Monday, January 09, 2006

The Root of All Evil?

Unintentional irony abounds in Richard Dawkins' tirade against faith.

This week and next, the controversial evolutionary biologist and holder of the Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford argues that faith is the root of all evil. There is a struggle, he says, between "reason and science" on one hand, and "faith and unreason" on the other. Faith is apparently "irrational". Not just "not about reason", but actively against reason. Always and fundamentally, it seems.

There is "no good reason" to believe in God, he asserts. To demonstrate the unreasonableness of faith, he points out a couple of Catholicism's odder dogmas. To show that the universe is purely materialistic, he asserts it to be obvious.

Dr Dawkins tells us that science advances testable hypotheses, challenges and tests them, and discards them if they don't fit. Its truth is provisional. On the other hand, he says "Science" has proved Evolution beyond challenge, and only irrational believers could doubt it - although he fails to describe, for example, how "natural selection" is falsifiable.

Faith is a continuum of motivation that includes both harmless-seeming believers and fundamentalist terrorists, so it's dangerous. Dr Dawkins fails to conceive of any continuum that includes both him and Nazi scientists like Dr Mengele or modern germ warfare scientists. So science can't be at all dangerous.

Cut to Jerusalem. Deeply held faith is "responsible" for the conflict in the Middle East - the implication being that faith must be wrong.

Next week: how faith is like a virus, and God is vindictive.

This has nothing to do with reason and logic - it's an emotional outburst against believers and their faith, from Richard Dawkins, Prophet of Scientific Materialism.

The greatest irony is that this piece of rhetoric counts towards Channel 4's Religious Broadcasting and Public Service "quota".


Nessa said...

*shy semi-cheap comment*
faith is a virus...ok...but like, faith is a virus comparable to getting a cold...u always one from time to time, and the new one is never exactly like the last, even tho the symtpoms seem to be generalised. lol

Paul said...

Don't be shy :)

I suppose we all need to believe is something - even Richard Dawkins. Although his faith seems a bit too close for comfort to the old parody: "Science is true - don't be confused by facts!"