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Why Faith Matters
Why Faith Matters
by David J. Wolpe
Edition: Hardcover
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comforting to today's believer, January 22, 2009
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This review is from: Why Faith Matters (Hardcover)
Rabbi Wolpe probably only succeeds in "preaching to the quire", but his approach certainly appears as a refreshing counterbalance to the "new atheism", without attempting to refute it on scientific or logical grounds. Those outside the religious communities who are nonetheless concerned with the issue of theism versus atheism, and of whom there are very many, may likely not be satisfied.

The author somehow dismisses a reasoned approach (although he displays some good reasoning in his wonderful writing), holding that (pp.4-9) for instance Bertrand Russell couldn't reach the concerned spheres with his emphasis on logic. Unlike the author, I don't think highly of Russell's logic, but see him as confused in explaining his paradoxes. The author nevertheless says (p.188): "Sensible though my faith may be to me, or yours to you, ultimately it is unprovable. The same is true on a larger scale of the enterprise of 'proving' the existence of God." He further writes that having taught for years "all the proofs that have been given for God": "Never, in more than a decade of teaching the course, did a student come up to me after class, clap his hand to his forehead, and exclaim: 'Aha! Now I believe!'"

There is a little contradiction here. If the student had been persuaded by any of the purported proofs, he should not claim belief, but knowledge. The author's contention that God is unprovable presupposes, however, that those purported proofs are wrong. Moreover, that contention is a decisive statement, itself requiring proof. And I submit that God is not unprovable. Today's arguments center around whether organisms are Darwinian "products of accident" (p.148) or whether they are "intelligently designed", and the second possibility has been cogently argued by such as William Paley. One might dispute the definition of God, but a higher intelligence as responsible for life and its circumstance may not be dismissed, in view of the concept of God as the Omniscient and Omnipotent.

The reasoning given by those thinkers has not been conclusive, but the matter is susceptible to demonstration like other formerly unknown truths, exemplified by the likes of the Pythagorean theorem in geometry or Newton's laws of motion in physics, as I discussed elsewhere.

Kudos, regardless, to the author for this inspiring book.


Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design
Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design
by Barbara Forrest
Edition: Paperback
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12 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "creationists as the bad guys", January 14, 2009
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The preceding quote is from page 304 of this book, and concerns the movie "Inherit the Wind"; but it equally fits this book. Although several reviewers protest characterizing the book as "ad hominem", it is largely exactly that. "Ad hominem" is the fallacy of turning from the debated subject to the debating opponent, so as to win the argument by that subterfuge. The book does so almost exclusively, through an exceptional and lengthy effort to demonstrate that the opponents are politically and religiously motivated, and to impugn their qualifications or character.

The book thus begins surprisingly with a foreword by the "Reverend" Barry Lynn, of "Americans United for Separation of Church and State", and who appears detested by many. As implied, he contends (p.viii) the separation of Church and State to be ensured by the First Amendment of the Constitution, although such separation is not mentioned in the Amendment or elsewhere in the Constitution. He refers to the Dover, Pennsylvania, trial where the judge accordingly ruled "against the promotion by the state of religion" in the Area School District, although the First Amendment only prohibits Congress from making concerned laws.

In those regards the book (p.334) calls criticisms of the judge "insolence", to downgrade the free speech guaranteed by that very Amendment. It reminded me of the movie "Hunchback of Notre Dame", in which a judge, on being told that the hunchback couldn't hear something because deaf, called him insolent. Free speech also concerns an incident involving Senator Edward Kennedy (pp.251-2). He said: "Unlike biological evolution, 'intelligent design' is not a genuine scientific theory...". Replied intelligent-design advocate William Dembski: "Kennedy is no scientist or philosopher of science, [etc.]", the authors of the book indignantly responding to the reply as "what can only be described as audacity".

The authors, to be sure, consistently speak about those on the side of Darwinism as "pro-science", in contrast to those on the opposing side. Let me correspondingly discuss "those famous peppered moths" (pp.107-111). These moths, of "mottled gray", were found "indistinct or invisible against the background on which this species...commonly alights--the bark, also usually gray and mottled, of tree trunks [etc.] in the native (English) habitat". Scientists assumed "that the moth's coloration is adaptive (in this case protective)" against its "primary predators[,]...birds", so that the "color is camouflage...". Later in "the nineteenth century...a darker (melanic) form of the same moth was seen...near England's industrial centers...[where] factory smoke and soot had blackened most tree-trunk bark and branches. There, the melanic moths had suddenly a great advantage. They should be much less visible to their predators than the original peppered phenotype."

