Monday, August 16, 2010


This blog post will remain as a "sticky" until I write another post. Note for newcomers: to navigate this blog, please use the sidebar ---->
There is a NYTimes blog post by Gary Gutting attacking some ideas propounded by Dawkins that has been getting some attention in the religion vs. atheism blogosphere. Dovid Gottlieb copied and pasted the post to his blog and titled it, "Dawkins' delusions." Guess he likes it. One can find comments that raise serious issues at the original NYTimes post and Dawkins' website's reposting of it (Gottlieb doesn't take comments). I particularly recommend reading Jerry Coyne's response to Gutting for some of the arguments there.
I find it fascinating that Gottlieb would endorse Gutting's article, particularly considering the latter's raiyas for a possible divinity:

There are sensible people who report having had some kind of direct awareness of a divine being, and there are competent philosophers who endorse arguments for God’s existence. Therefore, an agnostic stance seems preferable atheism.

I know a very kind guy who thinks he saw the Rebbe's head after the latter's death. A quick google search will reveal many people who think they've shmoozed with the Divine and they talked about Jesus and Mary. I would assume there are thousands of such cases all over the world, all confirming the mutually exclusive teachings of different faiths. I would think that such experiences cancel each other out. I wouldn't think that Gutting would validate the Rebbe's teachings and I wouldn't think Gottlieb would endorse Jesus or the Holy Ghost.

The competent philosophers bit also can't really be endorsed by a monotheist because of the philosophers who argue for atheism. In fact, why is Gutting making this argument in the first place? He seems to be cancelling his own argument for theism with an argument for agnosticism -- after all, philosophers believe in all sorts of things. In any event, the arguments for a theistic God would have to be shown to be logical to me for me to accept them.

[Update: Daniel Rogoff points out in the comments that Gutting's prequel to this post sheds light on his own views. I think my point stands: It is interesting that the arguments Gutting uses to discredit atheism can (admittedly!) be used against theism per se, but he actually finds the former to be intellectually untenable and the latter to have an ability to somehow overcome the challenge of those arguments.]


  1. Go back and read Gutting's first piece, and you'll understand Gutting's position a bit better.

  2. Also, Gottlieb is cranky enough that he'll post whatever makes it to mainstream respected journalism that bashes his opponents.

  3. Daniel: Thanks. Updated the post.

  4. Prof. Jerome (Yehudah) Gellman makes a competent philosophical argument for God's existence and attempts to account for the conflicting religions and crackpots in his Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief.