Today I’m interviewing J. Steve Miller concerning his recent book: Richard Dawkins and His God Delusion: A preliminary critique of his truth claims. In an objective (not inflammatory) manner, Miller responds to the best-selling assault on Christianity, The God Delusion. Miller is intimately acquainted with the issues he addresses, having studied religion and philosophy at diverse colleges (the University of Georgia and Columbia International University) and two graduate schools (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Southwestern Seminary).
Eddie Snipes: Steve, what’s your interest in this topic?
J. Steve Miller: I’m a skeptic at heart, in the sense that I never accept anything at face value and always question everything. In high school, whenever people attacked the Christian faith, I bought relevant books and took their objections seriously, as much to answer my own questions as theirs. During my academic career, I acquired the tools of religious research, studying Greek, Hebrew, comparative religions, logic, philosophy, critiques of Christianity, etc. As a result, I concluded that Christianity was supported by abundant evidence and that attacks on the faith could be answered satisfactorily. It’s not based upon blind faith as Dawkins caricatures Christianity.
ES: So what motivated you to write it?
JSM: My church asked me to present a seminar responding to The New Atheism, which I’d not read up on, due to my work and family responsibilities. The God Delusion was the most popular and respected book of the movement, so I read it carefully and took voluminous notes. The book just begs for a response for several reasons:
1 – Dawkins’ intent is to convert, not to lay out the facts in an objective manner. He’s an evangelist for atheism. Dawkins fumes and rages against God and religion. He makes fun of Christians. Readers will either love or hate the book, but you can’t remain neutral.
2 – The book exhibits horrid scholarship. People who’ve never studied Christianity in depth probably won’t realize that he’s playing fast and loose with facts. So you go to Amazon and find all these five star reviews. I suppose readers see that he taught at Cambridge and assume that he’s gotten his facts straight. But studied people – both believers and unbelievers – know that he tends to spout nonsense. Professor Michael Ruse stated, “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist….”
Dawkins typically misrepresents what Christians believe, avoids the strongest arguments for the opposition, doesn’t appear to even be even remotely acquainted with the main works of Christian apologetics and routinely makes up “facts.” As such, it’s not just an attack on Christianity – it’s an attack on truth in general. It screams for a response, not just to defend Christianity, but to clear up the nonsense.
ES – I’ve read The God Delusion and agree with you completely. But you’re talking in generalities. Give us some specifics. Where does Dawkins spout nonsense?
JSM: Dawkins starts with examining Albert Einstein. He wants to give the impression that smart, informed, modern scientists don’t believe in God, so it would be rather embarrassing if Einstein – the very poster child for “smart scientists” – believed in God. In brief, he gives some quotes where Einstein describes his belief in God in rather vague terms and concludes that Einstein is a closet atheist who merely renamed the universe “God.” According to Dawkins, Einstein used God language to keep from offending the uninformed.
My first observation on this argument is that, since Dawkins is no recognized authority on Einstein, I expect him to show me some consensus of true Einstein scholars on this point. After all, a few quotes out of their context can prove almost anything. Holding an earned Ph.D. (in animal behavior), you can bet that Dawkins knows how to do serious research. Why didn’t he do it here?
So let’s consult an Einstein expert. Walter Isaacson’s recent, respected biography of Einstein includes a chapter on Einstein’s religion. After a massive study of Einstein’s letters, writings, and writings about Einstein, Isaacson concluded that Einstein indeed believed in the existence of God. Here’s his reasoning:
1 – Einstein consistently claimed to believe in God.
2 – Einstein consistently denied being an atheist.
2 – Einstein was not one to bow to public opinion. He said precisely what he thought, even when it got him into trouble.
4 – Einstein said he hated it when people used him to justify the atheist cause.
ES – Give us one more example.
JSM – Let’s go to Dawkins’ main chapter where he argues for atheism. He leads with an analogy given by Sir Fred Hoyle, the venerable British astronomer and mathematician. Hoyle painstakingly worked through the mathematical probability of the first living cell coming together by chance. He illustrated his result by saying that the odds of a cell coming together by random processes was about the chance of a Boeing 747 coming together because of a hurricane randomly stirring up the parts in a junkyard.
Dawkins replies that even if the odds of the first cells coming together were one in a billion, that since there are a billion billion planets out there, the odds are actually pretty good that a cell would form on one of them.
The problem with Dawkins’ argument is that he either failed to read Hoyle’s calculations, or simply refused to reveal Hoyle’s odds. Hoyle concluded (I read two of Hoyle’s books on this topic) that the odds of the first cell coming together (actually, just the odds of one small part of the cell coming together) were 1 chance in 10 to the 40,000th power, which is an unimaginably worse chance than Dawkins used (one chance in 10 to the 9th power) in his calculations. Dawkins apparently picked a number out of the air that would work for his argument. Using Hoyle’s calculations would have totally destroyed his argument.
ES: Did you target scholars?
JSM: No. I wrote it for the general public, but documented my sources and recommended other books to take you deeper. I’ll force you to think, but I tried to avoid insider philosophical or scientific language, so that most anyone could understand it. I also made it cheap – 99 cents on Kindle – so that lack of funds wouldn’t hinder a financially strapped college student from getting the other side of Dawkins.
ES: Why should people read your book?
JSM: These issues are important. If a God truly exists who loves us, we’d do well to seek Him. If he doesn’t exist, why waste your time going to church? If you’re a believer, you should be equipped to humbly defend your faith (I Peter 3:15) when honest seekers need answers. My book can provide a brief (about 60 pages) introduction to Christian evidences.
About J. Steve Miller
In addition to writing Richard Dawkins and His God Delusion: A preliminary critique of his truth claims, Miller has written several other books and writes youth ministry resources and character and life skills resources. He lives in the metro Atlanta.
I’ve read and highly recommend Steve’s book. In fact, I think everyone should read it! Seem my review on Amazon by clicking here.