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Richard Dawkins: Outgrowing God | Taking a Look at Dawkins' New book

Updated: May 4, 2020

In this article, we'll take a look at an interview that Dawkins had with Channel 4 News on his new book called Outgrowing God.

We'll take a look at his claims and analyse his thoughts as he shared them in the interview.

I would also like to rid the world of [things based on]... revelation and authority rather than on evidence.

Interesting that Dawkins would end his line of things he would like rid the world of with revelation and authority. Sounds a lot like Jesus' Words in Luke 16:31 - "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

Jesus was clear that unbelievers don't have an evidence problem (as Paul already teaches us in Romans 1 that all men already know the one true God exists) rather they have an authority problem. They love their sin and they don't want to submit to the God who created them. Therefore, they "suppress the truth in unrighteousness".

Wanting to rid the world of revelation is also interesting, as that destroys the possibility of knowledge. Consider that we as humans are not all-knowing, which means that which we don't know can contradict what we think we do know. They only way we can know things for certain is for example if we have revelation from someone who does (eg. From God in the Bible).

Dawkins sets evidence-based belief up against revelation, which makes us think that Dawkins prefers empiricism as an epistemology (how he knows things). We explain in this article on Revelation Epistemology why that fails.

Quick thought here - evidence and science rely on the principle of induction.

  1. On what basis (apart from revelation from the Creator of course), does Dawkins assume the uniformity of nature in order to do science?

  2. On what basis does Dawkins assume the reliability of senses and reasoning to infer conclusions from the evidence?

  3. How does Dawkins justify the laws of logic he used to write his book which effectively removes the only justification we have for them?

[Feelings don't make things factually true].. we need evidence and evidence only.

At the very least we see that Dawkins does not think truth is relative, unfortunately, this destroys his world view as we know that no knowledge that stands apart from God (Proverbs 1:8, Colossians 2:3).

Dawkins confirms our previous speculation that he is an empiricist. Empiricism is defined as "the theory that all knowledge is based on experience derived from the senses. Stimulated by the rise of experimental science, it developed in the 17th and 18th centuries"

Empiricism is self-refuting because no empiricist arrives at that conclusion via sense experience or ever could. Case closed.

We wrote the following in our Revelational Epistemology article: "[Empiricism] again is different from using sensory data to gain knowledge. No Christian denies gaining experimental knowledge, only that the preconditions for doing experiments and our senses are found in the God of Scripture, and is hence justified through revelation.

Empiricism can, therefore, easily be refuted. On what basis does the empiricist assume the uniformity of nature which is crucial for his knowledge to be true knowledge? How does the empiricist know that his memory is generally reliable without appealing to his memory? How does the empiricist know that he can trust his senses, without using his senses? He can’t, therefore empiricism is no way to gain knowledge."

This is the foundation that Dawkins provides for his entire 50 min interview (and book we believe).

The foundation is flawed and invalidates everything built on it. This is the power of Covenantal Apologetics. This is the power of applying Scripture and using it as a Sword as Ephesians 6 tells us. In the spirit of Proverbs 26:4 we do not answer the fool according to his folly ending up like him (by trying to counter Dawkins' claims of no evidence), rather in the spirit of Proverbs 26:5 we do answer the fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes (reflecting the absurdity of Dawkins' empiricism back to him).

However we've only watched 1min so far, so for the sake of it let's continue and see if we engage some more with Dawkins' ideas.

Facts are wonderful, scientific facts are so beautiful and elegant and such a treat... to understand... to deprive children of the knowledge of science... is a great tragedy for them... people who were brought up to believe it's the righteous and good thing to do to kill apostates, bomb buildings... if they don't subscribe to the view that evidence matters then how are you going to change their minds?

So what?

The above answer comes from the interviewer talking about a better world. The response doesn't make sense but we see what Dawkins is getting at. Our answer: So what?

According to what standard ought we subscribe to Dawkins' view that evidence matters? What does it matter whether we kill each other or not? Remember Dawkins is one of the leading proponents of Darwinian evolution, so we've got to wonder where he gets these moral statements from. Opinion? Well, those who bomb buildings disagree so now what? There's no objective standard.

