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Friday, October 17, 2008

Darwinism and popular culture: Dawkins to meet his Waterloo?

In "The false faith of scientific reason" (Jewish Chronicle, 17 October 2008), Melanie Phillips reminds us that
... we are living in a deeply irrational age, where millions are putting their faith in such mumbo-jumbo as astrology, parapsychology, paganism, witchcraft or conspiracies between sinister groups and extra-terrestrial forces. All of which goes to prove the truth of the old adage that when people stop believing in God, they will believe in anything.
Yes, exactly. Among intelligent people, belief in God results in belief in a rationally ordered universe.

Take that away, and what happens? Some people believe that their brains evolved for fitness, not for truth (Harvard cognitive scientist Steve Pinker) and others believe that a sinister extraterrestrial conspiracy explains why the plant closed in their rust belt town.

She notes that next week Richard "Darwin's Rottweiler" Dawkins and Oxford mathematician John Lennox
will slug it out in a debate freighted with historic resonance at Oxford’s Natural History Museum — the very place where, in 1860, Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, tried to pour scorn on Darwin’s Origin of Species, only to be savaged by ‘Darwin’s bulldog’ TH Huxley. I wouldn’t put money on the same outcome this time.
I wouldn't either. Dawkins is increasingly over the top and under the grade. I can't remember the last time he made an argument for atheism that made a lot of sense. But that's what happens when you confuse arguments for atheism with arguments against religion.

For what it is worth, most religious people know all the good arguments against their own religion, and if they follow it anyway, you'd be better advised to find out the other side than to conclude that they are "merely" irrational.


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