Keith Ward

I’ve been re-reading Keith Ward’s God, Chance and Necessity, which I mentioned in a disrespectful fashion that annoyed at least one commenter the other day. Now that I’ve read some of it again, I’m all abashed. I’m ashamed and sorry. I must apologize. I wasn’t nearly disrespectful enough. The book is so stupid I can’t read it without squirming.

I’m short on time at the moment, so what I’ll do is, I’ll just give you a few extracts to ponder.

Page 80:

One may think of God as having a universe-long intention to bring conscious beings into a community of freely chosen loving relationships. This intention will shape the initial laws of the universe and the emergence of more complex possibilities within it. In general, God will exert the maximum influence for good compatible with the preservation of the relative autonomy of nature and its probabilistic laws, and with the freedom of finite agents. God’s causality will be physically undetectable, since the divine influence is not a quantifiable property, like mass or energy.

Well, sure, one may think of God as all that. One may think of anything as anything. But that doesn’t make it true, or likely, or convincing to anyone who is paying attention! It’s so drearily obvious that the poor man is just arranging the universe so that he can have his benevolent god in spite of all the bad stuff that happens – it’s so drearily obvious that the explanation is arranged to ‘explain’ inconvenient realities in a consoling manner.

I said I was just going to give extracts. I have less than an hour before I have to rush off. Shut up and quote. Page 83.

Many theists will wish to speak, in addition, of ‘miracles’ as points at which physical structures transcend their normal modes of operation, having been united in a special way with their spiritual basis and goal…[M]iracles are occasions when normal physical realities are modified by a more overt influence of the underdlying spiritual basis of all beings. From a theistic viewpoint, such modification will show finite things in their true relation to their infinite ground. It will not be an arbitrary breaking of rational and self-contained laws. Thus miracles have their own internal rationality, which can probably only be perceived by us when the totality of the cosmic process is completed.

There, that will hold you for awhile. I haven’t taken things out of context to give a false impression, either – it’s all like that. It’s the most unrelenting, fatuous, childish drivel I’ve read in a long time. It’s even worse than the stuff I’ve been reading in Pennock’s ID anthology. Oh, maybe it’s not, maybe that’s unfair. Maybe I just think it is because the guy is at Oxford, and because of the pitying way he talks about non-theists, calling them ‘naïve’ for instance. He calls them naïve, when he talks the kind of moonshine in those extracts! But that’s what theists do, isn’t it. They call everyone else deluded, blind, naïve, crude, while themselves talking the most unmitigated bollocks.


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