Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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 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  believe that the even the word God should be banished from human language because according to their verdict God is obsolete .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, believe 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  has 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 a 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 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  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 some times  creep into 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 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 numerate 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 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 be rational or moral because the  power of pleasure seeking , privilege position, play and accumulation of possession destroy 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 exits and if  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.
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