Friday, November 27, 2009

God and the Tooth Fairy, Pt. 3

We've been examining the claim, central to Richard Dawkins' and Christopher Hitchens' attack against Christianity, that belief in God is like belief in the Tooth Fairy. We have seen that any supposed similarity between the two is extremely superficial.

Though we have not discussed whole sets of evidence (historical, existential, philosophical, and others), we have seen that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the existence of the personal, self-existent God described in the Bible. The most obvious such evidence comes from the disciplines of astronomy and physics, but it is nonetheless hard to believe that Dawkins is unaware of those greatest discoveries of the last century. It seems inexcusable, though, that he is unaware of some other evidences--which come from his own discipline of biology--such as the recognition that all living things share the same information code in their DNA and that that code is (and has been since the first life appeared) extremely well designed.

But the point of this post is to leave behind the alleged superficial similarities between belief in God and belief in the Tooth Fairy, and to look instead at the significant differences between the two. As we do, we will see not only that Dawkins and Hitchens are guilty of a faulty analogy but that, in fact, it is belief in no God--atheism--that has significant similarities to belief in the Tooth Fairy.

Belief in the Tooth Fairy--like belief in atheism--has not led to the establishment of a single hospital or orphanage. Belief in God has led to the founding of hospitals and orphanages on every continent.

Belief in the Tooth Fairy--like belief in atheism--has not resulted in the establishment of any universities. Belief in a transcendent God was behind the founding of all the institutions of higher learning, at least until the late 19th century, when the first secular (theology-neutral) school was founded.

It was belief in the God described in the Old and New Testaments that led to the founding of modern science, not belief in the Tooth Fairy or belief in naturalism.

Belief in God--unlike belief in atheism or the Tooth Fairy--provides the logical justification that makes science a worthwhile endeavor. Theism justifies (among other things) the expectation of finding order in the universe and the expectation that our senses and reasoning should be relaible in discovering that order.

Neither belief in the Tooth Fairy or belief in atheism provide an explanation for the existence/origin of the universe--monotheism does.

Theism offers a satisfactory explanation for the fact that mathematics and logic apply to this universe; naturalism and ToothFairyanism cannot.

Theism explains the existence of morality, of the universal sense of oughtness, and of the human experience of guilt. Atheism does not.

Indeed, all of the big questions that science addresses are satisfactorily explained by Christian theism and not by atheism or belief in the Tooth Fairy. These include (not only the existence of and the order in the universe already mentioned, but) the anthropic principle (the recognition that the universe, galaxy, and solar system are extremely, exquisitely designed for intelligent life on Earth), the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, and the origin of human consciousness.

Dawkins' and Hitchens' claim seems really silly when you get past the sound bite and spend a little time considering it. In truth, it takes a whole lot of blind faith to believe in no God, whereas all of the evidence and reason lead to the conclusion that God exists.

But other differences abound. No one has seen their life transformed by coming to believe in the Tooth Fairy or in atheism. But thousands, even millions of people credit their coming to believe in God for saving their marriage, turning them from alcohol, or drugs, or a life of crime, for transforming their children and families. Whole tribes, villages, regions, and even nations trace life-altering positive change to the power of the living God at work in their midst. No one so credits the Tooth Fairy, evolution, or no God with improving or transforming their lives.

This has been just a short list, and I've missed many of the ways in which belief in God is different from belief in the Tooth Fairy. But it should be obvious that in all these important ways and more, it is belief in no God that has a great deal in common with belief in the Tooth Fairy. So the next time you read or hear this vacuous faulty analogy, I hope you'll be prepared to refute it with the truth about the world in which we live.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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