Saturday, February 06, 2010

Book Review: The Devil's Delusion by David Berlinski

The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific PretensionsThe Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions by David Berlinski is a unique, witty, and clever critique of militant atheism and its devotion to scientism. Within its ten engaging chapters, Berlinski shines a revealing light on the dogmatic stance of many of today’s popular “new atheists.” The new atheism, the author would contend, postures itself as the sole holder of truth via science, “And like any militant church, this one places a familiar demand before all others: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”1 Berlinski, a secular Jew who is an avid writer on science and mathematics, approaches his task with his own mixture of dry wit and thoughtful logic, which makes the reading of The Devil’s Delusion an entertaining experience.

After opening the book with an introduction to the scientism of the new atheists, Berlinski presents his own critique to one of the new atheism’s common party slogans: religion as a primary cause of evil in the world. Berlinski’s take: don’t ignore what atheism has caused in the world. It is precisely what atheistic regimes did not believe that is the problem:
What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing. And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.2
Berlinski moves on to offer his critiques of scientism (the idea that science is the best or only means to arrive at truth). In this process he stresses one of the main goals of his book: “What is at issue is not so much the character of the Deity but his existence. And the question I am asking is not whether he exists but whether science has shown that he does not.”3 Berlinski takes apart the ideas of scientism. He shows how naturalism and materialism are philosophical presuppositions; doctrines that determine the result of inquiry a priori.

In chapter four, Berlinski describes the philosophical roots of the cosmological argument for a cause for the universe as presented by Thomas Aquinas. He is succinct in his introduction of this idea: “The cosmological argument emerges from a simple question and its answer. The question: What caused the universe? The answer: Something.4 He then describes the findings of modern cosmology that confirm a beginning to the cosmos; the inescapable beginning. This sets the stage for chapter five, The Reason, in which Berlinksi explains its significance: “Even if we understood how the universe came into existence, the question why it exists and why it continues to exist would remain.”5 Berlinski asks, “if it might not exist, why, then, does, it exist?” – the principle of sufficient reason. The author then lays out the various options available, such as something-from-nothing or the multiverse hypothesis. Berlinski’s use of humor to make his point is perfectly presented in this chapter. After presenting a tongue-in-cheek mock “catechism of quantum cosmology,” Berlinski says, “This catechism, I should add, is not a parody of quantum cosmology. It is quantum cosmology.”6

Berlinski continues in his exploration of cosmology in chapter six – A Put-up Job. This chapter’s title comes from astronomer Fred Hoyle’s reluctant quote stating that “the universe looks like a put-up job.”7 The author uses this chapter to describe the various models of the universe that have been proposed, the anthropic principle, and the awkward position that scientists find themselves in: a universe that had a beginning and looks fine-tuned for intelligent life.

In chapter seven, A Curious Proof that God Does Not Exist, Berlinski takes aim at Richard Dawkins’ argument against God from the idea that God is improbable. He contends that Richard Dawkins will accept most any hypothesis as long as it doesn’t involve God:
Dawkins must appeal to infinitely many universes crammed into creation, with laws of nature wriggling indiscreetly and fundamental physical parameters changing as one travels from one corner of the cosmos to the next, the whole entire gargantuan structure scientifically unobservable and devoid of any connection to experience.8
In chapter eight and nine, Berlinski also questions how Darwinian theory can account for the fact that “human beings have been endowed with powers and properties not found elsewhere in the animal kingdom – or the universe, so far as we can tell…”9 Most notably, Berlinski looks at the complexities of the human mind and criticizes the reductionist theories offered by evolutionary explanations. He continues by pointing out that few are willing to question the Darwinian party line for fear of the consequences. For Berlinski, Darwin’s theory has become more of an ideology than science:
If Darwin’s theory of evolution has little to contribute to the content of the sciences, it has much to offer their ideology. It serves as the creation myth of our time, assigning properties to nature previously assigned to God. It thus demands an especially ardent form of advocacy.10
The author is unwilling to grant evolutionary theory more credit than it deserves:
Although Darwin’s theory is very often compared favorably to the great theories of mathematical physics on the grounds that evolution is as well established as gravity, very few physicists have been heard observing that gravity is as well established as evolution. They know better and they are not stupid.11
Berlinski concludes the book in chapter ten: The Cardinal and His Cathedral. In this chapter he offers both history and a metaphor. For history, he retells the trial of Galileo; he must renounce his view that the earth but not the sun was in motion. The author fills in some of the historical narrative of how the episode played out. The metaphor that follows is that of a cardinal sitting in his unfinished cathedral. Without spoiling the conclusion, Berlinski paints a vivid picture of the place the “high priests” of science have found themselves in.

