The God Delusion - an Appraisal  - Chapter 4

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This is the Chapter 4 Page for the appraisal of the contents of Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion.



Page Contents:









Chapter 4 Overview

"Why there is Almost Certainly No God "


Chapter 4 is divided into:



Chapter 4: Content & Comments


Part 1: The Ultimate Boeing 747



Quote 1: p. 137


The argument from improbability is the big one.   



A NEW THEORY: Richard seeks to turn the usual argument on its head (or at least that is what is inferred). The usual argument is that it is so improbable for life to have begun as scientists suggest, that it must have required a divine guiding hand of design.


Now I have very carefully read the two pages of this part and I have to say that it is impossible from the generalities here to see Richard making any other point than he has a different theory and it is based more on ‘graded ramps of slowly increasing complexity.' (P.139) and he calls it the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit – but for the moment he is obviously keeping it under wraps.


Professor Alister McGrath in his The Dawkins Delusion, refers to this whole chapter as

a loosely collated series of assertions” and says that “This rambling pastiche is poorly constructed, making it quite difficult to follow its basics argument, which seems to be an expansion of the ‘who made God, then' question."


Move on quickly; Part 1 says very little.

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Part 2: Natural Selection as a Consciousness-Raiser



Quote 2: p.139


That is where consciousness-raising comes in




RAISING CONSCIOUSNESS: For the next three pages Richard expounds on the need to raise consciousness and his goal is eventually to be shown as consciousness in respect of natural selection.

LINK to Appendix 4 - Quotes about Evolution



Quote 3: p. 142


the trickle-down theory of creation



CONFUSED PHILOSOPHY: Richard quotes a philosopher who accepts that evolution does away with the need for God, in that “it takes a big fancy smart thing to make a lesser thing.” As yet he doesn't explain how and why, just assuming that in the mantra “natural selection” are the infallible words that will explain away everything.

Near the end of the section he resorts to his usual policy, which he uses again and again, to replace the politician's defence mechanism expressed by the notes in his speech, “Weak argument shout louder.” For Richard it is “weak argument, be derisory.” Content may follow we hope.


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Part 3: Irreducible Complexity



Quote 4: p.145


the higher the improbability, the more implausible intelligent design becomes.




IMPOSSIBLE ODDS: This quote appears a page into this part which so far has just been a general refuting of intelligent design, replacing it, instead, with natural selection. The trouble is that you get swept along with the flow and nearly miss what, in any other context, would be laughed out of court. I am certain that if Darwin had never mentioned natural selection, Richard could not have blinded himself to what he has just said here. Without natural selection, because of the impossibility of the odds, a designer is the only logical alternative, which may be why Richard places all of his reliance on natural selection. Unfortunately not all scientists are quite so happy with natural selection as we'll show soon. Please use the link below and note the quotes at the end.


LINK to Appendix 4 - Quotes about Evolution



Quote 5: p.146


Any entity capable of designing something as improbable as a Dutchman's Pipe (or a universe) would have to be even more improbable than a Dutchman's Pipe.




[If you haven't read the book yourself, the Dutchman's Pipe' is a plant that catches insects.]


Alister McGrath answers this better than I could, so may I quote him again:

“it needs to be pointed out that the Holy Grail of the natural sciences is the quest for the ‘grand unified theory' – the ‘theory of everything'. Why is such a theory regarded as being so important? Because it can explain everything, without itself requiring or demanding an explanation. The explanatory buck stops right there. There is no infinite regression for the quest for explanation. If Dawkins' brash and simplistic arguments carried weight, this great scientific quest could be dismissed with a seemingly profound , yet in fact trivial, question: What explains the explainer?”


MYSTERY: From a philosophical-theological perspective, my own comment would simply be, the “Who designed the Designer?” question (p.147) carries us into realms of mystery that have always been accepted at mystery and Richard can jump up and down as much as he likes over this, but I believe there are things that even his mind can't cope with, but I wouldn't ask him to accept that.


[Philosophically, I deny there is any person alive who can truly comprehend what the distance, say 50 light years actually means, or the time span 50 million years means. I suggest that not one of us can truly comprehend such vastness. We can talk about it, but that's all! If I have a problem with that, I don't have a problem with the problem of God's origin!]



