Richard Dawkins

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Richard Dawkins, Evolutionist and AtheistIn my years of running this site, I've received a number of letters from those who have clearly been influenced by the writings of Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most famous biologists, evolutionists and atheists.  Dawkins list of books is impressive, including "The Selfish Gene," "The Blind Watchmaker," "The Extended Phenotype" and "Climbing Mount Improbable."  We're all entitled to our beliefs, but I ask those who see Dawkins as a source of reason and scientific truth to apply some critical thinking to his position.

Dawkins is obviously very intelligent and appears to write very logically, making his position seem not only very convincing, but even highly appealing to those who pride themselves on their intellect or hold negative views of religion and spirituality, and who are looking to support their beliefs with a foundation of science and reason.

Half truths make the best lies

Half truths, however, make the best lies.  Do Dawkins' views really represent those of an open-minded scientist, or are they really just the rationalizations of a passionate atheist who can only see the world in one way?

Consider, for instance, some quotes from his books:

"It is a telling fact that, the world over, the vast majority of children follow the religion of their parents rather than any of the other available religions."

"It is the genes that, for their own good, are manipulating the bodies they ride about in. The individual organism is a survival machine for its genes."

"Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have a chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do."

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design."

"Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous--indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose."

When carried to their logical conclusions, Dawkins' statements lead you right back to God

Are these statements of scientific fact, or are they simply the viewpoints of one who starts with a preconception that God does not exist and then sets out to justify his beliefs?

Can you scientifically determine the existence of God based on the percentage of who people follow the religion of their parents?  An equally telling fact is that while there are differences, the common teaching of all the major religions is that there is but one God, our Creator, whose greatest command for us is that we love Him and one another.  Of course by Dawkins' own logic, it would also be a telling fact that those raised among atheists would likely follow in those footsteps as well, begging the question of how Dawkins' own background was a factor in predetermining his beliefs.

Does a universe that produced sentient beings capable of creative thought, art, music, love and pondering their own existence really exhibit "precisely the properties we should expect of no design," or would a universe with no design more likely be nothing but lifeless matter?  Are conclusions such as this the product of of science and reason or simply an atheistic rationalization?

If Dawkins concludes that nature itself lacks all design or purpose, is it consistent to then conclude that genes, which are part of nature, have "selfish" purpose while man, also a part of nature, does not?  He states that the gene must survive and that it doesn't care which life form is used to accomplish this goal.  Humans are no better than rats.  A dismal view, to say the least, but does reason let you stop there or are we just looking at a half truth concocted to support a particular viewpoint of life?  Why not say instead that matter itself doesn't care whether it exists as hydrogen or uranium atoms, organic or inorganic molecules, as long as it continues to exist?  Why not go one step further yet to say that all that really counts is the infinite source of energy from which all matter itself came and to ponder ITS purpose rather than that of supposedly "selfish" genes?  If Dawkins would take his thinking to its logical conclusion he might be well on the road to finding the God he so passionately wants to prove does not exist.

Consider the other rationalizations that Dawkins present in his books to support his views:

In one instance, Dawkins tries to demonstrate that God is unnecessary by developing computer programs which apply random changes to pre-defined forms, saying this mimics the evolution of life.  By the very act of “programming” and defining the rules, however, he is playing the role of God in his own creations, yet he fails to realize that fact, and fails to even question if another intelligent being might have played the same role in our own creation.

In another instance, Dawkins shows how strings of random letters with no meaning can be “mutated” one by one into a Shakespearean phrase, as supposed evidence of what happened to DNA in the evolution of life.  This model falls short of real life processes, however, in which only intermediate steps with completely defined and meaningful life functions survive to reproduce the next variation.  Dawkins never even accounts for the origin of the incredibly complicated process of reproduction, which he assumes in his model to have just happened on its own.

Atheism masquerading as science?

Dawkins writes logically, but he writes only to support his own personal beliefs and never really engages the alternate hypothesis, as any good scientist should.  If you don’t share his ideologies, the weaknesses and shortcomings in his logic become very apparent.  He uses his position as a scientist, however, to add credibility to an overriding, and highly charged, personal agenda of atheism and secular humanism.

By contrast, greater scientists such as Einstein and Hawking, even though they may not speak of faith in a personal God, still express a deep sense of wonder and awe for our existence.  For others yet, such Von Braun, the universe itself is undeniable evidence of their God and Savior.  Dawkins writings though reveal someone who thinks he has it all figured out and that anyone who doesn’t see it his way is ignorant, using terms like "cowardly flabbiness of the intellect" to describe those with other views.  As noted by Richter, a man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another’s.  If you read Dawkins, look beyond the clever logic to the heart, character and motives of the man and there you will gain understandings into life that go far beyond the mere text of his writings.

Religion is not God

Dawkins strikes out against religion, but note his target.  Religion is not God, and experiencing religion is not the same as experiencing God.  Religion is a human social institution and its failings do not prove or disprove the existence of God.  They just demonstrate shortcomings in mankind that pervade all human institutions, from government to sports to marriage. 

Does Dawkins show any recognition or understanding of the spiritual experiences of knowing God that change a life to one of love and service or does he just strike out against the worst parts of religion:  the ritual, hypocrisy, anger and self-righteousness?  Read any one of the gospels and you'll find that Jesus Christ strikes out against the very same things! (Matthew 23, for example)  Christ, however, completes the picture with the insight that true worship of God is none of these, but instead is a relationship of love with God as a person.

Use Dawkins' logic on religion and you might as well also throw out science just because there are some scientists who fall short of the disciplines of science, abuse science to justify their own selfish agendas and similarly damage and mislead others in the process.

Is he consistent with his own rules?

When you read Dawkins, consider first the belief system from which he writes.  He is affiliated with the Council for Secular Humanism, an organization with an atheist agenda.  He write articles for them such as "When Religion Steps on Science's Turf" in which he quotes:

"The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value."

As evidenced from the marquee text above from his own site, however, Dawkins freely crosses this manmade boundary whenever it serves his own interests by affording him the opportunity to promote his atheism as science, describing the meaning and values of "selfish" genes and drawing conclusions on life's value and purpose, or lack thereof.

Does he challenge us to seek deeper meanings or just extinguish our desire?

Let Dawkins think want he wants, but don't let him or anyone else think for you or extinguish your thirst to know life's meaning, purpose and origins.  Think for yourself and ask whether his agenda is science, open inquiry, a pursuit of deeper understandings of all that life is, or simply atheism.   Genes may not have the ability to be selfish and manipulative, but humans clearly do.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation. " HERBERT SPENCER

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In this section:  Chance or Design? •  The Scientific MethodLife in a Test Tube?The EyeIrreducible ComplexityAnything Can Happen? Evolution or Selection?Real Examples of Evolution"Do You Feel Lucky?"(Abio)Genesis 1:1Life from Comets?Life on Mars?Richard DawkinsA Brief History of Slime...

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