Ming the Mechanic:
Dawkins

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Dawkins2006-10-18 20:16
22 comments
by Flemming Funch

I have many friends who're great fans of Richard Dawkins. I'm not. I think he's .. well, I'll quote David Weinberger
I'm an agnostic, but I find Richard Dawkins an embarrassment for my side, so to speak.

In his interview at Salon (either subscribe or watch an ad), conducted by Steve Paulson, the British biologist goes through his highly marketable outrage about religion. But, while he thinks he's arguing against all "Abrahamic" religions, he's in fact arguing against one branch of one religion. He seems to have not the slightest idea that not all religions think of faith as he characterizes it, and some "Abrahamic" religions don't really much care about faith in the first place.

He has not done his homework. He does not recognize differences in the phenomena he's studying. He is being a crappy scientist. And he's stirring up hatred and misunderstanding...exactly what he accuses Religion of doing.

He ought to shut up for a while and go hang out with a variety of religious folks. Field work, Richard, field work! ...
Dawkins seems just as religious to me as those which he imagines to oppose. A fundamentalist. Firm, unshakable belief, without bothering to ever verify anything. A bad representative for science.

And, yes, what he argues against is just a particular subset of the subjects of religion and spirituality and concepts of supreme beings and higher intelligences. He argues against this guy with the white beard who supposedly has created the universe. Which is certainly the easiest target, like arguing against Santa Claus or the Tooth Faery. The mistake he makes is that he lumps all the other stuff in with it, and acts like he somehow has proven that there's no higher intelligence in the universe, merely by pointing out that the guy-with-the-white-beard thing is a little silly and improbable. It is a little childish, and as far as scientific methodology is concerned a completely inane approach, and I'm surprised that so many otherwise intelligent people regard him as such a hero.

In the interview there, Dawkins admits that science has no clue what consciousness is. Doesn't seem very scientific to then jump to the conclusion that the universe of course doesn't have any.


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22 comments

19 Oct 2006 @ 01:05 by jmarc : Evangelical atheist
would be a good description. I must confess, I signed up for the "brights", but now just delete the emails. It seems like just another type of crusade. The fundamentalist religion of science.  


19 Oct 2006 @ 06:17 by ming : Crusade
Right, seems like a down-with-your-religion crusade. And I don't agree with either side, and I think religious crusades suck.  


20 Oct 2006 @ 08:35 by andy @80.229.28.120 : Porcine mutation?
I read Dawkins' earlier books - The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker - and I thought he was a genius, and very able communicator too (two characteristics that don't always go hand in hand!) But he's turned into a religious zealot, one who has sealed his mind against the possibility that in his religion of anti-religion he may be pursuing a false god. Thanks for the link and for your comments - it's good to know that there are other intelligent, rational people who don't worship at Dawkins' altar. He's beginning to remind me of the pigs in Animal Farm.  


28 Oct 2006 @ 20:35 by Paul Hughes @12.213.224.37 : yes, me too.
Thanks Ming for writing this and expressing my sentiments so well. I started hearing about his "crusade" a couple of years ago, and with a big sigh pretty much wrote him then and there.  


31 Oct 2006 @ 20:42 by Petrus @202.7.176.131 : Dawkins and Wikipedia
This type of attitude is the exact reason why I don't go anywhere near Wikipedia these days, since a few months ago they started adopting exactly this type of attitude as standard. I will admit to being enormously grieved over that...Wikipedia could have been something wonderful.  


9 Jan 2007 @ 20:41 by Bill S @24.180.61.20 : What are you saying?
I don't think you've said anything here. Your criticisms are...what? That he singles out one religion? What homework hasn't he done? What has he gotten wrong? Sounds to me that you're the one who doesn't have an argument.  


10 Jan 2007 @ 00:03 by ming : Dawkins
It is Dawkins who's trying to evangelize the idea that there's no God. What he seems to use as a reference is a cartoonish Christian God, but what he attacks is any and all uses of the term, and his main line of argumentation seems to be that it is just foolish to believe such nonsense. I think it would be more useful to explore what people maybe mean by the term, and find that their aim often isn't much different from that of science. As a scientist, he should be aware that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If he's trying to claim that no consciousness and no intelligence were part of the creation and evolution of the universe, that's a pretty far out claim, and he'd need stronger supportive material than mere ridicule.  


9 Mar 2007 @ 17:25 by david @198.111.165.98 : i'm not sure what the problem is?
As a scientist it would be lazy science to try and "bridge" the gap between science and religion... religion is always based in faith, no matter what religion... if its christian, muslum, jewish or shaman, it doesn't matter... you are basing your beliefs in the supernatural, which requires a leap of faith. Their is no evidence, no facts that would support the super natural.

I think dawkins is being arrogent when he suggests that athiests are smarter however, because intelligence has less to do with it then enviromental influence. If your raised believing chances are you will die believing... because us humans are creatures of habit... we don't try things willy nilly we do something that works until it stops working. Religion currently doesn't work for a lot of people. Its in conflict with their daily experiences... that is why most believers... don't really practice or incorporate religion at all into their normal daily lives.

I for one do agree however that faith, while being more of a catalyst then the actual cause of suffering, has done more far bad then good.

Religion has kept exploitive societies alive far longer then the would have otherwise, has prevented people from developing medicine, has limited their ability to reason, genocide and mass murder, war and poverty all justified with religion... besides the occasional Mother Thereasa... religions are pretty worthless institutions that hold humankind back.  



10 Mar 2007 @ 00:40 by ming : Religions
I personally care very little for organized religion, and, yes, a lot of evil has been done in the name of religious faith. But it bothers me if too many things are lumped into one pile. Somebody like Dawkins picks a fight with fundamentalist religion, which is a very easy target, but quietly lumps everything that is spiritual in the same pile, without ever bringing it up. And there is an enormous range of different experiences. Quite easy to ridicule people who worship comic book characters from holy books and follow bizarre rituals for no good reason, other than that they believe it is a good idea. But some of these people follow their rituals because they've somehow managed to connect with something that is more real than those words or rituals. An experience of aliveness, a connection with the universe, a revelation about reality. People who're spiritual, but not religious, will quite likely be able to articulate that. But people who can't articulate their experience on their own might well choose a religion, with its awkward rules and beliefs, thinking that this is what provides their direct link. Which might give rise to various kinds of crazyness, but often with an element of truth beyond it. Beyond the words and the faith, there is often something more real. And it is that which might provide a bridge between various belief systems, incuding both the scientific and religious belief systems, and others.

Personally, I consider myself spiritual, but not religious. And with that I mean that I have a certain direct experience of my own existence and my relation to life, the universe and everything. If I'm given the choice between some abstract mental ideas, be they scientific or religious, or a direct experience, the direct experience will always be what I'll choose.

So, I'm very skeptical of anybody who offers up only ideas, but no direct verification.  



15 Aug 2007 @ 23:52 by metik @24.117.128.47 : pedantism
My friend likes him, I just like his accent. I hate the hubris. I am neither analytical/skeptic, nor uber-religious, so I laugh at it all. Just be open and curious, is all a REAL scientist needs to do. Science is all about curiosity, not degradation.  


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