So I’m about a quarter of the way through The God Delusion, and I should go ahead and get this out of the way: Yes, Richard Dawkins is a meanie head. I’m sure that I would be remiss in my review if I didn’t acknowledge it. That does seem to be the primary complaint against his book by most reviewers, and it’s true. He never once says “with all due respect” when objecting to non-science making scientific claims. And it’s extremely difficult to have a Theistic God and not eventually make a scientific claim, because Theistic Gods tend to meddle, and when they meddle they change the universe in ways we should, at least in theory, be able to detect. And if we can detect it, we can apply science. If it’s impossible to detect the meddling, then God looks pantheistic, which is the one kind of religion that Dawkins is OK with. Obviously I am too, and on these points Dawkins and I would likely only disagree on terminology, shades of meaning, and around the periphery. I’ll see as I continue in the book.

I am growing a bit tired of Dawkins beating one particular drum, though. He hypothesizes that if life is so complex that it must be designed, then obviously the Designer is even more complex, and therefore must have been designed himself ad infinitum. So he dispatches Augustine’s First Mover with the question “who made God.” He ignores (mocks actually) theists’ claim that God did not need to be made, but I think he brushes it aside too easily and bases too many other arguments on it. It is possible to imagine an infinite entity outside the universe who created a finite universe, particularly if it made time and space in the process (ok, so we can’t actually imagine it, but we can kind of meta-imagine it). I think Dawkins is too quick to brush this off as nonsense. The problem is not that the supernatural is impossible, but rather that there is no good evidence of the supernatural despite quite a lot of looking. This leaves three options: (a) there are no supernatural actors, (b) supernatural actors do not often act in a way that we notice (they don’t meddle), or (c) supernatural actors go to great lengths to make their actions appear natural. Dawkins jumps too quickly to (a), which is I agree the most parsimonious, but is not proven by Dawkin’s assertion that God would need an even bigger designer. Perhaps, as even Dawkins mentions, there is a theist God and He is just lazy.

Anyway, more later when I finish the book. It’s kind of nice to go back and forth between this and The Art of Reading Scripture. Keeps the mind limber.