Archive for the ‘Richard Dawkins’ Category

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence

December 28, 2009

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.

Richard Dawkins,

From speech at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, April 15, 1992.

Would that include faith in induction, scientism, Naturalism, atheistic morality, macro-evolution…?

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Dawkins considers that all faith is blind faith, and that Christian and Muslim children are brought up to believe unquestioningly

December 14, 2009

Dawkins considers that all faith is blind faith, and that Christian and Muslim children are brought up to believe unquestioningly. Not even the dim-witted clerics who knocked me about at grammar school thought that. For mainstream Christianity, reason, argument and honest doubt have always played an integral role in belief. (Where, given that he invites us at one point to question everything, is Dawkins’s own critique of science, objectivity, liberalism, atheism and the like?) Reason, to be sure, doesn’t go all the way down for believers, but it doesn’t for most sensitive, civilised non-religious types either. Even Richard Dawkins lives more by faith than by reason. We hold many beliefs that have no unimpeachably rational justification, but are nonetheless reasonable to entertain.

Terry Eagleton (last time I checked he was a Marxist)

Nature is not interested one way or the other in suffering, unless it affects survival of DNA

November 24, 2009

…nature is not cruel, only piteously indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous-indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose…

but Nature is neither kind nor unkind. She is neither against suffering nor for it. Nature is not interested one way or the other in suffering, unless it affects survival of DNA.

Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden, 95-96, 131

This is more consistent with his atheistic presuppositions than The God Delusion where he realises he had better make an attempt at establishing some kind of morality. However, given Naturalism, the words good and evil are both meaningless. He was consistent to his philosophy in River out of Eden, but inconsistent in that he doesn’t live that way. He was inconsistent to his Naturalism in The God Delusion but aware of needing to explain the moral impulse he feels.

Science is actually one of the most moral, one of the most honest disciplines around — because science would completely collapse if it weren’t for a scrupulous adherence to honesty in the reporting of evidence

October 4, 2009

Science is actually one of the most moral, one of the most honest disciplines around — because science would completely collapse if it weren’t for a scrupulous adherence to honesty in the reporting of evidence…

…It’s a rewarding question, whatever your personal morality, to ask as an evolutionist where morals come from; by what route has the human brain gained its tendency to have ethics and morals, a feeling of right and wrong?

Richard Dawkins

But if morality is just a feeling why is one ‘feeling’ good and another’s bad? Feelings are just different from one person to another like the size of our feet. There is no ‘good’ or ‘right’ size of feet. Further, why is honesty to be valued, indeed science itself, if it has no proven usefulness in terms of survival value?

science is not religion and it doesn’t just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion’s virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence

October 4, 2009

…science is not religion and it doesn’t just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion’s virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would Christians wax critical of doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as exemplars of virtue because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas, on the other hand, required evidence. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of scientists.

Richard Dawkins,

Is Science a Religion?,

the Humanist, January/February 1997

1. But the other apostles did have evidence. They saw Jesus’ miracles, the empty tomb, his resurrection, hte testimony of others to the same events.

2. Thomas was not criticised because he asked for evidence. He was criticised for lacking faith when he had so much evidence. He had the testimony of the other 10 apostles; he had seen Jesus’ miracles; he had heard the testimony of the empty tomb etc.

3. Science does rest on faith: faith in induction, a uniform, ordered, law-governed universe, uniformitarianism, the reliability of the senses, the reliability and credibility of scientists etc. Dawkins overlooks these ‘minor’ matters.

Faith is the pre-condition of any knowledge

August 17, 2009

Dawkins defines faith as “belief that isn’t based on evidence” and calls it the “principle [sic] vice of any religion” (ibid). Reformed Christians realize that this definition of faith is a caricature. Instead of viewing faith as belief that is not based upon evidence, we view faith as that which is a pre-condition for gaining any other knowledge; faith itself is not irrational or unscientific, but that which must be in order to gain other knowledge through science and logic. For instance, confidence in the law of non-contradiction could be said to be faith. There is no direct way to prove the law of contradiction except that it must be presupposed in order to learn anything or differentiate anything from anything else. Likewise, the principle of induction, which states that the future will be generally like the past, is what makes possible the formulation of scientific laws and theories. We cannot test the truth of this principle scientifically, for we would be assuming the truth of induction to try and prove it. We cannot test the truth of the principle logically, for logic has as its subject matter static propositions. Thus, induction and the law of contradiction, two of the bedrocks upon which all the rest of Richard Dawkins’ knowledge is based, are both things he must accept on faith. Dawkins does not believe this, however, and directs this entire speech at demolishing the notion that science is a religion, or at least a faith-based discipline.

Jonathan Barlow

Determinism in Biology

August 6, 2009

…we are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.

they [the genes] swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.

Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 1976

Yet Dawkins is not happy with the determinism his theory entails:

We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators…Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.

The word ‘try’ in that last sentence is telling. He desparately wants to believe we are not robots, but his theory denies him.

The (apparent) design of the universe needs explanation

August 6, 2009

The computer on which I am writing these words has an information storage capacity of about 64 kilobytes… The computer was consciously designed and deliberately manufactured. The brain with which you are understanding my words is an array of some ten million kiloneurons. Many of these billions of nerve cells have each more than a thousand “electric wires” connecting them to other neurons. Moreover, at the molecular genetic level, every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer. The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their apparent design. If anyone doesn’t agree that this amount of complex design cries out for an explanation, I give up.

Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, Preface, xiii

Mr Dawkins, of course, proceeds to claim that the design is apparent, not real. It is a trick that fools and theists fall for.

Atheism – the threat to freedom

October 8, 2008

“Faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to

the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate,” writes Richard

Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. “Religion is capable of

driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to

qualify as a kind of mental illness.”

Presumably he’d have believers in mental institutions like the Soviets…

According to Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, religion is so

bad it should be eradicated just like slavery was eradicated: “I

would be the first to admit that the prospects for eradicating

religion in our time do not seem good. Still the same could have been

said about efforts to abolish slavery at the end of the eighteenth

century.”

And if Harris had power, how would he seek to ‘eradicate’ faith? I shudder to wonder.