30 December 2009

A meme is a meme is a meme.

For too long, I've been mulling over (and procrastinating) a response to a friend who wants to know how the lack of a deity effects her morals, specifically the values of care and respect. Some questions I'm pondering:

  • If there exists no deity and therefore nothing transcendent, then aren't we without any standard outside of evolutionary change by which we can judge evolutionary change?
  • Are care and respect "good" merely because a selected group of species on a solitary planet has the collective feeling that they are?
  • There was a time before natural selection did its work and we didn't have the collective feeling that care and respect were good. Were they then not?
  • If AGW wipes all life off earth (and ipso facto out of the universe), then will the goodness of care and respect have been erased? Presumably, future life forms will have their own collective feeling about ________; and even if that is in opposition to our current, collective feelings about care and respect, will their collective feeling be just as "good" as ours?
  • If our collective feeling that care and respect are good makes them good, then did our collective feeling that they weren't good make them not good? By what standard do we measure that, at one time the human race was further away, but now it is closer?
  • If there is no transcendent standard outside of evolutionary change, by which we can judge evolutionary change as "closer" or "further away" from some ideal, then aren't we just stuck calling "good" whatever evolutionary change we happen to be going through at the time?
  • On what basis does the particular collective feeling that care and respect are good warrant a thumbs up, while the collective feeling that religious piety is good, does not (as the new atheists would have it)?

17 November 2009

Short exchange with an atheist and a buddhist on FB

I have better morals than half the religious people out there, thank you very much.

Atheist voted "No" to the question "Do you believe atheists are immoral?" along with 38,969 other people.

Keith Rickert Jr.: Atheists can be moral, they just don't have a raison d'ĂȘtre for being so.

Buddhist: Because it's right is reason enough to do the right thing. you don't need some promise of reward or punishment to do the right thing.

Keith Rickert Jr.: Under atheist metaphysics, how is anything *right*? Morality assumes some kind of working definition of good and bad. Setting aside any objective definition of good or evil, all moral experiences attribute some kind of value to our choices. For whatever reason -- because it is more kind, non-violent, more tolerant, etc. -- one choice is seen to be better than another. But under atheistic metaphysics, how can anything be intrinsically better or worse than another? In a purely material and therefore godless universe, there can be no final design, direction, or purpose. No-one intended matter or the laws of physics to be the way they are; therefore, the universe and everything in it is just an affair of blind, purposeless chance from beginning to end. How can it be anything more than that? Many people who adamantly doubt the existence of any God or gods will freely project onto the universe some sort of Pantheistic Personality like "Mother Nature" in order to imagine some vague sort of intent or design or purpose or meaning being the goings-on in the universe. But if we're doubting God or gods, what basis is there for believing in such a personality or intent governing or even influencing nature? If the universe is purely material, godless (and mother-less) how can its goings-on--and indeed, it's very existence--consist of anything more than random chance, blind matter, and mindless forces (which are themselves the product of random chance)? In such a universe, what basis is there for believing that anything is better than anything else or that there is any inherent value in anything at all? When it comes to morality, all things, better or worse, come from the same source -- the universe and its laws. Atoms, in blind obedience to the laws of physics, produce in me some kind of personal standard of, let's say tolerance and non-violence. Yet, the very same kind of mechanistic process produces in me the urge to act contrary to that standard. Moreover that very same kind mechanistic process produces the beliefs and standards of Nazis, despotic dictators, serial killers, child molesters, wife-beaters, etc. On what basis do we judge one mechanistic process to be better -- on principle -- than another? What standard is there above the mechanistic processes by which we can judge one to be good and the other bad?

"If there isn’t any God, there isn’t any problem of evil. And if there is no God, then there is a problem of good! . . . . As Nietzsche pointed out, atheists who follow through on all the implications of their beliefs are nearly nonexistent. Most atheists do create an as if world. They act as if reason is connected to reality, at least for pragmatic purposes. They act as if, in a rough sort of way, things make sense. They act as if progress is the law of history. They act as if reason, justice, truth, compassion, solidarity, and love were more than mere breath expelled by lying lips. But they do not say how and why they believe that reason, justice compassion, and the rest are in some way better than irrationality, oppression, the big lie, ruthlessness, and cynicism. What metaphysical commitments justify these beliefs?"
—Michael Novak to daughter, Jana Novak in Tell Me Why: A Father Answers His Daughter’s Questions About God (New York: Pocket Books, 1998), 89, 97-98.