The Devil’s Delusion is a very readable book. Entertaining, witty, and insightful. Berlinski’s style and angle make for a very accessible book. Sometimes blunt, sometimes indirect, always with a unique choice of words or turn of phrase. For those looking for an honest, common-sense assessment of the new atheism and its scientific claims from a non-Christian perspective, Berlinski’s book is a great choice.

1 David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism & Its Scientific Pretensions (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2009), p. 10.
2 Ibid., p. 27.
3 Ibid., p. 45.
4 Ibid., p. 63.
5 Ibid., p. 83.
6 Ibid., p. 106.
7 Ibid., p. 111.
8 Ibid., p. 153.
9 Ibid., p. 155.
10 Ibid., pp. 190-191.
11 Ibid., p. 191.

22 comments :

RkBall said...

An astonishingly well-written review. Well done!

Lee said...

”What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and…”

You mean that because they didn’t believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden they did nasty things?

Wow… that is a great argument for the belief in fairies, I don’t think so

I’m bored of the Hitler argument and it put me off reading any more of the review if that is the best the book has to show for itself

Sorry

Lee

Lee said...

”Although Darwin’s theory is very often compared favorably to the great theories of mathematical physics on the grounds that evolution is as well established as gravity, very few physicists have been heard observing that gravity is as well established as evolution

Maybe this is because all physicists know that the current and best theories of gravity are WRONG?

The theories of gravity show themselves to be wrong - evolution has not been shown wrong.

Makes you think?

Don’t you just love it

Lee
PS
Sorry, I had to read just a little more – it didn’t get any better

SteveC said...

Lee,
Just for the record. Berlinski's quote about Hitler,Stalin,Mao etc.was not an argument for God or fairies. It was to point out that greatest atrocities in history were not perpetrated by theists, but by those who did not believe there was any God to which they were accountable.
He includes a detailed inventory of the bodycount credited to atheistic regimes. (pg.22-24)
I recomend you read the book Lee. You might actually like this one.

Lee said...

Hi SteveC

Just for the record. Berlinski's quote about Hitler,Stalin,Mao etc.was not an argument for God or fairies

Then he is one of the few theists who does not try and use this as an argument for absolute morals and God... and I wonder why he did raise it then?

It was to point out that greatest atrocities in history were not perpetrated by theists

So it was to make an argument :-)

And you need to define ‘greatest atrocities’ for me since I worry that you think counting dead bodies is the only measure.

Not that it matters to me, I can say that what Hitler, Stalin and Mao was wrong (by my own standard) and I shall not even mention each of these fellows religious (Christian) education and upbringing since I am also happy to concede that their belief that there was no after life and/or punishment in the ‘here after’ probably was a factor – but I also wonder how large a factor an education from childhood that morals can ONLY come from God affected them also? Either considered that?

I’ve heard it said (from Christians) that without God anything is possible.

Personally, never having been raised a Christian – I do not believe this nonsense for a second.

However, some might think it.

This is why I worry sometimes that some Christians will lose their religion – maybe Hitler and Stalin are a warning from history to us all about childhood indoctrination in bad ethics?

Oh, and any ideas why Hitler singled out the Jews for such ‘special’ attention?

Since I am not sure how a lack of belief in gods takes you to wanting to kill Jews – maybe you could educate me on your logic?

Oh, and lastly - Christianity has a history of hating Jews you know – any connection?

but by those who did not believe there was any God to which they were accountable.

And a believer in Jesus never killed anyone because of their belief in the bible?
(Roll out the ‘no true Scotsman’ logical fallacy)

Please read your history before you insult yourself further.

