Oct 312006
 

NOTE: This is a re-post from an earlier OP that was lost due to the recent crash of the host server for our blog. Since I didn’t keep a copy, this is a close reconstruction from memory as to what I originally wrote and the point I wanted to make. I believe Teleologist still has the orginal comments to this OP and will add them back in.
Donald M

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In his latest screed against religion and theism, The God Delusion, atheist crusader Richard Dawkins puts his full animosity towards religion in general and Christianity in particular on full display. In the second chapter, after spending several pages explaining while the late Stephen Gould’s concept of Non-Overlapping Magisterium (NOMA) was wrong and explaining why any concept of God ought to be just as subject to the methods of scientific investigation as anything else, Dawkins makes a rather startling declaration. He argues that a universe created and superintended by a deity would look vastly different from one that wasn’t. (I don’t have the book right here, but that’s pretty close to an exact quote.) What’s remarkable about the quote is that Dawkins having just spent several pages arguing why NOMA was wrong, and having been postively exultant about the efficacy of science to explain all things, offers not one whit of scientific confirmation for this startling hypothesis. To coin a phrase, he who fights with science, dies by science. Let’s hold the occupier of the Charles Simyoni Chair for the Public Understanding of Science to his own standard. Where are his scientific research studies that confirm his hypothesis that a universe superintended and created by God would look different from one that wasn’t? In what peer reviewed scientific journals did he report his findings? Have the experiments been reproduced and reported on by others with similar results? Most especially I’d like to know how the experiment was constructed to test the hypothesis and what data would falsify it! After all, it’s all just about science, right? Unless, of course, you’re Richard Dawkins, then a simple argument from arrogance will do.

  17 Responses to “The “Science” of Richard Dawkins”

  1. Religion makes a positive statement about this Universe – there is a supernatural God/Creator responsible for all of creation. Science (which, if God exists, then God created) asks – where is He (or She – does God actually have genitals, btw, and for what purpose)? Show me. It’s a rather intractable problem to prove a negative. If there is any proving to be done, I think the onus is on Religion, not Science, to prove its case. No God (where is He?) is the default position. Imo.

  2. Hi dmichaels,

    Thank you for your comment, but I have to disagree with your premise.

    Epistemologically speaking there is no such thing as a default position. All assertions or beliefs must be evaluated and compared to the best fit with reality, as we know it. To that end, ID is the only scientific theory that requires an empirical process for inference. Darwinism is nothing more than one long argumentum ad verecundiam and just so stories. Creationism is a belief system based on rational observable inferences. Atheism is an irrational and internally contradictory belief system that denies reality.

  3. Ay, disagree we do. Btw, I wonder if you could point me any peer reviewed scientific papers, articles, experiments, or other scientific work on ID; it might be interesting for me to take a look. Thanks. Peace. — DM.

  4. dmichaels writes:

    Ay, disagree we do. Btw, I wonder if you could point me any peer reviewed scientific papers, articles, experiments, or other scientific work on ID; it might be interesting for me to take a look. Thanks. Peace. — DM.

    Let’s not get sidetracked here. The point of my OP is that RD has made the claim that the “God hypothesis” (so-called)ought to be treated like any other hypothesis. But then he goes on to make the claim (read: hypothesis)that a universe superintended by a diety would look much different from that isn’t. The point of my post is that RD has not one scintilla of scientific evidence to back that up, nor has he proposed the framework for any sort of scientific experiment or investigation to resolve the matter. The onus is on RD to produce the scientific goods here. But of course he can’t, and that is my point. His statement is little more than philosophical conjecture on his part, and not a very good conjecture, either! The burden of proof rests with RD, not ID.

  5. hi DonaldM,

    You are waisting words on Dawkins. How do you build up an argument against anti-theist propaganda? What strikes me is that Dawkins actually proves that anti-theism is religion and their creation story is Darwinian Evolution maskarading as science. And it is as simple as that.

  6. You are waisting words on Dawkins. How do you build up an argument against anti-theist propaganda? What strikes me is that Dawkins actually proves that anti-theism is religion and their creation story is Darwinian Evolution maskarading as science. And it is as simple as that.

    But that is part of the point. RD and those like him (Dennett, Harris, Pinker, Shermer, etc) claim the intellectual high ground. They think that they have logic and reason (and science) on their side. They are all “brights” after all!! Then, one examines their arguments, such RD’s here, and finds that they could care less about logic and reason and one ought to just take their “bright” word for it. To which I say “Well, excuse me “your brightness” but you’re just going to have to better than that!!”

    You’re right, it is anti-theist propanga and it needs to be exposed for what it is.