Buddhist: what you're talking about, Keith, is worshipping science instead of God. There can be fundamental principles of morality without believing in God. There is right and wrong either through enlightened self interest or through a morality that we have evolved over time that is part of who we are. To suggest that the ONLY reason to be a good person is because God wants you to isn't really morality at all. That's doing the right thing just because you expect a reward. I can list a number of reasons why being religious does not lead to living an ethical life if you want, but I think just mentioning 9/11 should be sufficient.

Keith Rickert Jr.: Your telling me what I'm talking about, Buddhist, yet there is nothing in my post that can be construed as the worship of science. And NEVER did I say that the only reason to be good is because God wants us to. What I did say, however, is that our feelings, intuitions, and impulses to moral goodness can only be ABOUT something real if they are rooted as their source in a God who is Goodness Itself. In the atheistic universe these feelings, intuitions, and impulses are not ABOUT anything beyond themselves. In fact, they are illusory because they aren't about moral goodness itself, but about survival value. "Goodness" is nature's way of dressing up survival value. Instead of God, there is Nature; who according to her one, supreme value of "survival value", tricks us into attributing "goodness" and "evil" to certain actions merely to keep the show going. As Yeats said to Chesterton, "You would not get out of your chair and walk across the room, if Nature had not her bag of illusions." But those things aren't REALLY good or bad, according to atheistic metaphysics. Nature just wants us to think and act like they are. On the other hand, if you want to believe in good for goodness sake (i.e. real morality), then God is logically necessary. THAT is what I'm saying Buddhist...nothing about punishment or reward or the worship of science. And I can list a number of reasons why being atheistic does not lead to living an ethical life if you want. I think just mentioning Stalin should be sufficient.

Buddhist: Can't there be a natural law of morality in the universe without the existence of a personal deity? Why does if HAVE to be rooted in a God in order to exist?

Keith Rickert Jr.: Where would values come from in a godless universe driven from beginning to end by blind, random chance?

Buddhist: You're making an assumption that the universe can't manifest a purpose on it's own. That it needs some higher being to make it anything other than random. (did I higher being than god give god a purpose to?) But, I can put that aside for the moment and just say that values come from enlightened self interest. If I put negativity into the world, I am making the world a slightly worse place for everyone, including myself. Therefore, I have every reason that I need to behave in as positive a way as I can. Or, to put it a more complicated way, I believe in Oneness. that is, all things in the Universe are parts of a whole, not nearly as separated as we perceive. From that perspective, I have every reason to be kind to others, since harming others would be no different than harming myself. For that reason, I have every reason to believe in practicing a moral life, without having said practice rooted in faith in a divine figure.

Keith Rickert Jr.:
If there is something higher than God, then God is not God. Enlightened self-interest is not being good for goodness sake: Empathy is not really empathy, but, ultimately self-interest; love is not really love, but, ultimately, self-interest; kindness is not really kindness, but, ultimately, self-interest; self-sacrifice is not really self-sacrifice, but, ultimately, self-interest. I believe in real love, kindness, empathy, gratitude, self-sacrifice; therefore I am not a naturalist or an atheist.

Buddhist: And you feel like you absolutely could not believe in real love or kindness without first believing in God? If doing what God says is right is the motivation, isn't that self interest too?

Atheist: hahahaha come on guys, I know it's a touchy topic, but a Buddhist and Catholic aren't going to be able to agree.

Keith Rickert Jr.: "and you feel like you absolutely could not believe in real love or kindness without first believing in God?" NOPE. Not it at all. I FIRST believe in real love and kindness and then search for the metaphysics that would logically make them possible. I STILL have never said ANYTHING about doing "what God says". Ashleigh: Maybe, but healthy, respectful debate is good for everyone.

Buddhist: and you feel like there is nothing that could logically make them possible other than a personal deity?

Keith Rickert Jr: I don't feel that way, I have reasoned my way to that position. Tell me, in a Godless universe, what would make possible good for goodness sake, as opposed to good for some other sake?

Atheist: Cavemen didn't know God, but when their babies came out they loved them! If they didn't the species wouldn't have made it. Debate is fine, this one is just never going to end.

