I happened across an interesting passage in a book I picked up at Barnes and Noble today. The author was reacting to a certain false view of God:
There really is a profound difference between an intelligent designer who is the product of a long period of evolution … and an intelligent designer who just happened, without any evolutionary history. … Hypothetical ‘designers’ jumped up from nothing cannot explain anything, because they cannot explain themselves.
He got pretty testy over this:
It is remarkable how common is this travesty of Christian theology. Any idiot can see that, if God really had ‘just happened,’ he couldn’t be the God Christians say he is; he couldn’t be any kind of monotheistic God at all. It is no surprise, therefore, that propagandists with their own reasons for wishing to discredit Christianity would put it about that God was just ‘jumped up from nothing.’
You don’t usually see Christians writing that kind of strong language in books. Maybe online, or maybe —
But wait! No! I read that wrong! I’m so very, very sorry… I need to tell you the truth; what the book actually said. Yes, the opening quote on the “profound difference” is real. I took it straight from pages 201 and 202 of Richard Dawkins’s new book Science in the Soul.
The second quote, though, is my re-writing of something he said on page 227. There he was answering the claim, “Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living beings.” And he wrote:
It is remarkable how common is this travesty of the Darwinian theory. Any idiot can see that, if Darwinism really were a random force, it could not possibly generate the elegantly adapted complexity of life. It is no surprise, therefore, that propagandists with their own reasons for wishing to discredit the theory would put it about that Darwinism is nothing more than random chance.
I hope you see my point already, but just in case, I’ll spell it out.
Dawkins’s Intellectual Hypocrisy
Dawkins thinks it’s wrong for opponents to misrepresent evolutionary theory, yet he persistently misrepresents Christian belief. No Christian has ever said God “just happened.” No Christian has ever wandered within a galaxy’s width of saying God was “jumped up from nowhere.”
There is a well-thought-through view of God, going back in one branch of the theory as far as Aristotle, that says God is a necessary being, the one and only necessary being, and therefore never began. He didn’t come from anywhere; he just is necessarily. He always has been, even “before” words like “before” had meaning.
From the biblical side of things, God is clearly self-existent, which is a near synonym to his being necessary. His name “I AM THAT I AM” represents that self-existence as clearly as one could imagine, for the day and the culture in which it was first spoken. On a related point, as I’ve argued previously, the first four words of Genesis point in a similar direction: “In the beginning God.”
So when Dawkins writes off Christianity because it can’t explain where God came from, he makes the same kind of mistake he objects to from the other side. He’s a hypocrite.
Dawkins’s Intellectual Dishonesty
And as mistakes go, it’s just as bad as the one he’s objecting to. Dawkins knows that any idiot can see that the false view of evolution he had quoted is impossible. He doesn’t realize that any idiot can see his own distorted view of God is impossible.
Dawkins is willing to call people “idiots” if they don’t see this plain fact about evolution. He doesn’t seem to notice that words like that can double back on himself, when he fails to see a very plain fact about the God of Christian belief.
Not only that, but Christians have told him this over and over again for at least ten years, to when his book The God Delusion came out. He’s ignored it over and over again, for at least ten years. To me this sounds less like idiocy and more like dishonesty.
But then, “It is no surprise that propagandists with their own reasons for wishing to discredit Christianity would put it about that God was just “jumped up from nothing.”
The whole title of his book is Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist. I don’t know all Dawkins’s reasons for propagandizing this way, but any idiot can see his passion has overcome his rationality. And his integrity.
P.S. To Christians: Be Honest
I must close with an urgent plea to fellow Christians. Dawkins’s complaint, that creationists distort evolution, is too often true. The best arguments against evolution come from those who know evolutionary theory the best, like the folks at Discovery Institute, for example. Arguments from people who don’t know what they’re talking about sound like, well, arguments from people who don’t know what they’re talking about.
So let’s refuse to be intellectually lazy. Let’s refuse to be dishonest. Let’s refuse to be hypocritical. Let’s accept correction when it lands properly on us. Let’s study so we know what we’re talking about. We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from a deeper knowledge of what’s true — including the truth of what evolutionary theory really says.
Image Credit(s): Tom Gilson (Photo taken of cover at B&N).