Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: Jack <>
Date: Tue May 01 2007 - 21:36:15 EDT

Pim, if you are indeed a Christian, my suggestion to you, honestly made in
brotherly love, is that you need to spend some more time reading the
writings of many of the great Christian writers to familiarize yourself with
the philosophical foundation of our faith. You claim that you are not a
"fan" of philosophy. I take that to mean you don't know much about it, have
not read much about it, and don't find it worthwhile. But Plantiga's point,
which is clear if you read the article that you referenced, is that Dawkins
book is mainly philosophy, and not much about biology, and that Dawkins is
outside of his area of expertise here.

The Christian tradition as stated in the creeds is that God is simple. You
may not accept that, you might not accept the creeds, as far as I can tell
you don't accept any of the traditional Christian beliefs. It seems to me
that you are persuaded by Dawkins rhetoric, which is really all it amounts
too, and happen to think that everyone else that disagrees with Dawkins does
so because they don't understand him. I think Plantiga, and most of us on
this list understand him clearly enough.
----- Original Message -----
From: "PvM" <>
To: "Iain Strachan" <>
Cc: "David Campbell" <>; <>
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 5:54 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

>I am amused by Iain's use of the phrase 'lovingly typing out' when I
> am trying to educate fellow Christians as to what Dawkins has actually
> written.
> In fact, you also misunderstand my contributions which you seem to see
> as disparaging when they are in fact meant to show the logical
> fallacies in these arguments. Should we just sit back and accept
> poorly argued arguments just because they are made by Christians? Of
> course not, in fact I believe we have a task to expose them before
> others can pick up on them.
> I am not sure what Plantinga is trying to argue but I have never been
> much of a fan of philosophy.
> Dawkins is arguing that God is complex and thus improbable (at least
> in the ID meaning of the word complexity). Could God be simple? Not
> according to ID theory, where complexity requires more complexity.
> Dawkins
> <quote>A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity
> because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex
> enough to demand
> the same kind of explanation in his own right.</quote>
> Now one may want to circumvent this by claiming that God is simple but
> now we are running the risk of confusing meanings of words.
> What Dawkins is pointing out that explaining the complexity of the
> universe by pointing to God basically explains nothing. One can either
> presume a complex God and now one have to either explain the origin of
> God or assume that this complexity always existed, or one assumes a
> simple God but then it fails to explain the complexity in the world.
> Funny how Plantinga refers to Dawkins' philosophy as sophomoric, as if
> that is going to answer the questions raised. Plantinga's 'rebuttal'
> does a disservice to Dawkins and I am puzzled by it.
> God is 'simple': God is simple, and simple in a very strong sense, so
> that in him there is no distinction of thing and property, actuality
> and potentiality, essence and existence, and the like.
> What does this mean, how does this answer the question? If God is
> simple then god cannot explain the complexity in the universe. If God
> is simple in the meaning as provided by Plantinga, what does this
> mean?
> Or the following attempt to argue that God cannot be complex
> <quote>According to his definition (set out in The Blind Watchmaker),
> something is complex if it has parts that are "arranged in a way that
> is unlikely to have arisen by chance alone." But of course God is a
> spirit, not a material object at all, and hence has no parts.</quote>
> But then God cannot be simple either. These are just semantics that
> allow Plantinga to avoid dealing with the argument. And although God
> is a spirit, he is also the trinity, now we may want to avoid
> discussing in terms of parts but to argue God aways as being simple
> because he is a spirit somehow misses the target.
> Others have picked up on this as well
> <quote>Saying that something is simple (and, similarly, saying that
> something is necessary) just doesn't make it so. Plantinga is arguing
> that his definition of God is better than Dawkins' definition of God,
> largely on the grounds that he (or, at any rate, the theologians he
> quotes) got there first.</quote>
> I am not too impressed by Plantinga's response.
> Rich: "There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in
> being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body,
> parts or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible,"
> etc.
> And this makes God 'simple'? By what definition?
> On 5/1/07, Iain Strachan <> wrote:
