Does improbable mean impossible? Commentary on Richard Dawkins’ article, The Improbability of God.
In “The Improbability of God”, by Richard Dawkins [ http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/dawkins3.htm ], he begins “…Much of what people do is done in the name of God. Irishmen blow each other up in his name. Arabs blow themselves up in his name. Imams and ayatollahs oppress women in his name. Celibate popes and priests mess up people’s sex lives in his name….bloody crusades, torturing inquisitions, mass-murdering conquistadors, culture-destroying missionaries, …” and so on in the same vein.
This is nothing new in the tired old dogma of atheists, secularism and so-called rationalist thinkers. But if we apply rational thought and logic to the statements do they reflect universal truths – do they even hold up under the scrutiny of the scientific method?
“Much of what people do is done in the name of God…”, raises the question – How much? 80%? 50% or 20%? Can this be quantified? Is it even factual? There is no doubt as to the veracity of his statements about zealots and extremists “blowing themselves up”(and other innocents). It does not necessarily follow that all of this dysfunction and violence stems from Dawkins’ conveniently undefined “In the Name of God” principle. As a matter of fact, it is a view based in large part on an increasingly distant historical past, which is not mirrored in the postmodern age.
Let me state early on my opposing opinion to statements such as these by pointing out the flaw or fallacy in each.
1. Some people believe in a benevolent, loving God. Some people who say they believe this are violent and/or genocidal. Therefore, God can not exist, because if God did exist, He would not “allow” such atrocities in his name…
There is no logic in this statement, even though it is the worldview of many so called rational thinkers. There is a terrible truth in the atrocities committed by humankind upon each other, but this in itself does not negate the existence of a godhead or deity.
2. Things done in “the name of God” or religion, are universally bad for humanity and the source of all that is wrong with the world…
Once again, the flawed logic, while sounding reasonable, has no real basis in fact and the current state of world affairs. What if we substituted some other words for God in the statement. Are there atrocities committed in the name of money and commerce? In the name of oil or energy? In the name of secular politics and power? In the name of rational socio-economic systems such as communism, socialism or modern democracy? Who has been responsible for more misery and death in the world? Thousand year old crusaders and inquisitors, or our own modern day atheists Stalin and Hitler? Who killed more native peoples in North America- missionaries or railroad builders, cattle barons and fur traders? Dawkins claims in his article that his arguments are not circular, but only “seem to be circular”. Mainly because the more you observe the statements in light of facts the more Dawkins’ truths bend until the beginning meets the end like some voracious Ouroborosian serpent.
3. “There is no reason for believing that any sort of gods exist and quite good reason for believing that they do not exist and never have”…
Does this type of statement really stand up under the lens of scientific method or rationalism itself? Logic dictates that you can not posit a negative. That is to base your fundamental principle on the negation of another. “God does not exist”, for example. Then to proceed to prove the same is basically flawed. (more on this in a moment) A belief is in something – not the absence of something…
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