The Dawkins Retread

Tom Gilson has reviewed Richard Dawkins’ new book and is not impressed:

Dawkins has written all this before. He’s said many times, for example, that any God who could create the cosmos would have to be more complex than the cosmos, and would need his existence explained just as much. He’s been answered many times, but he only repeats himself. It’s as if there were no intellectual world outside his own head; as if intellectual integrity never called for a thinker to respond to other thinkers.

and

There’s nothing of interest here that wasn’t already in *The God Delusion,* of which nearly every chapter was given enough response by theists to merit at least some attempt at a counter-argument. Dawkins doesn’t seem to care.

I’m not surprised by any of this.  Are you?  I recall Dawkins waving away those who responded to his first book as “fleas.”  Such pomposity might be expected from the descendant of slave owners. 😉

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10 Responses to The Dawkins Retread

  1. Ilíon says:

    I’m not surprised by any of this. Are you? I recall Dawkins waving away those who responded to his first book as “fleas.”

    One may recall that after a talk some years ago, a young woman from the audience, questioning him about his determinism with respect to his denial of ‘free will’, and subsequent to that, his moralizing that criminals cannot be (and should not be) held morally culpable for their acts, asked something along the lines of, “Given that people cannot be held responsible for their ‘bad’ actions, can you yourself truly be said to be responsible for, and due credit for, say, writing ‘The Selfish Gene’?” His response was something like, “That’s an interesting question … which I haven’t thought about,” and, all these years later, that seems to as far as his thinking on the matter has gone.

  2. Ilíon says:

    Gilson:[Dawkins has] said many times, for example, that any God who could create the cosmos would have to be more complex than the cosmos, and would need his existence explained just as much. He’s been answered many times, but he only repeats himself.

    Even aside from the fact that his assertion has been answered many times, and the answers ignored, the initial assertion is itself an nice example of Dawkins’ intellectual dishonesty.

    Consider —

    Dawkins (paraphrased): “any God who could create the cosmos would have to be more complex than the cosmos, and would need his existence explained just as much.”

    not-Dawkins (reductio): “any mechanism which could give rise to the amazing complexity of living entities would have to be more complex than the the living entities themselves, and would need its existence explained just as much.”

  3. nsr says:

    Dawkins’ obsession with applying a Darwinian paradigm to absolutely everything is probably what renders him unable to move on from this position.

  4. FZM says:

    In Britain at least I think some kind of minor cult of Dawk has developed, the myriad of issues with (or general weirdness of) some of his arguments is never a problem. There is irony in this.

  5. FZM says:

    Dawkins has written all this before. He’s said many times, for example, that any God who could create the cosmos would have to be more complex than the cosmos, and would need his existence explained just as much. He’s been answered many times, but he only repeats himself. It’s as if there were no intellectual world outside his own head; as if intellectual integrity never called for a thinker to respond to other thinkers.

    There’s another question about how what Dawkins claims here stands in relation to the Neo-Platonic argument for God which is based on part-whole relations and the need for a cause to explain the existence of composite wholes.

    It’s always possible he is unaware of all this stuff and depends on unsophisticated folk philosophy (bronze age folk philosophy, because some of these arguments have been around since antiquity) for his understanding of Reason.

  6. pennywit says:

    I don’t think the arguments between theists and atheists …. teapots, complexity, first cause, etc., etc., have really changed that much in the last couple centuries.

  7. Mel Wild says:

    Dawkins’ continued point about the complexity of God only shows just how much he clearly doesn’t understand the least thing about the ontology or the classical theology he berates. Alvin Plantinga pretty much summed it up after Dawkins released his book, “The God Delusion.”

    “Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he’s a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. This, combined with the arrogant, smarter-than-thou tone of the book, can be annoying.” (Plantinga, “The Dawkins Confusion”, 2008)

  8. TFBW says:

    Plantinga nails it. I’ve long pointed out that Dawkins rests on scientific laurels, but 99% of what he does is actually just junk philosophy. And he’ll never improve, because he holds philosophy in contempt, while operating under the delusion that what he’s doing is science. There’s no cure for that.

  9. FZM says:

    Plantinga nails it. I’ve long pointed out that Dawkins rests on scientific laurels, but 99% of what he does is actually just junk philosophy. And he’ll never improve, because he holds philosophy in contempt, while operating under the delusion that what he’s doing is science. There’s no cure for that.

    He may get away with this easily in Anglo countries because discussion of philosophy and related issues in the public sphere seems relatively non-existent.

  10. Ilíon says:

    I don’t think the arguments between theists and atheists …. teapots, complexity, first cause, etc., etc., have really changed that much in the last couple centuries.

    And this matters how? Do arguments come with expiration dates? Does truth change into falsehood after it has been known for some certain span of time? Does an act of logical reasoning change into illogical non-reasoning after some cut-off date?

    Of course not.

    Yet, the quote reflects one of the most common “counter-arguments” of the God-deniers in response to an argument showing that God is: “Oh! That’s a *old* argument. Everyone knows you can’t make a case with ooolld arguments!

    This is the “Prove It Again” game — rather than attempting to show that ‘the theist’ has made a logical error in his argument, ‘the atheist’ demands a “better” argument. Again, note, without even attempting to show that the argument presented isn’t “good enough” already.

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