The hypothesis that Dawkins puts forward is:-
“There exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence, who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us.”
It appears that this hypothesis aims to attack the “Judaeo-Christian God” and since Christians claim “their god” is the only “real god”, then I would say he is looking to prove that it is impossible for an intelligence, super-human and whatever could create the universe.
Dawkin’s alternative hypothesis is.
“Any creative intelligence of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.”
In this alternative hypothesis he is basically doing the same thing but in a different way. He aims to use Darwinian Evolutionary Theory, which lead him to atheism as he states. And of course he is confident in the theory but this is a proof regarding an intelligent being that is a part of creation. Intelligence is a quality of God but God is not simply an intelligent being and certainly not one contained within creation. This is really where the real stumbling block is because scientists only want see a material universe and nothing else. Even the nothing or nothingness that we talk about in science is essentially part of the material universe.
It is an impossible problem trying to define God. What or who is God? This is unanswerable. A large part of the problem is that we are elements within the system, while God contains the system, the creation. God is outside of the system. An element within the system cannot give a definition of what is outside of the system. Definition is difficult even in many areas where reason applies but it doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. For instance we cannot define zero, it is, like infinity, undefined. But we can prove that zero exists and we make use of it. We can prove God exists and certainly show the application of God within creation.
He first discusses polytheism and then monotheism. I do not see any polytheism. If we call Hinduism polytheistic then Christianity is also polytheistic. The only difference is that Hinduism has thousands in one and Christianity has three in one. Smaller number but so what! I see that every religion is essentially monotheistic. The differences are only conceptual. How human beings try to conceive of God from Hinduism with its thousands of gods, which are really only manifestations of Brahman, to Islam, which leaves God undefined and unknowable, but which rather describes the 99 names of God, is all just a matter of conceptualization. It is also a matter of how humans have been given knowledge. A prophet or avatar of God will always give knowledge in a form that people of a particular development can understand. It is not a matter of culture as some claim but a matter of the level of understanding that people have at particular times in world history. Furthermore it is human to try to think and reason about God, whether that is possible or not because in trying to relate to God people are driven to use mental imagery. Humans respond to certain qualities of God such as compassion. So for instance there is no essential differences between compassion represented by an incarnation of God as for example Kuan-Yin, the goddess of mercy and compassion in China and Japan, to a name of God as “The Most Compassionate” in Islam, to the Greek concept of Agape, which is Love in its highest form and which includes compassion. This was a part of Early Greek Christianity and subsequently other forms of Christianity. I would say that the person who says “our god” or “your god” or “the god of whoever” or “their gods” etc., etc., are voicing a polytheistic view, which is erroneous and nationalistic and often political.
Dawkins also points out differences in pantheism, deism and theism. I would agree that deism is watered down theism but I strongly disagree that pantheism is sexed up atheism. And furthermore people like Einstein, who have used the word God, are not pantheistic. Einstein used the word ‘god’, tongue in cheek, to mean ‘nature’ and nothing more. I read his comment as “nature doesn’t play dice” because there are the laws of nature, the laws of physics. I would say that Einstein was clearly atheist and not even an agnostic. Witchcraft and shamanism are both pantheistic and while neither clearly state a single spiritual entity or God their practices reveal that they do adhere to a position of Oneness as the source of all. So for instance when the circle of sacred space is cast in Witchcraft, within which a ceremony and rituals take place, the witch does call on goddesses of the four directions and welcomes that which is above and below, but she calls all to the central place “where all things meet as one”. This is the spiritual realm.
There is also the case of Buddhism, which many Western Buddhists claim is atheistic. All of the theologians, writers and Buddhist students and teachers that espouse this idea are openly atheistic. Most consider that Buddhism is not a religion but a philosophy and a way of life. Some are people rebelling against the Judaeo-Christian concept of an anthropomorphic God. However they are taking Buddha’s teachings in isolation and outside of its frame of reference, uprooted and removed from its place of birth, Hindu India. Nirvana is not about annihilation but the “utter extinction of aging and dying” (Sutta-nipata vv.1093-94). Nirvana is “the unchanging state of deathless peace”. As for it being a philosophy and a way of life, I would strongly point to the purpose of Buddhism. It is most certainly not about the study of knowledge, reality and existence, nor about lifestyle, but freedom from suffering. This purpose is fundamentally religious.
As for extra-terrestrials, no matter how superhuman and god-like they may be, they are still within the universe, i.e., they are “elements within the system”. They may be very intelligent but they are not God so I am dismissing them.
In the case of ethics though, I strongly disagree with Dawkins about science’s entitlement to advise on moral values. They are well placed in an advisory role and this can be well explained, ironically enough when we consider the Great Prayer Experiment.