Quote 6: p.147


the power of accumulation



DUBIOUS LOGIC: Richard's sneaky way of overcoming the improbability problem is to break it down into small bits: “a cumulative process which breaks the problem of improbability up into small pieces. Each of the small pieces is slightly improbable, but not prohibitively so.


At this point I can hear TV character Victor Meldrew declaring, “I don't believe it!” Do you see the cunning sleight of hand here? Ten little improbable things added together make a massive improbability. But start with one little improbability and it is possible. Well actually, no, it is still improbable! If you start adding on another improbable thing to follow the thing that has happened improbably, that doesn't make the second thing less improbable, it still makes two improbable things, even it one of them did miraculously come about. The second improbable thing is still improbable and because pure, blind chance occurred for the first one, I'm sure my actuarial friend would not reduce the odds!


This is the ‘leap of faith' that Richard is so good at which I have referred to before. Let's quote from Does God Believe in Atheists by John Blanchard:


“Natural selection could not have taken place until there had been reduction, and science has never found a way of showing how a reproducing a cell might have formed spontaneously without first having the products of living organisms. The best that Richard can offer (in The Selfish Gene) is the idea that a remarkable molecule which he dubs the ‘Replicator', and which has the astonishing property of being able to create copies of itself, came into being by accident at some point in the earth's prehistory. He accepts that the emergence of self-replicating life forms is ‘exceedingly improbable', yet in The Blind Watchmaker brushes the difficulty aside by suggesting that ‘Given enough time, anything is possible'.”


Do you see that last phrase: ‘Given enough time, anything is possible'? What a total copout! Blanchard later quotes Hubert Yockey, a convinced evolutionist,

“openly confessing that there is no evidence whatsoever for the spontaneous evolution of even the simplest life-forms: ‘One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom, a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.' “


Which brings us back to Richard, the man of leaps of faith, for he maintains and keeps on maintaining, that it is only a matter of time before we find answers. He can't prove it, but he believes it dogmatically! He's the most dogmatic believer on the planet, despite all his protestations to the contrary!



Quote 7: p.150


In Climbing Mount Improbable, I devoted a whole chapter each to the eye and the wing, demonstrating how easy it was for them to evolve by slow…. gradual degrees



PROBLEMATIC SPECULATING: I'm sure he did. A little reading around shows a lot of people unhappy with the speculative writing in that book. If I can quote from one such page on the Internet,

He relies on a computer simulation of gradual eye evolution by Dan Nilsson and Susanne Pelger, which claims, “it would take less than 364,000 years for a camera eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch.”


Now there are some obvious difficulties about this which Richard prefers to ignore:


  •  he is unable to prove what happened because he does not have the tangible evidence of the development, only the end product.


  •   I thought different species developed at different times. Did the eye exist complete in the first living creature from which all others came???


  •   a computer simulation comes from human ideas and without the evidence of what did actually happen, and is, therefore, entirely speculative.


  •   364,000 years is actually a long time. Why didn't the process get interrupted and the developing ‘whatever it was' get destroyed somewhere in that tiny spot where it was sitting in the universe throughout that period – or were there thousands of them developing and why didn't a whole host of variants survive?


There's a serious amount of blind faith required to believe all that Richard says!

LINK to Appendix 7 - Science or Philosophy


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Part 4: The Worship of Gaps



Quote 8: p.151


If an apparent gap is found it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it.




OUTDATED ARGUING: The apostle Paul wrote, in the context of love, “
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.(1 Cor 13:11). I quote this because I think, in the evolution of Christian thought and understanding (and Christian thought does develop with time), once upon a time there were those who argued for the ‘God of the Gaps' approach, and there may even be some (in America?) who still do – a minority I suggest. This is attacking an outmoded thought pattern.


If you are not sure how Richard's argument goes it is this: The Christian supposition was that God was only God of those areas that we didn't understand. Thus as science revealed more and more ‘how things work' it doesn't need, the argument goes, the presence of God as an answer. The assumption was that one day God will be completely squeezed out and be seen to be not needed to explain creation.  


TOTAL DESIGN: The more mature Christian approach is, God designed and created the world to work in the way it does. He designed it so that when water boils it evaporates. He also designed every other scientific fact you can think of. It's not a case of ‘we don't need Him now' – He's there! We need Him as much as any small child needs its parents. If God is as the Bible describes Him, we would be stupid to refuse to respond to Him.


What is a shame here, is that Richard spends time attacking an area that most of us have moved on from, and so the rest of us are bored by what he says.

