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Does God Exist? : The God Delusion Book Review


The question about the existence of god has become an eternal question in human history. It is a subject of debate in philosophy, religion, science and popular culture. A wide variety of arguments for and against the existence of God can be categorized as metaphysical, logical, empirical, or subjective. In philosophical terms, the notion of the existence of God involves the disciplines of epistemology (the nature and scope of knowledge) and ontology (study of the nature of being, existence, or reality) and the theory of value (since concepts of perfection are connected to notions of God).
I start questioning about God since I encounter many incompatibilities between scripture and science. I don’t deny that many scientists are so religious, but they have compartmentalized their brains into two sections that don’t talk to each other. Since I used to think sceptic and critically, it’s not easy to accept the unproven facts. I start searching other perspectives by reading books about God, and The God Delusion is one of them.
The God Delusion is one of the most referred book about God and atheism. It’s been a controversial since it published in 2006 by a British evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins. It scientifically criticizes creationism and Intelligent Design. The term ‘God’, which is challenged by Dawkins, is personal God, most specifically God in Abrahamic religion. Not impersonal God in which Baruch Spinoza and Elbert Einstein believe.
Dawkins starts to counter the argument from what is articulated by Thomas Aquinas. It states that universe needs a first cause to exist (prima causa). This argument relies upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it. It makes the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress. If the regression can be stopped in God, so we can also assume that analogy can be put on existence of universe. To return to the infinite regress and the futility of invoking God to terminate it, it is more parsimonious to conjure up, say, a 'Big Bang singularity', or some other physical concept as yet unknown. Arguing that the unknown force that caused Big Bang as God will lead to ‘God of The Gaps’. God of the gaps refers to a perception in which anything that unable to be explained by science is because there are things that considered outside the realm of logic, beyond scientific reason, and thus ‘God’ is invoked to explain what science is , as yet, incapable of explaining. Only the ‘gaps’ in scientific knowledge are explained by the work of God. The problem is that as scientific research progresses, and an increasing number of phenomena are explained naturalistically, the ‘gaps’ diminishes accordingly.   
The other regular argument of God is the complexity of the world. This complexity leads to the conclusion that universe is intelligently designed. The argument from design is the only one still in regular use today, and it still sounds to many like the ultimate knockdown argument. The young Darwin was impressed by it when, as a Cambridge undergraduate, he read it in William Paley's Natural Theology. Unfortunately for Paley, the mature Darwin blew it out of the water. There has probably never been a more devastating rout of popular belief by clever reasoning than Charles Darwin's destruction of the argument from design. It was so unexpected. But, it is no longer true to say that nothing that we know looks designed unless it is designed. Evolution by natural selection produces an excellent simulacrum of design, mounting prodigious heights of complexity and elegance. And among these eminences of pseudo-design are nervous systems which – among their more modest accomplishments - manifest goal-seeking behavior that, even in a tiny insect, resembles a sophisticated heatseeking missile more than a simple arrow on target. Moreover, if universe is designed, it is poorly designed. Unavoidable catastrophe occurred many times in geologic time scale. Several defects in human anatomy can result in death, especially without modern medical care. The existence of unnecessary organ in some species. Some theistic evolutionist generally reject the argument from design, but do still maintain belief in the existence of God, like Francis Collins (Read his book, Language of God, for further explanation).
The other argument is species diversity and complexity. For creationists, it is hard to accept the notion that all the species they look today is generated from one organism through 3.5-4 billions evolution process by means of natural selection. It was hard for me as well to accept and reconcile the religion doctrine on creation with scientific theory. But, Dawkins, as evolutionary biologist, brilliantly elaborates the evolution process by Climbing Mount Improbable explanation. In Climbing Mount Improbable, he expressed the point in a parable. One side of the mountain is a sheer cliff, impossible to climb, but on the other side is a gentle slope to the summit. On the summit sits a complex device such as an eye or a bacterial flagellar motor. The absurd notion that such complexity could spontaneously self-assemble is symbolized by leaping from the foot of the cliff to the top in one bound. Evolution, by contrast, goes around the back of the mountain and creeps up the gentle slope to the summit: easy! The principle of climbing the gentle slope as opposed to leaping up the precipice is so simple, one is tempted to marvel that it took so long for a Darwin to arrive on the scene and discover it. By the time he did, nearly three centuries had elapsed since Newton's annus mirabilis, although his achievement seems, on the face of it, harder than Darwin's. 4 billion years is long enough time for first organism to evolve into almost 8 million of species today. On top of that, evolution theory by means of natural selection is constructed on scientific evidence; millions of fossil, genes and DNA.
Personal arguments is also used many times in God existence debate. “I feel personal relationship with God and I can feel him, so I know that He must be real.” The problem with using these personal relationships as proof of God's existence is that they are inherently subjective experiences. A person's experience and the emotions it causes can be genuine without the cause of that experience being based on anything outside of his or her mind. Dawkins argues that this experience is just like most children who have imaginary friend and sometimes see them clearly, exactly as if they were real. If we are gullible, we don't recognize hallucination or lucid dreaming for what it is and we claim to have seen or heard a ghost; or an angel; or God. Such visions and manifestations are certainly not good grounds for believing that ghosts or angels, or gods, are actually there. Michael Shermer elaborates how brain works accurately and how brain can manipulate to make hallucination in his book, The Believing Brain. A person's experiences are personal and ultimately unfalsifiable. We cannot see other people’s dreams or hear the voices inside their heads. If a person makes the claim that her personal experiences reflect physical reality, he/she needs to be prepared to back up those claims with actual evidence. Subjective experiences and anecdotal evidence are not sufficient to provide proof of a deity's existence, and wanting to believe something does not make it true.
Dawkins bluntly articulates his arguments in this book in clear details and sometime the way he challenge religion’s doctrine will sound offensive to some people. He has no hesitancy and doubt to state his outspoken rebuttal against God arguments and logical fallacy often used by apologists. Dawkins comes roaring forth in the full vigour of his powerful arguments, laying into fallacies and false doctrines with the energy of the polemicist at his most fiery. “My earlier books did not set out to convert anyone, this book does,” he declares sarcastically. Nevertheless, I recommend this book to all open-minded people, religious and irreligious, to see how science speak about God and in order to understand other perspectives.(*)

The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, 2006

Other references:
Case for God; What Religion Really Means, Karen Armstrong, 2009
God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens, 2007
Language of God, Francis Collins, 2006
The Believing Brain; How We Construct Believe and Reinforce Them as Truth, Michael Shermer, 2011
The End of The Faith; Religion, Terror and The Future of Reason, Sam Harris, 2005
Why There is No God; Simple Response to 20 common arguments, Armin Navabi, Atheist Republic


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