Keith Rickert JrAnd eventually those cavemen became men and asked, "If love is real, in what is it rooted?" Are you going back to the fallacy that you have to know God to be moral? I can be moral w/o recognizing the metaphysical roots of morality, just like I can eat food w/o knowing where it comes from or how it gives my body nourishment. Actually, 99 percent of all who have ever lived have believed in some form of a deity...so it is probable that cavemen believed in God. As far as the debate ending, it doesn't have to. How long has mankind had this debate? I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm going to have the last word. But I believe that if beliefs aren't worth defending, they're not worth having. Plus, I always learn something each time I debate.

Buddhist: we just have a fundamental difference of opinion. You think that real goodness requires a deity to exist and I think that real goodness can exist on it's own without a need for an explanation. It just is.

15 June 2009

Atheist's Faith in Love

During Eucharistic adoration today, I was daydreaming about the atheist view of love as I heard it from the Atheist Experience television show and podcast. I supposed it would be called a reductionist view, i.e. love is just biology—chemicals, instincts, and the like which Mother Nature has put into us to keep the game going. Yet, according to these atheists, love is still meaningful. I beg to differ. When I experience love, it seems to me to be about something...something real...and its being about something real is precisely what gives it its meaning. Once you say, "Oh, that's just atoms arranging themselves this way and that in obedience to the laws of physics so as to give me this epiphenomenal experience."—all meaning is eviscerated. I regard this atheist/materialistic definition of love is an a priori definition that corrupts the data instead of explaining it. The only definition into which the data fits, I think, is the definition of love as ultimately transcendent. Atheists who believe that love (or anything else) is meaningful are trying to have their cake and eat it too—the joys of transcendent realities with a philosophy that can't account for them. What struck me today, was how this puts them on par with their view of weak-minded religious believers whose beliefs arise from emotions and are about something that's not really there.

11 June 2009

(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Be a Moral Absolutist!)

"Modern 'broadmindedness' has a quality that can only be called sneakish; it endeavors to win without giving itself away, even after it has won. It desires to be victorious without betraying even the name of the victor. For all sane men have intellectual doctrines and fighting theories; and if they will not put them on the table, it can only be because they wish to have the advantage of a fighting theory which cannot be fought." -G.K. Chesterton, "Rabelaisian Regrets"

The Left loves euphemisms and one of its favorite is 'tolerance'. 'Tolerance' is code for moral relativism. Those who congratulate themselves for being tolerant are really congratulating themselves for being moral relativists. Those who are scorned as intolerant are really being scorned for being moral absolutists.

There's a reason why the left employs the words 'tolerance' and 'intolerance' instead of 'relativism' and 'absolutism'. Doing so affords them the pretense of moral superiority, which is much easier to foist on the American public than intellectual superority. The Left domineers the opposition by calling it names, because they cannot convince it by giving it arguments. Because they have no arguments. It is precisely because their views are so hollow, that they must push them in the public sphere through the demagoguery of 'political correctness'.

The stripping of Carrie Prejean of her crown is nothing but the discrimination against someone for being a moral absolutist, for merely holding a different metaphysical view when it comes to human morality (a view which happens to be backed up by all the major religions of the world and virtually all of human history). This should put to the lie the idea that we can build a society on unchecked individualism in lieu of the common good.

Prejean was not on a soapbox. Her desire was to keep her opinions to herself, but she was cornered, at which time she courageously stated her belief in the most humble and benign manner possible. Is this how we treat people in America who, when asked to do so, respectfully declare what they believe? I hope this puts to the lie that Liberals are liberal.

"In real life, people who are most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all." -G.K. Chesterton, Heretics


05 April 2009

The New Atheism (Ho-Hum) II

In my previous post, The New Athiesm (Ho-Hum), I was challenged by a commenter who goes by the the moniker "mathyoo":

You claim that Dawkins arguments are fallacious and his presentation of the theist arguments and positions are wrong, yet you fail to provide any examples or your own counter-arguments. What are your counter arguments?

Here's a couple examples for you mathyoo:

First, a false presentation of theism by Dawkins can be found in this caricature of faith in the context of belief in God:

Faith is belief in something without evidence.

Now the actual position of theism as noted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 36:

"Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason." Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God's revelation.

