Dawkins


At about 33:45 into his dialogue with Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins made a remarkable statement regarding consciousness:

The thing that really baffles me about consciousness is that I can kind of see that one could program a computer to behave exactly as though it were conscious, to pass the Turing Test, and actually fool people into thinking that it was conscious, but I still have trouble believing it actually would be.  And yet I think I have to be committed to the view that it would be.

He recognizes that his worldview requires him to believe that such a computer would be conscious, and yet deep down he knows that can’t be right.  He recognizes that the computer’s experience would not be the same as our experience.  And what would that difference be?  We have a first-person awareness of ourselves while a computer would not, even if both could perform identical functions.  Dawkins realizes that consciousness cannot be reduced to function and physics, and yet his worldview requires him to maintain the otherwise ridiculous claim that a super computer should be thought to have consciousness just like us.

I like the way the agnostic moderator, Anthony Kenny, responded to Dawkins’ admission: “I think it’s rather sad that you are committed to that view.  Computers are human tools.  They can’t even add two and two together.”  Exactly.  It is rather sad that someone would confess such intellectual absurdities because they are so committed to naturalism.

During his recent dialogue with Archbishop Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins invoked the anthropic principle to say that even if the origin of life is improbable, it “had to” happen at least once on this planet since we are here.[1]  At that point the moderator, Anthony Kenny, an agnostic philosopher, asked Dawkins what kind of necessity he had in mind when he said life “had to” originate here.  Kenny noted that there are two kinds of necessity: metaphysical necessity and epistemic necessity.  Metaphysical necessity means it is impossible that some X not exist, whereas epistemic necessity means it is impossible not to know that some X is true.  He went on to explain that epistemic necessity does not entail metaphysical necessity, so while it may be epistemically necessary that we exist (we cannot not know that we exist), it does not mean we had to exist.  Our existence may be contingent, even if knowledge of our existence is not.  As expected, Dawkins clarified that he was not saying our existence was necessary, but only that it there can be no doubt that life did arise at least on this planet since we are alive.  

What struck me about Dawkins’ response was not his answer to the question, but what he said immediately before his answer: “I don’t know the words ‘epistemic’ and so on, so I’m not going to use that.”  Really?  That is a term so basic to the study of philosophy that no student could pass an intro-to-philosophy course without knowing it.  It leads me to believe that Dawkins does not know the first thing about philosophy (which should not be surprising to anyone who is familiar with Dawkins’ arguments).  

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During his dialogue-debate with Rowen Williams (the archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church under the Queen of England), Richard Dawkins was asked by the moderator why, if he admits that He cannot disprove God’s existence, he doesn’t just call himself an agnostic.  Dawkins response was, “I do.”

This is interesting, particularly in light of his past identification as an atheist, as well as his remarks that on a scale of 1 to 7, with one being “I know God exists” and seven being “I know God doesn’t exist,”  he ranks himself a 6.9.  He is only 0.1 away from being absolutely certain God does not exist, and yet he thinks that is good reason to adopt the agnostic label.  I disagree.

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In October 2008 Richard Dawkins funded an atheism advertising campaign.  On buses all over England there were signs reading: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.”  Fast forward to 2011.  William Lane Craig is about to go on a UK speaking tour, sponsored by Premier Christian Radio.  They are advertising for one of the venues via a bus advertisement that—you guessed it—plays on Dawkins’ ad (see below).  It reads: “There’s probably no Dawkins.  Now stop worrying and enjoy Oct 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre.”  (more…)

Richard DawkinsIn his book, A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love, the ardent evolutionary atheist, Richard Dawkins, writes:

Why has our society so meekly acquiesced in the convenient fiction that religious views have some sort of right to be respected automatically and without question?  If I want you to respect my views on politics, science, or art, I have to earn that respect by argument, reason, eloquence or relevant knowledge. I have to withstand counter-arguments. But if I have a view that is part of my religion, critics must respectively tiptoe away or brave the indignation of society at large. Why are religious opinions off limits in this way? Why do we have to respect them simply because they are religious?

