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GOD: new evidence

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Richard Dawkins' 'The Greatest Show on Earth: the evidence for evolution' - review part 1

The Greatest Show on Earth: the evidence for evolution, by Richard Dawkins

This is the first part of a four-part review of 'The Greatest Show on Earth: the evidence for Evolution,' by Richard Dawkins, Black Swan 2010 (paperback) Bantam Press 2009 (hardback)

It's clear that Richard Dawkins had nothing to do with this book:

Although his name is on the cover, he didn't make the paper for the pages, or the ink, or the covers. He didn't do the typesetting or binding or cutting. I doubt if he's even touched it. He had no part in it.

You say that he wrote it. What is this wrote business? The words were formed in a word processor. It's a bit technical, but it's perfectly straightforward to give an account of the integrated circuits, disk drives, keyboard and so on that make up the hardware, and the instructions that make up the software. I can give you a thorough scientific description of how this book was created, and there is no place in it for a Dawkins.

When I put it like this, the argument is laughably silly. Yet this is exactly what Dawkins himself does:

'... even if a divine intelligence did prove to be ultimately responsible for designing living complexity, it is definitely not true that he fashions living bodies in anything like the way that clay modellers, for example, or carpenters, potters, tailors or car manufacturers go about their tasks. We may be 'wonderfully developed,' but we are not 'wonderfully made.' When children sing 'He made their glowing colours / He made their tiny wings,' they are uttering a childishly obvious falsehood. Whatever else God does, he certainly doesn't make glowing colours and tiny wings. If he did anything at all, it would be to supervise the embryonic development of things, for example by splicing together sequences of genes that direct a process of automated development. Wings are not made, they grow - progressively - from limb buds inside an egg.

God, to repeat this important point, which ought to be obvious, but isn't, never made a tiny wing in his eternal life. If he made anything (he didn't in my view, but let it pass, that's not what I'm about here), what he made was an embryological recipe, or something like a computer programme for controlling the embryonic development of a tiny wing (plus lots of other things too).'

This is such a basic misunderstanding that I don't know how an intelligent person can make it. As far as I know, no-one has ever believed that God physically makes people - or tiny wings - any more than Dawkins physically prints and binds his own books. What we believe is that God stands behind the physical creation, in much the same way as Dawkins stands behind the book: it is his message that is being communicated; it is his purpose that is being put into effect.

This is symptomatic of the problems with Dawkins' efforts to debunk faith in God. Either he genuinely does not know what he is talking about (- this seems unlikely -) or he deliberately sets up easy targets, because taking on what we really believe would be too difficult.

On page 155, Dawkins says, 'It would be so nice if those who oppose evolution would take a tiny bit of trouble to learn the merest rudiments of what it is that they are opposing.' Indeed yes. Substitute the word 'Christianity' for 'Evolution,' and I couldn't agree more.

Go to part 2 of the review

Order 'The Greatest Show on Earth' from Amazon USA (hardback)

Order 'The Greatest Show on Earth' from Amazon UK

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‘Clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the Universe. There must be religious overtones. But I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it.’- Professor Stephen Hawking