At every turn, Dawkins seems to mess up a perfect opportunity to have an intelligent discussion about God. Chapter 6 is titled, “The roots of Morality: Why Are We Good?” and this is a great place to discuss the ultimate goal or purpose of God. Unfortunately, Dawkins squanders this opportunity. Instead of arguing against the need for God in the moral equation, Dawkins spends his time distracting us from the task at hand, instead offering up several anecdotal experiences to support his claims. This is yet another failed attempt by Dawkins to convince the reader of his claims. And, with more poor logic in this chapter, Dawkins further harms his overall goal of convincing the reader of the atheistic worldview.
In this chapter, I’ll highlight some of the errors in Dawkins’ logic, then I’ll provide my commentary on where morality must come from in order to be useful within the world at large. So, without further ado, here we go!
Dawkins starts by providing some examples of negative emails that have been sent to him. These letters were supposedly written by Christians and they were quite offensive and threatening. In my view, these types of letters go against everything that Christianity represents. I’m not quite sure what Dawkins’ point is here, because it would be silly to argue that these letters represent all Christians. And, it would be silly to suggest that these letters have any moral grounding in the writing of Christ. Note: the letters that he quotes do not provide a coherent argument that grounds itself in New Testament theology. Thus, they don’t really count as accurate representations of sound Christian doctrine. To me, and I’m sure to many of you, these letters are simply the work of individuals who may or may not be misguided in the pursuit of their faith. And, in case Dawkins was suggesting that misbehaving Christians mean that God is not the answer to moral grounding, well… I’ve received my fair share of disrespectful and violently offensive emails from atheists. So Dawkins, I hate to disappoint, but I don’t get your point here. It seems that you’re barking up the same tree that I discussed yesterday: bad representatives do not mean that the faith itself is flawed.
After this rather pointless introduction, Dawkins makes the argument that our morality is pre-programmed within us. He suggests that we have within ourselves an innate altruism (behaviour where we put the needs of others above our own needs – charity, good will, etc.). This innate altruism is, according to Dawkins, beneficial to our survival and growth as a species. It is part of the genetic make-up of the “survival of the fittest”, so to speak. Dawkins explains that this type of altruism benefits the individual by inspiring similar acts of altruism to be returned to the person giving the charity to others. Ultimately, this altruism results in greater benefits for the individual in question, thus extending the success and prosperity of the altruistic individual. This suggests to me that Dawkins version of altruism is self-beneficial and is thus, not necessarily altruistic after all.
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