* Below is part 6 of a response to Richard Dawkins book "The God Delusion"
**I'm dealing with pages 85-99 here
Just a few odds and ends to deal with at the end of chapter 2. Dawkins writes briefly about prayer, evidence & the probability of E.T. life.
Dawkins speaks of various studies of prayer that demonstrate that prayer doesn't actually work. I think any thinking person would recognize the many stupidities involved in the experiment described in the middle of page 86. I, myself, really struggle with prayer. That might seem strange for a pastor to say, but I find it to be a very difficult subject to think about. But one thing I do know is that prayer is not powerful in and of itself. It's not like a vending machine in which we're guaranteed B3 b/c we put in our 50 cents. Nor is God like Santa Claus. Prayer must be thought of carefully and not in such childish manners.
Dawkins has a real problem with Swinburne's statement that "Too much evidence [of God] might not be good for us" (89). But again, I'm not sure how deeply Dawkins is willing or able to think on these issues. Perhaps there is something of 'free will' which is negated by an over-abundance of evidence. These are deep issues worth thinking about, but I see no reason to deny God because of them.
Dawkins says that science chips away at agnosticism on various fronts. The more we utilize science to chip away at the unexplained, the less we should feel the need to resort to God. This leads to a growing naturalism. Using this naturalistic worldview, our agnosticism about alien life is also chipped away. It is becoming more and more probable, according to Dawkins, that life exists on other planets. He thinks it is probably superhuman life (to the point of being god-like). Indeed, he states that these aliens are god-like "in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine" (98). That strange statement aside, I can certainly see how a naturalistic worldview leads to belief in aliens.
Questions for Discussion:
1. Do you believe there is any power in prayer? In what sense(s)?
2. Do you think experiments trying to prove/disprove prayer are valid? Why?
3. Do you agree with Swinburne that too much evidence might not be good for us in matters of religion? Or do you agree with Dawkins that if there is a god(s) he/she/it should overwhelm us with evidence? Would this chip away at free will?
4. Do you think alien life exists? Why?
5. Dawkins has claimed that life on earth might have been intelligently placed here by extra-terrestrials. Do you find this to be a startling admission? If true, does this solve the dilemma of the origins of life or just push it further into the galaxy?