God is actually a Scientist


The following quote comes from The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, the book I try to read while I’m nicely elbowed in the metro (ummm… they hit me more with this book than with others):

The great French mathematician Blaise Pascal reckoned that, however long the odds against God’s existence might be, there is an even larger asymmetry in the penalty for guessing wrong. You’d better believe in God, because if you are right you stand to gain eternal bliss and if you are wrong it won’t make any difference anyway.


But why, in any case, do we so readily accept the idea that the one thing you must do if you want to please God is believe in him? What’s so special about believing? […] What if God is a scientist who regards honest seeking after truth as the supreme virtue? Indeed, wouldn’t the designer of the universe have to be a scientist? Bertrand Russell was asked what he would say if he died and found himself confronted by God, demanding to know why Russell had not believed in him. ‘Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence,‘ was Russell’s (I almost said immortal) reply.

If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down“. Dawkins is provocative from the very beginning, and far from being pretentious, I think he’s probably right for saying it. Because if you read it, it’ll irreversibly damage every single religious belief you may have, but hey, in the most respectful –meaning carefully reasoned– way. Well, more when it’s finished.

(Many thanks Estebán!)

Update: Many thanks to the avid commentator for the image!

17 thoughts on “God is actually a Scientist

  1. El libro es muy bueno (aunque a mi juicio trata con muy poca delicadeza algunos temas lo suficientemente espinosos como para abordarlos con un poco de tacto) pero, como dices, Dawkins es demasiado pretencioso en sus objetivos porque, y debería de saberlo, la gran mayoría de los que leemos sus libros sólo buscamos reafirmar nuestras ideas o atravesamos ya profundas crisis de fé. Creo que habrá pocos creyentes convencidos que se acerquen a un libro de Dawkins con la mente abierta a enfrentarse a un nuevo punto de vista tan diferente al suyo.

  2. After reading the introduction of the book, it is quite clear (to me) what it is: Opinion.
    Which is no problem. Just do not take it as something scientific . Scientific meaning “proving what you write”. Yes, the introduction is provocativ what is nothing bad but unfortunatively, the author fails to prove scientificely what he writes, i.e. with clear figures confirming his statesments.
    If you want, and if you let me read the introduction again for precise quotation, I can explain you what I mean.

  3. If my memory is right and there are good chances that it is, you told me that the author keeps the promises he made in the introduction. From this, I freely concluded that he also sticks to the same non-proved, figure-free statements. Having learned at university that from most of this kind of books all you need to read to know it are introduction and conlusion, I’m pretty sure that it applies to this particular one as well.

  4. My impression was about the first chapter, and I don’t think you can extend that idea to the rest of the book. I honestly think it’s significant to read the whole reasoning.

  5. Well, could you tell me if the author starts proving his statements with figures?
    I think agreeing partly with josemaria at least if I understood the comment correctly. Probably it would be a fair guess to say that you read a book friendly to your point of view. Though it is a nice thing to read arguments confirming what you think, it is not very challenging. Furthermore, I suspect the author using essentially quotations, opinions and arguments supporting his view. But to be sure of this, and here I agree with you, I would need to read the book.

  6. Let’s read it! :-) Well, the book has usually a structure like the quote in the post. He starts pointing out arguments not supporting his ideas, and then he tries to refute them. And in general he does a good job.

  7. What are you doing? Why do you not go on argueing and provocating? I have nothing to say to your last comment… and I was in such a good mood for discussion controversely.

  8. Sorry… it was the damn diplomatic vein.

    So you want numbers and demonstrations on the non-existence of God in the book? That’s the problem; it’s even better than that. You get convincing pieces –this guy has been defending atheism for a long time clearly– attacking the typical-topical things we’ve been absurdly forced to learn since we were children, and so our parents.

    You learn how to look at the same thing in a different way, and why. I like how it’s particularly insightful regarding evolution, you put it in the right context and you see how it gets the importance it was neglected by out teachers.

  9. Hm, I’m not sure if I’m in the same discussion mood as yesterday but let’s see.
    I do not want and need figures about the existence or non-existence of God as these would be hardly verifiable. What I want figures or proves for are the commun prejudices and cheap, for approval looking statements the author is using in the introduction.

  10. OK, one great statement from the preface: “I want everybody to flinch whenever we hear a phrase such as ‘Catholic child’ or ‘Muslim child’. Speak of ‘child of Catholic parents’ if you like; but if you hear anybody speak of a ‘Catholic child’, stop them and politely point out that children are too young to know where they stand on such issues, just as they are too young to know where they stand on economics or politics”. Here the prejudice is exactly on the other side!

  11. You will have to wait for my answer until I get this book in my hands. I will not take the risk of quoting wrongly.
    Regarding the statement you quote, it is nice but not exactly what I would call revolutionary.

  12. Wow, there you get into troubled water. Who will decide what education to give to what child at what age? If you hold away religion from them, then you have to hold political views from them, and economical – perhaps even social…
    I remember the books I learned reading with. The absolute hero were the Soviet soldat, the farmers and industry workers – East German school books.
    The question is to know where information ends and where indoctrination starts. Your link to youtube is clearly the second one. But is holding religious information away from kids not an indoctrination on its own? Forcing them into a way others choose because they believe that it is the right one?

  13. Religion at he high school level? Sure! History of Religion(s), you can give them all the information teachers consider suitable for that age, in the same range as economics, politics, mathematics or art. All in all, it’s part of our culture, it’s still relevant. They should be aware of that.

    Forcing them (because at this age is forcing) to believe, to be theistic, is definitely the error. They’re simply not ready to assimilate that. Moreover, you’ll be damaging their ability to face a problem in a rational way.

  14. Pingback: It is all too easy to confuse fundamentalism with passion

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