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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is God a delusion?

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, participated in a debate recently on Irish Public Radio with David Quinn, a columnist at the Irish Independent. I've been intrigued--and concerned, honestly--about the subject of Dawkins' book, but I have not read it. I found a transcript of their debate online, and it's a great read if you're into pondering the nature of existence, morality and faith. (if you're not, it's probably boring as hell.) Here's a selection:

Quinn: Nothing exists unless you have an uncaused cause, and that uncaused cause, and that unmoved mover, is by definition, God.

Dawkins: You just defined God as that. You just defined the problem out of existence. That's no solution to the problem. You just evaded it.

Quinn: You can't answer the question where matter comes from, you as an atheist.

Dawkins: I can't, but science is working on it. You can't answer it either.

Quinn: It won't come up with an answer. And you invoked a "mystery argument" that you accuse religious believers of doing all of the time. You invoke it for the very first and most fundamental question about reality. You do not know where matter came from.

Dawkins: I don't know, science is working on it. Science is a progressive thing that is working on it. You don't know, but you claim that you do.

Quinn: I claim to know the probable answer.
The "unmoved mover" is an ancient concept. Dawkins' book is a modern challenge to the existence of God. Both arguments are strong, I think, and thought provoking. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this debate today and yesterday, and it raises a lot of questions for me. For instance, how did matter originate? Did it, or has it always been there? If it was created, how and who did it?

It's nearly impossible for me to even conceive of not existing, of there being a nothingness from everything else to spring from. It's also just as tough for me to imagine matter, the substance of the universe, never having been created but always existing. These are the kinds of questions that can make your brain hurt, but I think they are also an essential part of our humanity to ask.


Dos Centavos said...

If you really must believe in something, I find Buddhist metaphysics to be quite insightful (Einstein thought so, too).

Rob Robinson said...

Thanks for the tip. I'm always curious to explore another school of thought.