Dawkins vs God – Round XXIV

The debate trundles on.

Struan Hellier’s father Graham Hellier is a Presbyterian minister and has written this “Christian Response” to Dawkins. I responded with these comments. My position is already pretty clear – Dawkins is as extreme as any religious extremist and unfortunately he cannot separate his (correct) arguments about the memetic success of religious (faith and authority-based) beliefs and reasoning, from his incorrect assertion that “scientific” reasoning can be totally objective and faith-free, or that if it is, it cannot be practically applicable to the whole of life.

Related is this news story about growing concern about the distinction between spiritual “contemplative” activities and religious “faithful” activities, and the worry about the inroads of the latter into US political life. Dawkins unfortunately seems devoid of contemplative spiritual values, so would not see the distinction and be locked in ancient faith vs reason battles – tilting at windmills.

3 thoughts on “Dawkins vs God – Round XXIV”

  1. Graham Hellier rightly says that Dawkins is a fundamentalist in the sense that he believes he has found a key which opens every door.

    This tendency could be in his genes :-).

    I like this quote of Camus:

    “You teach me that this wondrous and multi-coloured universe can be reduced to the atom and that the atom itself can be reduced to the electron. All this is good and I wait for you to continue. But you tell me of an invisible planetary system in which electrons gravitate around a nucleus. You explain this world to me with an image. I realise then that you have been reduced to poetry: I shall never know. Have I the time to become indignant? You have already changed theories. So that science that was to teach me everything ends up in an hypothesis, that lucidity founders in metaphor, that uncertainty is resolved in a work of art. What need had I of so many efforts? The soft lines of these hills and the hand of evening on this troubled heart teach me much more. I have returned to my beginning. I realise that if through science I can seize phenomena and enumerate them, I cannot for all that apprehend the world.”

    I am becoming quite fond of David Hume of late. We really can’t know anything. The minute we try to explain, we begin to make mistakes.

  2. Hi Alice, good to hear from you.

    I believe I have “quite rightly” been saying the same thing for some years – Dawkins is a hyper-rational fundamentalist – which is why I get a bit “snippy” at the ongoing debate vs Dawkins, but the fact Dawkins is wrong doesn’t automatically make his “opponents” right.

    Camus concluding thoughts are right, and his opening highlights the problem … “reduced”. Anyone reducing the world is missing a point or three.

    Again the Hume message is well established, but “can’t know anything” is only true in the sense that knowing is assumed to be something absolute. There are “truths” of varying quality, some better than others, but none is absolute in any foundational / basis sense. (Some relationships / patterns may be absolute in the sense that they can be seen as fixed for all knowable situations – but like anything of real life significance – it couldn’t be “proved”.)

    The real mistake (that Dawkins makes) is to forget that even science has a presumed basis for it’s beliefs, however contingent they may be.

    (Currently Looking at Nick Maxwell’s “Is Science Neurotic” and “Evolution in Four Dimensions” from Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb. Antidotes to Dawkins style scientific “objectivist” extremism.)

  3. ooops! entirely missed your red commentary. Seems that you would like Dawkins to wake up to his own prejudice. perhaps, as I mentioned above he simply can’t. perhaps there are people who are predispositioned to being blind to the holes in their arguments.(not that you care about his mental state.)

    It’s always good to see what you’ve been reading. Haven’t read Vonnegut since high school where it was required for the aspiring hippie. that’s when I read hesse, also.

    lately, i’ve been looking at “the enlightenment”, thus the hume comment. There’s so much talk in this country about our nation being founded on christian principles….i thought i’d check it out. actually the deists, in my estimation, were not christians per se, and were definitely turning away from the traditional “man in the sky with his eye on you” kind of god.
    they were almost “new age” with their emphasis on providence and natural rights.

    i guess it depends on how you define christian….and christian values….and they can be defined to prop up any argument

    But I am tired of hearing about how the founding fathers wanted things to be for us as though to go in a different direction would be ungrateful for all they had done.

    I actually think they left it pretty open ended, good framwork and all of that, and certainly cognizant of the foibles of mankind.

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