LINK to our Apologetics pages on the God of the Gaps




Quote 9: p.152


seeking out gaps in scientific knowledge and claiming to fill them by ‘intelligent design' by default




INTELLIGENT DESIGN: I am aware that Alister McGrath feels the ID argument leads in the God-of-the-gaps direction and that eventually ID will be explained in scientific understandable terms. Yet I confess I still feel that the subject of Intelligent Design does break new ground, and although McGrath and Richard may be proved right in the fullness of time, I do, as I indicated earlier in the question of the eye, believe that there are still two problems with the evolutionary concept here:


i) the ‘irreducible complexity' component of the ID argument may possibly be eventually explained, but until it does, the very logic of irreducible complexity seems impossible to overcome and to say it will eventually be explained, still requires a leap of faith for which there can be no empirical evidence – it IS a leap of faith on Richard' behalf to believe it WILL happen.


ii) the breaking it down into tiny parts to overcome the ‘improbability factor' is still playing mind games and requires a belief in pure chance over massive periods of time and in those enormous periods of time, as I asked earlier, when in the case of irreducible complexity, we are waiting for a bunch of unrelated things to somehow come together to form this amazingly complex end product, why aren't the individual components destroyed by decay or influences of other things on them? This doesn't seem an area that I've ever heard people discussing, but it seems as valid as any other in what is tantamount to be a philosophical and not scientific discussion.


I really do believe we need to play ‘Call by Bluff' over some of this stuff because the explanation of natural selection or evolutionary transitions seems to rest very much on the requirement of an enormous period when pure chance is evoked and because it cannot be proved it is, as I've just suggested, more of a philosophical discussion rather than a scientific one. To say, as Richard does, “I'm sure this is how evolution progressed” is a faith statement rather than a categorical scientific statement.


LINK to Appendix 3 - Questions about Atheistic Evolution



Quote 10: p.153


Creationists adore ‘gaps' in the fossil record…




QUESTIONABLE GAPS: Well yes, because there are so many of them. I'm not a Creationist and nor am I an evolutionist. I am happy that God could have brought the current world into being by either of the methods espoused by both groups. But I do have intellectual problems which no one in the scientific world can answer satisfactorily. Richard will answer them, but he has to make great leaps of faith to do that – though he doesn't like acknowledging that.


Here is my biggest problem: if evolution is not merely theory but fact, then something that we seem to take for granted is the complete absence between every species, of massive evidence of links from every stage. It is too easy to say that would have been destroyed; if they existed in the numbers needed to populate the earth to today's extent, then there ought to be massive more quantities of evidence.


Richard tries to cover this by the exclusion clause that goes, “It is utterly illogical to demand complete documentation of every step of any narrative.” (p.153) Why? His example of the evidence for convicting a murderer is weak. We're talking about staggeringly big amounts of gradually developing life. Where is it all?

LINK to Appendix 4 - Quotes about Evolution



Quote 11: p.156


the organ or structure you are looking at may have had scaffolding in an ancestor which has since been removed.




ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE: This absence of intermediate evidence we just referred to, is now actually used by Richard to postulate a means as to how the irreducible complexity came into being. He has absolutely no evidence to put forward and therefore the key word in the quote is ‘may', and him putting it forward and believing it is a bigger leap of faith (no basis!) than the Christian has for believing in God.


LINK to Appendix 7 - Science or Philosophy



Quote 12: p.157


Behe simply proclaims the bacterial flagellar motor to be irreducibly complex




DETAIL: When we come on to the specifics of Intelligent Design and the example of the flagellar motor, I'm not sure how Richard can say this. In Behe's own words,

40 different protein parts which are necessary for this ‘machine' to work and if any of these parts are missing then you either get a flagellum that work… or it doesn't even get built within the cell.

I think that is fairly straight forward.


Others add,

In evolutionary terms you have to be able to explain how you can build the system gradually when there is no function until you have all these parts on place.”

Again, I think that is quite clear.



Quote 13: p.159


Such work would never be done if scientists were satisfied with the lazy default such as ‘intelligent design theory'.




CONFUSION: I think Richard is confused in his mind between scientific motivation and end conclusions. From what I have heard, those who believe in intelligent design, as an overarching theory, have been working even more industriously for many years to discover the parts of such irreducible complexity and how they work. In no way do they see their conclusion of ID as a lazy default. Richard quoting a counsel for a court case does nothing more than repeat the emotive verbal dexterity of a lawyer, which would be expected, but which is not necessarily the whole picture.