While he wrongly concludes that there is no evidence for religion and, therefore, it should not be respected, he has a good point nonetheless.  In the pluralistic age in which we live everybody believes we ought to respect what other people believe, even if we think their views are mistaken.  While we should tolerate the individual who holds to flawed religious beliefs, why should we have to respect their views if they do not reflect reality?  Why shouldn’t we press people to justify their beliefs with sound reason and good evidence; and if they can’t, tell them their views are mistaken, if not ridiculous?  Would we do any less to the person who believes he is a bird who can fly, or who claims water freezes in the oven?  Then why won’t we expose errors and absurdities when it comes to religion?  Have we bought into the idea that it is wrong to tell someone they are mistaken?  Have we bought into the idea that religious claims are beyond testing?  Or could it be that we don’t have the goods to defend our own faith, and fear that the tables might be turned on us if we pressed others to the task?  As Yoda would say, “Faith with no evidence you have, hmm?”

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Modern science is guided by the philosophy or methodology of naturalism. This means they either believe that, or go about their discipline acting as if God does not exist, or at least is not involved with the cosmos. As a result, most scientists deny that a designing intelligence is the cause of life on Earth. And yet the more scientists seek to find a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life on Earth, the more impossible it seems. Some have gone so far as to suggest that life must have been seeded on Earth by an alien civilization. This, of course, allows for the presence of a designing intelligence. To my amazement, Richard Dawkins holds this out as a scientific possibility. In the documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein asked Richard Dawkins how life began. After admitting that scientists do not know, Dawkins held out the possibility that life on Earth was seeded by aliens, and considered this a scientific hypothesis. The exchange was as follows:

BEN STEIN: What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution.
DAWKINS: Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.

Four things are of interest, here. First, when scientists have to resort to aliens to explain how life on Earth could have originated, you know they have no clue at all about the origin of life!

Secondly, Dawkins admits that design is empirically detectable. If that is true, then contrary to the anti-ID talking points, Intelligent Design is a genuine scientific theory.

Thirdly, this hypothesis—even if true—would not explain the origin of life in general, but only the origin of life on Earth. Alien life would go unexplained.

Fourthly, he is willing to countenance the possibility that a designing intelligence is responsible for life on Earth, so long as that designer is not a divine being. This reveals the fact that he not truly opposed to the existence of genuine design in biology, but simply prejudiced against the existence of a divine designer.

This says a lot.

A younger Dawkins is stumped, then ducks the question of where we find new genetic information being produced in the biological world. The video is rather funny. Dawkins replies to the video here. You be the judge of whether his explanation is just a further dodge or not. If you’ll notice…he still doesn’t answer the question!

Wesley J. Smith drew my attention to a short editorial Richard Dawkins wrote in the 11-19-06 edition of Scotland’s Sunday Herald, titled “Eugenics May Not be Bad”:

 

In the 1920s and 1930s, scientists from both the political left and right would not have found the idea of designer babies particularly dangerous – though of course they would not have used that phrase. Today, I suspect that the idea is too dangerous for comfortable discussion, and my conjecture is that Adolf Hitler is responsible for the change.

Nobody wants to be caught agreeing with that monster, even in a single particular. The spectre of Hitler has led some scientists to stray from “ought” to “is” and deny that breeding for human qualities is even possible. But if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability? Objections such as “these are not one-dimensional abilities” apply equally to cows, horses and dogs and never stopped anybody in practice.

I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler’s death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why it is acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them. I can think of some answers, and they are good ones, which would probably end up persuading me. But hasn’t the time come when we should stop being frightened even to put the question?

 

These are the sorts of moral options within an atheistic worldview. You can’t tell me atheists have the same moral ethics as other religious believers. There may be some overlap, but there are considerable differences. Theism, particularly Judeo-Christian theism, makes a big difference!