He includes a detailed inventory of the bodycount credited to atheistic regimes. (pg.22-24)

So it does all come down to a body count then?

Tell me, do you believe in the bible as the literal word of God?

How many do you think died during the Flood? Or perhaps when the angel of death came down to kill each first born son... how many then?

Maybe you do not believe in the literal bible, but accept ‘theistic evolution’ (whatever that is) and accept the evidence of evolution which means with this reasoning an ‘all-loving’, all-knowing, all-powerful God chose as His best method to ‘create’ mankind a technique the required the death and suffering of 98% of all life that has ever existed... some God that chap.

I don’t believe in such stories of course, but you might – so care to address this question.

What act, commanded by God, could be deemed ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ in your opinion?

If you say none, then what Hitler, Stalin and co. did (maybe in your opinion) would have been ‘right’ if commanded by God.

Of course, God would never command the killing of innocent men, women and children now would He?

Erm... about how literal we should take the bible again?

And one more question - If Hitler, at the end, realised his mistake and truly asked God and Jesus to forgive him... would this mean Hitler would be in heaven now?

I recomend you read the book Lee. You might actually like this one.

No, I don’t think so... if the best the man can do is count dead bodies, he has not got a clue.

Lee

Chad said...

Lee,

David Berlinski is a self-described "secular Jew." He is not a theist.

Take care

SteveC said...

Lee,
I dont mean this as flattery, but you reason like Christopher Hitchens. You give a list of things you consider to be immoral acts by God and offer no foundation for that moral judgement given your worldview.

Also, does it follow logicaly that if people do bad things in Gods name, that God does not exist? No
Likewise, if God does things that you think are unfair, does that mean God does not exist? No.

If God exists and is the giver of life, then He has the authority to take it. I know most atheists have a cosmic authority problem, so this is hard to accept. Also keep in mind, that no one is innocent before God. We all have a well desereved appointment with death.

This makes the Christian concept of forgiveness all the more important. You deplore the idea that Hitler could be forgiven. Again I smell a moral judgement on your part. Just keep in mind that Gods offer of forgiveness to a monster like Hitler is not a character flaw, but an indication of the depth of divine love, grace, and mercy. All of which, thankfully is offered to you and me too.

Lee said...

Hi Chad

David Berlinski is a self-described "secular Jew." He is not a theist.

I will take your word for it - he is making theistic arguments though.

Lee

Lee said...

Hi SteveC

I dont mean this as flattery, but you reason like Christopher Hitchens

And like in Hitchens debates, the theist does not address the points made but instead attackes strawmen

does it follow logicaly that if people do bad things in Gods name, that God does not exist? No

Never an argument I made - your argument was that atheist do bad things, but you have not shown that it was the non-belief in gods that was the root cause of this.

I provide other possible causes which you chose to ignore.

If God exists and is the giver of life, then He has the authority to take it.

And if this logic was true - I would have the right in your view to kill my own children.

What sick logic you have.

You also did not address my point...

"What act, commanded by God, could be deemed ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ in your opinion?"

Anything is possible with the belief in God then is it not?

You deplore the idea that Hitler could be forgiven.

I asked a question - without judgement.

It has nothing to do with me who you belive God will let into heaven and who will be sent to Hell.

Just think about what you believe.

You say what Hitler did was morally wrong, but he could be in Heaven in your worldview.

Don't you just love it.

Lee

SteveC said...

Lee,
In regards to my comment that God has the right to take life since He is the creator you said "if this logic was true - I would have the right in your view to kill my own children."

I'm surprised that I have to point this out to you, but what YOU do is called "procreation".
God can create out of nothing. If you can create your own molecules, arrange them properly, and endow them with a human soul, then I would say you are a step closer to comparing your creative powers, and authority over life, to that of God's. Until then your argument is without merit.

You also say:

"What act, commanded by God, could be deemed ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ in your opinion?"

If God exists then this is like asking what kind of square circles can God make.
God must be morally perfect. Anything God does will be consistant with that nature. This is not a dodge of your question. Truely, if God exists, then the question is flawed.

