Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Richard Dawkins: Faith is Evil

I want to introduce the biologist Richard Dawkins to you guys, some of you know of him, no doubt. He is important because he respresents the modern, secular perspective and lots of academics (some whom I respect, actually) think he is the best thing since the VW Bug.

There is a notion that scientific academia is unanimous in the acceptence that God is dead. This is not true. There seems to be a divide between the biologists and physics. The physicists, with their absolute lasws and orderliness tend to come down on the Intelligent Design side, mostly because they are aware of the mathamatical probablities of a world like ours existing by pure chance and no planning--let's just say they are exceedingly long odds. On the other hand, biologists are long on theory and the constraints of what is. They seek understanding of the system--categorization, connection, relationships. This focus is more earthly. The two perspectives very often lead to wildly different conclusions.

Ann Althouse quotes some of an interview with him here, and received lots of comments on her post. Here is just one quote, but I think it's the most important:

Well, yes. I think there's something very evil about faith, where faith means believing in something in the absence of evidence, and actually taking pride in believing in something in the absence of evidence. And the reason that's dangerous is that it justifies essentially anything. If you're taught in your holy book or by your priest that blasphemers should die or apostates should die -- anybody who once believed in the religion and no longer does needs to be killed -- that clearly is evil. And people don't have to justify it because it's their faith. They don't have to say, "Well, here's a very good reason for this."
Dawkins disdain for all things faith, ignores the evil done in the name of his faith--secular humanism. The great world tyrants weren't driven by religious beliefs so much as their own very human notion about how the world should be. Let's look at some examples:
  • Hitler wasn't acting as a Catholic when he exterminated a whole people. He claimed reason. It was reasonable to get rid of them to purify the races.
  • Stalin wasn't acting on his religion when he starved millions of his people. He wanted to shore up his power. Not very faith-based, to me.
  • Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, and the ebulliant Hugo Chavez don't cite any religious text. They cite themselves and their reasons.
Also, I'm fascinated by the word "evil". I get into this argument every time a determined secularist starts to define good and bad. Who gets to decide this? Who gets to define the terms? The word "evil" is moral and religious. With humanism, the slippery slope is that what is good and evil depends upon the individuals perspective.

An argument over at another blog ended up with me being called out because I said that pedophiles could use the justification that in their opinion, sex was good for children and consensual and who are you to say it's not? Who indeed? The APA opined that the long term ill -effects were in dispute, so why not? They are a learned body of thinkers, right? Exactly, what humanist believers decide the moral code? Dr. Dawkins, ethologist extraordinaire? Pardon me, if I choose to believe in a true God.

That is where "rationalism" and "reason" gets a person determined to have his or her own way at all costs. Much as Professor Dawkins likes to indict faith and religion, I think he'd be better served to use some of that reason of his for some self-analysis.

A commenter named David over at Althouse says:
How patronizing can you get? Apparently faith and science are mutually exclusive. Faith AND science have their own priests which makes them both religions.

The illusion that science can explain the unknowable while the rest of us 'rubes' accept that we are limited by our very humanity is absurd.
There are more great comments over there, read through them.

It is important to know Dr. Dawkins. With the Pope's appeal to "reason" and Dr. Dawkins heart-felt, faith-filled devotion to his own intellect, a new, but not new world is shaping up. I shudder to think what will happen when those emboldened by reason decide to take the "religionists" in hand. Very bad things happen, when men, unconstrained, act together to make the world a better place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The illusion that science can explain the unknowable while the rest of us 'rubes' accept that we are limited by our very humanity is absurd."

Isn't a "great comment" it shows a lack of understanding of what science is. Scientists don't say anyone is limited by their human nature to understand anything they do... That science requires faith, basically. Faith isn't science, and no scientist says you have to have faith in what they say. It's common for people to seem to think it's a choice between having faith in religions or faith in scientists but it's not: Everything scientists expound as factual can be investigated by anyone, no "faith" necessary, if they just make the effort to understand the world on their own. That effort might be tremendous to understand some things, but it doesn't mean the things learned by such effort are invalid.