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The Dawkins Delusion

July 31st, 2007 by Matt

A friend sent me this this morning:

This is great, witty satire. I particularly like the parody of Dawkins’ “Who made God” argument. Dr Terry Tommyrot addresses the question of whether science can explain the existence of Dawkins’ books without postulating the existence of an intelligent author, Richard Dawkins. Tommyrot asks, “If Dawkins designed this book who designed Dawkins, you tell me that”. This simple sentence exposes the problem with this common but mistaken retort. A retort which constitutes one of Dawkins’ major arguments. For those interested in a philosophical critique of Dawkins. I recommend Alvin Plantinga’s review in Books and Culture.

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35 responses so far ↓

  • […] the archives this morning I stumbled accross this gem, The Dawkins Delusion, which Matt originally published here some three years ago – meaning a lot you may have […]

  • That’s hilarious! What a great parody.

  • Why is no-believer willing to take up my ‘What is God Challenge’?

    There’s a $1,000 on offer to anyone who can answer what must be the most basic tenants of anyone who believes a Yahweh.

    That is his make-up and what makes-up a god of his nature.

    So rather than getting into running-down Dawkins why not try and take the $1,000 off me but substantiating your god?
    http://canterburyatheists.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-is-god-challenge.html

    I had a big win on the TAB recently so the money is burning a hole in my pocket.

    Go ahead and rob this atheist blind!

    As you know I can always pray to get my eye-sight back.

    See ya.

    Paul.

  • Can an atheist take up that offer Paul?

  • It really is a classic. Thanks for reposting it.

  • I have offered Paul $2000 if he can give me a definition of a cat which meets my satisfaction. I will be the one who decides whether it meets my satisfaction or not (as is his criteria)

    He has yet to provide me with a definition. Should be an easy $2000 for him =- but I guess he does not need the money.

  • What I Read Online – 08/27/2010 (a.m.)…

    The Dawkins Delusion – Annotated “If Dawkins designed this book who designed Dawkins, you tell me that”….

  • Paul, actually I did answer your challenge in a dialogue we had earlier http://www.mandm.org.nz/2010/07/bradley-v-flannagan-debate-is-god-the-source-of-morality.html#comment-67824.

    I also pointed out that Theist’s have answered this question quite consistently here http://www.mandm.org.nz/2010/07/bradley-v-flannagan-debate-is-god-the-source-of-morality.html#comment-6.

    At that time I asked you “when do I get the 1000 $”

    I am still waiting? The fact you now pretend this conversation never happened speaks volumes.

  • Good catch. That extra $1000 that Paul owes would come in handy right now, too.

  • @ Max & Matt,

    These two definitions are taken from wikipedia (obviously the original entries are much longer)

    God: is the name given to the singular omnipotent being in theistic and deistic religions (and other belief systems) who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism.
    Many notable medieval philosophers and modern philosophers developed arguments for the existence of God. Many notable philosophers and intellectuals have, in contrast, developed arguments against the existence of God.

    Cat: (Felis catus), also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felines and felids, is a small domesticated carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and ability to hunt vermin and household pests. Cats have been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years, and are currently the most popular pet in the world. Owing to their close association with humans, cats are now found almost everywhere on Earth.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing, is the fact that the entry for god comments on the fact that philosophers and intellectuals have argued both for and against the actual existence of a god or gods.

    While in complete contrast, as far as the cat is concerned, nobody can be bothered to argue either way, due in no small part to the fact that its existence is not in any doubt to them.

    To use some of Matt’s perspective here, “The fact that this conversation (about cats) never happened speaks volumes”.

  • Paul you write “While in complete contrast, as far as the cat is concerned, nobody can be bothered to argue either way, due in no small part to the fact that its existence is not in any doubt to them.” Actually, I think you’ll find the situation was a bit different, a cat is an object in the world which exists independently of human beings and many people who argued for the existence of God also argued for the existence of external objects, on the other hand many who criticised the arguments for Gods existence also criticised arguements for external objects.