Next, we have Dawkins' fallacious summary in The God Delusion of the Cosmological Arguments put forth by St. Thomas Aquinas:

All three of these arguments [the first three of the 'five ways'] rely upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it . They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress. Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God. (The God Delusion, 77)

First I ask, what is worse: the errors or the fatuous insufficiency with which age-old and venerated arguments are temerariously dismissed...by one who reminds us at every other moment of the profound rationality of which he and his ilk are in full possession? (Really Dick, if religion is the Root of All Evil, then, by all means, take it a little more seriously.)

Here's Dr. Peter Kreeft's summary of the the Cosmological Arguments put forth by St. Thomas Aquinas (my emphasis in bold, my comments in blue):

The most famous of all arguments for the existence of God are the "five ways" of Saint Thomas Aquinas... Four are versions of the first-cause argument, which we explore here.

The argument is basically very simple, natural, intuitive, and commonsensical. We have to become complex and clever in order to doubt or dispute it. It is based on an instinct of mind that we all share: the instinct that says everything needs an explanation. Nothing just is without a reason why it is. Everything that is has some adequate or sufficient reason why it is. [Ironically, atheists leave off God, saying that there is no sufficient explanation for His existence; and in so doing fail to give sufficient explanation for everything.]

Philosophers call this the Principle of Sufficient Reason. We use it every day, in common sense and in science as well as in philosophy and theology. If we saw a rabbit suddenly appear on an empty table, we would not blandly say, "Hi, rabbit. You came from nowhere, didn't you?" No, we would look for a cause, assuming there has to be one. Did the rabbit fall from the ceiling? Did a magician put it there when we weren't looking? If there seems to be no physical cause, we look for a psychological cause: perhaps someone hypnotized us. As a last resort, we look for a supernatural cause, a miracle. But there must be some cause. We never deny the Principle of Sufficient Reason itself. No one believes the Pop Theory: that things just pop into existence for no reason at all. Perhaps we will never find the cause, but there must be a cause for everything that comes into existence...

Now the whole universe is a vast, interlocking chain of things that come into existence. Each of these things must therefore have a cause. My parents caused me, my grandparents caused them, et cetera. But it is not that simple. I would not be here without billions of causes, from the Big Bang through the cooling of the galaxies and the evolution of the protein molecule to the marriages of my ancestors. The universe is a vast and complex chain of causes. But does the universe as a whole have a cause? Is there a first cause, an uncaused cause, a transcendent cause of the whole chain of causes? If not, then there is an infinite regress of causes, with no first link in the great cosmic chain. If so, then there is an eternal, necessary, independent, self-explanatory being with nothing above it, before it, or supporting it. It would have to explain itself as well as everything else, for if it needed something else as its explanation, its reason, its cause, then it would not be the first and uncaused cause.

Why must there be a first cause? Because if there isn't, then the whole universe is unexplained, and we have violated our Principle of Sufficient Reason for everything. If there is no first cause, each particular thing in the universe is explained in the short run, or proximately, by some other thing, but nothing is explained in the long run, or ultimately, and the universe as a whole is not explained. Everyone and everything says in turn, "Don't look to me for the final explanation. I'm just an instrument. Something else caused me." If that's all there is, then we have an endless passing of the buck. God is the one who says, "The buck stops here."

If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a great chain with many links; each link is held up by the link above it, but the whole chain is held up by nothing. If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a railroad train moving without an engine. Each car's motion is explained proximately by the motion of the car in front of it: the caboose moves because the boxcar pulls it, the boxcar moves because the cattle car pulls it, et cetera. But there is no engine to pull the first car and the whole train. That would be impossible, of course. But that is what the universe is like if there is no first cause: impossible. [Dawkins, in effect, says that the engine is just another boxcar which theists arbitrarily conjure up to terminate the regress...and then make the unwarranted assumption that this boxcar (which we merely call an engine) is immune to regress, endowing it with properties normally ascribed to self-powered box-cars. But that is a mere caricature of classical theism, which says, in effect, that if we are to satisfy the Principle of Sufficient Reason and give a proper explanation of how one car has the power to pull another car, there must be a car who, necessarily, posesses its own power. Some car must possess it's own power to give it to one car...so it can pull another...so it can pull another...and so on and so forth. Dawkins caricature of the Cosmological Argument in effect says, that it is sufficient for the regress to go on infinitely with one car receiving its pulling power from the one before. Theists would say that no one car would have pulling power to pull another car if one of the cars didn't necessarily have its own pulling power to start the whole process. And this all men speak of as an engine.]

