Dawkin’s The God Delusion

In last year’s Diary I discussed Richard Dawkins and his book The God Delusion. I describe my doubts about writing the Diary and how apparently I got confirmation that I should continue.

Christ in a postmodern age

Postmodernism is a term which is remarkably fuzzy, it could, more or less, mean anything but one thing it does appear to imply is that a person comes to his own ‘truth’, whatever that ‘truth’ is. This has percolated into everyday thinking, streaming originally from philosophy, and influencing art, literature, film, architecture and even religion. I could say a lot about postmodernism but I won’t except to say that an exploration of postmodernist philosophy is liable to leave the reader all at sea and without any moral or even human foundation. The exploration of this chaos of ideas led me to Christ, the Logos, as the ground datum of existence. The God who stooped to the level of the human, in fact who assumed human form and suffers in our suffering.

To counteract the postmodern fog and its plasticity, the challenge is to experience this trans-physical Christ in the lived life. One believes and then one experiences. Christ is the eternal foundation of which we can have a personal experience in our own lives. He is a person and the foundation of all personhood. Martin Heideggar (1889-1976), an important forerunner of postmodern thought, talks a lot about Dasein or Being. Well, in Christ true Being is realised and we, as humans, can partake in that Being.

Saturday 20th October 2012

Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion

Some weeks ago, I was asked to do a review of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. His book is an international best-seller. If it is meant to rationally challenge a believer’s faith, it fails dismally to do so. In fact the book is proof, if proof is needed that the world desperately needs Christ and a true Christian piety. If Dawkins, with his hatred of religion, his loud-mouthed arrogance, his absolute certainty that only his view of the world can be right, is an example of the new atheistic age, then God help us. The book is proof that a Christ-centred peace-loving religion is needed.

An absolute faith in a physical monisn

He starts off with absolute faith in a monist view that there is only one material from which the world, life and consciousness arose and that material, in his view, is physical. Any evidence that might challenge that view is dismissed as delusion. Because he starts off with and is stuck with his monist faith, regardless of evidences to the contrary, his book is an exercise in polemics and totally worthless. For example, he doesn’t allow that personal experience is of any worth as evidence for the existence of God. Yet millions of people have had these experiences and have attested to the reality of God in their lives. Many have experienced miracles, that is, events which happen that appear to be contrary to the ‘laws of nature.’ But because miracles cannot be proved scientifically, in Dawkin’s eyes they haven’t happened. In other words, his mind is closed to anything outside of what can be scientifically determined. Everything must have a naturalistic explanation. He is an advocate of scientism, which Collins Dictionary defines as ‘the uncritical application of scientific methods to inappropriate fields of study.’

‘Queerer than we can suppose’

Unhappily, it’s only after 400 odd pages of turgid and often boring prose that Dawkins admits that he might not have perfect understanding after all. He comes to that admission in the face of quantum mechanics. He quotes J. B. S. Haldane ‘Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose …’ Why didn’t he admit that at the beginning. It would have saved him from writing 400 pages in a hectoring ‘I know more than you’ tone.’ So much for the scientific method as practised by Professor Dawkins.

Monday 22nd October 2012

Why bother?

I sometimes have wondered about writing this diary. Why do I bother? I say to myself. It will probably never see the light of day, and if it does and somebody reads it, will they believe what I’ve written? I myself find it hard to believe all that has happened to us. I was up till the age of fifty (like Dawkins) apt to look at the world in naturalistic terms. I believe this is the way many people in the West, if not most, look on the world today. For them the world of miracles is long past. Educated modern Western people just don’t believe in miracles. That belongs to a credulous past age when people were poorly educated and would believe almost anything, especially if they were told it by an authoritative body like the church.

Personal proof of a trans-physical side to the world

Now, I cannot claim not to be ‘educated’. I have a degree from one of the top universities. I have been an omnivorous reader from my youth and have authored numerous books. I have always had a very sceptical turn of mind. I consider myself to be an unlikely candidate to be deluded. And yet I can now say, hand on heart, that I am convinced that there is a trans-physical side to the world. (I don’t like using the the word ‘supernatural’, as it has all the wrong connotations.) And the reason I can say that is the amazing personal experiences I have had, especially since meeting and marrying Margaret.

Gabriel brings an answer

I have had doubts about writing this, as I have just said. One other doubt I have, and the most important one, is: Is this God’s will? Does he want me to tell what is happening to us? Yesterday was a day of such doubts and I asked God to give me a sign that I was doing his will. I opened the Bible and it opened at Daniel 9: 20-23. The Bible is the ESV (Crossway) and the scriptures are broken up with headings. The heading is ‘Gabriel Brings an Answer.’

Daniel’s vision

The verses read: ‘While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.’

A confirmation of what I had to do

I was greatly affected by this because I believe the universe is in the palm of his hand and it is possible for God to do anything, and to see everything from an eternal perspective. Things that happen in time might surprise us, but they are no surprise to God. I was greatly encouraged by these verses, for I had just asked God to confirm or otherwise whether I should carry on with this diary. Margaret was in the living room on the laptop at the time. She was looking up the address of a patient whom she had met in hospital. I had gone to the kitchen and she shouted me through. ‘Look’, she said, ‘what’s on the computer.’ At first I didn’t see what she was talking about. Then I saw a website advert at the side. It said FOLLOWGABRIEL. I was surprised and not surprised. Not surprised because similar things just keep happening. I praised the Lord for giving me such a sign and for confirming what I had to do. Of course, the unbeliever would say that such coincidences are ‘selection effects’, the natural bias we have for selecting what suits us from the mass of information surrounding us. To believe or not believe that is the question! Well, it has been and always will be like that. It is
up to the individual to interpret what happens to him or her.

Humbled before God

Not that I consider myself to be a ‘Daniel’ or a prophet or anything else! But I do feel humbled once more before the almighty and merciful Lord God of heaven. I will carry on writing this testimony of what God is doing for us.

The colours of night sing his praises,
The colours of day proclaim his presence
Lord of unerring aim
Single out my heart for the arrow of your love.
Write your praises on my tears
Joy and sorrow mingle
In the infinite river flowing
From the unseen to the seen.
O most holy One,
Praise to your ever mighty name!
Creator of flower and stone,
Of sun and star and unending light
Let it shine into this shadow of sorrow.