The Dawkins Delusion

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In chapter 4 of The God Delusion, (Why There Almost Certainly is No God), we encounter Richard Dawkins’ main argument. Let’s first take a look at the reasoning and then we will deliberate.

Here is a summary of his argument:

1. Humans are challenged to explain the appearance of design in the universe
2. It is naturally tempting to assume there is a designer
3. This is false because it raises a larger problem (who designed the designer)
4. Natural Selection is responsible for the illusion of design
5. There is no equivalent explanation (to Darwinism) for physics but the anthropic principle will suffice
6. We may yet get a better explanation for physics

The essential argument turns out to be an application of Occam’s Razor; the principle of parsimony i.e. that simple explanations are to be preferred over complex ones. Natural Selection is simple, God is not simple, ergo God does not exist. Yes – that’s it!

At the risk of sounding a little delusional, when I considered this argument, a little voice in my head was heard to mutter, ‘well, excuse me Mr Dawkins, but aren’t you the same fellow who was poking fun at the ontological argument just a few short chapters ago?’

Perhaps we will get around to thinking about the anthropic principle referred to in his reasoning in a future post, but in this post, I would like to consider the ‘who designed the designer’ question.

We actually addressed this question in an earlier post on the subject of infinite regression (see [link id=’197′]), but Richard is not impressed with the proposal that God is how infinite regression is terminated. The idea that something or someone might have always existed is anathema to him. This is something that genuinely surprises me because I have no doubt that he would be well-versed in recent thinking on the subject of how the universe began.

What does the most notable physicist of our time have to say about how the universe came into existence? Stephen Hawkins says that it didn’t. He says it has always existed. As we get closer and closer to the singularity usually referred to as the Big Bang, time moves gradually into a different dimension (imaginary time) and the universe exists in a circular pattern with no beginning and no end. This is the fundamental hypothesis set out in Stephen Hawkins’ A Brief History of Time.

So, here we have perhaps the most eminent, celebrated and well-respected living physicist who’s main theory states that something (the universe) has always existed. If it is an acceptable answer to physics that something has always existed, then we can reasonably accept that at least it is a definite possibility and not something to be ruled out without proper consideration. Perhaps it is time to accept that the only answer to the problem of infinite regression is that something or someone has always existed.

Of course, this does not completely invalidate Richard’s argument, but I believe it puts a major dent in it. To summarise my point, if we are to accept current thinking within the field of physics, it is simply not possible to argue, with credibility, that it is impossible for something or someone to have always existed as Dawkins attempts to do in this book.

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