  7. hi dmichaels,

    Thank you for the post. Your claim that God created science is false. Science is entirely human enterprise of gaining knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method. Problem is that scientific method (in natural science) consists of principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. You can surely see that your “show me!” request is absurd. Any of the sciences (as physics, chemistry, or biology) that deal with matter, energy, and their interrelations and transformations or with objectively measurable phenomena cannot by deffinition prove or disprove existance of God. Fortunately we have other sciences that can help us infere His exsistence (or non exsistence), like philosophy, theology and history for example. However that is not to say that natural sciences cannot detect marks of intelligence (not intelligence itself). That does not approve or reject the visions of any particular religion. Scientists can seriously consider the Intelligent Design model without committing to the existence of a personal God; also through it science can enhance the scientific enterprise’s problem solving power.

    The problems seem to occur at least from two sources: one, the naturalist tendency to resort to chance, random or accidental processes of unthinking matter to explain mystifyingly complex phenomena (information content in biological systems in particular); two, dogmatic adherence to ‘gradual evolution’ when the processes in the world have clearly defied it in favour of ‘qualitative leaps’. You should ask yourself, why Darwinists insist that processes operating entirely according to unbroken natural laws and characterized by chance and necessity, account for phenomena mentioned above when we can see that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations. It’s not whether a theory has religious or anti-religious implications that determines its scientific validity, but whether it is grounded in evidence. The more we learn about the evidence, the more it points to intelligent design as a better explanation than Darwinian evolution for many features of living things. The immense amounts of complex information needed in systematically creating higher life-forms cannot be conceivably explained as products of gradual mutation. Stephen Meyer has eloquently and repeatedly made this argument. Whenever we find complex information, we find intelligence as the source of that information. Thus, what we know about the present cause and effect structure of the world suggests intelligent design as an obvious explanation for the information necessary to build living systems.

    The ‘Intelligent Design’ hypothesis needs not in any way hamper the scientists’ effort to develop a convincing model that explains the evolving universe through itself. But the scientists may well have to get rid of their own prejudices originating primarily from the materialist/reductionist world outlook to do so.

    For your requested articles go here
    but before you go to it read this.

  8. Sorry DonaldM, did not mean to hijack this thread but we have a la Dawkins post that needed clarification.

    Dawkins in essence makes a theological argument against God (go figure the logic of that) in the same maner as Darwin. Argument goes something like this:

    God could not possibly make X, hence there is no God.

  9. Dawkins in essence makes a theological argument against God (go figure the logic of that) in the same maner as Darwin. Argument goes something like this:

    God could not possibly make X, hence there is no God.

    This is in the same vein as Cornelius G. Hunter, in his book “Darwin’s God”. The basic argument is that all evolutinary reasoning has hidden theological premises lurking in them. Most of it in the “God wouldn’t have done it that way” variety. We see it a lot in Gould, for example.

    RD’s take its a bit different, and a bit more clever. He doesn’t say “God couldn’t possibly have made ‘X’, therefore God had nothing to do with it.” Rather he takes the approach that “if there had been a god involved in the creation of the cosmos, it would look quite different from the one we actually observe.” That is the essence of the claim I quoted in my OP. However, and this is the important point, neither he nor anyone else has any science to back up the claim. It is pure metaphysics…and not very good metaphysics either.

  10. hi DonaldM,

    Did you just call his argument “a bit more clever”?. Always took Dawkins as anti-intellectual par exellance and this last book of his just confirmed my opinion. It is a sad state of affairs in Western Society that writings of such low intellectual level can be so popular. What did Hamlet said about Danmark?

  11. Did you just call his argument “a bit more clever” ?. Always took Dawkins as anti-intellectual par exellance and this last book of his just confirmed my opinion. It is a sad state of affairs in Western Society that writings of such low intellectual level can be so popular. What did Hamlet said about Danmark?

    I do think RD is clever, because he is a gifted writer and finds ways to say things that at first glance sound great. After a moment’s reflection, however, one sees how RD’s arguments begin to unravel. I wouldn’t characterize RD has ‘anti-intellectual”; rather, I think he is intellectually dishonest, which, to me, is a very different thing. It is that intellecual dishonesty that needs to be constantly exposed for what it is.

    I do agree with you that it is a sad state of affairs that one who holds a prestigious university chair at one of the most respected universities in the world can get away with such poorly constructed (though entertainingly crafted)arguments.

  12. Well lets consult dictionary. a : of or relating to the intellect or its use b : developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience : RATIONAL c : requiring use of the intellect
    2 a : given to study, reflection, and speculation b : engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect

    Now I cannot see Dawkins here unless in a very narrow sense.

    anӢti-inӢtelӢlecӢtuӢal

    1. a person opposed to or hostile toward intellectuals and the modern academic, artistic, social, religious, and other theories associated with them.
    2. a person who believes that intellect and reason are less important than actions and emotions in solving practical problems and understanding reality.

    Ok, would you agree that definition 1 fits Dawkins? Reading Dawkins, I would say definition 2 fits as well. Please note that I don’t think he is stupid or not very clever. On the contrary. However, I read and met quite a few atheists and anti-theists who are intellectuals and whose arguments for their beleif are articulate and logical. Dawkins arguments may be articulate but lack logic, I would say.

