The Dawkins “No G-d” Arguments

· Judaism, Metaphsyics, Philosophy, Torah
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The truth is that one cannot prove G-d’s existence by argument because G-d is beyond logic and understanding. A single bacterium that lives on our skin has a better chance of understanding its human host than we have of understanding our Creator. However, the atheist should not find any problem with the unknowable aspect of G-d because, as Dawkins admitted many times over, the world we live in is an awesome place and that the fabric that keeps it all together, working in sync like a well oiled machine, is beyond human understanding. In that context we shall see that there really is a profound similarity in thinking between the G-d-believer and the atheist. One worships the artist while the other is enthralled with the artwork and neither understands how it got there.

Thus we can agree that all existent knowledge is divisible into the unknowable and knowable and that we can further divide the latter into what we know and what we don’t know. Or, one could tweak the words a little and describe it as “what we know now and what we have yet to find out.” On the other hand, one of the major places where believers differ from atheists is that we understand knowledge to be whatever G-d has chosen to reveal whereas they believe that people attain knowledge from the knowable solely through human effort. But, in order for something to be discovered or invented it has to exist in potentia in its discoverable form or as raw material, unless scientists claim to have the power to create something from nothing.

Furthermore, the principle disagreement between G-d-believers and atheists is whether this meticulously organized universe from the macro structure of stars and planets to the micro systems of atoms and molecules happened by coincidence with all elements accidentally coming into being and falling into place or by the creation of something from nothing. The point is that whichever theory one subscribes to, it’s just too much for our limited human minds to conceptualize with any level of understanding simply because we were not there when it happened.

Moreover, as Dawkins stated, it’s impossible for human beings to understand the process of their origin because they were not self aware at the time. Certainly no one could deny that we are all the product of an inexplicable process that defies the imagination and evokes wonderment. This progression is the spontaneous development of a putrid drop of semen into a fully functional unique human being. There has never been anyone exactly like you and there never will be again; all from a slimy speck with an encrypted blue print called “DNA”. Think of it! A blue print followed by a machine with billions of minute details, each with a specific function; a clear cut process of design and construction. Are we accidents of nature or Divine creations?

“The Superiority of Evolution” Argument

The argument that evolution, being scientific fact, is superior to religious belief is a diversionary tactic. It has become one of the pivotal points in the Theism versus atheism debate by which atheists decry the creationist stand as myth. Hence, if one is to carry on an intelligent dialogue without drawing mockery from scoffers one needs to have two components in one’s discourse: (1) to put forward a convincing philosophical argument based on logic; (2) to have at least a basic understanding as to how the proponents of the opposing view arrive at their conclusions.

Moreover, to avoid being dogmatic, the creationist debaters must recognize that two people can observe the same physical evidence and draw two different conclusions because each has a belief system bias prior to making the observations. The person who approaches the Torah, first learns that there is one indivisible G-d who created the world from nothing and maintains it with the same ongoing creative process. His/her source is the Hebrew Bible. The Jewish child accepts these premises as truth as a result of growing up in a religious culture.

However, as Jewish children develop into adulthood, they question. It’s a part of being human to seek to validate one’s beliefs by observing nature. Therefore, the Torah learner looks at biological structure and sees that every living organism has internal subdivisions each with a different function and all coordinated for a single purpose; to sustain life. Even bacteria that reside on the skin and in the bowels, serve a purpose for sustaining good health and life. Function and purpose denote design and design requires a designer. Therefore, to the Torah observant Jew, the conclusion that G-d exists is inescapable.

Additionally, when evolutionary biologists present their observations of genetic adaptation in the primitive life forms with the formation of new subspecies in subsequent generations, this does not contradict the Torah, because its description of how G-d created animal life does not preclude the possibility of directed evolution with the genetic adaptation mechanisms. Thus, one cannot preclude the possibility of evolution of non-human life forms because “G-d said, Let the Earth bring forth living creatures, each according to its kind . . .” [Genesis 1:24]. “Bring forth”, according to Rashi and Hahavas Yonasan, implies that the potential for every creature was created on the first day.