The subsequent issue was "the plausibility of [natural] selection as the mechanism of this RAPID [my emphasis], population-wide, hereditary shift in pigmentation." "Then in the 1950s, entirely separate researches demonstrated that population dominance of genetically alternative light or dark forms of the mouse Peromyscus is determined by the color of the background on which the population lives and that the selection agents are their predatory enemies: owls. Contrast between coat color and background has much to do with the mice surviving or not surviving. This newer finding was, in short, a nice example of natural selection for camouflage". Recounted further is "testing [of] the hypothesis that the switch from peppered to dark forms [of the moths] had been a response to the new industrial environment that blackened the trees IN THE VERY SHORT INTERVAL (FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF GEOLOGICAL TIME AND EVOLUTION) OF ABOUT A HUNDRED YEARS [my emphasis again]". Performed were "predation experiments with collected, marked, and released moths. The results were a vindication of the hypothesis that natural selection is effective in changing the population gene pool."

A vindication? Precisely the opposite is true! The rapidity of the adaptation does no less than refute the enormous length of time required by the Darwinian slow and gradual changes through "random mutation"! The adaptation is evidently not the result of random changes, but of the goal-directed activity distinguishing all live organisms in their direction toward self-preservation, as I have attempted to show elsewhere.

So much for the good "science" of Darwinism. It may be interesting to also wonder whether researchers during such observations ever asked themselves why the moths or mice, for instance, did not randomly mutate into colorings of red or blue or pink or purple.
Comment Comments (33) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2014 1:36 PM PDT


No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers
No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers
by Michael Novak
Edition: Hardcover
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lofty words with little to say, December 17, 2008
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Author Novak presents as impressive a résumé as one can ask for. Yet this reviewer, while sharing with him a theist view, finds his argumentation in that regard to be among the weakest. His argument for the existence of God is premised on his title and subtitle, "No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers", a "nothingness" that seems to elicit but gloom in place of hope, however elaborate his efforts to turn the negative into the positive.

His way of substantiating his point of view may be seen in a discussion by him (p.236) of agnosticism based "on the grounds that no one can prove, one way or the other, the existence of God". He writes: "Sometimes...agnostics are quite opposed to atheism and would like to believe in God. They simply have not experienced that insight, that gift, that privileged way of seeing". This typifies the evidence he brings for God, more being expected of philosophers like himself. He continues, with some characteristic name-dropping: "More than once well-known scholars have asked me--in the first case, Sidney Hook, and in another, Milton Friedman--how to think about belief. Both said they sometimes wanted to believe, but just couldn't find the evidence they sought. I said that all the evidence they need is within them, and they may be looking in the wrong places."

But the places are not specified. "No one sees God". Let me suggest a "seeing" indicated by a sentential fragment (p.189) in the book: "...powers, often invisible except in their effects". In fact, all powers are only visible in their effects. Now, if we think of God as constituting certain powers, as implied by appellations like "Almighty", we may well see God by the manifestation of those powers in the world, similarly to seeing the minds of others in their manifestation in their bodies. This should be all for me to say now, with more said elsewhere.
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Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language (ConversantLife.com)
Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language (ConversantLife.com)
by William A. Dembski
Edition: Paperback
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carefully clarified Intelligent Design, December 8, 2008
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Although I find Intelligent-Design (ID) arguments inadequate (but not nearly as much as Darwinian ones), I would be unjustified in denying the book 5 stars, for its earnest pursuit of truth in the subjects, notwithstanding abusive attacks by opponents.

Let me first get off the chest my main dissatisfaction with the book. It needlessly mixes in Christian dogma while its other arguments may be persuasive to many non-Christians, and disturbing me most is (p.183) the quotation from the Catholic Encyclopedia that man "has himself brought about the evil from which he suffers by transgressing the law of God...". Did the Holocaust victims transgress that law, or did their persecutors, following the law of Darwin?