William Dembski reported on his friend’s exchange with Richard Dawkins at a D.C. bookstore, where Dawkins was promoting his new book The God Delusion. Dembski’s friend “asked Dawkins if he thought he was being inconsistent by being a determinist while taking credit for writing his book.” The exchange was recorded. The transcript reveals the bankruptcy of atheism as a worldview:


 

Questioner: Dr. Dawkins thank you for your comments. The thing I have appreciated most about your comments is your consistency in the things I’ve seen you written. One of the areas that I wanted to ask you about and the places where I think there is an inconsistency and I hoped you would clarify it is that in what I’ve read you seem to take a position of a strong determinist who says that what we see around us is the product of physical laws playing themselves out but on the other hand it would seem that you would do things like taking credit for writing this book and things like that. But it would seem, and this isn’t to be funny, that the consistent position would be that necessarily the authoring of this book from the initial condition of the big bang it was set that this would be the product of what we see today. I would take it that that would be the consistent position but I wanted to know what you thought about that.

Dawkins: The philosophical question of determinism is a very difficult question. It’s not one I discuss in this book, indeed in any other book that I’ve ever talked about. Now an extreme determinist, as the questioner says, might say that everything we do, everything we think, everything that we write, has been determined from the beginning of time in which case the very idea of taking credit for anything doesn’t seem to make any sense. Now I don’t actually know what I actually think about that, I haven’t taken up a position about that, it’s not part of my remit to talk about the philosophical issue of determinism. What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do. None of us ever actually as a matter of fact says, “Oh well he couldn’t help doing it, he was determined by his molecules.” Maybe we should… I sometimes… Um… You probably remember many of you would have seen Fawlty Towers. The episode where Basil where his car won’t start and he gives it fair warning, counts up to three, and then gets out of the car and picks up a tree branch and thrashes it within an edge of his life. Maybe that’s what we all ought to… Maybe the way we laugh at Basil Fawlty, we ought to laugh in the same way at people who blame humans. I mean when we punish people for doing the most horrible murders, maybe the attitude we should take is “Oh they were just determined by their molecules.” It’s stupid to punish them. What we should do is say “This unit has a faulty motherboard which needs to be replaced.” I can’t bring myself to do that. I actually do respond in an emotional way and I blame people, I give people credit, or I might be more charitable and say this individual who has committed murders or child abuse of whatever it is was really abused in his own childhood. And so again I might take a …

Questioner: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?

Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable. But it has nothing to do with my views on religion it is an entirely separate issue.

 

Dawkins actually recognizes that his behavior and emotions are inconsistent with his worldview, and yet he cannot help but to behave and feel the way he does. In his words he can’t bring himself to blame molecules for bad behavior. But who else is there to blame if all we are is a combination of molecules? Dawkins wants to blame a free-will agent, while denying the existence of that which is necessary for free-will agency: an immaterial soul. Atheists are incapable of living out their worldview because their worldview is not true to reality.


 

Tom Magnuson remarked,


 

Richard Dawkins is a staunch materialist who simply cannot follow his worldview to its logical conclusions. He follows his innate moral intuition, which cannot be explained by material processes, and concedes that he cannot truly live out his worldview.

Dawkins’ naturalistic determinism requires that anything like consciousness, self-awareness, and freedom must be emergent properties of matter. Humans must deal with this “reality” as best they can. The concession is huge because it means Dawkins’ scientism has no place for “humanness”.

 

Well said.

 

This is a must-see short interview. For those of you familiar with Steven Colbert, you know how funny he is. Now just imagine him interviewing Richard Dawkins on his new book, The God Delusion. You will be rolling with laughter!

Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The God Delusion, is a vitriolic polemic against religion. According to Dawkins religion is the root of all evil, and a pernicious delusion. One would think a book like this, written by the world’s foremost evolutionary biologist and ardent atheist, would be praised by the secularist community. You would be wrong.

