The Dawkins Delusion - Chapter 2 - The God Hypothesis

In chapter 2, Dawkins is once again defining his terms. He quickly lumps all religions together, whether they are polytheistic or monotheistic. A short and seemingly gratuitous detour is made to assert that America was founded by secularist. He clarifies difference between an agnostic and an atheist and states his own preference, "I cannot know for certain but I think that God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there (pg.51)." However, the main point he is trying to make is that science is a comprehensive worldview, which he illustrates using NOMA.

It is hard not to see that Richard works in a binary world. You are either on his side or against him. In this one chapter alone he belittles Michael Ruse, Alister McGrath, and Richard Swinburne. All of these people are very intelligent in their own right. If he likes you but you disagree with him, he will not believe you meant what you said. "I simply do not believe that Gould could possibly have meant much of what he wrote in Rock of Ages (pg. 57)." This chapter although filled with detours of mud slinging at his various opponents is mainly about NOMA. NOMA is an acronym for the phrase "non-overlapping magisteria," coined by Stephen Jay Gould.
The net, or magisterium, of science covers the empirical realm: what is the universe made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the old cliches, science gets the age of rocks, and religion the rock of ages; science studies how the heavens go, religion how to go to heaven (pg. 55).
Dawkins does not believe in NOMA because he only believes in one magisteria. Of course science can answer all material questions, but it cannot answer questions regarding purpose. If there is no God, then there is no purpose, and therefore no "why" questions to ask. Some might say that our purpose is to carry on our gene pool, but that is wishful thinking. If all we are is material governed by natural laws everything is already predetermined, there is no choice, which means there is no purpose either. Since science depends on material for its method, there is still one question it cannot answer. What happened before material? Evolution does not answer this question since it presupposes that there is something. This is at least one question that a scientist will overlap and become a philosopher or theologian.

At the end of the chapter he comments on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project. The purpose of this project is to find aliens using radio telescopes to scan the skies (pg. 70). Somewhat ironically he does not feel a need to be atheist about SETI which seems quite similar to the evidence that would be required to proof that there is a God. Dawkins admits finding prime numbers (i.e. intelligence) would be a good indicator that extraterrestrial life exists (pg. 72), which seems similar to DNA being used as evidence that God exists. Intelligent information that did not come about by a natural process would be evidence of a supernatural being. Currently, there is no comprehensive explanation for how DNA evolved. Richard asks you to believe that science will eventually find the answer, I am asking you to believe that there is a supernatural being. Does that really make me a teapot believer, it seems rational to me?


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