Monday, June 2, 2014

The Strange Predestination of Clinton Richard Dawkins




It was a peculiar quote, in a peculiar interview.

The quote came from atheist author and biologist Richard Dawkins, who'd talked a little bit about how much he appreciates Christian ritual.  The interview went on, and in it, he was talking about life, and his sense that all of us have a destiny that we fulfill.  His quote went thusly:
I think there are always paths not taken but if a different path is taken, I think there is a magnetic pull.  There is a sort of something that pulls you back to the pathway having taken a fork in the road.
It struck me as peculiar because, well, I don't believe it describes the nature of existence, certainly not in any meaningful way.  That I disagree with Dawkins on how the universe works might seem like a no-brainer.  I'm a theist, a Christian, and a person of faith.  He's an atheist, radically secular, and argues that faith is inherently monstrous.

But when it comes to this one, well, I'd sort of thought he and I might be in agreement.  Dawkins has argued--and did in his book The God Delusion--that the universe is a multiverse.  It's an infinite, endlessly blossoming churn of being, in which every possibility is actualized.

If you're Dawkins, that means every possibility except God, of course.  Of course.  Don't even think that.

That's how I see God's vast and impossibly dizzying work in creation.  Within the framework of multiversality, we are utterly free.  We can choose, and our choosing is both informed by probability and shapes it.  That's both liberating and terrifying.

I know, from my faith, that my life could be very very different now.  There have been decision points that would have radically altered my path.  In some of those points, grace poured in, and I was guided to make decisions that have shaped my life for the better.  Relationships have been healed.  Breaches have been restored.

In other of those places, I chose poorly, and things were broken that did not need to be broken.  Hurts were inflicted.  In other of those places, my inaction meant that injustices festered and grew.  Those things stayed broken.

I know that my intentionality--coupled with my integrity as a person, and the moral and ethical core that I've embraced--had and will have influence over the little flicker of being I inhabit.  There is no road I *must* take.  I have no single destiny.  There are things that are more probable, yes.  But one path that will draw me on unwilling?  No.

God does not force us to follow.  God does not need to.

Which is weird, because all of a sudden, it seems that Richard Dawkins may be more of a classical Calvinist than I am.

2 comments:

  1. I am not at all surprised by Dawkins' position. He subscribes to philosophical naturalism, and so we should expect him to believe that the decisions we make are consequences of natural law, not free choice.
    But, Dawkins is a novice philosopher. As Aaron Brake points out, his philosophical pronouncements are not even internally consistent. See Richard Dawkins: The Untutored Philosopher.

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  2. I'm not sure Dawkins sees the point of philosophy at all, honestly.

    I think consistency falls away in the heat of his polemic. If he encounters an idea that seems to have the potential to refute theism, he'll use it.

    It's a pity, because I sense that in the absence of polemic, he'd be highly entertaining to chat with.

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