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The Ultimate 747
I was rather surprised to see how Dawkins analogizes everything to evolution. No wonder he likes the idea of memetic evolution. Nevermind that meme hybridization and amemogenesis are completely commonplace. It's like Dawkins has spent so much time popularizing evolution that he can't fully shift his focus. Well, maybe I sound the same way with physics, so I'll forgive him. The upside is that Dawkins gives a simple, well-balanced overview of how religion might have evolved.
The downside is his "Ultimate Boeing 747" argument. I've got to admit, though I'm familiar with most atheist arguments out there, this is one that I had never heard (except with reference to The God Delusion). And with good reason. See, here's how it goes, more or less:
According to the proponents of Intelligent Design, complexity is incredibly unlikely to form through random chance. It is as unlikely as a full Boeing 747 being assembled by a hurricane moving through a scrapyard. In fact, they misunderstand evolution, which is not completely random chance (though chance plays a part). Evolution slowly climbs up a complexity ramp. God, by contrast, must be at least as complex as the things he designs. But unless God was created through a complexity ramp, he must be even more unlikely than that Boeing 747.
Dawkins is trying to turn an Intelligent Design argument on its head. But it fails because a bad argument in reverse is still a bad argument. More specifically, Dawkins buys into the Intelligent Design concept of "complexity", which is just as wrong as any other Intelligent Design idea. "Complexity" is ill-defined in evolution; even more so in metaphysics. If you use standard definitions from information theory, complexity is actually very easy to create, and not at all unlikely. And there are just so many other things wrong with this argument. It's a shame that this was Dawkins' primary positive argument against God.
I sort of understand what he's trying to say here. It's a weird variation on Occam's Razor arguments. Because God is complex--the convolution of many unlikely elements--his existence is unlikely. I think Occam's Razor arguments are rather weak, but they would still be an improvement on this.
But I'd like to end on a positive note, so I'll say that Richard Dawkins certainly has succeeded in his main goal, which was to raise consciousness. People are talking. Atheists are sort of a big deal now. They're not to be ignored, hated, or feared anymore. For that, thank you, Richard Dawkins.