Sunday, 6 July 2008

A letter to Richard Dawkins regarding the existence of God.

20:08 6th July 2008 (Whilst on a flight from PVG to HKG)

Dear Richard,

I am currently reading your delightfully atheist book The God Delusion, (to be honest I am only up to page 177) and I feel compelled to write you a letter. As this plane that I am sitting on shakes with turbulence as I begin, I can't help but think that it is being caused by his letter.

As I read your book, I can see that you are putting forward an extremely strong argument against the existence of God however, in considering you evidence (and the lack of evidence for the existence of God) I am coming to a conclusion that is slightly different to yours.

In your book you extol Darwin to a level that sounds similar to the way those who are passionately religious extol figures such a Mohammad or Jesus. As the prophet of Science, Darwin's theory of Natural Selection seems to provide an answer for all the existence of life on Earth far better than the theory of an omnipotent creator who created life by design.

I am not a scientist. I am merely a speculator (and a frequently misinformed one at that) but my understanding of natural selection is that throughout the history of life on Earth living creatures have adapted to the environment around them to survive. Those who did not adapt simply did not survive. The human species however has reached a level of adaptation where we are no longer adapting to the environment around us but changing the environment to adapt to us. As a result, the evolution of the human brain has evolved in such a way that theoretically, no further evolution is required. It is true that chimps use tools, and there is some evidence of herding in nature but nowhere to the levels that the human species have evolved from being hunters and gatherers to being farmers. We have reached a stage of evolution where we manipulate animals in such a way that we have bred animals and plants that make for better consumption and harvesting.

There are much more unsupported claims that I can make to say that as a species we are no longer evolving but the one thing that makes me think upon reading your book is that we as a race are looking at God all wrong.

God is not something that was always there. God is something that we evolved. As our brains evolved so that we could split an atom, or work out the best way to cook an egg so that the egg white is cooked but the egg yoke is still runny, our evolving minds also developed the God concept. This evolution is something that came about, not because we could not explain how nature was too marvelous not to have a creator but because we have simply evolved too much so that Natural Selection is not working. We can see that it is so by the abundance of happy stupid people in the world. (I make this assumption because your book pretty much attacks those who are irrationally religious so I am assuming that you also hold this to be true.)

According to natural selection as I understand it, those who are least fit to survive really should not survive. Be that people of low IQ, or people with disabilities or people who are just too fat to leave their couch. The fact is though, these people are surviving and thriving. The existence of religious zealots, by their definition of people acting on the irrational belief of a personal God is actually proof that natural selection does not explain everything.

Given this I postulate that both Darwin and Theists are right. God does exist. God exists to enable the Darwin's theory of Natural Selection to be right. The concept of God is a mechanism in which our evolved brains have developed to choose what segment of our species to exterminate. Because we control our environment, adaptation for survival is no longer relevant and so the extermination of sections of our species can be achieved through an arbitrary method. That method is the manner in which we believe God. Be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism or the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, through this debate of what happens after you die, provides reason enough for our species to kill or be martyred.

This simply means that the only thing wrong about the God Delusion is that most believers believe that God came first. In reality, Natural Selection was there first and as a result of the human species developing into a dominant organism, God evolved in our collective consciousness as a means for us to be culled and hence keep a balance in nature. Without God, there would not be enough food in the world, pollution would be far worse than it is already is and there would be no ozone layer to speak of. If we all thought like you you, Richard, there would be no human species to speak of because we would be like mold growing on a piece of stale bread until there was no bread left to grow on.

I hope that this clears a couple of things up for you, because I know you put a lot of work into your book. Perhaps next time you will think things through more thoroughly before publishing a worldwide best seller. Feel free to call me if there is anything else you'd like to clarify with regard to the origins of life on earth. I must sign off now because my plane is either about to land in Hong Kong of crash into the side of a mountain.


a_c_m said...

Its an interesting idea, but i think your sort of missing the point.

As you concluded God/religion is just a very well crafted meme ( One which protects itself in a number of interesting ways, including promoting aggressively recruiting new replicators via preaching and conversion, non questioning of the meme (faith) and as you pointed out destroying competing memes via crusades, martyrdom etc..

Your argument seems to be that people do believe in god(s) "God evolved in our collective consciousness". I dont think Richard would refute that - I would also expect Richard would agree with the idea that the god meme evolved - each iteration getting better at propagating itself and protecting itself from subsequent memes.

However the point is, god is a delusion, a fixed false belief, which we as humans created. Not a super powerful being.


Dedric said...

@a_c_m The point that I am trying to make is that even though God is something you can't prove, he/she is something that can drive people to do great and horrible things.

In terms of common man's understanding of science. There is an effect. There must be a cause. Even though that cause is "imagined" it exists nonetheless and for that you must give the God meme it's due. It has real world impact. It feeds the poor and can wipe out entire cultures.

In science we can theorize that a planet exists even though we cannot see it from the effect it's magnetic field has on the surrounding satellites. Cannot we also theorize that even though we cannot see evidence of God we can theorize that he/she exists from the effect it has on culture and the history of the human species?

a_c_m said...

"... he/she (god) is something that can drive people to do great and horrible things."

It is the IDEA of god, and not a "god" itself which can drive people to do horrible things. The god meme was made by humans to control other humans, and hence the to believe that there is a god entity (as the meme instructs to you do), is delusional.

You might like :

"In science we can theorize that a planet exists even though we cannot see it from the effect it's magnetic field has on the surrounding satellites.
Cannot we also theorize that even though we cannot see evidence of God we can theorize that he/she exists from the effect it has on culture and the history of the human species?"

Your not proving God exists, your proving an IDEA about a god existed (and in all but a few instances then dies away). Historians have done this thousands of times with god from all time periods. There is nothing unique about the current examples of the god delusion.

Seems like you do agree with RD, that god is a man made delusion, but want to talk about the possible reasons for the delusion to exist. Which is a whole other subject :)

Dedric said...

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
-- Steven Weinberg

You're right. I like it. Of course this refers to religion (a man made hierarchical organization) as opposed to an omnipotent being that created all things. But we can leave that for next time I am stuck in turbulence with my notebook.

questionsaboutfaith said...

If there is a GOD, then who created GOD?

It must be a more complex paradigm than Christianity(or any other religion) can imagine.

Are you familiar with the concepts of the anthropic principle or Rees numbers? Neither principle proves there is a GOD.

I would recommend that you read Carl Sagan's books. Try Sam Harris.

Dedric said...

Thanks for your reading recommendations @questionsaboutfaith. I will definitely look them up.