Ten years on from that book of atheistic faith, the God Delusion

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, in 2014 at the Strand Arts Centre, Holywood Road Belfast.  Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, in 2014 at the Strand Arts Centre, Holywood Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

It has been 10 years since the publication of Richard Dawkins’ bestselling book ‘The God Delusion’.

It has been 10 years since the first publication of Richard Dawkins bestselling book “The God Delusion”.

The book was first printed 02 October 2006 and has been sold (and maybe read) by the millions. After its publication (and probably to be expected considering the topic) the book received a rather mixed reception. But here is the interesting and little known fact; a mixed reaction also emanated from Dawkins fellow atheists! 

The predictable comments from theists seeking to defend the rationality and cogency of their worldview goes without saying. But it is the mixed reception from many academic atheists that the book received which is most interesting and illuminating and little known even 10 years on.

Many atheist philosophers were somewhat aghast at Dawkins handling of major and ancient philosophical issues. Maybe they should not have been so surprised at this as Dawkins is, - after all, - merely a biology major and he is not a qualified philosopher, cosmologist, theologian, biblical historian, phycologist, physicist or any of the other realms he dips his toe in during the book.

In all these other areas he is a layman like the rest of us and many of his fellow atheists were forthright in declaring that Dawkins lack of expertise in these other areas showed. Dawkins had overstepped the boundaries of his academic expertise and had been found to be a clumsy trespasser indeed in the main.

Professor Anthony Flew (who at one time was quite possibly the most famous atheist academic in the world and who later actually abandoned his atheism to adopt theism due to recent advances in science) commented that “The fault of Dawkins as an academic…was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form”.

One of Dawkins worst arguments against Gods existence in the book was in fact, what seems to have been, the centre piece argument of the entire book.

Simply put the best argument Dawkins had against Gods existence seemed to boil down to this: “who designed the designer?” (p 157-158). That’s it. That’s his very best shot. Dawkins actually referred to this argument as; “the central argument of my book”, to be exact.

One very well published atheist philosopher, Prof Michael Ruse of Florida State University, went so far as to say in response that “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist”. Prof Ruse has further likened Richard Dawkins to “a first year undergraduate” who “can happily go around asking loudly,

“What caused God?” as though he had made some momentous philosophical discovery…”. Whilst Ruses comments may be slightly uncharitable his voice must yet be heard.

Oxford Prof John Lennox, (who is originally from Armagh incidentally), in his debate with Richard Dawkins entitled “Gods Undertaker. Has Science Buried God?” held Dawkins to account on this so called ‘central argument’ of the book. Both debates Prof John Lennox had with Richard Dawkins are widely available online for anyone interested in the art of ‘you-tubing’.

Lennox quite rightly (and respectfully it must be said) explained that the question posed by Dawkins of “who designed the designer” obviously displayed a lack of understanding of who God is and a naivety on matters of philosophy and theology. For to ask who created God shows that the questioner has ‘created gods’ in mind at the very outset. This sets one up for a fall explains Lennox. For the God of the Bible has revealed himself as the eternal ‘uncaused cause’ of all time space and matter.

He is the Creator of everything else that exists whilst he himself is uncreated. He never began to exist neither was he designed by anyone. Therefore, God himself is by very definition “uncreated” and “uncaused” and “un-designed”. This has always been the Christian teaching concerning God. With the greatest respect, how could a seemingly intelligent man like Dawkins have missed this simple point? 

So, the question Richard asks is “Who designed the designer”? The answer? “well no one Richard”. That’s the point.  The God who has revealed himself in the Bible created this universe and the scientific laws contained therein (and every atheist as well for that matter). God isn’t subject to these laws in any way. Everything that has a beginning has a cause. God had no beginning.

10 years on the central argument is still as bad as ever and, to the best of my knowledge, Dawkins is still as vehement an atheist as ever. Therefore, the theist would argue, he is still deluding himself to this very day, not to mention those who take his book seriously. If one thinks about the book from a neutral perspective one may come to the ironic conclusion that “The God Delusion” is itself a great statement of Dawkins own ‘evangelical’ atheistic faith. For despite the books wrathful condemnation of all things unprovable by scientific method, the book itself in the end does not prove there is no God by the scientific method (or anywhere near it).

Furthermore, the book certainly does not establish that it is the theists who are deluded and not in fact the atheists! Dawkins ends up showing himself to be, ironically, a man of great faith indeed, for he cannot scientifically prove his atheism, therefore his own worldview qualifies as ‘faith’. He has chosen to place his faith in atheism whilst others reasonably and rationally chose to place their faith elsewhere.

Richard Dawkins, sadly, has suffered a mild stroke in recent months and has confirmed in the media that he “definitely did not pray” when he was in the midst of his problems. I can safely say that there are many Christians around the world who will continue to pray for him regardless. On the 10-year anniversary of the God Delusion, despite the vitriol of the book, they would no doubt send him their warmest best wishes in his recovery, hoping, and yes, praying that one day Richard Dawkins will turn to the uncreated God who created him and who loves him and indeed all humanity, and from whom he seems to have been running his whole life. Wouldn’t it be great, in ten years’ time, to be looking back on the anniversary of another of Richard Dawkins books entitled “Why I am a Christian”? Now that would definitely be another best seller and arguably a much better read.