Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Richard Dawkins Video: The God Delusion
Clinton Richard Dawkins is an eminent British ethologist, evolutionary theorist, and popular science writer at Oxford University. Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene which popularised the gene-centric view of evolution and introduced the term meme into the lexicon, thereby helping to found the field of memetics. What do you think of this video in which he talks about the "God Delusion"?
His theory of memes seems disgusting..the presence (in numbers) of a cultural product in society does not, in my opinion, directly correlate with its value and its "aptitude for survival". Life is not a race game, and it does not necessarily have to be profused with such conflict.
His first sentence in the book "Selfish Gene", which basically says that an imaginary creature living in the world will be fully intelligent only when knowing the justification for its existence, is a hypothetical game with words...a living being need not exactly know the reason for its existence in order to be able to fully value its existence, and it can be intelligent and fully comprehend the truths of life without having such certainty.
Dawkins uses the similarity between ancient religious myths as a proof of their invalidity whereas many use it, especially thanks to Joseph Camplbell (the great researcher of world's mythology), as an argument on the contrary.
We don't need to give up rationality to accept views beyond materialistic reductionism. Interestingly Dawkins admits there is no proof that life is better in a "rational" society as opposed to a "religious" society.
I think that Dawkins is piggypacking on what he is calls an "Einsteinian religion" just because he must align himself with one of the greatest scientific minds of all time. Einstein made very open-minded statements for example in favor of Buddhism.
Bottomline: I think Dawkins is a hypocrite when saying he's "interested in the truth". After all he is ready to state for example that "simulating a god is childs play for a computer of the sophistication of the brain." Is that supposed to be a verified truth?
As an atheist, he believes it all to be nonsense.
Dawkins understands that science, truth, and religion cannot be legitamately separated. He even agrees with the Apostle Paul, that "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1 Cor 15.19, ESV).
So what keeps him going? In his own words, love of art, nature, science, music, children, etc. Unfortunately, as Nancy Pearcy has noted in her book "Total Truth," love has no legitimate basis in a materialistic world. By that worldview, we are all recycled carbon.
So how can we judge between these competing worldviews? As Pearcy points out, Christianity is the more consistent one. Then there is the witness of nature, of our own conscience, and the preserved writings of the Bible itself.
If these are insufficient, I can add nothing more.
Its the same problem I every day when we all mix morals and ethic. While morals talk about consensus, ethics are invisible to every one els and can only be observable through our actions.
I believe church is like morals, consensus or institutions that speak of what we do. But religion is a personal way of being, only visible to others through the actions we carry out. Dawkins should just shut up because he has NO idea of the "truth" that I be-live.
Dawkins does NOT necessarily dispute the existence of "god", but he does dispute the existence of GOD. The "proof" that Christians (or any other strict dogmatists) present is not very scientific, and always falls back on faith.
Furthermore, I have seen statisitcs that show the most atheistic societies (generally the European socialist democracies) have the least crime and the highest standards of living, whereas the countries with the lowest standards of living are all among the most religious. This may just be coincidence, of course, but I personally believe that it is far easier for an athieistic society to allow for religious differences, than for a religious society based on one belief to allow for competing beliefs. Fundametalist Christians believe that simply the EXISTENCE of scientific theories opposed to their dogma is some kind of "attack" on their values, and so they need to "fight back" at every opportunity.
Most Christians I know tend to picture 'it' as inherent in nature...
Also, the poorest countries are generally more religious because, I think, they have nothing else to put faith into. Giant western corporations, such as Walmart and the rest (which offer you quality products at a very cheap price) often acquire their profit by plundering people in poor countries (making them work for practically nothing). These people, who barely have food enough not to starve, naturally don't have the right conditions for "intellectual" activities.
This angle is actually very refreshing and inspiring - that the real, demonstrable natural world is a far more interesting and diverse and exciting place than that dreamt up by various theists in different individual parts of human history can manage alone. That religious world views don't really account for our world, merely circumscribe it for reasons of organisational power and human subjugation.
As a scientist you presumably spend a lot of time wrestling with difficult facts about the world that you have to open your mind to in order to progress. religious people have only warm feelings and third rate cosmology about which they are always doomed to be apologetic and defensive - if their texts are open to revision nothing canonical can be saved. Nothing wrong in point that out in the 21st century I'd have thought!
I feel that what he does say about genes and Darwinism etc is perfect but what he says about faith and God is rubbish. He cannot see what God is all about.
Give him praise where it is due and forgive him his denial - he cannot help it.
Let me say now that I am agnostic in that I believe there is a deep reality from which all else exists. I have no religion & believe the only thing that exists is a form of consciousness which I call "God". Dawkins cannot insult me.
But this speech I saw could only be described as insulting to all, less the pure atheist. It was supremely condescending. It could easily be described as a personal attack on the conscience of any believer. It was laced with well thought out humor, designed to be implicitely degrading.
During the Q&A period, he made reference to there being few people who could think. He has an intelligent mind, I'll give him that, but unbeknownst to him or believed by him, intelligent minds come a dime a dozen. It takes much more that an intelligent mind to be a respected scholar, teacher, & leader in any field.
People must also possess the understanding, compassion, & ability to grease the wheels of human discourse to be effective & respected teachers. Richard Dawkins' pantry is empty.
I was extremely disappointed by his speech, being someone who listened thinking I would gain insight into his theory. I received what came across to me as a diatribe of insolence.
absurd thought -
God can not be quantified
so therefore must not exist
man can't measure beyond Space
so then does it not exist?
I'd ask mr. Dawkins to sing an ode to reason in his next book. Not reason as something to believe in, but as a way to find exact answers to exact questions.