Reply to The Dawkins Delusion

The Dawkins Delusion by Alister McGrath with Joanna Collicutt McGrath, SPCK, London, 2007
A book claiming to answer Richard Dawkins book, The God Delusion, has appeared. It makes for interesting reading and it gets more interesting when one probes its lies and claims and distortions. The book is a totally inadequate reply to The God Delusion.
Having a delusion means you are mentally deficient or insane or maybe a bit of both.
Richard Dawkins sees delusion as a strong but wrong belief that is not justified by the evidence in front of the person. He has tried to refute the allegation that he used delusion in the sense of a psychological disorder. People with religious delusion must exist. They need help. It is my perception that those who know certain things about religion that refute it and who still believe are deluded and unwell. High level Christian scholars would be in that category. For example, the theologian Pope, John Paul II.
Some say Dawkins has diagnosed all religious people as deluded when he cannot and has not evaluated all religious people individually. But if all people started saying that water is all turned into blood would you need to personally evaluate them all? Dawkins sees religion as divorced from reality as saying that there is no water any more but only blood.
Believers always say that if anybody criticises their version of God or religion that they are criticising not them but a misperception of them or a straw man. They tar critics with the one brush so they are certainly prone to delusion. They refuse even to argue that people like Dawkins do not criticise their God but their perception of God. Or that he is criticising his perception of their perception!
Dawkins says that God and science contradict each other.
Some respond that logically working out that God exists is a job for philosophy not science. Science is said to depend on evidence and experiment and not on logic. This is not true. Experiments are based on reasoning - if x then y.
It is said that since God is not an object in the universe he cannot be discovered scientifically. But surely there would be indirect signs that he must exist? Science could verify those. And I thought Jesus as God incarnate is an object in the universe and out there somewhere? It is not true that the God question is necessarily beyond the expertise of science. Yet it is true that science only deals with physical energies and entities. Vernon, M. The Big Questions, God, (Quercus, 2012), p. 29.
Religion says that science alone is not enough. It leaves us with gaps. But it does not follow that religion can fill those gaps. And filling the gaps is one thing but filling them with the correct filler is another. The argument that faith and reason complement and fulfil one another is dishonest. If a faith fits the holes and could be reasonable that does not mean that it is actually reasonable. Also, faith claims that there are mysteries and that God is a mystery. Faith gives you paradoxes - where one doctrine of faith contradicts another. Faith says you have to hold both views and hope that one day you will find out how they can be reconciled. It calls its paradoxes mysteries. But that means you do not know if the faith is even non-contradictory. If it is then it is irrational. Instead of faith and reason complementing one another as equals clearly reason has to come first. Faith is terrible at dealing with the unknown where reason fails to take us.
Reason and science then take priority over faith. If there is no proof for God then we have the right to deny his existence. Dawkins does just that! 
Page viii


The author says his free-thinking led him to God


We will see that that is not so. The book glosses over the cruelties commanded by God in the Bible. The book gives another demonstration of being anti-free thinking. It is there is the subtitle! The book is subtitled Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine. But there is no atheistic orthodoxy. Atheists may have disbelief in God in common but little else. You don’t have to be in a movement to be an Atheist but you cannot be a Catholic without being involved in a movement called Catholicism. Where there is no orthodoxy there cannot be any fundamentalism which is extreme orthodoxy that desires to persecute. Dawkins is not interested in persecuting believers – he only wants to deliver them from an illusion. Are liberal Christians fundamentalists because they wish to deliver their more stringent co-religionists from what they see as fundamentalist illusion?
Page ix and x


It is mad to think that those who believe that evolution and God are compatible and who believe in both are fools


Evolution cannot be separated from the problem of an-all good God who lets evil and suffering happen. Yet those same people cannot explain how God could be justified in this. Unless you can experience all the suffering that has ever been or ever will be you have no right to argue that it is part of a good plan. It is something for experience not theory. You become evil at worst and partly callous at best if you say there is an all-good God who wisely lets evil exist.
Fundamentalist Christianity is right to argue that evolution and God don’t agree. Those who think they do quote experts. Anybody can play the quoting of experts game.

