TIA Tuesday: Ageism and own goalsApril 29, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Having finished (as he supposes) with Sam Harris, Vox is ready in TIA Chapter 8 to move on to atheist number 2 in his erstwhile hit list: Richard Dawkins. As is typical with Vox, he spends the first few pages psyching himself up with a rambling, undocumented rant about how nasty and disgusting his adversary is, and as is even more typical, he does not fail to accuse the atheist of “sins” which he himself is no stranger to. He begins, however, with a canard that is as peculiar as it is mean-spirited:
A California researcher has estimated that the mean age of a biologist’s first noteworthy contribution to science takes place when he is 29.4 years old. So, at sixty-six, three decades after publishing the controversial bestseller The Selfish Gene, it’s clear that Richard Dawkins is well past his scientific expiry, and his latest book, The God Delusion, offers copious evidence that Dawkins has become as careless as he is crotchety in his old age.
You read that right: Vox Day, ad hominem virtuoso, is seriously suggesting that Dawkins’s work has gone downhill because he’s over 30!
A reasonable person might suppose that, barring evidence of actual senility, Dawkins’s age would be entirely irrelevant to the question of whether or not his ideas have merit. But Vox is eager, even desperate, for any and every argument he can use to try and discredit Dawkins’s claim that God does not exist. Is it not noteworthy, then, that from the very first chapter of TIA, Vox has specifically declined to present any actual evidence of God’s existence?
One would think that such evidence, if it existed, would be the most obvious and effective way to counter The God Delusion. And if Vox is willing to stoop to such a silly argument as “over 30” ageism, he would certainly be willing to use a better argument if he could. (Indeed, the same could be said for his response to any atheist, not just Dawkins.) In his opening slur against Dawkins, therefore, Vox is inadvertently supplying us with evidence that suggests even he cannot deny the truth of Dawkins’s observation that we have no evidence for God. Or at least, not for the Christian God.
Naturally, Vox is shocked, shocked, that any writer would be so bold as to express opinions outside of the limited field of his or her official, accredited college degree(s).
Dawkins is not only operating outside of his area of professional expertise, he is actually pitting himself directly against it. Whereas he describes himself as a “passionate Darwinian” as an academic scientist, he calls himself “a passionate anti-Darwinian” with regards to the proper conduct of human affairs. This naturally puts Dawkins in an untenable position, as he not only lacks both education and professional experience in the academic fields which relate to human conduct, such as history, philosophy, political science, literature, psychology, and theology, but it also renders his book somewhat of a fraudulent bait-and-switch.
Vox, of course, would never dream of addressing any topics outside of his own field. He’s what, a video game programmer? Oh well, at least he’s psychic, so he can read Dawkins’s mind and know exactly what Dawkins has and has not learned outside his primary discipline. What? He’s not psychic either?
At least he’s gifted in the field of double-talk and misdirection, introducing a long discussion of The Courtier’s Reply by claiming that is “largely irrelevant,” and then going on to give it a spirited advocacy anyway.
While there have been a number of critical books written about Dawkins, including The Dawkins Delusion, Dawkins’s God and Letter to an Influential Atheist, most of this criticism revolves around Dawkins’s ignorance of Christian theology rather than his anti-science. It is true that the criticism is well-founded, … but it is still mostly irrelevant regarding the question of God’s existence as well as the substance of Dawkins’s case against religion.
Vox does make this amusing charge:
Trying to debate the existence of God with Richard Dawkins is ultimately pointless, because for Dawkins, not even Jesus Christ’s triumphant return in front of a crowd of tens of thousands would suffice to prove anything to him, not with his “familiarity with the brain and its powerful workings.”
That is, simply put, a lie, and if Vox would be so good as to produce an actual, real-world return of Christ, in front of a crowd that includes Dr. Dawkins and some reliable videographers, I will be happy to demonstrate Dr. Dawkins’s willingness to be persuaded by the actual evidence. His reluctance to just take Vox’s word for it is entirely due to Jesus’s failure to behave as though He himself believed what men are saying about Him, so it is dishonest to pretend the same would hold true if Jesus actually started living up to what men claim.
Vox inadvertently admits (again) what the real source of Christian faith is:
Dawkins is not actually interested in genuinely considering the question of God’s existence, as evidenced by his cursory perusal of a few of the less complicated arguments for the existence of God…
The only reason Dawkins even bothers to go through the motions is because without providing at least a nominal pretense at addressing a few of the many reasons religious people believe in God, not even his most mindless cheerleaders could find his case convincing. But he’s knowingly setting fire to strawmen, for as he admits at the end of the three pages nominally dedicated to attacking Aquinas’s Five Ways, “the argument from design is the only one still in regular use today.” This causes the observant reader to wonder: If he’s so terribly upset about why people believe in God today, then why is he attacking the reasons some people used to believe in God more than 700 years ago?”
Notice, the reason given for why people believe in God is because of the more or less complicated arguments of men—many of which even believers no longer find credible. The claim of the Gospel, however, is not that men decided God must exist because of centuries of abstruse philosophizing. Biblical stories are about the existence of a type of concrete, objective evidence that you don’t need a Thomas Aquinas to elucidate for you.
That evidence, however, consistently and universally fails to exist outside of the stories, superstitions, and subjective feelings of men. It is absent even from the experience of believers like Vox, which is why he must appeal to complicated (and fallible) human arguments as being the justification for Christian faith. And if even Vox must dismiss as irrelevant “the reasons some people used to believe in God 700 years ago,” imagine how irrelevant the 2,000 year old arguments must be!
Truth is consistent with itself. The evidence Vox appeals to, and which he castigates Dawkins for not considering, and which he lacks the courage to offer as a defense of God’s existence, is evidence which is not even the same type of phenomenon as the purported evidence the Bible claims as the basis for belief in God. There is one type of evidence in the stories, and an entirely different sort of “evidence” in actual experience, even among believers. The Bible stories simply are not consistent with what we see in real life, which is why Vox has to grasp at bizarre straws like the “over 30” ageism he opened with. Thus, he “refutes” atheism by demonstrating its fundamental correctness.