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Friday, February 19, 2010

The God Delusion and disproving God's existence: Two published criticisms of Dawkins

I have been posting on The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. In this post, I shall briefly consider two published criticisms of the book, which, it seems to me, are from sources that must be taken seriously.

The first is by Antony Flew. Flew, as Dawkins put it, ". . . announced in his old age that he had been converted to belief in some sort of deity . . ." (p. 82). The conversion was from atheism. Dawkins not only implied that Flew had become senile (why else mention his age?) but criticized him for accepting an award related to Intelligent Design. (See here for my own problems with the Intelligent Design movement.)

Flew responded. His strongest criticism is this: "But an academic attacking some ideological position that he believes to be mistaken must, of course, attack that position in its strongest form." Flew says that Dawkins has not done this, in particular in respect to the beliefs of Einstein. Indeed, comparing the use of quotations from Einstein (see the index in The God Delusion, which index is excellent) with those in the Wikipedia article on "Albert Einstein's religious views" is interesting. Dawkins claims that Einstein's statements that seem to indicate that he was a deist ". . . are pantheistic, not deistic . . .." (p. 18.) The Wikipedia article on Einstein's religious views quotes Einstein as explicitly saying that he was neither a pantheist nor an atheist. For some reason, they do not give documentation for that quotation, but this may be at least a secondary source. I have previously posted, discussing Dawkins' tendency to find that prominent individuals were atheists, when the persons he found such denied it. Flew's criticism seems well-founded, in the case of Einstein, at least.

The New York Times publishes reviews of important books. They published a review of The God Delusion, by Jim Holt, who was presumably a well-qualified reviewer. In his review, he criticizes Dawkins in a number of ways. Holt, according to the note at the end of the review, was working on a book on the existence of God. He said that "The least satisfying part of this book is Dawkins’s treatment of the traditional arguments for the existence of God." Holt has other important criticisms of The God Delusion, and I will deal with some of them in further posts, God willing. (One of the criticisms has already been considered, in this post.)

Thanks for reading.

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