Friday, October 27, 2006


A number of articles have appeared about the Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, who has a new book out, The God Delusion, showing that people who believe in God are, well, deluded. I haven't read it, so I'm not sure how Dawkins deals with Buddhists, who are religious without God. He also appears in Wired's cover story on the New Atheists (

I actually surprised myself by recognizing the validity of the arguments Dawkins makes against theism in the first chapter of his book (it's at the New York Times Sunday Review of Books site,; the review by Jim Holt is at But I have a few beefs:

I set aside whether Dawkins demolishes the ontological and design arguments for the existence of God, because I'm not sure that one can conclusively prove that God exists (although the ontological argument, a la Anselm, comes pretty close, and I'm not sure that Dawkins does in fact dismiss it). Religion is, as Kierkegaard said, a "leap of faith"; at some point one has to say, "I believe in this even though I can't prove it."

It seems to me that the atheists described in the Wired article as just as self-righteous as the religious believers they oppose. I guess you become your enemy.

Gary Wolf, who wrote the Wired article, and the atheists he describes assume that all Christians are either evangelical fundamentalists or Roman Catholics. The Wired piece, and most atheistic arguments, fail to see the great intellectual diversity within Christianity (not to mention Islam and Judaism as well), as there are liberal Protestants and Catholics, Progressive Christians, liberationists, Eastern Orthodox, Quakers, and evangelicals (who are themselves more diverse than they are often credited with being), all calling themselves followers of Jesus Christ.

But it's all worth reading. I had no idea the magicians Penn and Teller were so anti-religion.

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