Richard's appearance of just sticking with old style theories without bothering to really examine the Christian evidence, seems far more a ‘lazy default' position. Both his approach and that of others from his camp, to simply make derisory noises without realising and acknowledging the gaps, scientific and philosophical in both camps, simply leaves the observer feeling highly dissatisfied.


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Part 5: The Anthropic Principle: Planetary Version



Quote 14: p.163


Two main explanations have been offered for our planet's peculiar friendliness to life.




ALTERNATIVES: The two explanations Richard gives are the design theory (God) and the scientific or anthropic approach – and they are alternatives (p.164). Now I need to confess a degree of ignorance here – ‘anthropic' was not a word that I was familiar with – and it may not be with you. In fact two of my three dictionaries didn't have it. Chambers eventually came up with to do with human biology, which is Richard' area of specialty.


However for seven and a half pages Richard speaks about the planets and life, but so unclearly that I still didn't know what he was saying after having read it twice. I still didn't understand what he was getting at, so I resorted to Alister McGrath who said,

Dawkins then sets out an argument that makes little sense, either in the brief and hasty statement offered in The God Delusion, or the more expanded versions he set out elsewhere. In a somewhat patchy and derisory account of the ‘anthropic' principle, Dawkins points out the shear improbability of our existence.”  

We need to read on.



Quote 15: p.164


the spontaneous arising by chance of the first hereditary molecule strikes many as improbable. Maybe it is – very, very improbable, and I shall dwell on this, for it is central to this section of the book.




TOTAL SPECULATION: Those last words made me feel I needed to get to grips with this. End of p.164 – The origin of life is a flourishing, if speculative, subject for research. ‘Speculative' I understand because I have been saying previously that so much of the suggestions of evolution are purely speculative because you can't prove what happened millions of years ago; you can only speculate. But this use of speculative doesn't encourage me here. Still what follows may be sharper.

LINK to Appendix 7 - Science or Philosophy



Quote 16: p.165


the anthropic alternative to the design hypothesis is statistical.




BIZARRE STATISTICAL LOGIC: My heart sinks. So we are going to disprove God by statistics. Listen to this gem: “If we know nothing about a planet, we may postulate the odds of life's arising on it as say, one in a billion” (p.166) Why? Why not a million, million?

Read on, and he tells us that it is nothing like that because some planets are more earth-like. Oh, OK, sounds good. Now this is where the rubber really hits the road listen. The argument he propounds is that “ a chemical model need only predict that life will arise on one planet in a billion, billion to give us a good and entirely satisfying explanation for the presence of life here.”


Just in case you didn't take that in, Richard says that if you have astronomical odds against life coming about, as long as you have enough planets it has GOT to come about on its own, i.e. without the necessity for God.


And there, my friend, you have the fatal flaw in reasoning if you leave it to theoretical biologists pretending to be mathematicians. He really believes it! This is the same logic that says if you can get in enough millions of years into our thinking of history, then anything could have happened! It doesn't work like that! You can't make life by statistics.

If you don't have the components (and “NOTHING nothing” as Francis Schaeffer used to call it) then you can't create movement. You are throwing out the basic laws of physics about movement simply because they don't allow for dream dreams!


The more and more I read this the more I am put in mind of Hans Anderson's, The Emperor's New Clothes. Say it authoritatively enough and people will believe you. Sorry I wasn't around when we were being told to suspend incredulity! I am sure there are those who believe that if you say it enough times it becomes true, and that is what Richard has done with his anthropic principle.


What we have in all this thinking is one virtually impossible thing happening followed by an almost unlimited number of virtually impossible things happening. It's an illogical nightmare that doesn't work!

RECAP: Just in case you haven't taken in what is going on here, it is this - Richard wants you to accept something that is impossible (life coming from absolutely nothing) by giving it statistical odds. You can't put odds to something that is impossible! Don't be taken in by this false thinking.

Asking you to accept statistical life formation is an enemy tactic that is akin to Goliath inviting the Israelites to send out their best man to fight him. For weeks they stood there in fear because they accepted his bizarre way of thinking. Excuse me this is a war isn't it? Saul just send out ten archers to shoot him down and then get on with the battle. That's what you do in wars, isn't it?  Don't get sucked into this crazy way of thinking. It is crazy from the moment he starts asking you to accept odds on something that is just impossible - and everything else we know about science says it is impossible!