Here is one more analogy. Suppose I tell you there is a book that explains everything you want explained. You want that book very much. You ask me whether I have it. I say no, I have to get it from my wife. Does she have it? No, she has to get it from a neighbor. Does he have it? No, he has to get it from his teacher, who has to get it. . . et cetera, etcetera, ad infinitum. No one actually has the book. In that case, you will never get it. However long or short the chain of book borrowers may be, you will get the book only if someone actually has it and does not have to borrow it. Well, existence is like that book. Existence is handed down the chain of causes, from cause to effect. If there is no first cause, no being who is eternal and self-sufficient, no being who has existence by his own nature and does not have to borrow it from someone else, then the gift of existence can never be passed down the chain to others, and no one will ever get it. But we did get it. We exist. We got the gift of existence from our causes, down the chain, and so did every actual being in the universe, from atoms to archangels. Therefore there must be a first cause of existence, a God.

If there is no independent being, then the whole chain of dependent beings is dependent on nothing and could not exist. [This one sentence refutes Dawkins, no?]

In more abstract philosophical language, the proof goes this way. Every being that exists either exists by itself, by its own essence or nature, or it does not exist by itself. If it exists by its own essence, then it exists necessarily and eternally, and explains itself. It cannot not exist, as a triangle cannot not have three sides. If, on the other hand, a being exists but not by its own essence, then it needs a cause, a reason outside itself for its existence. Because it does not explain itself, something else must explain it. Beings whose essence does not contain the reason for their existence, beings that need causes, are called contingent, or dependent, beings. A being whose essence is to exist is called a necessary being. The universe contains only contingent beings. God would be the only necessary being—if God existed. Does he? Does a necessary being exist? Here is the proof that it does. Dependent beings cannot cause themselves. They are dependent on their causes. If there is no independent being, then the whole chain of dependent beings is dependent on nothing and could not exist. But they do exist. Therefore there is an independent being.

Saint Thomas has four versions of this basic argument.

* First, he argues that the chain of movers must have a first mover because nothing can move itself. (Moving here refers to any kind of change, not just change of place.) If the whole chain of moving things had no first mover, it could not now be moving, as it is. If there were an infinite regress of movers with no first mover, no motion could ever begin, and if it never began, it could not go on and exist now. But it does go on, it does exist now. Therefore it began, and therefore there is a first mover. [These two sentences, seem sufficient to refute Dawkins, who merely asserts that the first mover is subject to a mover before him, effectively denying the existence of a first mover and consequently forfeiting an explaination for why anything at all moves, violating the Principle of Sufficient Reason.]
* Second, he expands the proof from proving a cause of motion to proving a cause of existence, or efficient cause. He argues that if there were no first efficient cause, or cause of the universe's coming into being, then there could be no second causes because second causes (i.e., caused causes) are dependent on (i.e., caused by) a first cause (i.e., an uncaused cause). But there are second causes all around us. Therefore there must be a first cause.
* Third, he argues that if there were no eternal, necessary, and immortal being, if everything had a possibility of not being, of ceasing to be, then eventually this possibility of ceasing to be would be realized for everything. In other words, if everything could die, then, given infinite time, everything would eventually die. But in that case nothing could start up again. We would have universal death, for a being that has ceased to exist cannot cause itself or anything else to begin to exist again. And if there is no God, then there must have been infinite time, the universe must have been here always, with no beginning, no first cause. But this universal death has not happened; things do exist! Therefore there must be a necessary being that cannot not be, cannot possibly cease to be. That is a description of God.
* Fourth, there must also be a first cause of perfection or goodness or value. We rank things as more or less perfect or good or valuable. Unless this ranking is false and meaningless, unless souls don't really have any more perfection than slugs, there must be a real standard of perfection to make such a hierarchy possible, for a thing is ranked higher on the hierarchy of perfection only insofar as it is closer to the standard, the ideal, the most perfect. Unless there is a most-perfect being to be that real standard of perfection, all our value judgments are meaningless and impossible. Such a most-perfect being, or real ideal standard of perfection, is another description of God.

