Grüß Gott

Finally, reading Dawkins’ The God Delusion in a casual manner. A few casual comments.

If one shifts “God” onto the ground of science, God loses. It also forces the defenders of God into irrationalism (i.e., God isn’t real in a scientific, empirical sense, but is real nonetheless). The defenders can’t adequately articulate the realness of an entity that is not part of reality without falling into dogmatism. Consequently, absolutists of the rationalist and religious varieties talk past each other.

However, in the early part of the book, where Dawkins reclaims a “religious Einstein” for science, his view is strongest and least absolutist: he imagines religion can exist without God (which is empirically true). In my view, this is a difficult position for religious absolutists to handle.

What does such a strategy enable (and foreclose) from an argumentative perspective? For Dawkins, the shift puts “God” at a disadvantage from the start. However, this tack also forecloses a scientific understanding of religion, which is reduced to the unreal. That’s why I point to his discussion of Einstein as being more fruitful for understanding religion, but also as more damaging for religious absolutists, who can quite easily dismiss any critique of God that centers on a lack of empirical evidence. It may be more difficult to dismiss the claim that religion can exist without God.


  1. Amyclae

    I’m always reminded of a flow chart that hung outside one of my philosophy professor’s doors at college. It’s three boxes. First box: is Dawkins talking about evolutionary biology? Second box, if yes, “Listen to him.” Third box, if no, “Ignore him.”

  2. Chris Highland

    A religion without a supernatural deity cannot retain the definition of religion, can it? Those, like Bonhoeffer, who called for a “religionless Christianity,” are perhaps on the “spiritual but not religious” bandwagon. Scientists can believe in a deity, but they must still do empirical science or they too cannot retain the definition of scientist.

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