Page 5


Dawkins teaches that faith in God is a stubborn belief held regardless of what the evidence says - he is wrong, that is not true.


Unfortunately most believers do not care for good quality evidence. What Dawkins says is true of most if not all believers.
To this it is answered that Dawkins thinks just because he sees God as ridiculous that everybody has blind faith in God. People can believe in something having made a mistake interpreting the evidence. It doesn’t make their faith to be blind faith. Wrong faith and blind faith are not the same thing.
But what if Dawkins is right and it is ridiculous? There is no better way to work out if somebody is exercising blind faith than to determine how silly their faith is.
Also the answer overlooks one thing. God by definition is more than just a doctrine or theory. God is a demand for total commitment for us. God is not your God if you are not committed wholly to him. The belief then calls for intransigence.
Believers do fall into unbelief or become unbelievers. The reason is that they treat God more as a doctrine or theory than somebody to whom they must give total devotion. In other words, they were half-atheists anyway.


Page 7


Dawkins’ refutation of Paley’s argument, a watch means there was a watchmaker so design in the universe means there is a God, is valid and correct. The five ways of Thomas Aquinas do not prove the existence of God but only that God is a sensible or coherent assumption to make.


One argument, the argument of the uncaused cause, says that nothing causes itself or is uncaused and then says either that God causes himself or is uncaused. That is really saying something can cause itself after all so that the nothing causes itself is untrue. Or it is saying that nothing is uncaused and then that God is uncaused. It’s incoherent. The arguments do not show the coherence of God for they all derive and are based on the uncaused cause argument.
And if person x can devise a coherent concept of God or a creator or maker or whatever, person y can do a different one. Coherence is not enough.
If God is coherent then isn’t the idea of an impersonal unconscious intelligent force making all things far simpler and therefore more coherent?
God is supposed to be that which is to come first and attract us to perfect goodness. It is not about coherence but about that. A god of coherence is an idol. You end up worshipping coherence and you worship by proxy the person who comes up with all that and puts it all together.
Page 10


Dawkins denies that God is probable. But the issue is that our existence is improbable and yet we are here so we should be asking not is God probable but is God actual.


This is just a dodge to get around the fact that god is as improbable as us if not more. We have to ask if God is probable for he is not like a person you can just go and meet.
It is only natural to ask if something you cannot see or find (like a virus in somebody’s blood) is probable. This has to be asked before it can be asked if it or he is actual.
Page 12


It is foolish to use God as an explanation for the things in the universe that cannot be explained. This approach is now outdated and what we want is to show how explicable the universe is. We want to use God to explain how we have such a rational and explicable universe. It is explicable and we know enough to work out a good picture that makes sense.  We are letting it tell us what the explanations might be and must be careful not to impose our ideas on it.  All that needs to be explained. We can assume that God is this explanation.


But God is a supernatural being. Supernatural means inexplicable. You cannot go to a supernatural God looking for an explanation for an explicable universe.
Does Ward want us to look at the unexplainable and say, "Ok I will not consider that as having anything to do with the existence or otherwise of God?" If we do then it follows that miracles ruin faith though the Bible says they are signs from God telling us what scriptures and religion to believe.
However, the argument that the universe may indicate the existence of a rational God in so far as it is explainable is a far better one than the superstitious notion that God does parlour tricks such as spinning suns at Fatima and magic to get our attention. It is more dignified and healthier and mature.
Page 36


Dawkins makes the mistake of seeing religion and belief in God as two sides of the same coin. They are not for Buddhists don't believe in God and are spiritual.