Finally, You said:
"what Hitler did was morally wrong, but he could be in Heaven in your worldview. Just think about what you believe."

Yes,lets think about it.

If Christianity has it right, then we all are lawbreakers who desereve punishment. Me, you, and Hitler. I'm no more deserving of Heaven than Hitler.I can't remember how many moral wrongs I've done. Can you?

If I get what I deserve I'm in deep trouble. Thats where mercy, grace, and forgiveness come in. I need it. You need it. We all need it. God offers it. I shouldn't be resentful if someone worse than me avails himself of that forgiveness.

On your worldview, Hitler is never brought to justice. He lived as he pleased. Death is the end. Nice.

Lee said...

Hi SteveC

Firstly, I wrote a little post on this subject if you are interested here

I got into more detail than I can or should on this thread.

In regards to my comment that God has the right to take life since He is the creator you said "if this logic was true - I would have the right in your view to kill my own children."

I'm surprised that I have to point this out to you, but what YOU do is called "procreation".


Word and definitions...

Tell me – do you think my sons would exist if it wasn’t for the wife and I?

I say then that between me and the wife – we created our sons.

Split heirs if you like :-)

God can create out of nothing.

But, but, but... isn’t it the Christian who keep telling me that ‘out of nothing, nothing comes’?

Where is your consistency?

Changing the topic I know – but you did mentioned the ‘out of nothing’ business first.

If you can create your own molecules, arrange them properly, and endow them with a human soul, then I would say you are a step closer to comparing your creative powers, and authority over life, to that of God's.

Have you any evidence that God did it?

And what evidence do you have for a ‘human soul’ – when did that come into ‘existence’?

Questions, questions – but you keep raising this stuff.

Let's keep focus - we were talking about morals I think.

Until then your argument is without merit.

Lee said...

RE"What act, commanded by God, could be deemed ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ in your opinion?"

If God exists then this is like asking what kind of square circles can God make.

And this is an invalid question to ask why? God cannot do the logically impossible?

So your God is confined by the 'laws of logic' – and not the creator of them?

Interesting... I will remember this when you talk about the ‘laws of logic’ next time.

God must be morally perfect.

OK – firstly, why must He?

Secondly, how do you know this?

Thirdly, how would you know if God did something immoral anyway?

What you are saying (trying to walk around actually answering the simple question asked) is that God cannot do no wrong – which was my point.

Why can you not admit that? It follows from your logic that God is 'all-good' and 'does stuff within the universe'

Anything goes... and it creates YOU moral issues I think.

Anything God does will be consistant with that nature.

And your evidence and logic for your God not being ‘all-bad’ is what precisely?

Oh, and this nature – who created it? If it governs the behaviour of God, it must not be created by Himself right?

This is not a dodge of your question. Truely, if God exists, then the question is flawed.

Well, yes it is actually.

Firstly – you have not shown God to exist so you can take that argument off the table.

Secondly, why would it be flawed – you have just said (as much) that God can do no wrong, so anything commanded by God must be good (in your view) by definition.

Where is the flaw in my logic?

Your problem is that if we run with your logic – it causes you problems.

That is not my problem :-)

If Christianity has it right, then we all are lawbreakers who desereve punishment. Me, you, and Hitler. I'm no more deserving of Heaven than Hitler.I can't remember how many moral wrongs I've done. Can you?

I don’t remember giving the order to kill 2 million Jews – so I think I am just a little better than Hitler :-)

So, what was your point again?

Oh, and is a baby born a sinner in your worldview?

Thats where mercy, grace, and forgiveness come in. I need it. You need it. We all need it. God offers it. I shouldn't be resentful if someone worse than me avails himself of that forgiveness.

So Hitler could be in Heaven right now – you agree to that much, but all the Jews he killed in the gas chambers will not?

Gandhi will be burning in Hell – but Hitler will be having tea and biscuits with JC?

Hey – I couldn’t care less, really I don’t.

It is you who believes this stuff, not I.

I am just trying to make sense of it.