    Descartes for example offered his ontological argument for Gods existence, because he could doubt the existence of external objects and wanted to esthablish by argument that his senses reliably tracked reality. Locke’s argument for Gods existence occured as part of a broader program where he argued for the existence of primary qualities existing independently of human perceivers. Berkeley’s argument for Gods existence came as part of an argument for the existence of external objects.

    Similarly, the greatest critics of the arguments for Gods existence tended to be skeptical of more than just God. Hume criticised the arguments for Gods existence, he also argued that one could not know causation, the existence external objects, the existence of a self that endured over time, and so on.

    Kant famously criticised the arguments for Gods existence and for many years was considered to have given the definitive critique of them. Kants criticised actually occurred as part of a broader agnosticism about the existence of anything independent of human cognition. Kant famously argued that all the objects were perceive ( such as Cats) are actually constructed by our mind, what existed independently of us could not be known and the categories we use to describe cats did not describe the real world.

  • Your stance in incoherent in any case Paul. Any definition of God anyone offers you will refuse to acknowledge as a good one, but since you do not think God exists, by what criteria do you judge each definition? Your challenge is illogical.

    Let us say I offer the definition: A normal human with greater than average intelligence.

    Do I get my $1000? It is a definition which I assume you have no difficulty understanding. But I suspect you will reject my definition. Why?

  • Paul is clearly avoiding the fact that he owes people money…

  • @ Matt

    Given your reply to my last post, do you or do you not believe that a cat actually exists?

  • Paul, yes I believe cats exist, whether I believe you can prove cats exist to a sceptic, that’s a different .

  • If I knew a lawyer, or if I were a lawyer myself, I would think that perhaps Paul could be taken to the small claims court and demanded to pay Matt $1000 as he has provided what any sane person would accept as a legitimate definition of God. It would make a fascinating case study.

    But alas I am not a lawyer.

  • Paul’s offer was arguably a puff Max

  • Oh but he says over and over that he is sincere.

  • @ Matt

    LOL! Good answer!

  • True Max and he also did speak about where he got the money from and did provide detail as to the fact the money was available. However, the other part of a test for a puff is whether anyone contemplating accepting the offer, given the way the offer was presented, genuinely believed the offer was legit, that by accepting and performing the contract they were intending to create legal relations. Most of us reacted to the offer the way you did Max, we new it was going to be a pointless goal shifting exercise to engage in so we new it was not seriously an offer but rather an attempt to score a point for atheism. Therefore it looks like a puff.

  • I know I shouldn’t bother but…

    Im fairly certain I can turn up with a cat to show to Matt…can Matt show up with his god to show to me….?or just side stepping what if/could be strategic evasions..?

  • @ James,

    yes you are correct.

    Matt cannot show up WITH his God. Matt just needs to show up; God is already there.

  • “Matt cannot show up WITH his God. Matt just needs to show up; God is already there.”

    And thats why I don’t tend to bother….its always escape and evade tactics with no substance.State feelings and wishs as fact without any furnishing of objective proof.

    Although in one way you are right….God is in Matts head in the form of neurons and electrical pulses….and nowhere else.

  • Semantics.

    You say “objective proof” when you mean “an object as proof”, no?

  • uggggg!

    Come on tiddles …tea time.

    😉

  • James, Your argument suggests that sensory perception of a cat differs from other types of direct experience in that you can bring the cat to you to be seen with the five senses.

    The problem is that this difference applies to numerous cases of reliable direct experience. there are plenty of things which we directly experience which I could not bring to you like a cat. I perceive that the law of non contradiction is correct, I can’t bring it along to you to look at I perceive that rape is wrong I can’t bring wrongness along to you to be touched felt and tasted.

    I can directly experience my own thoughts and feelings and am aware that I am thinking certian things and so on. I can’t bring that to you and put on the table and say, hey James look my thought. Similarly I can remember having cornflakes for breakfast this morning I can’t bring the past along to you and put it on the table and so on.

