Once the wedding gift was off the critical list, I returned to my regularly scheduled needlework and finished the Log Cabin Socks for Socktober. In the absence of any suitable replacement for the yarn I ran out of, I used Ozarque’s yarn-splitting trick. The difference in gauge was enough that the two socks are not quite identical, so I will simply have to keep them for myself, rather than considering making a Christmas gift of them.
I don’t think I’ve ever given anyone socks for a gift, since they seem so utilitarian, but these are pretty snazzy. I may end up making a pair for someone.
There were beignets for breakfast and Hallowe’en cookies, and hanging out watching football and cooking shows. I teach the Senior High Sunday School class, and we had an interesting lesson on Christian responses to popular culture. Our materials distinguish five options: assimilation, consumption (by which they mean choosing among options of popular culture), engagement (two-way conversations within popular culture), appropriation, and condemnation. Hallowe’en makes a perfect example. Appropriation of popular pagan customs by the medieval church, condemnation by some of our local churches, and so on.
It was a good thing there were interesting discussions at church, because at home there was mostly just the grunting and shouting that goes with guys watching football.
I took the opportunity to continue with The God Delusion.
Dawkins has some more arguments in favor of God’s existence that he wants to brush aside before he gets to his own argument against the existence of God.
As far as I know, there are two orthodox positions on faith: first, that everyone is offered salvation through faith in Christ and can freely accept or reject it; and, second, that faith is a gift from God. (I should mention that Dawkins is talking primarily about the Christian understanding of God, and entirely about Christian arguments for God.) So I was inclined, in my reading of this chapter of The God Delusion, to think that it was all pretty artificial. That is, since proofs of God’s existence are irrelevant to His existence and to faith, why bother, except to fill up a chapter?
However, I find that there is a long and respectable history for these arguments, something which you might already have known. If you find this interesting, you might check out this link to the chapter on the subject in The Handbook of Christian Apologetics. It begins by addressing the question of whether there is any point to these arguments and goes on to lay out twenty of the most popular ones. Dawkins discusses eight. One of his is new to him — “the argument from admired scientists” — and is just a replay of his earlier “Yeah, well, those scientists may say they believe in God but they are just pretending,” which indeed he continues to bring up over and over. All I can think is that he hears this a lot at cocktail parties and just can’t stand it any more.
My personal favorites are the Moral Argument, which Dawkins leaves out, and The Argument from Beauty, which he answers by saying that it is silly. I’ve written about both of these before. Dawkins wrote whole books on them (The Selfish Gene and Unweaving the Rainbow, respectively). I just don’t find Dawkins’s arguments convincing. He is very good at arguing, in general, and deeply committed to proving that our moral sense and our ability to create are either byproducts of biological processes or evolved to make us more reproductively successful, but even he can’t prove it.
Okay, all of this was just leading up to the chapter “Why There is Almost Certainly No God.” I approached this chapter with anticipation, expecting some interesting points to make up for the dullness of what came before.
Here it is: if there were a God, He would be a complicated thing, and complicated things don’t exist without evolving from simple ones. He would have to be omnipotent and eternal, which clearly is impossible. He would have to be — godlike.
Now I have a lot of sympathy for general rejections of the supernatural. If I were to lose my faith and return to a position of agnosticism, it would be because I just generally don’t believe in supernatural stuff. But “God can’t exist because He would have to be the kind of God described in the Bible” is not a cogent argument against the existence of God.
This book had better improve.