  13. Ok, would you agree that definition 1 fits Dawkins?

    Not quite. I think he feels that way about religious people in general and Christians in particular. I would also say that definition 2a for “intellectual” fits RD as well, especially the term “speculation”…he has lots of that!! That said, I do agree with you that RD’s major shortcoming is his poor logic. In that regard, college courses in Logic 101 ought to consider using RD’s The God Delusion as their text for the section on ‘logical fallacies’. One would be hard pressed to find so many great examples in one volume anywhere else!

  14. Obviously neither of us, nor our likeminded neighbors, will ever change each other minds, so leaving that behind. I have one innocent question which I’m sincerely curious in knowing the answer to.

    Do ID folks also question other, even more incredible, areas of scientic theory? I mean, Evolution Theory is counterintuitive to be sure, but even a lay person, with a diligent reading of a good book or two, can come to understand its fundamentals and its implications, intuitively even.

    Quantum Physics, on the other hand for example, is completely outside our ability to comprehend it any intuitive way – I forget who the quote is attributed to but it is said that “if you think you understand quantum physics, then you do not understand quantum physics” – it is truly bizarre and awesome, in the truest senses of those words.

    Or Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity – that traveling rapidly through space causes one to travel more slower through time?! Or his General Theory – space itself is curved?! Or the Big Bang, well, no, I don’t suppose you accept that.

    Well how about plate tectonics – it’s pretty counterintuitive – the continents move? Are you insane? This is more similar to evolution in that it make “predictions” about what occurs over eons.

    Do guys doubt these kinds of theories as vigorously as you doubt Evolution Theory?

    And if so, do you think the whole scientific community is just completely insane or something, not just about Evolution Theory, but about Everything?

    Peace.

    P.S. How about this for a scientific assertion which does violence to the common sense. Everytime you drink a glass of water, the odds are quite good that you will imbibe at least one molecule that passed through the bladder of Richard Dawkins. It’s elementary probability theory – the number of H2O molecules per glass of water is so hugely greater than the number of glassfuls in the world, every time we have a full glass, we are looking at a rather high proportion of the molecules of water that exist in the world. (I have an uneasy feeling that I need to point out that it doesn’t need to be Richard Dawkins’ bladder, it could be anyone, George Bush, Jesus of Nazareth, Britney Spears, you pick.)

    The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but possibly queerer than we CAN suppose.

  15. hi dmichaels,

    Thank you for your post. Let me start by addressing your P.S. section.

    You said: “…every time we have a full glass, we are looking at a rather high proportion of the molecules of water that exist in the world.” You must be thinking of a very, very big glass here. Can you give us some indication of the “rather high proportion”? I must admit you lost me there.

    I thing you are making category mistake of puting Darwinian Evolution in the same basket as Quantum Physics. Former is clearly historical science, later is empirical. Surely you know the difference. “ID folks” do not deny evolution, because we know from observation that spieces do change. The question is how far these changes go? Evidence at present answers, not very far. The major flaw in Darwinian Evolution is the origin of novelty: new variations, physiologies, anatomies, and behaviors. So you may think that ID consist only of critisizing claims of Darwinian Evolution, but that is gross misrepresentation. ID is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence. In other words it simply claims that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology and that these causes are empirically detectable. It is a positive argument.

    Back to Quantum Physics. I never heard or read about scientists in this field claiming that their particular theory is a fact, as firmly established as the shape of the Earth. And that defenders of the theory insist that there is no scientific controversy over it, and people who question or criticize it are typically accused of being ignorant or religiously motivated. Have you?

    Regarding Big Bang, Plate Tectonics and other such theories, there are measurements that strongly support them and there is controversy about some of them but these are openly discussed in publications and that is how science should operate. I also never hear of physicist saying that some physical law or phenomena is as firmly established as Darwinian Evolution. As I said we are talking here about two different categories of science.

    Hope this answers your innocent questions.

    Peace to you as well.

  16. Fascinating. Thank you.

  17. Do ID folks also question other, even more incredible, areas of scientic theory? I mean, Evolution Theory is counterintuitive to be sure, but even a lay person, with a diligent reading of a good book or two, can come to understand its fundamentals and its implications, intuitively even.

    ID is not restricted to just biology. ID is a framework for understanding all of nature, so naturally, other sciences come into play. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate to rejection of accepted principles or theories. Even with evolution, ID can accomdate a lot of evolutionary theory. What ID challenges is that evolutionary theory can explain everything we observe in biological systems. In particular, ID claims that, so far at least, evolutionary theory has no explanation for the complex-specified information (CSI) that is observed throughout biological systems. Nor does it seem likely that evolutionary hypotheses (understood as unguided processes driven by chance and necessity or their combination) can in principle even offer an explanation because CSI requires intelligence. In other words, ID seeks to differentiate between intelligent causes on the one hand, and undirected natural causes on the other.

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