Paul Taylor of Answers In Genesis critques 'The God Delusion'

Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor

Have you ever wondered why an atheist believes what he/she does? Richard Dawkins wants you to know why he is an atheist. Dawkins, the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, is arguably the world's best known atheist.

With the publication of his new book, The God Delusion, we now have an expanded version of his atheist manifesto. One would have at least hoped that he would have taken the opportunity to present a more intellectually rigorous case. Indeed, some Christians may have been afraid of opening the book, in case the sheer weight of evidence might have destroyed their faith. For my part, I was looking forward to getting to grips with an intellectual argument. I was to be disappointed.

Dawkins' arguments, far from having intellectual clout, are mostly like this example: "The argument will be so familiar, I needn't document it further."

Dawkin's paucity of argument is best illustrated by his poor use of logic.

Poor Logic

Examine this extraordinary sentence.

Although Jesus probably existed, reputable biblical scholars do not in general regard the New Testament (and obviously not the Old Testament) as a reliable record of what actually happened in history, and I shall not consider the Bible further as evidence for any kind of deity. (p97)

Look first at the use of the word "probably" in "Although Jesus probably existed". Why is Dawkins doubting this fact? There is no question that Jesus existed. It is illogical to add the word "probably".

Look next at the use of the word "reputable". What is a "reputable biblical scholar"? The test of reputation has been left undone by Dawkins. Presumably, a "reputable biblical scholar" is one who agrees with Dawkins' attempts to rubbish the Bible. Such people can be found, though whether the adjective "reputable" is appropriate for such people is a matter of opinion. In the opinion of Answers In Genesis, a "reputable biblical scholar" is one who approaches the Bible with respect, believing it to be the inspired, inerrant and authoritative word of God, from the very first verse.

Thirdly, why is it "obvious" that the Old Testament should not be regarded as reliable? He has clearly not read a detailed apologetics of scriptural inerrancy, such as that provided by Brian Edwards in his masterly book, Nothing But The Truth. That is again down to his presupposition, that evolution is true so Genesis is wrong. Merely making a statement, or using the word "obvious", does not make a statement true, when it is not true. Just from these three points, we see that there is no logical reason given by Dawkins for rejecting the use of the Bible as evidence.

Articles on the use of logic are easy to find on the website. An important element in the use of logic is to recognise logical fallacies. Dawkins has committed several of these.

Ad Hominem

This sort of fallacy involves attacking the opponent instead of the argument. In the UK, this is referred to as "playing the man instead of the ball" - a soccer reference, implying that the tackler has deliberately aimed to kick his opponent, rather than attempting to kick the ball.

There are several examples of this. There is a particularly nasty attack on a schoolteacher, who happens to be a creationist. Notice, on page 95, how Dawkins describes certain American educational establishments.