My point is that I do not understand how you could call the acts of Hitler ‘absolutely wrong’ if Hitler is now having a nice and friendly chat with JC and God – playing football on some clouds with harps playing in the background.

Some moral view of the world you have.

On your worldview, Hitler is never brought to justice. He lived as he pleased. Death is the end. Nice.

Ah – so is this the problem... you want ‘justice’ but surely you mean ‘vengence’?

Tell me, if Hitler was burning in Hell right now – would it make the Jews who were sent to the gas chambers feel any better?

Take care, and please read my blog post if you have time.

Lee

Havok said...

SteveC: Until then your argument is without merit.
So your biblical morality breaks down to "might makes right", or something of the sort?

SteveC: God must be morally perfect.
And morality is that which is in accordance with the will or nature of God, correct?
That seems to be awfully circular to me

SteveC: Anything God does will be consistant with that nature.
If I assert that I must be morally perfect, and that anything I do is consistent with that nature, we seem to be at the same point.

SteveC: I'm no more deserving of Heaven than Hitler. I can't remember how many moral wrongs I've done. Can you?
So you also ordered the deaths of millions? What's that, you didn't?
Then I don't quite understand why you're so deserving of punishment.
Or isn't your deity perfectly 'Just'?

SteveC: You need it. We all need it.
Actually, for the most part I've received it - it's called 'apologising to those you hurt/wrong', and it seems to work for the most part ;-)

SteveC: God offers it.
In what appears to be a very conditional manner. Quite strange for a being which is supposed to be the embodiment of love and forgiveness :-)

SteveC said...

Havok,
Here are some things to think about.

You said:"So your biblical morality breaks down to "might makes right":

Question: Who has the right to take any life they choose? Either no one or someone.
If you say no one has that right, then again you make a value judgment you can’t justify given your worldview. All you have is a feeling or preference of some kind. So what?

If you say someone does have the right to take any life they choose, then who?
Only someone with proper authority, right? Who could possibly be in such a position?
If God exists, then He would be the ultimate authority in any matter.

When you use the slogan “might makes right”, you imply that the one with the “might” is misusing his authority or power. In human history, this has been true. This reflects a corruption of human character. It also assumes that power itself doesn’t make someone right? (Again, a moral judgment.) That raises another question: What makes someone right? What makes someone deserving to be in a position of authority over others?

If I tell you to do what I say and don’t question me, then you would instantly say what?
“Who do you think you are?!” Why? I clearly lack something, but what? Think about it.

Whatever it is I lack, God surely has. Perfect power, knowledge, moral character,etc.
If he lacked perfection in any way, then he would not be God.

You said: “If I assert that I must be morally perfect, and that anything I do is consistent with that nature, we seem to be at the same point.”

This only works if your standard for “morally perfect” is an arbitrary invention of your own.(Gods moral laws derive from His character) We all live in a world where the same moral laws are in effect. You either acknowledge them or pretend they do not exist. If you deny them then it is up to you to disprove what normaly functioning human beings accept as properly basic. (The same with math and logic)

I hate long posts. So one last thing.

You said: “Actually, for the most part I've received it - it's called 'apologising to those you hurt/wrong', and it seems to work for the most part”

If a guilty criminal stands before a judge, about to be sent to prison, and says “Judge, you should know that I apologized to the victim.” Should the judge let him go? Of course not. He wouldn’t be a good judge would he? Law breakers deserve punishment. The criminal could say,” But Judge, I only committed this one crime.” How many crimes does it take to be a law breaker? One.

You seem to think God is to be faulted for offering forgiveness with a condition. Are you referring to the requirement of faith/trust in Christ? If so, this is no different than a criminal receiving a pardon from the governor. He must receive it. Not work for it. It is a gift.

Perfectly consistent with a God of love and forgiveness.

Havok said...

SteveC: If you say no one has that right, then again you make a value judgment you can’t justify given your worldview. All you have is a feeling or preference of some kind. So what?
So you're pitting my value judgment against yours? or even against your (claimed) deity's?
Why, when it's not willing to appear, nor reason, should I accept this beings value judgement (or your claims concerning its judgements)?
Why is a reasoned, rational judgement of less worth than the apparent whim of some other being (whether it or you)?