Since speaking of Darwin, I might focus on a chief issue doubly discrediting him, the "slight modifications" he contends occur randomly in, and lead to survival of, organisms. Such slight modification compared to the lack of it hardly effects the survival of one group and not the other. There must obviously be a substantial enough difference to lead to that result. But more to the point is his allegation that an organism's form is functional in both stages of the modification. Often quoted (p.138) is his: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

This is one instance where ID falls short. Its "irreducible complexity" (p.140) makes a strong case that such slight modification is insufficient for an organ to be functional in both stages. This is, however, not conclusively demonstrated, Darwinists continually arguing, though equally not demonstrating, that an organ can have a function in each stage. The trouble is concentration on an organ, like the eye, or other part of the whole, as if that part belonged at some stage to another whole. The slight modification is to occur to the organism considered as whole; so whereas it may be conceivable that before such modification the eye for one functioned appropriately in another organism, it evidently did not in the same one. It is clear without more research that absence of a functioning component of an organ in the same organism causes some disability.

ID's also introduced "specified complexity" (p.104) likewise lacks reliability. By it "Complexity...ensures that the object in question is not so simple that it can be readily explained by chance", and "Specificity...ensures that the object exhibits the type of pattern that could signal intelligence". "Pattern" is vague here. It is exemplified (p.106) by "ice crystals, but such a design would be embedded in the laws of nature". It may be asked whether ID would not belong to laws of nature as well; regardless, as an example of a qualifying pattern is given the combination that opens a lock and "is therefore both complex and specified, and thus exhibits design" (p.107). The combination, however, could be said to display a purpose rather than pattern.

Purpose, or goal, is indeed what ID looks for in the formation of organs spoken of above by Darwin, as noted by the authors regarding computer programs (p.109): "The specified complexity was there all along, having been inserted by the programmer to achieve the program's goal". Whether the formation of organisms is "directed", "guided", "purposeful", or not is what the great dispute is about. From purpose is then made something of a leap to intelligence, and God.

It has been my effort in reviews here and in other work (On Proof for the Existence of God, and Other Reflective Inquiries) to show that the search for purpose in the organism's form overlooks a much simpler observation, of a phenomenon too familiar to be thought of, namely the behavior itself that distinguishes all live organisms: its "directedness" toward the "goal" of preservation. This purpose controls all of life, including the living's formation and adaptation, requiring no further searches in this respect.
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The Delusion of Disbelief: Why the New Atheism is a Threat to Your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness
The Delusion of Disbelief: Why the New Atheism is a Threat to Your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness
by David Aikman
Edition: Hardcover
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent to an extent, November 26, 2008
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The author might be said to be a jack-of-all-trades but master of none in his relatively thorough examination of the subject from many angles but with attending shortcomings.

The title of the book, The Delusion of Disbelief, can itself be seen as tellingly contradictory. "Delusion" implies falsehood, here of disbelief, the falsehood in turn implying the truth of belief. However, belief by its very meaning is only a supposition of truth. The author indeed turns his belief into near certainty at the close of the book (p.211), contending that the non-occurrence of the Resurrection is a "highly improbable notion". This sounds a lot like Dawkins's holding the existence of God to be very, very improbable, and it rests of course on the author's trust in the veracity of his sources.

Another, striking, example of the author's less than reliable though extensive background-support is his (p.174) placing David Hume into the "nineteenth" or "twentieth centuries". It couldn't be a typo, of a spelled out number at that, since all other authors listed there do belong into those centuries, and it is more remarkable considering that the author teaches history. That is how one's confidence in this book, detailed and well written otherwise, is diminished.

That the author's presentation is slanted toward Christianity is in fact not very difficult to perceive. He writes (p.186), "the world in which we all live today owes its greatest attributes to Christianity", continuing: "Historical facts...show that our modern age with its science and technology", etc., would not exist without it. Of course, a historical fact may not exist without a preceding historical fact, but it needn't therefore owe "its greatest attributes" to the other. The author, however, attempts to show that after the demise of the Roman Empire it was Christianity that brought about progress in such as science and in emphasis on reason.

Interestingly, he again displays a lapse in his historical accuracy, speaking (p.187) of a supposed Europe of "the Dark Ages" as reemerging "in early medieval times". The Dark Ages concern exactly the early, if not all of, medieval times. He correctly notes that "classical learning was preserved [in] the Christian monasteries", but is it true that (p.190) "from medieval times onward, Christianity stressed the vital connection of reason with the Christian faith"? The 15th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica states that in the 15th century logicians "asserted the essential disparity of faith and reason" (Middle Ages, p.163).