3min 30s in now and the cracks in Dawkins' world view are huge. He is massively inconsistent and overstepping the bounds of what is world view can provide him. This is more evidence of Romans 1 at work. Of course Dawkins also knows God's law written on his heart (Romans 2) therefore Dawkins knows it's wrong to kill people, bomb buildings, etc. yet he cannot account for this belief, as according to him there is no inherent value in a human life. We're just matter in motion and matter just is: There's nothing good or evil about matter.

This more than enough to see the massive holes in Dawkins' crusade against religion. Next up, he gives his reason for unbelief.

I stopped believing for various reasons. First of all, because I realised there are lots of different religions and they're all incompatible so they can't all be right, so why would you assume the one you happen to be brought up in his right?... Then I gave it up when I understood Darwin.

A math problem can have millions of wrong answers which can't all be right, so why would you assume that a particular answer is right?

For example, 2 + 2 = ? We can fill in the ? With 1, 2, 3, 4, etc up and to infinity. Which means we have an infinite amount of wrong answers. Therefore 2 + 2 doesn't have an answer according to Dawkins.

Leaving that aside, Dawkins seems to think that there is no way to determine the truth of a religion, and by extension particularly Christianity. This is simply false. The proof of the Christian world view, of course, is that without it you can't prove anything. But proof is not the problem for Dawkins as we know that Romans 1 already tells us that he knows the one true God exists. What is Dawkins' problem then? It's the same problem every unbeliever faces, and he hinted at it in the beginning:

He wants to do away with revelation and authority. Unbelievers refuse to bow down before their sovereign creator, and rather like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 they want to be their own god, they want to be autonomous.

The Sermon on the Mount is generally taken as a good/wonderful set of rules to live by, and indeed it is. The Old Testament is a terrible set of rules. Taken as a whole, the Bible is a terrible set of rules. The criteria by which we take things to be good rules in the Bible can't be in the Bible otherwise it is a circular argument... we must [rather] live your lives by moral standards given to us by moral philosophers and by general progress in morality.

Notice Dawkins' use of words like good, wonderful, terrible, must, etc. According to what standard does Dawkins judge something to be good and evil or terrible? He provides us with this standard - moral ideas by moral philosophers and the general progress of morality, but why must/ought we listen to the moral philosophers as he claims?

Lots of moral philosophers can think of lots of different moral ideas, how do we decide which moral philosopher is right or wrong? Furthermore, the general progress of morality in the current 21st-century post-modern world led to:

  1. Censorship of conservatives

  2. Homosexuality

  3. Transgenderism

  4. Mass shootings

  5. The murder of millions of babies

  6. Sexual immorality

  7. Breaking down of the family structure

Dawkins by definition must be ok with the above as this is where morality devolved to, however, Dawkins would probably prefer the word evolved (note he never said he is ok with the above list of things, but we believe this is the consistent implication of his world view). Consider also as a classic counter-example 20th-century morality that was prevalent in Europe. The societies of Germany and Russia evolved [devolved] to the point where they deemed it ok to murder people in their millions. To be consistent, Dawkins must concede that German 20th-century morality is just as valid as American 20th-century morality. No one is better than the other.

Throughout the talk, Dawkins also uses the word "better" to describe a society/morality. But to judge something as better, we need a standard with which we can judge something to determine whether it is better or not. For example, the Nazis thought they were making the world a better place with every person they murdered, why should we condemn them?

It is clear from the talk that Dawkins hates murder, terrorism and other damaging things humans can do to each other. He wants people to remain truthful, and I'm sure he doesn't deem it ok to steal. But, Dawkins believes these things not because of what moral philosophers told him, nor because of his supposed evolutionary background having come from a common ancestor with the chimpanzees. Rather Dawkins believes these things being made in the Image of God. The law of God is written on his heart (Romans 2). The apostle Paul writes:

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:12-16

We also have no idea how taking the Bible's teaching on moral law as our standard makes it a circular argument.

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