Therefore, one can reasonably infer from the scriptures that myriads of species in the sea, birds of the air and creatures of the Earth “evolved” as part of the creative process. Furthermore, since the first six and one half days preceded the beginning of human consciousness, the real time could have been billions of years or the Creator accomplished billions of year’s worth of evolution in six days. From G-d’s perspective it makes no difference because He is beyond time. However, the scripture clearly separates the creation of the first man from the process of bringing forth living creatures.

Hence, those who believe in Torah as truth would be hard pressed to accept that man has a common ancestry with all other forms of life. Moreover, evolutionary biologists and paleontologists who claim to have sufficient evidence to conclude that there is a common ancestor between humans and primates are forgetting about the conflicting theories of hominid classification and the new discoveries that keeping changing various speculations about the geography of human origin and the migration patterns of the earlier anthropoids1 and later hominids2.

On the other hand, in the absence of belief in the Creator, the atheist turns to self-causing undirected evolution to explain the current existence of all forms of life. Thus, although the origin of life and evolution are different questions, the human evolutionists, must refer to a single entity from which all life evolved asserting that somewhere in the “tree of life” there was an apish-humanoid whose decedents branched off into humans and primates. The Torah does not support this notion.

Yet, although there are assertions out there of fossilized hominid remains that supposedly meet some scientific criteria of being ancestor to both humans and apes; we need not accept such contentions as indisputable fact. According to Wikipedia, “A current theory [theory accepted as fact] is a hypothesis that has no equally acceptable or more acceptable alternative premise, and has survived repeated attempts at falsification.” Therefore, as we shall discover in more detail in Chapter 4 (“The Debate Rages on”), the theory of evolution specifically as it relates to the origin of humankind, has not as of this writing met the criteria for general acceptance as scientific fact because of conflicting theories on the classification of fossilized remains, the inaccuracies of dating methods, inconclusive results from genetic analyses and lacking falsifiability3.

The “Religion is Rooted in Evil” Argument

In order to know if religion is rooted in evil we need to ask, “What are the roots of religion?” If, according to evolutionary scientists, erect walking ape-like hominids evolved from anthropoids followed by the homo sapiens of today, when did they start believing in G-d or other deities? On the other hand, we G-d-believers have no problem answering this question. The first man and woman knew their creator in a revealed way. The digression began in succeeding generations of people who knew of G-d’s existence but decided to go through intermediaries like the sun and the moon in order to have a visual object as a representation. This method of prayer led the way to worshipping statues, stones, trees and animals. However, Abraham reinstituted recognition of the one true G-d and was the first evangelist, who became the forerunner of the Jewish people and many other nations. For those who think that he was a mythological figure, you can visit his grave at a place in Israel called the Cave of Macpheila. The other people who are buried there, according to the opinions of learned Torah scholars are Sarah, Isaac, Rivka, Jacob, Leah, Adam and Eve.

Furthermore, to think that monotheism evolved from polytheism as humans became more sophisticated in their thinking is a mistake. The one universal truth throughout history is that humans did not know how to behave in a civilized compassionate manner until G-d handed down His laws when He told them to Noah upon his emerging from the ark. Those seven Universal Laws are the hallmark of the rules of conduct in all civilized societies to this day.

With regard to the “evil roots” of religion, it’s unclear as to where this comes from. Perhaps it depends on the religion to which one is referring. There was one group of Canaanites that lived in Israel about 3400 years ago who sacrificed their children to a god named Baal. There was another group around the same time that honored their deity by defecating in front of it. On the other hand, the Jews had and still have to this day a complex set of laws for which the prime directives are love your neighbor as yourself and never do to anyone else what you hate being done to you. Thus we can see that the root of the current belief in one G-d is the Torah and that any evil that exists is the result of people adding to or deviating from the will and wisdom of our Creator. The Torah requires people to establish courts of justice; “love your fellow as yourself” and refrain from idol worship, adultery, theft, murder and cruelty to animals. Where is the evil in those two directives and five prohibitions?

