by analogy (which will send any half-decent philosopher's alarm bells ringing, and I suspect that any self-respecting scientist--who really is a special type of philosopher--wouldn't even both with reasoning by analogy anyway). And then he touts his refutations as proofs. And the list, when assembled, doesn't even prove God's improbability anyway.

To break down what I just said into more logical terms: 1) his premises are problematic; 2) his method is faulty; and 3) he doesn't even arrive at his point.

Really, I must express shock and frustration. Shock because I had heard how rational this man was supposed to be, and frustration because so many people seem to buy into this.

If I have any readers at all, some of them will likely be angry at me by this point. I am assuming, angry readers, that you believe that Dawkins argument makes sense. Please, I ask you, if you made sense of it, explain it to me. It's possible, I suppose, that his style just sucks and I can't make out the argument because it's poorly presented.

Perhaps, though, you ought to hold on to your explanation until I post about my reading of it. Then you can see where I'm coming from, and what my specific objections to his "argument" are.

The point of this post, of course, was to vent about that chapter more than to refute it. It's a sort of, "Here's where English Clergyman is right now, emotionally and intellectually speaking." I was told by a friend that he prefers reading blogs about people's lives, which he finds interesting, and less about other stuff--perhaps he meant short fiction and links/excerpts I find interesting, which is what this blog started out as. Well, this is about my life today, I suppose. More accurately, this is about my general frustration in this last hour or hour and a half.

Bah. I no longer like this project. Also, I have to return the book on Wednesday. I likely won't have the time to read The Dawkins Delusion?, which I was looking forward to.

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