Thursday, June 17, 2010

Delusion Confusion 3

* Below is part 3 of a response to Richard Dawkins book "The God Delusion"

Chapter 1

Dawkins uses his 1st chapter to talk about what he is and is not talking about in his book. It's a short section to establish important definitions. The key terms are atheism and theism. What form of Atheism is Dawkins defending? What form of theism does he find intellectually offensive? I will address these 2 questions below:

Some who claim to be atheists are probably closer to agnosticism in terms of technical definition. Someone who does not presently believe in any particular God or gods may define themselves as an atheist even if they are open to belief in the future (given enough evidence). But there is a much bolder kind of atheism which believes more certainly that there is no God or gods. Dawkins fits this stronger form of atheism. The chapter seems to make clear that he believes that the physical/natural world is all that exists (the spiritual/supernatural realm does not).

Just like there are different kinds of beliefs labeled as atheism, there are also different kinds of belief that include a concept of God. Dawkins defines a theist as a believer in a supernatural God (transcendent & immanent). A deist believes in a supernatural God too (but only transcendent). A pantheist uses the term God, but not in a supernatural sense (not transcendent). He declares, "Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism" (40). It is a major point of the chapter that many/most great scientists who are considered religious were closer to pantheism than to either theism or even deism.

I have no major (or even minor?) disagreement with Dawkins' definitions. I don't even care to dispute his claim that Einstein fits on the pantheistic (non-supernaturalist) side of the debate. I also welcome his ending disclaimer that he is targeting (in this book) the supernaturalist form of religion and will do so without kid-gloves.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Enjoying your thoughts so far...I have nothing else to add just wanted you to know I still read :)