And the historical disparity between Christian faith and the sciences is common knowledge. Not only with respect to Galileo. The greatest ancient scientific accomplishments took place in pagan states like Greece and Rome, or places like Egypt and Babylonia. It was some of these accomplishments that was preserved in the monasteries. And the Renaissance, which marked the rebirth of scientific inquiry, took its model from antiquity, as symbolized by Raphael's "The School of Athens".

Notwithstanding the religious bias by the reviewed author, he does in general a wonderful job of confuting the claims of "the Four Horsemen" of atheism. Although reconciling science with an organized religion may be futile, despite allegations to the contrary, it is another question whether science can be reconciled with theism, and whether correspondingly some purported scientific findings are incorrect. On my mind is Darwinism in particular, sparsely dealt with by the author. That results can be obtained along these lines as to theism opposite atheism, I endeavored to point out in my other reviews here, as well as in my book, which can be located on Amazon.com, if I'll be allowed to again mention it.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2009 11:38 AM PST


Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution
Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution
by Karl Giberson
Edition: Hardcover
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11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Assertions instead of arguments, November 6, 2008
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The author writes (p.79): "...one thing is crystal clear: the Holocaust would have happened with or without Charles Darwin". Crystal clear? How sure of himself is this author. Absent substantiation. Moreover, he on that page quotes Hitler as waxing "eloquent about the triumph of the strong, calling it 'an iron law of necessity', justified as the 'right of victory of the best'" and "'Whoever will not fight in this world of eternal struggle', Hitler wrote in language eerily reminiscent of Darwin's explanation of natural selection, 'does not deserve to live'". Yet the author has amazing knowledge of truth under the historical hypothesis of nonexistent Darwin, despite Nazism's persistent self-justification by claiming racial superiority, an ideology born in a vacuum, I suppose.

The author also approvingly quotes (e.g. p.10) philosopher Dennett's phrase "Darwin's dangerous idea", meant jokingly to imply no danger to the idea. But as the preceding indicates, the idea is not merely dangerous, but disastrous. Danger concerns the potential, whereas disaster concerns the actual. Contrary to the author and that philosopher, many see Darwinism as responsible for, foreseen or not, the unequalled mass-killings of the 20th century. The author complains (p.83): "Tragically...the most preposterous charges are leveled against [Darwin]", quoting an "anti-evolutionary": "If evolution is true, then we are simply a product of time and chance, and there is no morality and no intrinsic worth to human life". Preposterous?

The author also (p.155) regards Dennett as one of "seekers after truth", although the latter's virulent atheism seems to qualify him at best as an adherent, not a truth-seeker. He is, however, excused and praised by the author, who while professing belief in God shares with him a worship of Darwin, which is as extensive with the author as with anyone I know about. He calls Darwin "the nineteenth century's greatest scientist" (p.33) or "one of the greatest scientists who ever lived" (p.40), accepting Darwinism lock, stock, and barrel. He accordingly holds in contempt even restricted criticism of it, e.g. by Intelligent Design, as "offering simplistic alternatives" (p.82). Intelligent Design is known to contend that the structure of organisms in order to function is so complex that it presupposes an intelligent designer. Darwinism of course contrariwise contends "that something so feeble and obviously purposeless as blind natural selection [accomplishes] that remarkable task" (p.54).

To defend against intelligent design, Darwinians have recently been accumulating hordes of denials of intelligence in designs of organisms. For instance, the author writes (p.199) about "the way our hands and feet are so similar to the forelimbs of other mammals"; "we might expect to discover entirely unrelated configurations of bones. After all, what we do with our appendages bears little resemblance to what bats do with theirs. What we find, however, is the same configuration modified for different purposes". Since this is not what "we might expect", he has the "simplistic" answer: it is bad design. How presumptuous. Inventors like Leonardo have for centuries failed to design human wings duplicating the flight of birds, or bats. Another complaint (p.163): "our eye has a blind spot". But this is in no way apparent in our vision; what then is the detriment?

Speaking of a blind spot, an incomparably more significant one looms, which fully discredits Darwin's "purposeless", "blind natural selection". This blind spot handicaps both Darwinians and their design opponents, and is one I have, so far unsuccessfully, tried to bring to attention in these reviews and elsewhere. It is that the inquirers needlessly argue for or against purpose in organisms regarding their structure. If attention is, rather, shifted to their behavior, the behavior's purposefulness is immediately obvious, as one directed toward their preservation. From this is easily inferred equal purpose in their formation, adaptation, etc., contra Darwin.

