News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Dawkins Under the Gun

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dawkins Under the Gun

Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion has stirred much controversey. While the leftist atheists have jumped on Dawkins' bandwagon such heavy hitters as philosopher Thomas Nagel and Terry Eagleton attack Dawkins' incereasingly shrill attack on the god-fearers. ...

Bill Benzon at The Valve has been tracking the debate:

Let us assume that Nagel is correct, that not only is Dawkins a committed reductionist, but that Dawkins cannot see any alternative to reductionism other than religion. Why not? And just why does this situation force Dawkins to take a militant stance as an atheist? How is it that an attack on religion is also a defense, not of science, but of a reductionist view of science? Why doesn’t Dawkins attack non-reductionist views of, say, biology or psychology, in addition to attacking religion? Does he think such views are unworthy of attack, or that they are, for all practical purposes, essentially religious? If so, why?

It’s not at all clear to me just what kind of questions those are. But they aren’t about personal motivation in any simple sense. They are also about modes of thought and argument, and in a fairly open-ended sense. It is not at all clear to me that we know, anymore, just how to think about ultimate issues. While I am reasonably convinced that Dawkins does not know, I am not convinced that anyone does. Thought, like time, goes on.
Update 1 Dawkins Shoots Back
We explain our existence by a combination of the anthropic principle and Darwin's principle of natural selection. That combination provides a complete and deeply satisfying explanation for everything that we see and know. Not only is the god hypothesis unnecessary. It is spectacularly unparsimonious. Not only do we need no God to explain the universe and life. God stands out in the universe as the most glaring of all superfluous sore thumbs. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can't disprove Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can't disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable.

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