Saturday 16 October 2010

Reductionism – a parable…
It's my son's birthday. I love my son and I want him to have a really nice present that he will enjoy. So off I go down to Halford's and buy him a nice shiny blue new bicycle.
Come his birthday my son is delighted with it! "It's my present to you son. I love you and that's why I've given you this bike".
A few days later though, my son seems unhappy. He stops using the bike, and he doesn't seem to want to meet my eye either. Finally I get him to talk about it.
"You said you gave me that bike because you loved me. But I've found the receipt – it didn't come from you at all, it came from Halford's – and before that it was made in Taiwan!"
Do we really think that discovering the bike came from Halford's means it can't really be a proper present from me? Then why do we suppose that understanding more about how the universe works means it can't possibly come from God? There isn't any logical connection at all between these statements as far as I can see – have I missed something? And in that case, isn't the whole Dawkins argument really about what drives people to accept one kind of explanation and reject others?

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