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Part 6: The Anthropic Principle: Cosmological Version



Quote 17: p.169


Physicists have calculated that, if the laws and constants of physics had been ever slightly different, the universe would have developed in such a way that life would have been impossible.



GOOD ARGUMENT: Which sounds like a good argument for saying that it was designed, but I'm sure we're about to have some more sleight of mind. Watch!



Quote 18: p.171


the theists answer is deeply unsatisfying, because it leaves the existence of God explained.



CIRCULAR ARGUING: Just a minute, we have a circular argument here. The theist says God set up the universe but because we can't understand God's enormity or complexity, He can't exist and so can't have made the world. What logic is that? We will only believe in God if we understand Him?



Quote 19: p.172


Maybe the psychological reason for this amazing blindness has something to do with the fact that many people have not had their consciousness raised, as biologists have, by natural selection and its power to tame improbability.




BLINDNESS: What is ironic here is that the rest of us stand with our mouths wide open in amazement at the apparent blindness of Richard because he has accepted a scientific philosophy which many are questioning. This is not my realm but don't you dare write me off as an ignorant fundamentalist or whatever other abusive Orwellian tactic you want to use, because I'm only going on what a lot of scientists and scientific philosophers say – those who upset Richard by not agreeing with him.


The tide is turning. It is quite probable that honesty will creep into teaching biology in the days to come and there will be an acknowledgement of the holes in the theory of evolution and the theory of natural selection, together with a recognition that it is impossible to prove the past and therefore alternatives are acknowledged.


In the pages that follow for the rest of this part, Richard himself acknowledges different scientists have different ideas. What he fails to see is that they are free to postulate different answers because the evidence is quite unclear and we are, therefore, in an area of speculation, scientific and religious.

LINK to Appendix 4 - Quotes about Evolution



Quote 20: p.180


The theory of natural selection is genuinely simple. So is the origin from which is starts. That which it explains, on the other hand, is complex almost beyond telling: more complex than anything we can imagine, save a God capable of designing it.




VARYING VIEWS: Now if Richard ever becomes a Christian I believe he could write these sentences and completely mean them still. I don't know how he can say that the beginning is genuinely simple unless he means there was virtually nothing to start with and it was a tiny, tiny beginning.


His concluding comment about God, I have a feeling, must be tongue in cheek, yet what he doesn't see is the truth of what he says, for the various reasons noted earlier.


I would have less of a problem with natural selection is so many scientists didn't keep pointing out holes in it. You see, I have no problem with God who designed the world to work and develop that way. If He did it wouldn't be random chance that everything happened that way, but the pure design of God.

LINK to Appendix 4 - Quotes about Evolution


REAL MOTIVATION FOR ATHEISM: I don't have a problem with a God who nudges it along sometimes, along the way. If I have any definition of God that comes out of the Bible, it is that He is big enough and ‘clever' enough to make everything totally complete one second ago, even with our memories complete (if you want to go to one extreme), complete a million years ago, or fifty million years ago or even a billion years ago so that it develops from a lot of complete stuff or from nothing. Those perhaps are some of the philosophical possibilities. Richard isn't an atheist because he is a scientist, but for other reasons. He seeks to use science to confirm his belief, and in so doing goes to lengths that stretch the incredulity, as I said earlier, of the rest of us onlookers. Please go the the link above and see the end quotes about refusing to believe.

LINK to Appendix 7 - Science or Philosophy


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Part 7: An Interlude at Cambridge



A CONFUSING CONFERENCE: The pages that follow are a recollection of a conference that Richard attended in Cambridge, of theologians and others, put on by the Templeton Foundation. The only reasons that I can see for him including this are:


1. To cite one of his encounters with the other side, slightly negatively for the other side,

2. To provide an opportunity to deride theologians since the nineteenth century, by the appeal to the liberal theologian lobby that we have already spoken about. He does not realise that that school of thinking has been discounted by starting from a prejudged-position as I have indicated before.

I think, because it is so important, I will repeat what I wrote in the second half of Chapter 2:

Josh McDowell in The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, possibly one of the best resources that Richard could read, wrote of the so-called Higher Criticism of the late nineteen and early twentieth century,

“Unfortunately the higher critical school that grew up out of German scholarship in the last century employed some faulty methodology and tenaciously held to some questionable presuppositions. This seriously undermined the validity of many of their conclusions.”