 

Apparently the book is so poorly reasoned that even the New York Times won’t praise it. In Sunday’s book review section Jim Holt (no friend of conservative religion) didn’t have much good to say about it. He said such things as:

 

  • “The book fairly crackles with brio. Yet reading it can feel a little like watching a Michael Moore movie. There is lots of good, hard-hitting stuff about the imbecilities of religious fanatics and frauds of all stripes, but the tone is smug and the logic occasionally sloppy.”
  • “But Dawkins’s avowed hostility can make for scattershot reasoning as well as for rhetorical excess.”
  • “The least satisfying part of this book is Dawkins’s treatment of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. The ‘ontological argument’ says that God must exist by his very nature, since he possesses all perfections, and it is more perfect to exist than not to exist. The ‘cosmological argument’ says that the world must have an ultimate cause, and this cause could only be an eternal, God-like entity. The ‘design argument’ appeals to special features of the universe (such as its suitability for the emergence of intelligent life), submitting that such features make it more probable than not that the universe had a purposive cosmic designer.”These, in a nutshell, are the Big Three arguments. To Dawkins, they are simply ridiculous. He dismisses the ontological argument as ‘infantile’ and ‘dialectical prestidigitation’ without quite identifying the defect in its logic, and he is baffled that a philosopher like Russell —‘no fool’— could take it seriously. He seems unaware that this argument, though medieval in origin, comes in sophisticated modern versions that are not at all easy to refute. Shirking the intellectual hard work, Dawkins prefers to move on to parodic ‘proofs’ that he has found on the Internet….”

  • “Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins’s failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience.”

 

There’s more juicy tidbits in the review, but these alone are enough to make one feel for Mr. Dawkins. The man who believes rationality is opposed to religious belief is accused of not being very rational when writing a book about the irrationality of religious faith. Ouch!

-For context see “Inexcusable Ignorance Part I“-

The same could be said of Richard Dawkins. On numerous occasions he has appealed to the supposed problem of the origin of God as an objection to theism and ID. It is central to his argument. I will quote a couple different versions so you can feel the force of his argument. During an interview on NPR Dawkins said:

It was the genius of Darwin to show that organized complexity can come about from primeval simplicity. It precisely does not require an original intelligence in order, or an original complexity in order to get it going. And it’s just as well that it doesn’t, because if it did we would be left with an infinite regress, saying, where does the original intelligence come from? … If life is too complex to have been produced by natural selection, then it’s sure as hell too complex to be produced by another complex agent; namely a divine intelligence. That is an absolutely inescapable piece of logic. If you are going to say that life is too complex to be explained by natural selection, then you cannot invoke an even more complicated agent. … The task of biology is to explain where all that complexity comes from. Now to invoke a complexity-an intelligence, a complex agent-as the designing being is to explain precisely nothing, because you are left asking where did the designer come from?

Some people are tempted to invoke…a creator to fine-tune the constants of the universe. Once again that cannot be right because you are left with the problem of explaining where the fine-tuner comes from. So wherever else the tuning comes from, it cannot come from an intelligent creator.[1]

And again:

Most of the traditional arguments for God’s existence, from Aquinas on, are easily demolished. Several of them, such as the First Cause argument, work by setting up an infinite regress which God is wheeled out to terminate. But we are never told why God is magically able to terminate regresses while needing no explanation himself.

Even before Darwin’s time, the illogicality was glaring: how could it ever have been a good idea to postulate, in explanation for the existence of improbable things, a designer who would have to be even more improbable? The entire argument is a logical non-starter, as David Hume realized before Darwin was born.[2]

Again, it is obvious that Dawkins does not do much reading of theistic apologists because the answer to this question is readily available. Such ignorance is unacceptable for an Oxford scholar.

