TIA Tuesday: Vox versus JesusJune 24, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Last time we saw how Vox Day brilliantly “refuted” Richard Dawkins’s rebuttal of the cosmological argument by conceding that the cosmological argument doesn’t necessarily lead to any conclusion materially different from ordinary atheistic evolution. In today’s installment, he goes even further, proving Dawkins “wrong” by the simple expedient of throwing out the Gospel and pretty much everything Jesus ever said about God.
Dawkins makes three even more serious mistakes in attempting to demonstrate the improbability of divine complexity when he argues that a designer capable of not only designing, but continually monitoring and controlling the individual status of every particle in the universe must be complex, especially if the designer’s consciousness is also occupied with the activities of every single sentient being across the billions of galaxies, answering their prayers, inflicting suffering on them and so forth. But here he is confusing the design of the universe, which is the topic under discussion, with the active management of the universe, which is not.
Notice that it’s not Dawkins who is confusing things here. Dawkins said IF the Designer is also supposed to be the kind of sovereign deity who controls every detail of His creation, then He’s going to be more complex than the details he manages. Why would Dawkins bring this topic into a discussion of creation? Simply because many Christians do argue that the Creator is indeed just such a sovereign God. And we see that Dawkins is right on target when Vox responds to this challenge by discarding the Christian idea of God.
The designer of the universe need not monitor it, in fact, the concept of a hands-off Creator God has been around for centuries, it is the deity of the nineteenth-century Deists whom today’s atheists regard as spiritual ancestors. A distinction between the divine designer and an active divine monitor is not only inherent to the Gnostic heretics, but to Bible-believing Christians as well. The common, but misguided, concept of divine puppet mastery, or omniderigence, is addressed in detail in Chapter XV, but for now it is sufficient to state that because Christian and other theologies do not require any belief in ongoing divine monitoring or active control (even if they permit it), that particular aspect of God’s supposed complexity does not belong in any argument from improbability.
Notice, what Vox is discarding here is the notion that the Creator “is also occupied with the activities of every single sentient being across the billions of galaxies, answering their prayers, inflicting suffering on them and so forth.” Vox tries to make a pointless distinction between theologies that require divine control and those that merely permit it, but that’s irrelevant, because Dawkins is speaking of a deity who would be capable of that kind of control. Thus Vox must reject the idea that God even could answer prayers if He wanted to. In order for Dawkins to be wrong, Jesus must have been wrong when he portrayed God as caring for even birds and flowers, and as numbering the hairs on your head. Either that or Jesus was wrong when he referred to the Genesis creator as God.
It’s rather amusing in a way. Creationists take it for granted that God is an unimaginably complex being, much more sophisticated and incomprehensible than the visible universe, and they make the argument that the universe requires this kind of complexity as a necessary and sufficient cause. Dawkins points out the rather obvious flaw that God Himself would thus require an even more complex cause, assuming that complex things require more-complex causes. Vox’s double-barreled rebuttal is to reject both the creationist assumption that complex effects require more-complex causes, AND the creationist assumption that God is a being complex enough to create the universe, direct the course of Nature, and hear and answer the prayers of mankind. Vox has not so much refuted Dawkins’s argument, as made it moot through abject surrender.
Vox wraps up this particular tour de force by comparing God to a network packet sniffer, a tool used by network engineers to monitor network reliability and/or to inspect the data being transmitted. According to Vox, God does not need to be as complex as the data He monitors because a packet sniffer is less complex than the data it records. Of course, a packet sniffer is useless by itself—to actually understand and interpret the data requires interaction with something more complex, like, say, a human engineer. But never mind; reducing God to a brainless tool is sufficient to serve Vox’s purposes at this point, so he’s more than happy to make that concession in order to provide himself with another pretext to claim to have refuted Dawkins. Poor God!
If there’s one thing that comes through more clearly than any other in this section, it’s that Vox himself does not seriously believe the Christian faith. Oh, sure, he believes IN the Christian faith, in some form. Or something similar to a Christian faith. But realistically, he doesn’t believe that all those dogmas are actually true. They’re just ideas, concepts, beliefs that you appeal to when it suits the need of the moment. If they every get in your way, you simply discard them. It’s not like they’re actual facts or anything.