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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins launches anti-religion TV series: Attacked on left as well as right

Arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins seems to be devoting ever more of his energies on nutty attacks on religion as "The Root of All Evil." Apparently, he is astounded that religion is gaining ground in the world:

Dawkins compares this to a virus, which infects the young and is passed down the generations. Visiting an ultra-orthodox Jewish school, he describes the British-born headteacher Rabbi Gluck's Yiddish accent as testament to the isolation of his community. Gluck says that it's important for members of minorities to have the space to express their own beliefs and traditions. He describes science as one tradition, and Judaism as another. His students are taught about evolution and if only a minority end up believing in it, he says, this is not out of ignorance.

No it isn't. If people like Dawkins introduce the concept of evolution, it is hardly surprising that only a minority believe it. It is a wonder if any do. I mean, there is lots of good evidence in favour of evolution, and at least a few legitimate arguments in favour of the Darwinian theory of evolution, but after Dawkins puts his foot in the cement, well, ...

A post by Christian Boddart at BBC Collective: The Interactive Culture magazine situates Dawkins, I think correctly, as an ignoramus about the very subject he rants about most often - religion.

How anyone that can describe the universe as 'indifferent' and 'inhospitable' (both of which imply traits of consciousness to the universe, incidently) whilst at the same time expounding the tremendous diversity and propogative characteristics of life on this Planet is beyond me. Clearly the man has distorted his own speciality into a religion of it's own - a religion that is as fundamentally flawed as any kook religion invented since the so-called Enlightenment.

At this point, I can't help wondering, why didn't the fellow just stick to zoology? I gather he came up through the zoo ranks, and might even know something worth listening to about ants or bonobos.

In By Design or by Chance?, I made a point similar to Boddart's - essentially, that Dawkins had replicated the key characteristics of religion in his anti-religion. He even has a devil of sorts, in the form of David Berlinski, a Paris-based mathematician who has been known for criticizing his number sense. It certainly wouldn't be the first time biologists and mathematicians fell out.

Even Britain's leftish Guardian has reviewed the Root of All Evil series unfavorably. According to Madeleine Bunting,
There's an underlying anxiety that atheist humanism has failed. Over the 20th century, atheist political regimes racked up an appalling (and unmatched) record for violence. Atheist humanism hasn't generated a compelling popular narrative and ethic of what it is to be human and our place in the cosmos; where religion has retreated, the gap has been filled with consumerism, football, Strictly Come Dancing and a mindless absorption in passing desires. Not knowing how to answer the big questions of life, we shelve them - we certainly don't develop the awe towards and reverence for the natural world that Dawkins would want. So the atheist humanists have been betrayed by the irrational, credulous nature of human beings; a misanthropy is increasingly evident in Dawkins's anti-religious polemic and among his many admirers.

A rightish US outfit, WorldNet Daily, slammed it by implication too:
John Deighan, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, took issue with Dawkin's denunciation of religion, telling the Glasgow Sunday Herald, "Dawkins is well known for his vitriolic attacks on faith, and I think faith has withstood his attacks. He really is going beyond his abilities as a scientist when he starts to venture into the field of philosophy and theology. He is the guy with demonstrable problems."

Yeah, that covers it. I hope if Dawkins gets converted to a religion, as a result of his constant carrying on about it, that he doesn't go for one of those cults that features weird headgear or nutty ideas about women or food. We're overstocked on all of that. David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen comments, "I begin to think Dawkins is a Trad Catholic plant. But maybe he's working for the Islams, or the VRWC -- can't find his file in the Vatican Crypts."

He adds, after a moment,

But note, from what we can make of the declarations in his BBC programme, the implicit totalitarianism of Dawkins's own soi-disant "rationalism" -- e.g. its demand that all children be raised free of parental religious influence. He would be a Stalin if he had the power.

Oh, I don't know, David. More likely, he would just go home, bore his kinfolk, and cuss over his tea, like so many less-well-paid village atheists do. The remarkable thing is that people like Dawkins actually believe all that stuff. You and I are merely pew Catholics, so there is a limit to what we must believe, and thankfully it does not include interfering with how people of other faiths provide religious instruction to their children.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

The Pope using the term "intelligent design" to describe the Catholic view of origins, go here.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams attacked by Darwinist, hits back. Will he now cartoon on the subject?

"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. See also the ruling on tax funds. Note the line that the “free speech” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Christoph, Cardinal Schonbon is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.

World class chemist dissed at Catholic university because he sympathizes with intelligent design.
- the California Academy of Sciences agreeing to correct potentially libellous statements about attorney Larry Caldwell, who thinks that students should know about weaknesses as well as strengths of Darwinian evolution theory, click on the posted link and check the current daily post for any updates. UPDATED!: The retraction and Caldwell’s response have now been published in California Wild.
- The op-ed by Catholic Cardinal Schonborn in the New York Times? Note also the Times's story on the subject, some interesting quotes from major Darwinists to compare with the Catholic Church's view, as expressed by the Cardinal, and an example of the kind of problem with Darwinian philosophy that the Cardinal is talking about.
- the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian, go here and here to start, and then this one and this one will bring you up to date.
- the Privileged Planet film shown at the Smithsonian, go here for an extended review.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.
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