As I wrote one year ago, science highly suggests and philosophy demands that the universe came into being a finite time ago. Everything that comes into being has a cause, so the beginning of the spatio-temporal-material universe must have had a cause as well. Whatever caused space, time, and matter to come into existence cannot itself be spatial, temporal, and material because you cannot bring something into existence that already exists. That means the first cause of the universe must be eternal, non-spatial, and immaterial.

So who caused God? Nothing. He doesn’t need a cause. As just noted, the First Cause of the universe must be eternal. By definition eternal things never come into being, and thus do not need a cause. The Law of Causality only applies to things that begin to exist. As an eternal being God never began to exist, and thus needs no cause. We conclude, then, that God is a necessary being, acting as the first cause of our contingent universe when He willed it into existence a finite time ago. So much for Dawkins secret weapon!

But let’s say the answer to Dawkins’ objection was not accounted for. Would it matter? Would it lessen the force of the argument that the universe needs a cause, and that the cause must be a personal, powerful, intelligent being? Dawkins thinks so. In The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins wrote, “To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like ‘God was always there’, and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say ‘DNA was always there’, or ‘Life was always there’, and be done with it.”[3]

Clearly this thinking is wrong-headed. We can still identify God as the cause of the universe even if we don’t know what caused Him. Our ignorance of His origin no more argues against His existence and causal necessity than the fact that I don’t know who my great-great-great grandparents were argues against the fact that my great-great grandparents are the cause of my existence.

Biologist, Stephen Jones, responded to Dawkins’s reasoning by pointing out that “if science was required to explain everything along an infinite regress, before it could explain something, then there could be no scientific explanation of anything new.”[4] Delvin Lee Ratzsch had similar sentiments:

Dawkins seems to be presupposing that if explanations are not ultimate they are vacuous. …. He seems to be assuming that no origin has been explained unless the ultimate origin of anything appealed to in the explanation has also been explained. In addition to being mistaken, that principle is surely as dangerous for the naturalist as for the theist. To take the parallel case, one could claim that to explain the origin of species by invoking natural processes is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of natural processes. And, of course, attempts to explain natural processes by invoking the big bang or anything else- will generate an exactly similar problem with anything appealed to in that explanation. Any explanation has to begin somewhere, and the principle that no explanation is legitimate unless anything referred to in the explanation is itself explained immediately generates a regress that would effectively destroy any possibility of any explanation for anything.[5]

Where did God come from? I’m glad we have an answer, but the answer is irrelevant to our recognition that the universe was designed by an Intelligent Designer. ID does not attempt to find the ultimate designer, but only the proximate designer. They could be one and the same, or they could be distinct. That is for philosophy to determine, not science.


[1]Richard Dawkins, interview with Tom Ashbrook on Boston’s NPR radio show, 10 August 2005. Available from http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2005/08/20050810_a_main.asp and http://realserver.bu.edu:8080/ramgen/w/b/wbur/onpoint/2005/08/op_0810a.rm.
[2]Richard Dawkins, “Richard Dawkins Explains His Latest Book” available from http://richarddawkins.net/mainPage.php?bodyPage=article_body.php&id=170 as of 9/20/06, but subsequently removed on 9/23/06. It was reproduced at http://id-idea.blogspot.com/2006/09/richard-dawkins-explains-his-latest.html; Internet; accessed 03 October 2006.
[3]Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986), 141.
[4]Stephen Jones, “Frequently Asked Questions”; available from http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/idfaqs30.html; Internet; accessed 17 March 2006.
[5]Delvin Lee Ratzsch, The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1996), 191-192.

Oxford’s Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionist and atheist, continues to vilify religion in his new book, The God Delusion. In an essay explaining and promoting the book on his website Dawkins offered a lot of food for a lack of thought. Concerning the kalaam cosmological argument Dawkins writes:

 

Accepting, then, that the God Hypothesis is a proper scientific hypothesis whose truth or falsehood is hidden from us only by lack of evidence, what should be our best estimate of the probability that God exists, given the evidence now available? Pretty low I think, and I spend a couple of chapters of The God Delusion explaining why.