>> Apart from lovingly typing out yet another bit of chapter-and-verse
>> Dawkins,
>> what is your point? Your quote seems only to be reiterating what I said:
>> If
>> > the truth upsets you, then too bad.
>> Pim, you seem very fond of disparaging arguments made by Christians,
>> including Francis Collins, it seems. It would be interesting to know
>> what
>> are your reasons for being a Christian?
>> Iain
>> On 5/1/07, PvM <> wrote:
>> > Btw Dawkins did respond to the author of the quote in his 30th
>> > anniversary edition of the Selfish Gene
>> >
>> > Unwriting a book is one thing. Unreading it is something else. What
>> > are we to make of the following verdict, from a reader in Australia?
>> >
>> > Fascinating, but at times I wish I could unread it... On one level, I
>> > can share in the sense of wonder Dawkins so evidently sees in the
>> > workings-out of such complex processes . .. But at the same time, I
>> > largely blame The Selfish Gene for a series of bouts of depression I
>> > suffered from for more than a decade . . . Never sure of my spiritual
>> > outlook on life, but trying to find something deeper—trying to
>> > believe, but not quite being able to—I found that this book just about
>> > blew away any vague ideas I had along these lines, and prevented them
>> > from coalescing any further. This created quite a strong personal
>> > crisis for me some years ago.
>> >
>> > I have previously described a pair of similar responses from readers:
>> >
>> > A foreign publisher of my first book confessed that he could not sleep
>> > for three nights after reading it, so troubled was he by what he saw
>> > as its cold, bleak message. Others have asked me how I can bear to get
>> > up in the mornings. A teacher from a distant country wrote to me
>> > reproachfully that a pupil had come to him in tears after reading the
>> > same book, because it had persuaded her that life was empty and
>> > purposeless. He advised her not to show the book to any of her
>> > friends, for fear of contaminating them with the same nihilistic
>> > pessimism {Unweaving the Rainbow).
>> >
>> > If something is true, no amount of wishful thinking can undo it. That
>> > is the first thing to say, but the second is almost as important. As I
>> > went on to write, Presumably there is indeed no purpose in the
>> > ultimate fate of the cosmos, but do any of us really tie our life's
>> > hopes to the ultimate fate of the cosmos anyway? Of course we don't;
>> > not if we are sane. Our lives are ruled by all sorts of closer,
>> > warmer, human ambitions and perceptions. To accuse science of robbing
>> > life of the warmth that makes it worth living is so preposterously
>> > mistaken, so diametrically opposite to my own feelings and those of
>> > most working scientists, I am almost driven to the despair of which I
>> > am wrongly suspected.
>> >
>> >
>> > On 5/1/07, Iain Strachan <> wrote:
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > On 5/1/07, David Campbell <> wrote:
>> > > > The question of imposing on children also relates to the claims of
>> > > > non-"coersion" associated with process theology. Both last night
>> > > > and
>> > > > this morning, brushing Timothy's (age 2.5 yrs) teeth involved
>> > > > coersion. Does Dawkins think I should be locked up for that?
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > Almost certainly not. But I think what it boils down to is your a
>> priori
>> > > position. There is no question that brushing your teeth is something
>> that
>> > > is good for you. The issue of whether there is a physical hell that
>> really
>> > > exists, is under debate and can't be proven one way or the other.
>> Dawkins's
>> > > a priori position is that there is no supernatural, no hell, no
>> > > heaven,
>> no
>> > > God. So if someone does something like tell a child about judgement,
>> and as
>> > > a result, that child suffers mental anguish and fear of everlasting
>> > > damnation, Dawkins will regard it as an evil abuse, arising from a
>> delusion,
>> > > because he is not prepared to accept it might not be a delusion.
>> > >
>> > > I gave the example earlier of the reviewer on who reported
>> that
>> > > "The Selfish Gene" shattered his fledgling faith, and led to several
>> bouts
>> > > of depression. But I'm guessing that Dawkins wouldn't see that as
>> abuse,
>> > > because he believes that he's telling the truth that there is no God.
>> If
>> > > the truth upsets you, then too bad.
>> > >
>> > > I would like to clarify that I personally would be strongly opposed
>> > > to
>> > > preaching hellfire and damnation to children, and would prefer to
>> > > show
>> the
>> > > message of love.
>> > >
>> > > Iain.
>> > >
>> >
>> --
>> -----------
>> After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
>> - Italian Proverb
>> -----------
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Received on Tue May 1 21:36:20 2007

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