The “We Don’t Need G-d to be Good” Argument

The claim of atheists that there is a natural human instinct for morality and ethics, i.e. kindness, charity, self sacrifice, etc. is preposterous. Just look at the behavior of children toward one another in a school yard and you will see relentless cruelty and selfishness beyond belief. The truth is that we have to teach our children how to behave toward others, with kindness and consideration because their natural inclination is to behave like animals with access to intellectual reasoning. Therefore, we have to teach them how to control their innate impulses. We do this teaching with speech and action often not realizing that children learn more through observation than listening. In any event, we can only teach what we have learned and somewhere in our history there had to be a first teacher; someone who thought up all the rules of moral and ethical behavior that Dawkins cherishes. So which famous apish man precursor or subsequent Neanderthal cave dweller dreamed up all the mandates on how to behave appropriately?

On the other hand, when you look in the Five Books of Moses you will find a list of such rules written in a concise and easy to understand manner; the seven laws given to the world at large through Noah and the six hundred thirteen laws given to the Jewish people through Moses. Ah, but the big argument is over who wrote it. However, for this discussion that is not the issue because we can fight over the identity of the author until the end of time. The bottom line is that the Torah is the main source of morality and ethics in the world today. Moreover, if Dawkins and his followers want to go through the list of dos and don’ts and discard the ones about worshipping the Creator of all things, that’s their business. But, they cannot realistically deny where the concept of being “good” came from. Otherwise they are operating under an anti-G-d illusion. Thus, the history of “being good” or good beings is tied directly to the Torah.

The “Who Needs G-d When we can Stand in Awe of World” argument

Finally, the word “awe” is an essential component of worship since it denotes an overwhelming feeling of amazement and dread rolled into one emotional wave that leaves a person momentarily speechless and static. Such feelings don’t arise spontaneously unless something stupefying suddenly occurs like the eruption of a volcano or the collapse of the Twin Towers. Otherwise we have to arouse it within ourselves by thinking of something that is beyond our understanding. Thus a current popular belief is that we don’t need to be in awe of G-d when we can revere this magnificent world, whose origin is beyond comprehension. However, this was the basis of idolatry, which has always culminated in collective barbarism and cruelty because there were no proscribed behavioral standards.

On the other hand, the Torah is very much a part of the physical world because it is a conglomeration of Hebrew letters written on parchment made from kosher animal skins. However, while some only see ink, parchment and wooden scrolls, Jews who study this document see the will and wisdom of G-d written in the language of creation. The conclusions drawn by those who can read and understand scripture in the original Hebrew are very different from the interpretations spewed forth by individuals reading from a translated King James Version of the “Old Testament”. Torah scholars see infinite kindness, mercy, understanding and benevolence and stand in awe of G-d, while the Dawkinian atheists see the opposite; a finite realm of cruelty, harshness, pettiness and malevolence and stand in awe of the wonders of this world.

However, these opposing views are exactly as they should be because everything in this universe, including the Torah is a dichotomy of light versus darkness, positive versus negative or good versus evil. Each person sees the side that he or she wants to see and chooses what to believe. That is the nature of free will. Accordingly, this whole argument of “Oh G-d” versus “No G-d” is one of choice between standing in awe of Him and being awestruck by His creation.

1 Fossils that have both ape-like and humanoid characteristics regarding skeletal shapes such as roundness of the skull, flatness of the face, shorter arm length in humans and feet with opposable thumbs in apes.

2 Fossils believed to be belonging to the family Hominidae that more closely resemble human structure and are thought to be higher on the evolutionary scale than anthropoids.

3 “Falsifiability or refutability is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. That something is ‘falsifiable’ does not mean it is false; rather, that if it is false, then this can be shown by observation or experiment.” – Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability]

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