Isn’t it better to be satisfied with the beauty of the garden without imagining a fairy at its bottom?
Richard Dawkins quotes this example in his “The God Delusion”. Is there any good response to this?
Transcription by: Rekha Vangala
Question: Isn’t it better to be satisfied with the beauty of the garden without needing to imagine that there is a fairy at the bottom of it? In the dedication of his book “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins quotes this point and he says that God is like an imaginary garden fairy; so how do we respond to this?
Answer: This is the deliberate misdirection, a logical fallacy called as ‘giving false alternatives’. So, yes, when we see a beautiful garden, we need not imagine a fairy but gardens do have gardeners and gardens also have owners. So by saying that we have to choose, be satisfied with the garden and not imagine a fairy, that’s true we do not have to imagine a fairy but what about a gardener and an owner? So it’s not that there is only a choice between a garden or a garden and a fairy. There could be a choice between a garden and a garden with a gardener and owner; gardener or owner or both. So now a garden doesn’t exist by itself. A garden requires somebody to care for it and gardens usually owned by someone.
So giving false alternatives is a well-known way of emotionally manipulating people. For example, when jihadis want to hire impressionably young people and make them into machines of death then they tell them – What will you do? Will you just watch passively like weak women while the infidels are destroying our dharma, are destroying our religion? Or will you take up weapons and destroy the infidels? Now, when phrased this way it appears that no one would want to choose to just be weak, effeminate but then there are alternatives. There are ways in which one can live, one can have proper healthy dialogs and learn to live in harmony. But whenever propagandists want to emotionally manipulate people they provide false alternatives. So this is what Richard Dawkins is doing through this quote providing false alternatives.
So the question is – there are several questions over here. First is that what is the proof that God is just like a fairy and not like an owner or gardener. Without making that case systematically, the presentation of these alternatives is simply emotional manipulation. Now, as far as science is concerned, there have been eminent scientists; not just this is the beginning of science – 15th, 16th century – Science is as it is as the word is used now. Even to this day a significant number of scientists do believe in God and they do not see any incompatibility between their scientific spirit of research and their belief in God. So what is at conflict here is not science versus religion; it is naturalism versus theism. So it is by misappropriating science for propagating a naturalistic agenda, Richard Dawkins is rejecting everything super-natural which he equates with fairies. But if we look at nature itself- its complicacy, complexity, its intricacy – it does provide strong pointers, even evidences for an underlying design and ultimately naturalism cannot answer the question where everything came from? So just looking at the garden, appreciating the beauty of the garden does not answer the question, “Where is the garden come from? Who takes care of the garden and how is the garden maintained so well? We may appreciate the beauty of the garden. So there is no evidence that the universe has existed the way it is forever; that it has come by itself that is something most mainstream science reject as a idea. So it has to have come from some source and there is majestic amount of coordination and design that is seen in this universe. So there is significant evidence which is decisive for people who are open-minded but even if people are not open-minded there is significant evidence which does point us towards the idea of some supervisor of the universe; some person who is designing or over-seeing it and that’s why rather than posing the alternative of be satisfied with the garden ad don’t imagine a fairy, the more genuine and more intellectually honest alternative would be will you be just satisfied with the garden; with the beauty of the garden enjoying the beauty of the garden or will you be broad-minded enough to also think about who the gardener owner is and give credit to the gardener-owner for the beauty of the garden?
Thank you. Hare Krishna.