In the past week, there have been a couple of anti-atheist articles published in the newspapers. I have it easy, though: other people have taken care of the rebuttals.
Gary Gutting thinks Dawkins missed the boat on the serious philosophical reasoning behind god-belief. Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer any. As is typical for this genre of apologetics, it founders on an incoherent, absurdist definition of deity.
Here Dawkins ignores the possibility that God is a very different sort of being than brains and computers. His argument for God’s complexity either assumes that God is material or, at least, that God is complex in the same general way that material things are (having many parts related in complicated ways to one another). The traditional religious view, however, is that God is neither material nor composed of immaterial parts (whatever that might mean). Rather, he is said to be simple, a unity of attributes that we may have to think of as separate but that in God are united in a single reality of pure perfection.
“Whatever that might mean”, indeed. Gutting has contrived a hodge-podge of attributes that are all tailored to remove his god from consideration by natural, human means…which then leaves unanswered the question, “How does anybody know anything about this being?” After all, we atheists aren’t the ones making declaratory statements about the desires and actions of this simple, immaterial cloud of vapor.
But I’m lazy. Go read Ophelia Benson for more.
Gutting is at least trying (and failing) to make a rational argument. Suzanne Fields, on the other hand, is slobbering out pure trash talk. She likes to sneeringly, viciously accuse atheists of being sneering and vicious. The low point for me (and it’s really low, a kind of Marianas Trench of rhetoric) is the part where she tries to imply that Christopher Hitchens has come over to the godly side, now that Jesus has given him cancer.
But his writing on atheism is short on sophistication. “With all this continual prayer,” he asks with the air of an adolescent, “Why no result?” But since he has been diagnosed with cancer, he seems to appreciate not only his physicians but the “astonishing number of prayer groups” working on his behalf.
Where does this “with the air of an adolescent” come from? It’s a good question. Religious people make claims of influence on an all powerful deity, but he seems to do squat-all. What’s really cheesy, though, is that implication that Hitchens now appreciates the power of prayer. He does not. He’s very clear on that. What he and most atheists can appreciate is the good intentions of most praying people. It’s rather sad that Christians themselves work so hard to make charitable interpretations of their actions so difficult to give, since we know that they will be misused and abused.
But hey…lazy. Fields has an article that I could do a sentence by sentence demolition on, but I don’t need to: Russell Blackford utterly destroys it.
Now, back to other things.