My marking a second star for the author is motivated by his relative fairness in criticizing (p.172) both sides of a dispute over a U.S. Senate bill concerning the teaching of evolution: "the goal of the protagonists is to win, not to discover the truth..."
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Greater Than You Think: A Theologian Answers the Atheists About God
Greater Than You Think: A Theologian Answers the Atheists About God
by Thomas D. Williams
Edition: Paperback
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, October 23, 2008
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There appears no editorial review of this book anywhere I looked, and in my eyes reviewers miss a little book whose author really did his homework and presents the result in a most concise and readable manner.

The book's title (and its cover design) is a takeoff on Christopher Hitchens's "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything", but is, as "Greater Than You Think", instead ingratiating, leaving to the reader to "think" to whom it refers and whom it addresses, compared to the crude, absolutist, and indeed poison-spewing title by Hitchens. It makes me wonder whence his reputation as a wordsmith.

The reviewed author of course counters the recent atheist "bestsellers...accompanied by reams of lesser works, attesting to the power of atheism as the newest cottage industry" (p.xii). He takes these wonderfully apart and supplies cogent arguments against them. This may be the more rewarding considering that he is a clergyman, of whom usually is no more expected than a defense of his religion as compatible with scientific contentions, for an approach that might be exemplified in the book I last reviewed here.

To be sure, author Williams and myself strongly part company in that I am of Jewish birth and, though a theist, am not an adherent of any organized religion. This means I am decidedly in disagreement with him about his justifications for his persuasions. He offers reasonable arguments for the historicity of Jesus and to some extent of the events associated with him. Perhaps not surprisingly, although he mentions the atheist complaint regarding inconsistencies in the Gospels, he doesn't respond to it. The accuracy of those writings then is doubtful, let alone a proof of the divinity in question. As indicated, he doesn't shy away from reason in demonstrating the validity of one's position, defending for instance (p.92) the attempted proofs by Aquinas. But he is less than logical when defending proselytizing as "believers' insistence on trying to share their beliefs with others and to convince them of their truth" (p.57), using as example (p.59) the possible discovery of "a cure for cancer or AIDS", which one "would be negligent not to" inform others about.

One can hardly speak in the same breath of "believers", "their beliefs", and correspondingly "their truth" without inconsistency. A medical discovery must be well substantiated before even attempted to be applied to patients. Plausibly the author writes, regarding God's existence, (p.89), "The difference between belief and nonbelief...often reflects a deeper willingness or unwillingness to venture into a domain where we do not hold all the cards in our hands" or (p.94), "A simple analysis of the facts cannot compel a person to belief or unbelief". I happen to dispute this impossibility of a proof, finding one in fact quite simple, but go into the matter elsewhere.

Now I just want to add congratulations to the author for his praiseworthy elucidation of his stand.
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Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith
Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith
by Christoph von Schönborn
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Understandably a view from an unquestioning Catholic, October 17, 2008
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Since I do not share the Cardinal's calling, I will, while sympathizing with many of his attitudes, not accept most of his explanations, instead giving my own reasonings.

He offers some appealing observations, while exhibiting dilettantism in fields outside his own. Appealing to me is his noting (p.77) that Darwinism is the only scientific theory that, so far as he knows, has become an "-ism", there being no "Einsteinism", "Newtonism", etc., my also finding appealing his rebuttal (pp.95-6) of "Experts" who allege "that no optician would construct the objective, the lens, and the reflector according to the way they are now arranged in the human eye". He replies, "It is thanks to this 'construction' [of the eye] that we are able to become opticians [etc.], that we are able to experience the marvel of vision, so far as no defect hinders us... And in spite of all our fantastic technical expertise, no one is capable of constructing a human eye that is alive and working". A fine answer to what appears unsurpassed arrogance in the strenuous faultfinding by opponents of "intelligent design".

The author, however, is too ready to swallow scientific claims he fails to sufficiently comprehend. Among them are the famed "random mutations" of Darwinism. The author asks (p.102): "Why are there deformities, as a result of harmful mutations?" This rests on the Darwinian supposition that changes in organisms are indeed the result of chance.