The following 130 pages of McDowell's work answers those defective scholars.


In concluding this chapter Richard summarises his beliefs as if saying them again will set them in concrete, yet ignores the fact that many of his colleagues disagree with him at great length on the whole spectrum of his argument.

LINK to Appendix 6 The Nis-use of Liberal Theologians 


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NB. In what follows Q stand for ‘Quote'


Part 1: The Ultimate Boeing 747


Richard has a theory for the world and it is based more on ‘graded ramps of slowly increasing complexity.' A confusing part that seems to say little. (Q.1)



Part 2: Natural Selection as a Consciousness-Raiser


Richard expounds on the need to raise consciousness in respect of natural selection and ends up with a derisory note. (Q.2,3)



Part 3: Irreducible Complexity


Richard derides a Jehovah's Witness publication on the side of creation and refers such writers to his Climbing Mount Improbable where he overcomes the improbability factor by slow gradual stages.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • Not all scientists are as happy with natural selection as Richard is (Q.4)
  • The “Who designed the Designer?” question carries us into realms of mystery that have always been accepted at mystery (Q.5)
  • He overcomes the improbability factor problem by slow gradual stages but this requires massive leaps of faith (Q.6)
  • Climbing Mount Improbable involves lots of uncertainty and inability to prove the past, and massive leaps of faith. (Q.7)



Part 4: The Worship of Gaps


In this part Richard attacks those who rely on gaps in knowledge to give God space.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • This is an argument from long back, no longer believed by most (Q.8)
  • The thought that ID is another gap concept still leaves lots of big unanswered questions (Q.9)
  • Evolution and the fossil record does still have massive gaps and in no way shows a gradual development that we might expect. (Q.10)
  • To overcome these Richard resorts to massive leaps of faith. (Q.11)
  • The complexity problem of ID appears not to be understood by Richard (Q.12)
  • The acceptance of ID does not produce lazy scientists as Richard suggests (Q.13)



Part 5: The Anthropic Principle: Planetary Version


His anthropic approach is simply playing with statistics to explain the beginning of life.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • His argument is initially very unclear (Q.14)
  • Use of ‘speculative' language makes us even more uncertain (Q.15)
  • To speculate using statistics is a logical no-go area and bizarre, which is what we have here! (Q.16)



Part 6: The Anthropic Principle: Cosmological Version


Richard takes the same argument about improbability into why this world is just right for life naturally.


Along the way I have pointed out that:

  • His argument sounds more on the side of a designer (Q.17)
  • He resorts to basically saying we can't believe in God because He is too complex to understand (Q.18)
  • Richard himself appears to exhibit incredible blindness while accusing others of it. He does acknowledge that different scientists have different ideas, thus proving it is not so clear cut as he makes out. (Q.19)
  • He appears to rely on natural selection purely because he is an atheist (Q.20)



Part 7: An Interlude at Cambridge


He then recollects a conference in Cambridge but seems to do so in order to suggest that the liberal theologians of the 19th century got it right – and only they – despite the fact that they started from the presupposition that God cannot intervene in His world, thus prejudging the rest of their suggestions. He thus again reveals the weak foundation that he relies on to speak about theology. A sad ending.



Overall Comment:


This chapter starts out in a very confusing and unclear manner but soon turns into a platform to preach about natural selection. From this he takes us to the mechanism to make evolution, natural selection, and the beginning of life, slightly more probable than we would otherwise think – slow and very gradual changes that are not quite so improbable. He moves on to shoot at the outdated idea of the ‘God of the gaps' and then into two parts where he resorts to the most convoluted use of statistics to prove how the world must have come into being without God. His final part is a conference recollection where we are reminded of his liberal theologian base that has been long dismissed by most scholars of repute.


Now within this chapter I believe the failings have been as follows:


  • initial lack of clarity and direction,
  • a reliance upon natural selection without facing doubts of his colleagues
  • bad logic in dealing with improbability by slow change
  • shooting at a target that is no longer there,
  • bizarre and illogical use of statistics to prove the unprovable
  • reliance on liberal discounted theologians.


Underneath it all, I am left with the sense that Richard is an atheist for reasons other than science but goes to wild lengths using science, strange logic and massive leaps of faith, to confirm his atheistic leaning.


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