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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Darwinism and popular culture: Krauss and Dawkins on talking to evil morons (oops, religious people)

Why would Scientific American devote space to Oxford don Richard Dawkins ( The God Delusion) and physicist Lawrence Krauss talking about how to talk to religious people? They could have had philosopher of science Alister McGrath The Dawkins Delusion and paleontologist Simon Conway Morris (Life's Solution) But the latter two, as Christians, would have said something cogent, and Scientific American can't risk that, can it?

Here's a classic excerpt from Dawkins:
Dawkins: I like your clarification of what you mean by reaching out. But let me warn you of how easy it is to be misunderstood. I once wrote in a New York Times book review, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” That sentence has been quoted again and again in support of the view that I am a bigoted, intolerant, closed-minded, intemperate ranter. But just look at my sentence. It may not be crafted to seduce, but you, Lawrence, know in your heart that it is a simple and sober statement of fact.

[ ... ]

Krauss: I have to say that I agree completely with you about this. To me, ignorance is often the problem, and, happily, ignorance is most easily addressed. It is not pejorative to suggest that someone is ignorant if they misunderstand scientific issues.

Dawkins: In exchange, I am happy to agree with you that I could, and probably should, have put it more tactfully. I should have reached out more seductively. But there are limits.

You see? In the Dawkins delusion, you can say things that only a bigoted, intolerant, closed-minded, intemperate ranter would say, but if anyone suggests that it is what it sounds like, well they are the ones at fault.

David Rice writes to say,
the first thing that came to mind after reading Krauss say " it seems appropriate to ask what the primary goals of a scientist should be when talking or writing about religion" was 'why should scientists be saying ANYTHING about religion?' But even granting that, why can't religion say anything about science? Well, it can't because the movement of directive discourse is in one direction only. These guys are totally preaching to the choir and this whole piece was anything but fair-minded.

Krauss also said at the end, "I would argue that one should respect religious sensibilities no more or less than any other metaphysical inclinations, but in particular they should not be respected when they are wrong." One then wonders if Krauss' own metaphysics should continue to be respected even if it too is wrong. They've become so arrogant that they don't see the double standard in their arguments which typifies these kind of polemnical writings. Scientists should be ashamed of these guys. Scientific American is clearly endorsing an unassailable metaphysical position with this article.

It sure is. And you can be sure that the editors believe that they are entitled to have their metaphysics imposed on the school system, at taxpayer expense, too. And people wonder why there is an intelligent design controversy!

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