Does Science Make God Obsolete ?
It is obvious that our modern times are characterized by unprecedented progress almost beyond imagination in many fields of our everyday existence. Man live at least in Western developed countries in comfort not known to our grandparents or even imagined by them. This tremendous changed in our existence is primarily the effect of the explosion of science , technology and dissemination of knowledge through mass media . It is not an exaggeration that scientific progress created a great divide between the medieval mentality and modern way of thinking. But the deepest divides of all is the great division between modern skepticism, scientism, and atheism. There is no doubt that atheism is on the rise and that position of religion and religious authorities lost a lot of ground . The crucial question, of course, is about the existence or no existence of God. Modern atheists like Richard Dawkins , Daniel Dennett , Lewis Wolpert , Sam Harris, Victor Stenger and many others especially some who consider themselves scientists believe that the even the word God should be banished from a human language because according to their verdict God is obsolete . Richard Dawkins in his book " The God Delusion" expresses a passionate atheistic attack on religion and belief in God . For Richard Dawkins religion, belief in God are not only evil in themselves and an ignorant superstition which deserved to be uprooted but it is the source and the main ground of evil. And Dawkins considers himself the great liberator of man from the prison of superstition and ignorance . He does not spare very strong language when talking about the God of the Old Testament as a vengeful capricious and despicable tyrant , hungry for blood and multiplying misery upon misery on mankind. Dawkins does not spare the New Testament either and shows here a surprise degree of ignorance but the main mistake of Dawkins thinking is that he wants at once be a scientist and a metaphysician . And he attacks even the most obvious arguments in philosophy for the existence of God and at the same time maintains that he is talking science only especially his praise of Darwin's theory of evolution according to his mind solves completely all philosophical problems and deals the final death strike to belief in God.
Dawkins' objections against belief in God and any other for of religion can be reduced to basically three objections.
The first is the statement that evolution and Dawkins have primarily biological evolution in mind , explains completely the origin of mankind and therefore any inference to any kind of God and religion is superfluous, to say the least ,but for Dawkins religion is not only superfluous but it is the source or the worst evil for mankind.
This is of course ,a statement which involves a contradiction which we shall explain later. At this point one can say only that evolution of life and humanity does not deny in any way God's planning of creation.
The second objection is his misinterpretation of religious faith . It seems that for Dawkins religious faith is believing something " that you know it isn't true."
The third objection is that great harm has been done in the name of religion and therefore it is evil.
Dawkins is a master in using the logical fallacy called attacking the straw man or the logical fallacy known as " ad hominem." It is a way of evading the real issue , the problem to be solved , by attacking the person of the imaginary evil person of the one who is your opponent. This way of so-called logic has been used in history known to us and also in most recent times by all demagogues and self-appointed leaders of different nations.
The best way to answer the objections against religious belief by Richard Dawkins is to follow his objections from one to three.
Objection number one is the conviction of Richard Dawkins that evolution answers all difficulties concerning the origin of mankind and since evolution is a fact, therefore, any talk concerning God , religion is already answered. Evolution is, of course , a scientific theory and even if it is true it does not cancel the fact of God's existence or God's relationship to humankind. Science by itself and it's accepted methods of analyzing facts of the natural world. By discovering different facts, we only broaden the horizon of natural facts and nothing else. A scientific hypothesis or theory is always an interpretation of facts. This should never be forgotten whenever we talk about the scientific theories. We must also remember that scientific theories are provisional in the nature and subject to considerable modification or even replacement by a new theory when some newly discovered facts are revealed to the scientists. A scientific hypothesis must be repeatable by other scientists within some definite field of inquiry. The crucial element in science is always a discovery of facts and repetition of experiments to discover some orderliness in a limited area of inquiry. The fact that scientific explanation has to be always ultimately based on sense data in nature alone and mathematical description already excludes any talk of metaphysical transcendent reality which can be known beyond and above scientific theories. This is the reason why science itself does not admit any prove of God's existence or disapprove of God's existence. Why? Because God is not part of nature and does not belong to the material sensibly perceived objects of scientific discovery . All those who say that science disapproved the existence of God simply either do not know what they are talking about or have a false concept of science and a distorted notion of what God is in the main monotheistic religions.