    Your example simply shows that some things we perceive like cats can be moved around and brought to other people to look at. You illegitimately assume that this is true of everything that exists and can be known through experience, but such a claim is pretty evidently false. Unless of course you want to claim we can’t know by introspection our own thoughts, by memory the past, by rational intuition the laws of logic or by our conscience right and wrong.

  • The problem with God is the definition. If you’re just going to reduce it to the bare minimum “God is” then I do not have a problem with that.

    Unfortunately Theists then go on to add alot of baggage to this bare definition and that is where the problems start.

    Furthermore they then go on to claim that the resultant definition of God is exclusively correct (ok, that’s a bit of a broad brush but stick with it).

    So the Jews say that you have to be a Jew, the Christians say that you have to be a Christian and the Muslims that you have to be a Muslim.

    So unlucky you if you’re brought up in a society that raises you to believe the wrong faith eventhough you thought was true.

    Which leaves me thinking if the Christians are right, and as a non-believer that I’m going to hell, then that’s ok. I’ll have alot of people joining me – and a wonderfully clear conscience.

    I have four cats by the way. I think they’re real.

  • Interesting, Paul, I would say that Jews, Muslims and Christians accept the existence of the same God and to a large extent agree on what he is like. There disagreement predominately is over who is an authentic prophet of this God.

    Nor do I think these religions teach that God condemns people merely for having the wrong religion. I think this is something of a caricature.

  • “Nor do I think these religions teach that God condemns people merely for having the wrong religion. I think this is something of a caricature.”

    Really ?

    I’ve had some quite lengthy discussions with a wide variety of Christians who hold exactly the point of view that ONLY Christians are going to heaven (I’ve had similar convoluted discussions with Muslims, who take the view that that’s ok if you haven’t heard of Allah, but if you have and don’t subscribe then you’re in trouble and I’ve heard “Fundamentalist” Jews voice similar views and insist on their seperateness because they are Gods chosen people).

    So, assuming that you’re right – what criteria do you think God would apply to those wanting to enter heaven if it’s not based on a particular set of beliefs ?

    BTW I’m not taking a position against you – I’m really interested to see where you’re going with this.

  • A caricature, Matt?

    “Nor do I think these religions teach that God condemns people merely for having the wrong religion. I think this is something of a caricature.”

    Mate, what happened to “Thou shalt have no other God but me?” I have to agree with Paul here, I’ve yet to receive a high-5 from any Christian followed up with a “See ya in heaven when we’re dead, buddy! It’s gonna be awesome!” They don’t expect me to be there and, let’s not kid ourselves, neither do you.

    Is it a sin to be so disingenuous on your own website? Would the donation thermometer in the right margin of this page be so full-to-bursting if those who gave had a chance to read your last comment before donating?

    Let’s be honest here, exclusivity is one of the properties of most religions [especially Christianity] that has helped them survive for as long as it has. It scares people into joining and it scares them into staying.

    Earlier you commented on your belief in the law of non-contradiction. Then I have a question for you: if the Christian God claims to be the only god and the Islamic God claims to be the only god and so on, what do you believe in more, the law of non-contradiction or your chosen god?

    Or, like so much of what you write, is it just filler you occasionally throw into the mix to pad out and justify what is essentially a very basic message: “We claim to have cohesive arguments supporting the validity of the Christian Faith in modern society but on closer examination we never prove anything, never justify our actions and everything we say is intended to dissemble and conceal the fact that we don’t care what you think, we used to be the biggest gang in town and we will be again. Yeah go us! btw AIDS is god punishing gays, and black people. If you give those guys condoms we’ll stomp your teeth in, cos, you know, god says so.”

    Now there’s a caricature for you.

  • Let’s be honest here, exclusivity is one of the properties of most religions [especially Christianity] that has helped them survive for as long as it has. It scares people into joining and it scares them into staying.