Most of the traditional arguments for God’s existence, from Aquinas on, are easily demolished. Several of them, such as the First Cause argument, work by setting up an infinite regress which God is wheeled out to terminate. But we are never told why God is magically able to terminate regresses while needing no explanation himself. To be sure, we do need some kind of explanation for the origin of all things. Physicists and cosmologists are hard at work on the problem. But whatever the answer – a random quantum fluctuation or a Hawking/Penrose singularity or whatever we end up calling it – it will be simple. Complex, statistically improbable things, by definition, don’t just happen; they demand an explanation in their own right. They are impotent to terminate regresses, in a way that simple things are not. The first cause cannot have been an intelligence – let alone an intelligence that answers prayers and enjoys being worshipped. Intelligent, creative, complex, statistically improbable things come late into the universe, as the product of evolution or some other process of gradual escalation from simple beginnings. They come late into the universe and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.

Even before Darwin’s time, the illogicality was glaring: how could it ever have been a good idea to postulate, in explanation for the existence of improbable things, a designer who would have to be even more improbable? The entire argument is a logical non-starter, as David Hume realized before Darwin was born.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>

Obviously Dawkins does not do much reading of theistic apologists, because his “clever” objection has been answered time and time again. Such ignorance is unacceptable for an Oxford scholar.

 

But let’s say the answer was not accounted for. Does that matter? Would it lessen the force of the argument that the universe needs a cause, and that the cause must be supernatural (immaterial, non-spatial, and non-temporal)? No! Assuming God had a cause, the fact that we would not know what caused Him no more argues against His existence and causal necessity than the fact that I don’t know who my great-great-great-great grandparents were argues against the fact that my great-great-great grandparents are the cause of my existence.

 

What does Dawkins think the failure of OOL (origin of life) research does to the strength and coherence of Darwinism?

 

The origin of life on this planet – which means the origin of the first self-replicating molecule – is hard to study, because it (probably) only happened once, 4 billion years ago and under very different conditions. We may never know how it happened. Unlike the ordinary evolutionary events that followed, it must have been a genuinely very improbable – in the sense of unpredictable – event: too improbable, perhaps, for chemists to reproduce it in the laboratory or even devise a plausible theory for what happened. This weirdly paradoxical conclusion – that a chemical account of the origin of life, in order to be plausible, has to be implausible – would follow from the premise that life is extremely rare in the universe. And to be sure, we have never encountered any hint of extraterrestrial life, not even by radio – the circumstance that prompted Enrico Fermi’s cry: “Where is everybody?”

How convenient. No evidence is evidence; failure is success. It can never be demonstrated, therefore it is true; to be plausible it must be implausible. Yes, Richard, that is quite weird. In fact, it’s more than weird. It’s irrational and foolish. How is the failure of scientists to give a purely naturalistic account for the OOL evidence that the OOL came about through purely naturalistic means? Without any empirical evidence that life can come from non-life (yet alone that it did in the past), how can it be considered a fact? How can he, a lover of science, be so certain that life originated naturally if there is no scientific evidence that it did? Ahh…it’s because his conclusion is not rooted in science, but in the philosophy of materialism. As is often the case with atheistic scientists, philosophy trumps science when the two are in conflict.

 

Dawkins shows how he is part of the new brand of atheists who affirm the more modest claim that there is no good reason to believe God exists, rather than the strong claim that there is no God: “We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor, fairies and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable.”

 

Why is Dawkins so hostile to religion?

 

Scientists have a particular reason to be hostile to any systematically organized effort to teach children to reject evidence in favour of faith, revelation, authority and tradition. Religion teaches people to be satisfied with petty, small-minded non-explanations or mysteries, and this is a tragedy, given that the true explanations are so enthralling. Moreover, such hostility as I have is limited to words. I am not going to bomb anybody, behead them, stone them, burn them at the stake, crucify them, or fly planes into their skyscrapers, just because of a theological disagreement.