SteveC: If God exists, then He would be the ultimate authority in any matter.
Even if I accepted that claim, why would God be the ultimate authority?
These matters seem to me to be best resolved through reason, not subjective preference. Your deity is invited to the table to talk things through, and if he is what Christians usually claim, then he would surely win the day. I don't see why any person gets a free pass to claim their subjective will as "right" a priori (of course it will just be thee and me at the table, as your deities existence is ludicrously improbable) :-)

SteveC: ...the “might” is misusing his authority or power.
If there was no misuse, then it would simply be "right". If someone is imposing their authority through force, because their position is unreasonable, then I see that at misuse.
Reason is the means by which we communicate. It seems to me we end up back at the table having a discussion :-)

SteveC: This reflects a corruption of human character.
A claim I would object to.
The Christian worldview seems to require people to have corrupted characters (due to the fall etc), something which doesn't seem to be the case in reality - it seems that we're simply not perfect, as one would expect when you accept our evolutionary heritage.

SteveC: (Again, a moral judgment.)
And here I thought "morality" concerned what was wrong and right, not who was the strongest or most willing and able to impose their will upon others. I stand corrected :-)
Isn't your deity credited with giving humanity the gift of free will? And here he is, taking it back again - "Here, I give you the ability to reason and make up your own minds, but you'd better do what I say regardless!"
Seems a little ridiculous to me?

SteveC: I clearly lack something, but what? Think about it.
The might to scare or cow me into submission and servitude? Am I getting closer?
Had you said "Havok, I'd like you to do this, and here is why...", then you'd likely get a very different response.

Havok said...

SteveC: If he lacked perfection in any way, then he would not be God.
So your conception of God falls afoul of the numerous logical arguments demonstrating the mutual exclusion of the various "perfections" or "infinite attributes" etc. That's surely something of a problem, no?

SteveC: This only works if your standard for “morally perfect” is an arbitrary invention of your own.(Gods moral laws derive from His character)
And it seems your deity's standard for "morally perfect" is an arbitrary invention of his own (well, your own, since again he's so improbable - nay, as I pointed out above, logically impossible). Why is my arbitrary of less value than his/yours?

SteveC: We all live in a world where the same moral laws are in effect.
Which quite obviously derive from my character, since I am morally perfect :-)

SteveC: You either acknowledge them or pretend they do not exist.
Or you claim they're derived from a source other than me - it is quite irritating, but understandable given your beliefs :-P

SteveC: If you deny them then it is up to you to disprove what normaly functioning human beings accept as properly basic.
I don't deny that as social animals we have what appears to be a core set of behaviours (morality, if you will). It seems reasonble to claim that since we share very similar "wet ware" and social upbringing (human cultures seem much more alike when compared with other social animals, even such as Bonobo's).
I'm not sure you can simply claim these shared traits as transcendent and derived from some "perfect being" without justification

SteveC: (The same with math and logic)
You're not trying to claim that math and logic somehow come from you're deity is some weird transcendent fashion (as opposed to being based on observations of the world) are you?
I hope you're not about to leap into some weird (and, as they seem to be, lame) presuppositional apologetic, are you?

SteveC: If a guilty criminal stands before a judge, about to be sent to prison, and says “Judge, you should know that I apologized to the victim.” Should the judge let him go? Of course not. He wouldn’t be a good judge would he? Law breakers deserve punishment.
It depends on the crime, doesn't it. Some things, like inadvertantly and unintentionally insulting someone seem to require little more than explanation and apology. Theft seems to require more (raparations etc).
You also seem to be completely forgetting another (and in many cases, I would say, main) reason for punishment - protection of other individuals in society.
Oh, and lets not forget about setting examples so that others don't commit the same crimes, as well as (trying) to change the behaviour of the criminal.

I don't think it's quite as simple as you seem to believe - punishment for crimes doesn't seem to be only about "forgiveness" or even payment for the crime committed.

