At the end of chapter four, Dawkins takes some time to summarize his argument against the existence of God. I think I'm going to do something similar.
Unlike Dawkins, I haven't been advancing one single argument. Instead I've been responding to various points that Dawkins has been making. However, in the process I have been advancing a kind of counter-argument. I think it's time to tie the pieces together and take a look at the argument I've been making (At the beginning of each point, I'll place a link to a previous post where I discuss the issue in detail).
Here is a quick summary of my argument for the existence of God:
First of all, based on the cosmological argument, we know that our universe was created by an external force. We don't know if this first cause is an abstract force or an eternal, divine being, but we know that the cause for the physical universe does not lie inside the physical universe.
Second, we know that our universe is special, because it is able to support intelligent life. This most likely did not happen by chance. From this we can infer that whatever created our universe did so intentionally, with the purpose of one day making intelligent life. From this we can infer that the cause of our universe is both intelligent, and able to make decisions.
Third, Dawkins' argument that such intelligent beings are ruled out by their improbability doesn't apply in this case. Dawkins' argument addresses the improbability of intelligent beings appearing spontaneously within the physical universe. As I said in step one, the cause of our physical universe exists outside the physical universe.
Fourth, when we take a second look at Dawkins' argument, we see that he is merely making the claim that the cause of the physical universe should be simple. This claim is merely a matter of preference or, to be more precise, faith*. There is no reason to believe that the cause of the physical universe actually is simple. Instead, it seems more likely that the cause of our physical universe is complex, for the reason given in step two.
Fifth, a being of such supernatural power and intelligence would theoretically be able to perform miracles. If such miracles occurred, we would expect to find evidence of them. In fact, there are many accounts of miracles throughout history, from ancient times up until the present day. There are even some (relatively) recent accounts of miracles that were witnessed by thousands of people.
Sixth, Dawkins argues that human perceptions are flawed. That every account of a miracle is the result of either some kind of deception, or it was invented in the mind of the person experiencing it. Given the very high number of people who claim to have experienced miracles, it is likely that at least some of them are genuine. Since Dawkins is arguing that miracles never happen, if even one of those accounts represents a genuine miracle, it is enough to refute Dawkins' argument.
The above argument makes the case that there is an intelligent being who created the universe and works miracles. I've avoided using the term God, but clearly the being described matches God's description on several counts.
Of course, I don't believe in just any God; I believe in the Christian God. My belief in the Christian God is partly a result of my own, unique experiences and partly a result of my belief that the New Testament contains a fairly reliable account of a miracle-working Rabbi who lived in the first century.
That is (more or less) the argument I've been advancing throughout the first four chapters. Starting with chapter five though, the book takes a different direction. Dawkins spends less time arguing against God's existence, and more time arguing about how religion is a bad influence.
By the same token, for the remainder of this series I will spend less time arguing for God's existence, and more time focusing on the role of faith. This should be interesting, because in this area I agree with Dawkins on more than a few points. So it should make for some interesting posts as I read the book and discuss the nature of religion and the role it should play both in our private and public lives.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the posts to come.
* Ultimately any belief about the origin of the universe must be a matter of faith. Science can only tell us so much about the early universe. At some point, something happened that no one can really explain. This is a point that Dawkins doesn't quite seem to grasp.
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