We are now led to the title of the book, "CHANCE OR PURPOSE?". The author argues lengthily throughout the book for divine purpose behind the findings proclaimed by science, which he accepts with little reservation and holds compatible with faith. He says (p.165), "the question as to the origins of the obvious 'intelligent design' in living things is an entirely legitimate one... An answer to this question is not to be expected from research working along strictly scientific methodological lines". By "origins of the obvious 'intelligent design'" he means the mentioned divine purpose, the "obvious" set aside here. But he is entirely mistaken in accepting the contentions about "strictly scientific methodological lines". That science can only observe chance, namely the operation of unguided natural forces, is belied by medical science if no other. Physicians know full well the body's purposeful healing power, that the body always aims to preserve itself.

The answer to Cardinal Schoenborn's quandary about "Chance or Purpose" need accordingly not be constricted to faith alone. Nature itself exhibits purpose bountifully in the live activities of all its organisms, aimed at their preservation. I have been trying to get this simple understanding across in reviews here, if falling on deaf ears. For more, including various other subjects relating to human knowledge, I want to again recommend my On Proof for Existence of God, and Other Reflective Inquiries.


Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins' Case Against God
Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins' Case Against God
by Scott Hahn
Edition: Paperback
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14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but shining, October 6, 2008
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As a Jew, one thing in this book that makes me uneasy is its intimation that Christianity is the sole theistic answer to atheism. The authors can't of course rationally substantiate this view, as may be seen when considering their rather mystical excursion (pp.66-7) into Christian doctrine. They make, however, an excellent effort to rationally counter the "new atheism".

They make one of the best arguments I have seen regarding the statistically enormous improbability (by them "impossibility") of chance for the multitude of organic components assembling as they do (ca.pp.27-31).

They also offer a good argument (ca.pp.62-3) against "one of Dawkins' favorite 'proofs' for the non-existence of God". He claims: "Any Designer capable of constructing the dazzling array of living things would have to be intelligent and complicated beyond all imagining", and that, the authors observe, "things that are complex enough to be intelligent, must themselves be the products of evolution". Dawkins proceeds that the reasoning requires yet a more complex intelligence as cause and so on ad infinitum, making the existence of God "very very improbable indeed".

The authors justifiably argue that Dawkins wrongly thinks that, like himself, "all possible intelligent beings, including God, must be the result of material evolutionary processes". They mix in the idea of God as "a purely spiritual, omniscient Being", but this isn't necessary. Without their characterizing the nature of a Creator, the Dawkins assumption that "evolution [really the structure of organisms]...is always a matter of chance material mutation" is itself question begging. It needn't be assumed that a Creator, or for that matter organisms, result from "blind" natural processes. In fact, be the existence of God settled or not, the cause if any needn't also be settled.

The authors further, as noted elsewhere in these reviews, make a good case against the moral claims of Darwinian atheists. Since Darwinism is amoral, bestowing moral advantages only for survival of groups but not for inter-rivalry among them, its defenders are unjustified in injecting universal morality, precluded by Darwinism.

Also essayed by the authors is a proof of God's existence, saying boldly "Yes, there is a proof" (p.75), though offering quite a strained one that "depends on a significant amount of evidence from the latest findings in nearly all the sciences" etc., and is named "argument from intelligibility" (p.84). The argument contains odd statements like "mathematical intelligibility is written into nature itself, and we abstract the 'laws' from nature" (p.89), although it is long understood that deductive truths, as in mathematics, hold "in all possible worlds", i.e. are valid conceptually. And as proof of God they say (p.88) "Here is the inference: in our experience, deep, multi-layered, and integrated intelligibility is always the result of a requisite intelligence" (?), and then "The existence of science would seem [hesitation] to demonstrate the existence of an Intelligent Creator".

This appears unlikely to convince someone as proof. A logical proof must clearly enunciate acceptable premises, and by valid rules deduce the conclusion. One can also question whether God if possessing a proof would wait for the many sciences, some perhaps dubious, to reveal it, instead of having a simpler one, accessible to humanity at large.

At the cost of sounding equally bold, I offer a discussion of the same in my On Proof for Existence of God, and Other Reflective Inquiries. The above probabilities highlighted by the reviewed authors, as well as the complexities spoken of in the intelligent design movement, are plausible factors supporting the existence of a supreme being. But there are common factors overlooked, that when seen in their appropriate relationship lead to the insights desired.
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10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help
10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help
by Benjamin Wiker
Edition: Hardcover
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Often overreaching or outlandish, September 25, 2008
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While I agree with many of the author's complaints about the baneful influences of various books, he so overdoes matters that should the book itself be taken very seriously by many, it might have comparably harmful influence. The problem is the author is as careless and shallow in his examinations as authors he writes about can be said to be.