Therefore, Richard Dawkins cannot claim from the advantage point of science or the scientific theory of evolution , abolition of God's existence. This, however, is the main topic and thesis of his writings, discussions and so-called arguments in his popular book " The God Delusion." From the above it should be clear that neglect of precision in defining facts discovered by science and a false concept of God must lead necessarily only to skepticism and confusion. According to a contemporary scientific view of reality, we may say the following: The universe came into being about fourteen billion years ago out of nothing despite massive improbabilities it appears that the universe is precisely tuned for appearance of life and later appearance of man. This is known as so-called anthropic principle. The adjustment of all energies , primary sub-atomic particles and the forces of nature show an amazing degree of precision in this tune-up. Even the smallest change of those forces of nature would completely cancel the development of the universe as we know it.
After the appearance of life the evolution and natural selection began to develop through immense distances of time. Humans are part of this evolutionary process descending from the great apes. However, humans are unique in kind not only in degree and are creators of religion, moral law science, philosophy, culture, art and so forth. Knowledge is not only accumulation of facts but ultimately it is a search for ultimate meaning and God.
Richard Dawkins second objection is in his idea of faith or religious belief . He thinks that religion is superstition , ignorance and irrational fancies and fantasies. There is no denying that superstition may sometimes creep into a false idea of religion and historically it happens in history . However, it is a completely false idea to equate religious belief with ignorance and superstition. The greatest thinkers of history beginning with the Ancient Greeks through Plato, Aristotle, St . Agustin, Thomas Aquinas , and many moderns were very deep thinkers and conceived religious belief as a necessary conclusion from the analysis of nature , human beings and the demands of intelligibility for rational foundations of religious belief . We see also that many atheists through thinking , philosophy and search for truth are abandoning atheism for religious belief . To use only one example : Thomas Aquinas who was a Dominican monk was also one of the greatest minds ever. The same could be said of many others. Anthony Flew known atheist propagandizing atheism for over fifty years of his life became in 2004 a believer in God. The same goes for many others but we cannot enumerate all here. It is true that religious belief leads to some mysteries going beyond complete understanding by the human mind but this is not because of superstition but because of knowing that we deal with Transcendent Divinity not completely knowable to our finite and limited minds. Our knowledge of God in this life is, therefore, limited and analogical in nature . In discussing the rational character of religious belief one must not only analyze philosophical arguments for God's existence but also take into account the fact of God communicating some facts about himself to humans and his plans for the meaning of the existence of the universe and the meaning of human existence itself.
Richard Dawkins third objection is his insistence on the fact that great amount of harm has been done in the name of religion. And this is historically true. People killed other people , burnt others on a stake, persecuted so-called heretics and quite often believed that they are doing a service to God. This cannot be denied.
The objection, however, is simply false . It is not religion itself that was the cause of such aggressive and destructive behavior of some who called themselves believers but their
misunderstanding of their own religion and acting radically different from what religion taught about the moral demands and the morality taught by the greatest religious founders. People use the religion often in the past for their own selfish materialistic immoral purposes and they did it because it worked as a means of gaining power over others, acquiring authority and even accumulating material possessions all in the name of religion. For example, Christianity is based on the life teaching and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth . Anyone who knows the Gospels even very superficially knows that he taught forgiveness, love of the neighbor and even love of the enemies but people who called themselves Christians and went to participate in a religious ritual of Christianity were often in their lives worse characters than pagans .
Religion , however, was not only used for destructive purposes but also introduced into the hostile human world the elements of the Gospels. Anyone who has some basic knowledge of human nature knows very well that humans will use any means whatsoever to realize their egoistic drive to control and also destroy others if they consider that others obstacles to their selfish and brutal animalistic drives . It is enough to get acquainted with the history of political powers to realize that corruption is a pervasive presence practically in every human activity and in all aspect of human life. It would be boring to give examples here. When it comes to selfish purposes and their realization man simply forget why to be rational or moral because the power of pleasure seeking , privilege position, play, and accumulation of possession destroys very often the feeling of any decency in man. There exist the primeval destructive demons in human nature and they are as powerful in our time as ever before. If God does not exist and if a man becomes a completely independent selfish gene in the language of Richard Dawkins then becomes true the statement by Fyodor Dostoyevsky," If God does not exist everything is allowed."
The objections therefore that religious belief is the cause and source and evil and as such is simply one of the blunders of Richard Dawkins. It is precisely opposite religion if properly understood develops the best and the noblest possibilities in human nature.