    This is an accusation i have heard lots of times, but i have never met a single christian who was scared into joining or staying. Obviously i have no historical experience prior to my own awareness but where are all these scared christians?

  • Julian Florence- Let’s be honest here, exclusivity is one of the properties of most religions [especially Christianity]

    Julian, let’s carry on being honest, if you believe your own statement above is true, then this must exclude its antithesis. Truth by nature is exclusive, exclusivity is not the exclusive domain of religion only. So what’s the beef?

    I might also add that your criticism cuts both ways, I mean an atheist has a vested interest in declaring God doesn’t give enough evidence for his existence, for much the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman.

  • Julian Florance-what do you believe in more, the law of non-contradiction or your chosen god?

    I can’t answer for Matt but there is no competition. It’s akin to asking what do you believe in more, 2=2=4 or 4+4=8?

  • On the other hand Christians can account for the law of non contradiction as pointing to a creation that was rationally put together how does the non- theist account for it within a naturalistic framework?

  • Julian, it seems you have misread what I wrote, I said:

    “Nor do I think these religions teach that God condemns people merely for having the wrong religion. I think this is something of a caricature.”

    Nothing you have said address what I actually said
    You ask “Mate, what happened to “Thou shalt have no other God but me?”
    But that commandment does not say that God condemns people merely for having the wrong religion. It tells a group of people whom God has just revealed himself to, and who have entered into a covenant with him to not worship any other God.
    The claim that people who God has revealed himself to and wilfully turn away and reject this knowledge sin, is different to saying God condemns people to hell merely for happening to have the wrong religion.
    You then add

    “ I have to agree with Paul here, I’ve yet to receive a high-5 from any Christian followed up with a “See ya in heaven when we’re dead, buddy! It’s gonna be awesome!” They don’t expect me to be there and, let’s not kid ourselves, neither do you.”

    But, that says only that Christians typically think that people like yourself will be condemned, it does not mean they think you are condemned, merely for having the wrong religion.
    I doubt many Christians believe that you have lived a perfect sinless life but just happen to have the wrong religion and that’s why you were condemned. You add

    Earlier you commented on your belief in the law of non-contradiction. Then I have a question for you: if the Christian God claims to be the only god and the Islamic God claims to be the only god and so on, what do you believe in more, the law of non-contradiction or your chosen god?

    That comment assumes that Allah is a different God to the one worshipped by Christians. Muslims however deny this and Christian’s are not commited to denying it.
    But putting that to one side, your correct that two contradictory religions cannot both be true. But I never said they could be did I, I said God does not condemn people merely for having the wrong religion.
    You seem to be confusing two separate questions, does God condemn people merely for having the wrong religion, and are all religions equally true. That’s a different question.
    Seeing you think I am not being honest about what Christian’s teach I’ll leave you with this quote from Thomas Aquinas, hardly a heretic, or wishwashy liberal who wrote

    Unbelief may be taken in two ways: first, by way of pure negation, so that a man be called an unbeliever, merely because he has not the faith. Secondly, unbelief may be taken by way of opposition to the faith; in which sense a man refuses to hear the faith, or despises it, according to Isaiah 53:1: “Who hath believed our report?” It is this that completes the notion of unbelief, and it is in this sense that unbelief is a sin.
    If, however, we take it by way of pure negation, as we find it in those who have heard nothing about the faith, it bears the character, not of sin, but of punishment, because such like ignorance of Divine things is a result of the sin of our first parent. If such like unbelievers are damned, it is on account of other sins, which cannot be taken away without faith, but not on account of their sin of unbelief. HenceOur Lord said (John 15:22) “If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin”; which Augustine expounds (Tract. lxxxix in Joan.) as “referring to the sin whereby they believed not in Christ.”

    So my point is really not new, or novel. When you look at scriptural passages which condemn unbelief, they do so in a context where a person has received some revelation of God and people wilfully reject this revelation. No where does scripture assert that people who merely don’t believe apart from such a context are condemned, and the passage. Despite this some skeptics love to peddle this caricature.