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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thought for the day: Atheism, part 2

First of all, if you didn't read all the comments appended to the original iMonk article referenced in last week's post on atheism, try to find the time. The comments give a sobering window into just what the world expects from us in terms of being Christlike. Playing footsie with the world won't cut it. Being judgmental won't cut it. Being political and/or materialistic won't cut it. And being light on Biblical scholarship leaves us with nothing much to say by way of rebuttal.

As an example consider the recent "she said"/"he said" pairing of articles in the Wall Street Journal. Noted atheist Richard Dawkins vigorously makes the case for the irrelevance of God. God's defense is assigned to Karen Armstrong, a former nun and present popularizer of religion-in-general.

Dawkins says science makes any concept of God irrelevant. Armstrong's only counter is that we need a concept of God as a repository for our sense of wonder. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, correctly identifies the articles as simply a debate between two kinds of atheists, the abrasive kind and the "nice" kind.

So what do we say to atheists like Richard Dawkins who are smart and blunt? Call me naive but I don't see the difficulty in answering.

Dawkins's primary point about God is, "The temptation [to attribute the appearance of a design to actual design itself] is a false one, because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer. The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable."

According to a wikipedia article, "Dawkins does not claim to disprove God with absolute certainty. Instead, he suggests as a general principle that simpler explanations are preferable (see Occam's razor), and that an omniscient and omnipotent God must be extremely complex. As such, he argues that the theory of a universe without a God is preferable to the theory of a universe with a God."

The problem with Dawkins isn't the respectible scientific outlook quoted above. It's where he goes from there, making theatrical blanket statements like "Evolution is the creator of life," and "God is not dead. He was never alive in the first place." Bold talk from someone who admits he can't, with certainty, disprove God. I guess you could say he has a form of faith.

So let me take a stab at what I would say to someone like Dawkins:

1.) If you have a concern about who/what created an eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator, then you'll understand my concern about science's lack of an identified first cause for either matter or life.

2.) Evolution diversified life, but there is no evidence to assert that evolution "created" life. There is, however, plenty of evidence that life only comes from life. If everything came from, say, a hydrogen atom, then you must be making an argument for spontaneous generation, a belief science relieved both Aristotelians and Christians of a long time ago.

3.) While there's a ton of evidence for interspecies evolution, the evidence gets more sparse as one moves up the classification ladder. Even looking at interorder evolution (order Primates), the new fossil "Ardi" gives us hominid ancestors for humans a million years older than "Lucy", still walking upright, still climbing trees carefully, still recognizably human-ish, with no chimpy missing link yet in sight. And that's why the Theory of Evolution cannot yet evolve into the Law of Evolution. Intellectual honesty demands you to admit that there are just as many gaps in your own knowledge as there are in my knowledge as a Bible-believing Christian.

4.) Please stop setting up the strawman argument that most Christians believe the earth is only 10,000 years old. Bishop Ussher had a great idea when he counted the generations in the Bible. However, he failed to take into consideration unnumbered unrecorded generations. Read here for a good study into Bible time.

Bottom line, I'll remain nonjudgmental, Mr. Dawkins, and trust you to do the same.

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