Buddhism is a philosophy not a religion. It doesn't have dogma like religion does. Only an almighty God can claim the right to tell you what to think and threaten you if you don't comply. Religion is about the community worship of the supernatural in the way authorised by the supernatural and so it includes doctrines and ethical precepts and scriptures. Therefore proper religion and God are indeed two sides of the one awful coin.

Page 53
Page 55


It is bizarre how Dawkins can say Jesus meant love your neighbour only for Jews when he told the parable of the good Samaritan and condemned the love of enemies. Jesus was opened to persuasion for Jesus is not believed to be omniscient by orthodox Christians


If Jesus was open to persuasion then he wasn’t infallible. Jesus didn’t need to be omniscient but he did need to be infallible in his religious teaching and in matters of faith and morals. If he wasn’t then he is not Lord and God to us for we can dispute what he says.
Page 56


Dawkins is wrong to condemn Jesus for advocating bad family values. Jesus defended marriage against divorce and commanded respect for children and made sure that his mother was looked after when he was dying. Also, Jesus condemned the Jews for letting men off the hook with regard to caring for their parents if they made a vow to God.


Jesus never said he banned divorce because of the family. He said that when a husband and wife part or divorce they are still married in the sight of God so it was law that was his concern not the family. Jesus didn’t express a paternal concern for children but a religious concern. He never even mentioned the children when condemning divorce. Plus girls were made to marry though they didn't want to and were too young and immature. Their consent didn't matter and was never asked for in the wedding service. These were the girls Jesus sought to trap in marriage. Instead they should have been given freedom to leave their husbands for their marriages were invalid shams anyway. The husbands had the right to impregnate them though their bodies were undeveloped and that was dangerous in those cruel times. It was dangerous for a grown woman never mind those girls many of whom had been raped by their husbands before puberty.
Jesus only told the beloved disciple that Mary was this disciples’ mother. He didn’t say the disciple had to look after her now.   
The criticism he made about men being permitted to abandon their parents by the Jewish leaders is about the interpretation of the Law not about any genuine concern for the abandoned parents. Jesus made lots of anti-family statements and said that a man should abandon his family in those harsh and terrible times to preach for him in foreign lands.


Page 60


Dawkins says that the Catholic Church harms health by making people with less than normal intelligence morbidly guilty and ignores research that indicates that religion is good for you


Religion is never good for people. It only seems good for people who don't understand its teaching, who are being fooled by clerics who are not true devotees of the faith or people who pick out the nice bits. The Catholic who picks and chooses from his religion and feels happy doing that is happy not because of his religion but because he is acting like he is his own god like a humanist would. He is happy in spite of his religion and not because of it. This


Catholic is good and happy because he is closer to atheism and the independence from God advised by them. He borrows from outside worldviews. That's all.


Ward knows fine well that even if religion is good for you, only a certain type of religion would be good for you. Does he consider it good to be a Jehovah's

Witness and controlled by the Watchtower?
Page 74


Jesus’ notion of forgiveness was about freedom from bondage not about moral exoneration


No reference is given from the Bible to support this lie. Jesus said the Law of Moses was right. This Law forced people into bondage by demanding obedience under threat of severe punishment. When Jesus said that God doesn’t forgive those who don’t forgive he meant they were too immoral to forgive and be forgiven. Jesus made it a sin to love your baby or your spouse or your parents more than yourself - he said only God should be loved supremely and commanded that we love him with all our being. A man like that is seeking to put us into bondage.
Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven a day. Bondage from a failure to forgive would imply extreme self-damage. You ruin yourself with bitterness and anger. But most of the things we fail to forgive do not do us much harm. Jesus' command proves that it was indeed about moral exoneration primarily. Peter could not have been at risk of bondage for everything he failed to pardon.
The Dawkins Delusion is unfair and why it has a quote on the front saying than Atheist Michael Ruse is embarrassed to be an atheist because of The God Delusion is simply amusing. The God Delusion is hardly a statement from an infallible atheist pope! Atheists don’t have to agree on everything! There is a lot more to refuting God than anything in Dawkins book.

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