There is a single common logical structure to all four proofs. Instead of proving God directly, they prove him indirectly, by refuting atheism. Either there is a first cause or not. The proofs look at "not" and refute it, leaving the only other possibility, that God is.

Each of the four ways makes the same point for four different kinds of cause: first, cause of motion; second, cause of a beginning to existence; third, cause of present existence; and fourth, cause of goodness or value. The common point is that if there were no first cause, there could be no second causes, and there are second causes (moved movers, caused causers, dependent and mortal beings, and less-than-wholly-perfect beings). Therefore there must be a first cause of motion, beginning, existence, and perfection.

How can anyone squirm out of this tight logic? Here are four ways in which different philosophers try.

* First, many say the proofs don't prove God but only some vague first cause or other. "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the God of philosophers and scholars", cries Pascal, who was a passionate Christian but did not believe you could logically prove God's existence. It is true that the proofs do not prove everything the Christian means by God, but they do prove a transcendent, eternal, uncaused, immortal, self-existing, independent, all-perfect being. That certainly sounds more like God than like Superman! It's a pretty thick slice of God, at any rate—much too much for any atheist to digest.
* Second, some philosophers, like Hume, say that the concept of cause is ambiguous and not applicable beyond the physical universe to God. How dare we use the same term for what clouds do to rain, what parents do to children, what authors do to books, and what God does to the universe? The answer is that the concept of cause is analogical—that is, it differs somewhat but not completely from one example to another. Human fatherhood is like divine fatherhood, and physical causality is like divine causality. The way an author conceives a book in his mind is not exactly the same as the way a woman conceives a baby in her body either, but we call both causes. (In fact, we also call both conceptions.) The objection is right to point out that we do not fully understand how God causes the universe, as we understand how parents cause children or clouds cause rain. But the term remains meaningful. A cause is the sine qua non for an effect: if no cause, no effect. If no creator, no creation; if no God, no universe.
* Third, it is sometimes argued (e.g., by Bertrand Russell) that there is a self-contradiction in the argument, for one of the premises is that everything needs a cause, but the conclusion is that there is something (God) which does not need a cause. The child who asks "Who made God?" is really thinking of this objection. The answer is very simple: the argument does not use the premise that everything needs a cause. Everything in motion needs a cause, everything dependent needs a cause, everything imperfect needs a cause. [Only non-powered box cars need a cause for them to move and in-turn pull another box-car. The ultimate cause is an engine. It is its own explanation and doesn't need a cause.]
* Fourth, it is often asked why there can't be infinite regress, with no first being. Infinite regress is perfectly acceptable in mathematics: negative numbers go on to infinity just as positive numbers do. So why can't time be like the number series, with no highest number either negatively (no first in the past) or positively (no last in the future)? The answer is that real beings are not like numbers: they need causes, for the chain of real beings moves in one direction only, from past to future, and the future is caused by the past. Positive numbers are not caused by negative numbers. There is, in fact, a parallel in the number series for a first cause: the number one. If there were no first positive integer, no unit one, there could be no subsequent addition of units. Two is two ones, three is three ones, and so on. If there were no first, there could be no second or third.

26 March 2009

The New Atheism (Ho-Hum)

My comment on this great essay, by Edward Feser, about the new atheists
Great post. I just ordered your book (from the library :). I used to listen to a lot of atheist audio in my mp3 player in an attempt to find intellectual stimulation--Point of Inquiry, Atheist Experience, Free Thought Radio. Recently, though, I gave it up because their infallible inability to get theistic arguments correctly turned from mere frustration into crushing boredom. They are so self-congratulatory in their intellectual superiority while they TOTALLY misunderstand that which they deride as beneath them. After countless hours of this, I just couldn't go on. I don't know how atheists live and breath in such an environment. As a former atheist, I also purchased the God Delusion, hoping for some semblance of intellectual stimulation. This uneducated union laborer was shocked at how a man of Dawkins reputation and learning can fill a book with fatuous rants and call it argument. He appears to be pathologically incapable of properly characterizing the opposing view. My 12 y/o daughter could out philosophize Dawkins. "If one gives answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." -Proverbs 18:13
BTW, I'm interested in finding some arguments for atheism that are rigorous and compelling. If you know of any, or have some yourself, speak up in the comments.