The God Delusion
the above in mind, the following are my complaints about the methodology
used by Richard in The God Delusion:
immense amount of this book actually has little or nothing to do with
belief in God being a delusion, which is what the title suggests it
should be about.
considerable amount of paper is used to denounce periphery things,
things that do not add or detract from belief in God, but which are
obviously things that just annoy Richard. I have commented on this
a number of times in the notes, but constantly ask yourself as you
read the book, does this really go towards proving the existence or
non-existence of God? In separate chapters we will consider these
things that came over as secondary targets.
Failure to Distinguish between Principles and Practice
lot of Richard's writing is taking up arms against particular individuals
or groups or denominations or even religions, on the basis of things
they have said or done which are questionable, NOT
on the basis of the specific beliefs .
the first Appendix of our Appraisal of The God
Delusion I have faced the need for the church to put its house
in order, but the fact that there are extremists who call themselves
Christians in no way detracts from the doctrines and historical background
of the Christian Faith. That some so-called believers ignore, forget
or disagree with the beliefs of the majority doesn't bring
down the central tenets of belief . To use such believers
to prove the point only shows the weakness of thinking behind the
of the problems with focusing on extremist language or behaviour,
is that it is always that of a minority group and is in no way representative
of the main body of believers. Pointing to a minority extremist group,
or even someone from mainstream who has a bad day and speaks out of
turn, does nothing to detract from the faith of millions or orthodox
Aiming for an Illusory Target
Richard in defence mode at the beginning of the book strongly denies
doing this, but denial doesn't stop him doing it. A number of times
I have had to say, but we don't believe that! Every time he sets up
an extremist group or an extremist belief, we have to say, but we're
not like that, we don't believe that, so why bother to say it. But
he still does it – again and again! If you are a Christian watch for
this as you read.
Ignoring Classical Scholarship
number of these things are inter-related. I have already complained
about Richard's use of extreme examples and this applies equally so
in respect of the authorities that he uses to bolster his weak arguments.
‘Out there' is an immense wealth of scholarship, men of great learning
and wisdom who have researched how the Bible came to be, why it is
what it is, and these are men who can be trusted. At the end of the
Introductory Page of the Appraisal of The God Delusion ,
I listed a number of books that are worth reading, and they all come
from serious men and women. Yet Richard studiously ignores all this
scholarship, possibly because he is ignorant of it, or possibly because
it runs contrary to his apparent paranoia of religious things. Prejudice
is a terrible thing!
Relying upon Liberal Theologians who start from an atheists position
other side of this same coin is the way that Richard relies upon those
antecedents are questionable. I dealt with this issue more fully in
another separate Appendix, but anyone who starts from a presupposition
that says that God can't speak or work into His world, prejudges
the issue. Reputable scientists and scholars take the evidence
in front of them and draw conclusions. They don't start with the conclusions.
There was, starting from the nineteenth century, a whole school of
theologians who started with those presuppositions. Naturally their
conclusions were negative. It is this skewed school of thinking that
Richard relies upon, which undermines everything he says about the
Using only sceptics for his quotes
with this is his constant use of sceptical atheists to back up his
arguments. The ensuing view is rather like a socialist going into
a Conservative club, entering into a debate with a Conservative member
who simply appeals to all the other conservative members to support
his argument against the Socialist. If you seek for the truth (a big
‘IF' in the case of this book which appears as more of a rant than
a logical argument) you examine all perspectives and consider all
views. Referring only to your own ‘club' makes you look silly, especially
when it becomes very obvious that most of them have as little knowledge
of the subject as you have!
Deriding his fellow scientists who disagree with him
further facet of this same thing is Richard's constant deriding of
his own colleagues in the scientific world who clearly disagree with
him. He is clearly thoroughly embarrassed by many of them, and seeks
to rubbish some, and simply deny what others have apparently said
by saying, “I'm sure he didn't mean that”. This comes over as just
shear arrogance and the exhibition of an utterly closed mind.
Basing many of his arguments on speculation and not scientific evidence
this is so prevalent in this book that I devoted a separate Appendix
to it. Richard works on the premise that one day everything will prove
what he is now saying. The only trouble is that so much of what he
is saying is not based on science – and even flies directly in the
face of established science – but is pure philosophical speculation.
Speculation proves nothing beyond the author has an imaginative mind.
Watch out for this as you read because it constantly happens.
Failing to Know the Bible
one point in the book Richard derides theologians as being a waste
of time. Sadly he doesn't realise that these are men and women who
spend their lives studying the Bible and considering the implications
of the revelation found there. He clearly has done neither and his
gaffs are really embarrassing. He picks out bits of the Bible that
he feels suit his argument and carefully omits the large amounts that
run contrary to his beliefs. Those bits he does refer to, he clearly
doesn't understand. As the Bible is clearly one of the main planks
of a believer's platform of belief, you might have expected him to
research its origins and read it thoroughly, but he has clearly done
Appealing to the most bizarre use of illogical use of statistics to
reach a conclusion
someone is so intent to prove their point they can get wound up in
the most convoluted of arguments and suggest the most bizarre of things.
I will comment on this more fully in another of the chapters, but
a major illogical way of thinking is that which comes from the evolutionary
school and says, given a sufficient big period of time, anything could
happen. Well, no, actually it can't, because our scientific community
are sure of certain laws of science and to reject those laws to confirm
your atheism is not on! I'll say more elsewhere.
Having a Dogmatic Approach that is not open to reason
is a feeling that is conveyed by Richard's writings. I base this comment
on a number of the points above. I have actually used the word paranoia
earlier. I'm sorry but that is what it seems like. There is a bending
of the truth, a refusal to face facts and a refusal to listen to lots
of clever and wise people in both the areas of science and theology.
Perhaps history will look back at this time and wonder why so many
people have applauded one who exhibits such a closed mind. Perhaps
it is because he appeals to their closed minds.
Using emotion to denounce when he demands a scientific approach
puts himself forward as a scientist and indeed demands that religion
be scrutinised scientifically (which I don't have a problem with),
yet so much of what appears in this book comes over with such an emotional
fervour and hatred of all things religious that one is left with the
clear impression that objectivity has been thrown out the window.
It is a strange thing that many of us in the ‘religious' world appear
to have a greater willingness to objective thought than appears coming
from one who purports to adhere to the scientific method which must
be objective if it is to have any credibility.
one of these twelve points is a clear and valid complaint. They are
not contrived. They are straight forward observations of the nature
of the methodology of this book. I have not attempted to give example
here to justify each comment, as that would take up too much space,
and so I simply ask you, if you read The God Delusion , to
watch out for each of these things.
have to add that recently I gave up dialogue with an atheist on a
Blog site because it became obvious that although he was happy to
pour forth his complaints, he was not willing to investigate and find
out the true Christian position. In that I felt he was a true disciple
of this Oxford academic.