Here is the typical faith vs. science dichotomy in which faith is blind but science is pure objective rationality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Faith is not blind, but a reasoned judgment in reality. Faith is informed by the evidence, not in spite of it.

 

One of the more surprising quotes is this one:

 

Just as Darwinian biology raised our consciousness to the power of science to explain things outside biology, and just as feminists taught us to flinch when we hear “One man one vote”, I want us to flinch when we hear of a ‘Christian child’ or a ‘Muslim child”. Small children are too young to know their views on life, ethics and the cosmos. We should no more speak of a Christian child than of a Keynesian child, a monetarist child or a Marxist child. Automatic labelling of children with the religion of their parents is not just presumptuous. It is a form of mental child abuse.

No comment is necessary. This speaks for itself.

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<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>Richard Dawkins, “Richard Dawkins Explains His Latest Book” available from http://richarddawkins.net/mainPage.php?bodyPage=article_body.php&id=170 as of 9/20/06, but subsequently removed on 9/23/06. It was reproduced at http://id-idea.blogspot.com/2006/09/richard-dawkins-explains-his-latest.html; Internet; accessed 03 October 2006.

Richard Dawkins of Oxford University wrote that “biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”[1] The appearance of design in the cosmos is so strong that Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) felt compelled to warn that “biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”

 

The absurdity of such statements can be seen when we apply the logic to other areas of life. Can you imagine Crick’s advice being given to a car mechanic: “Mechanics must constantly keep in mind that what they see under the hood was not designed, but rather evolved.” Cars have the appearance of design because they are designed. Why should we believe anything different when it comes to the physical and biological worlds if they display the same tell-tale signs of design? Both contain specified and irreducibly complex systems, and the only known generator of such is intelligent designers.

 

The only reason to believe something different about the cosmos is an a priori commitment to philosophical and/or methodological naturalism. If you start off with the presupposition that there is no God (or if there is He is not involved with the universe) then it must be true that the appearance of design in our universe is only apparent, not real. But why should we believe God does not exist, or is not involved with our universe? These presuppositions must be defended before philosophical materialism should be taken seriously, and the random and purposeless evolution it supports.

 

If the world looks designed as Dawkins and Crick admit, why deny that it was indeed designed (it would be the simpler explanation)? What compelling evidence is there that would cause us to opt for a naturalistic explanation over some kind of theistic explanation? There is none! Only a predisposition to look for a naturalistic explanation that leaves God out. That’s why evolutionary theory is becoming less of a scientific theory and more of a philosophical (if not religious) dogma that cannot be questioned. That is why Darwinists all over the land are doing everything they can to run intelligent design theorists off the map. They can’t defend their philosophical viewpoint with solid empirical data so they resort to name calling and dismissals.

 

Darwinism has dominated science for the last 150 years, not because there is a plethora of evidence for the theory, but because the modern definition of science presupposes methodological materialism (you act as if the only thing that exists and is causally active in the world is matter), if not philosophical materialism itself (you actually believe nothing exists except the material world). If you arbitrarily define science as the pursuit of material causes, it should be no surprise that evolution will be the undisputed king of the scientific hill. By fiat definition it is the only game in town. That’s why the main thrust of the Intelligent Design movement has been to challenge the very definition of modern science itself, exposing the fact that it is presupposes philosophical materialism. If we have good reason to believe philosophical materialism is false (and we do), then much of the evolutionary theory comes crashing down with it like a house of cards in the wind.

 

The evolution vs. intelligent design debate is not a debate between science and religion or science and faith, but a debate over the very definition of science itself. It is a debate of science vs. science. Each side offers a competing scientific account of the physical world, but each driven by different philosophical presuppositions. May the best philosophy win!


[1]Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton, 1987), 1.

[2]Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit (New York: Basic Books, 1988), 138.

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