Thursday, October 19, 2006

"In the beginning was the Word"

Stephen Barr at First Things is happy that he doesn't have to read Dawkins' latest book:
"Surfeited as I am with Dawkins’ highly polished put-downs and elegant sneering at his intellectual foes, I am happy to be able to experience his latest book (The God Delusion) at second hand through the philosopher Thomas Nagel’s incisive review in the New Republic.

Nagel is not impressed by Dawkins’ “attempts at philosophy.” One of Dawkins’ pet arguments against God as an explanation of design in the world is that it leads to an infinite regress: “A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right.” As Nagel points out, this argument would only have force if theists conceived of God as a complicated brain rather than as an incorporeal being."
Later Barr writes:
As one moves deeper into nature—to levels about which the natural historian and zoologist can tell us nothing—one encounters not less and less form but increasingly magnificent mathematical structures, structures so profound that even the greatest mathematicians are having difficulty understanding them. This is what Pope Benedict was referring to in his Regensburg lecture when he spoke of “the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, . . . the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature.” It is what the great mathematician Hermann Weyl meant when he said, “[I]n our knowledge of physical nature we have penetrated so far that we can obtain a vision of the flawless harmony which is in conformity with sublime reason.” It is what the great astrophysicist James Jeans meant when he said, “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.”

At the foundations of the natural world, we do not find merely slime or dust or some dull insensate stuff. We find ideas of sublime beauty. Dawkins looks at mind and sees atoms in motion. Physicists look at those atoms, and deep below those atoms, and see—or, at least, some of them have seen—the products of “sublime reason,” “a great thought,” a Mind.

In other words, in nature we see a different arrow: It moves from Mind to ideas and forms, and from ideas and forms to matter. In the beginning was the Logos, St. John tells us, and the Logos was God.
Added on 10/21: Dawkins' most recent book is eviscerated in a review by someone not especially sympathetic to orthodox Christianity:
"Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.