SteveC: Are you referring to the requirement of faith/trust in Christ? If so, this is no different than a criminal receiving a pardon from the governor. He must receive it. Not work for it. It is a gift.
A criminal can receive a pardon without believing in the existence of the governor. The criminal can also be exonerated even if he still believes and/or claims to have committed the crime.
Your "morally perfect" deity doesn't offer the same terms (which would make the governor more moral, or at least, more loving/forgiving than God, no?)

What theory of atonement are you claiming here? Penal substitution or something similar? :-)

Jared said...

Lee,

What Berlinski's point was in referencing Hitler/Stalin/Mao and others was to use an exhaustive and repetive list in order to convey and emphasize the simple point (apparently complicated to some) that without a Moral Law giver there is no moral law. The result of not believing to have this Moral Law giver looking over their shoulders led to the many inhumane acts these people or groups permitted. If you want to attack the validity of the "over used argument" with a better critique then these groups unwillingness to accept "fairies at the bottom of the garden." I do believe that the "Faires, flying spaghetti monsters, unicorns" is the overused argument that lacks any merit whatsoever but does allow one to cling to a fanciful imaginary term and box our proposed Diety into something that seems so far fetched that one could find security in clinging to them. This is a good blinding strategy for the dogmatic athiest in response to the very logical and rational arguments for God's existence and is honestly a weak out but makes a nice sound bite doesn't it ;)

p.s. No one would claim that environmental adaptation does not occur, that would simply be absurd. Science is however struggling with complete concept evolution, and is very much so. Ever heard of irreducible complexity? Google it or something :) On second thought I'll just use a good sound bite for fun (even though it too is just that). What is morality anyway if we all just come from a big pile of primordial soup and a lot of luck! That one probably gets old too doesn't it?

Makes you think doesn't it!

Lee said...

Hi Jared,

The last comment I made here was in Feb... strange I cannot remember what I wrote and do not have the time to re-read this thread.

I do not have much time today so will just comment on the following.

you wrote : without a Moral Law giver there is no moral law.

Have you heard of the Euthyphro dilemma?

To quote Bertrand Russell:
"The point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, then you are then in this situation: is that difference due to God's fiat or is it not? If it is due to God's fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good."

What is your response to this?

Lee

Jason Ryberg said...

The guy is a senior fellow at The Discovery Institute, a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of intelligent design creationism. That pretty much puts his "secularism" to pasture.

Jason Ryberg said...

The guy is a senior fellow at The Discovery Institute, a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of intelligent design creationism. That pretty much puts his "secularism" to pasture. I'd like to know what his thoughts are on werewolves.

Anonymous said...

What force in the atheist framework is omnipotent and omnipresent? Absolutely unstoppable, total and impartial? Entropy...Death. It is this unfettered force that every atheist bows to. And science is their hopeful salvation. The atheist's god is Death itself. To this point there is no argument. It is fundamentally, objectively true. In their paradigm, it has reigned since the beginning and as Solomon, in Ecclesiastes (3:19) muses, "Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless." It is from the slavery of death that they need to be rescued. From their futile resignation. What a dark place to be. We disciples of Jesus need to Love them in deed and Truth to eternal life tangible - I know when Jesus says "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38) that He speaks Truth. It's indescribable joy that I wake up every day with. This is not born of suburban delusion - I've tasted suffering's harshness. He is Life and He is real. We are not only saved from Death but TO Life. Their material cynicism needs to be met by our immaterial hope tempered by grace. For a time in my life, I counted myself among them. Peace.

Brian

rickymooston said...

I could not disagree more. Berlinski's prose is impeccable but I would expect a more honest representation of science from a msthematician. He wears his agnosticism like its an accomplishment. The valid points in the book can be summarized thus: in theory atheists dont have a god watching. Some atheists can be dogmatic and some atheists can even be wrong; i.e., atheists are as human as theists are. It is true some evil people misunderstood and misapplied darwins theories. Its also true that the nazis and communists claimed to ,ove science. Science is not a moral tool. It can explain how values evolved. Berlinski fails to explain his own moralnposition, in light of his non belief in God. If yiu are a Christian sish to read a misrepresentation of atheist views, i recommend this book. If you wish to read a well thought out honrst book, i would not recommend it.

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