Module 7: Scientific Atheism and Theological Responses Custom Essay

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Assignments

During this module, students are expected to:
McGrath, Chapters 18, and at least three chapters from 25-34
Read the Instructor’s Note
Apply one key concept to a current event

identify one event or other phenomenon in the news or from your professional experience or civic engagement. Explain briefly (in about 250 words) how it illustrates or calls into question one of the key concepts from the reading. Be sure to explain the concept clearly as you are illustrating or criticizing it. ( I recommend a current event from the news)

McGrath, Chapter 18, read at least three chapters from 25-34

Optional Resources:
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
National Geographic Interview with Richard Dawkins
Dawkins, Richard. What use is religion?
Eagleton, Terry, ‘Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching,’ (Critique of Dawkins’ The god delusion)

Instructor Notes

Scientific Atheism

Scientific atheism, the claim that a modern scientific worldview excludes religious belief, has been around for a long time, but it received new strength from the work of Richard Dawkins, culminating in the publication of The God Delusion in 2006. Dawkins is committed to the view that the gene and not the organism is the principal unit of selection and that the complex organization we find in nature is the result of the blind operation of natural selection and other physical laws. This excludes the argument from design, made popular William Paley, whose work we discussed in an earlier module and, for Dawkins, the idea of God. The difficulty with this view is that the argument from design is very far from being the only argument for the existence of God, as we saw in an earlier module. But Dawkins goes further and challenges the idea, which is central to the cosmological argument, that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. The cosmological argument, we will remember, argues that everything has a cause, and that since there cannot be an infinite chain of causes going backward, there must be a first cause which is, further, Necessary Being, or God, having the power of Being in itself. The problem with Dawkins’ argument is that the aim of contemporary scientific theory is a unification: coming up with one single theory which explains everything, without itself requiring explanation, and thus to avoid an infinite regress of causes.

Case Studies:

You now have considerable background in the science and religion debates. Consider Dawkins’ arguments and the responses to them suggested above. Then consider three of the theologians considered in the cases studies section of your text. What, if anything, do they have to contribute to this debate? Where do you stand.

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