Like a hammer crushing a nut, Dawkins effortlessly demolishes many of the theological ‘proofs’ for God’s existence, including the five proofs of St Thomas of Aquinas and other proofs gained from the Scriptures.
Rather less convincingly, Dawkins dismisses all personal experiences of God as hallucinations or mental disturbances. Even though he may be right about some, many even, such experiences, that does not mean he is correct for all of them. And, of course, he cannot know the details of these events, these experiences. As a scientist, Dawkins should know that he cannot extrapolate a conclusion to cover all situations without extensive evidence and extensive research.
Dawkins main ‘evidence’ that God does not exist appears to be because such an existence is ‘improbable’. This ‘improbability’ may be a valid argument against the existence of God but it does not constitute proof.
Dawkins also get stuck on the idea that a ‘designer of the universe’ would also require a designer and creator in turn. Here, he falls into the trap of applying scientific laws to the theory of God. The God, whom many believe in, the creator of the universe, is believed to be beyond the laws of science, the natural laws of the universe. It appears that Dawkins is talking about something different. Dawkins, and many atheists, seem to believe that God cannot exist because such a divinity would be in contradiction to the physical laws of the Universe. Why would a God comply with the laws of the Universe? Why would we even look for a God who is answerable to the laws of the Universe, how would such a Being be a God?
Similarly, there are many debates as to whether God is male or female or some hybrid form. Why would God have a sex at all.
That, I think, is Dawkins principle mistake, he assumes that it is possible to disprove the existence of God. Let us quote St Thomas of Aquinas again, those words which deMello quoted in ‘Awareness’. “Since we cannot know what God is, but only what God is not, we cannot consider how God is, but only how He is not”. “This is what is ultimate in the human knowledge of God – to know that we do not know God”.
It seems that Dawkins intentions are honorable. He wishes to save humans from the falsehood of believing in Divinity, he wishes to help them see the truth, to live their lives properly and with honesty. Admirable intentions, but what if his is wrong about the existence of God. He does not even countenance such a possibility. Another surprising omission for a scientist. Of course, as we have repeated, Dawkins, and other atheists, constantly confuse religion with God. It may be, in fact it is obvious, that many religions need renewing, amending, changing. Pope Francis, the current Catholic pope, would be one of the first to agree and he has stated his intentions, and demonstrated them, that changes will occur in that religion.
So, we seek not to prove the existence of God. We understand why many would so desire and the needs that drive them to seek such evidence. Such needs, we now know, are evidence of doubt, self-doubt and, of course, doubt that others can be convinced. We also know that the postulation of such ‘proofs’ tends only to make life easy for discerning atheists who, so easily, demolish them. I attended a Bible class recently where one member, a retired business man, stated his anger that God wouldn’t make things more obvious, that he wouldn’t take more control. “After all”, my fried said, “he is the CEO, he should tell us what he wants” There are many who would agree with such an opinion.
But it rather misses the point, as we shall explore further in this series.
One answer, the only answer really, appears to be to ‘know’ God individually. If that is possible, then we would not need any proof. We know the members of our family, we know our friends and work colleagues, our neighbours. We do not need any proof that they exist. However, people that we are told about, that we hear about, characters that we encounter through social media, Facebook, Twitter and so on, we do not ‘know’ them in the same way. If asked to prove, or disprove, their existence, we would find it difficult. We would point to the evidence, a tweet, an update on Facebook, but a skeptic would easily, and correctly, argue that that was no evidence at all, that it could have been uploaded by anyone.
And so it is with God, most of the evidence of his existence has been uploaded by others.
Our next book will deal with such knowing, a personal knowledge of God, but we have not yet finished discussing Dawkins’ theories yet.
Cherish what you know my friends