One can start with his failing to make linguistic issues certain, like beginning German nouns with capitals, e.g. in "Übermensch" or "Kampf", the last of which is in its context closer to "fight" or "battle" than his "struggle".

Next, one can wonder why he included J.S. Mill among "Ten Big Screw-Ups" but left Rousseau among "5 Others That Didn't Help". Rousseau's pernicious influence can be likened to that of Marx and Darwin. In The Social Contract the first sentence in his first chapter states: "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains." Marx picked this up in the conclusion of the Manifesto of the Communist Party: "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." Rousseau is consequently behind both the Reign of Terror and the Bolshevik revolution, whose Dialectical Materialism alongside other disasters also owes to Darwin.

J.S. Mill's philosophy is instead related to the very "pursuit of happiness" in The Declaration of Independence, and the "bill of rights" in the Constitution. These appear to comport with the introductory quote by author Wiker (p.74) of Mill, who states as desirable "an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments...", this being protected by government. But author Wiker vehemently objects, characterizing another quote (p.83), one saying "All the grand sources...of human suffering are in a great degree...conquerable by human care and effort", as "words of a dangerous madman".

Author Wiker objects (p.78) to by him found Epicurean equations "Good = Pleasure" and "Evil = Pain", calling them "moral misreasoning", saying (p.79) that accordingly "morality's foundation is not God but pleasure and pain". He speaks as a Christian, and he may well find his justification in Scripture, but of concern is how people arrange their lives in this world, lacking dependability on everyone's religious convictions. And the precepts by which an envisioned democracy functions through its laws are very similar to ones in the concerned religions; guarding against murder, theft and so forth. Author Wiker's "misreasoning" can correspondingly apply to himself.

It can notably apply to his treatment of Descartes complained about already by other reviewers here. Poor Descartes seems to take the rap from all sides lately; most of it comes from sources opposed to the author reviewed, namely from materialists, upset by Cartesian dualism of mind and matter, and insisting that all reality is of matter. Strangely, our author contrariwise complains that Descartes through his dualism himself asserts materialism. This is obviously false, and apparently author Wiker's underlying dissatisfaction is that Descartes' philosophy is not grounded in Christianity. He thus amazingly contends logical failures of one of the greatest minds in history; that it is rather our author whose logic falters is easily demonstrable.

He discusses Descartes' famous "I think, therefore I am" (Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy), saying (p.23) it "contains one of the most pernicious confusions possible, so destructive that we might very well call it the first sin. We catch the error if", leading to "René, isn't it really the other way around? In order to think, I first have to exist...". But Ben, this isn't the other way around at all; it is the same statement differently phrased. Logically the statement is "(my thinking) implies (my existence)", applying in both cases. Again, the author says (p.24) that Descartes "admits" that "in order to think, one must exist"; again the same implication differently phrased.

The author's effort here is to criticize Descartes' skepticism, quoting him by way of introduction (p.17): "I reject as absolutely false everything in which I could imagine the least doubt...". What is left out is the subsequent (p.20) "so as to see whether...anything in my set of beliefs remains that is entirely indubitable". Descartes' idea was that since so much of received knowledge is false, he'll try to see what will remain true after tentatively peeling off possible falsehoods. Our author rejects this as a "good recipe for insanity", that "we could doubt even the solidity of the ground we stand on", etc. But Descartes offers ample explanation, such as the unreality of dreams that impress us as reality. Most of all, he introduced epistemology, the important concept of how through our minds we get to know reality, a concept elaborated by the British empiricists in pointing out how perceptions can or cannot be relied on.

Author Wiker doesn't comprehend this, as by (p.23) calling it "simply ridiculous to single out thinking as the act by which I know I am existing" and saying (p.26) "reality is the appropriate test of our everyday beliefs and scientific theories". But by "thinking" Descartes meant mental activity, cognition, in general, as the door to reality, and correspondingly our author's "test" of reality depends question-beggingly on the form in which appropriate perceptions enter our mind.

The author further protests Descartes' attempts at proving God by reason, an issue also addressed by previous reviewers. He evidently holds biblical revelation more authentic; this may be his prerogative, but he is unjustified in criticizing other ways as failing logically, in the like absence of demonstration of the truth of a religious belief.

Although I sympathize with the author's sentiments in general, his excessive or unwarranted attacks of some of the authors he deals with makes his stories less than persuasive.


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