KARL JASPERS FORUM
Commentary 7 (to C3, Raman)
( ON DAWKINS )
by Paul Roberts
24 March 2008, posted 29 March 2008
The dialogue between theist and skeptic (kudos to VVR for his skilful answers) in TA 106 mirrors many going on today. Richard Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion" is a wonderful compendium of favorite theist arguments plus Dawkins' apt rebuttals. It is difficult for people enmeshed in supernaturalism to appreciate naturalistic points of view. Why should people question faith, which seems (to theists) so obviously a good thing ? When VVR points out its evils, the crusades or jihads that often follow too much faith in a god, PS sidesteps the issue - and asks if the wise have become foolish!
Near the end, we find the argument from design, that something must have started all this, "...energy...God" but not an anthropic god. So, PS has apparently moved beyond billions of fellow theists in sophistication, is, in fact, among the learned he dismisses ("It really makes no difference to believers"... what elegant writers say. Surely Dawkins is the most elegant of those writers, with Christopher Hitchens ("God is Not Great") a close second. Why do rationalists such as Dawkins or Hitchens bother to argue with the faithful, those to whom facts "really make no difference ?" It boils down to politics: the world is too small, civilization too fragile for crusades and jihads--or for the pious inertia of those who insist on Divine Providence. Those who continue to believe in it either dont know or dont care about the facts of life: that 99% of all species that have ever existed have become extinct; and, that 2/3 of all human conceptions are spontaneously aborted (with most going unnoticed). Dawkins knows this and is trying to make humans more self-reliant by becoming more rational, more scientific in thought pattern.
We evolved for millions of years in small bands or tribes. For us primates, the world is <anthropic>: social, personal--with leaders,
followers, chiefs, kings...and, yes, gods. How easily we fall into that trap (or make that leap of faith)! Near the end of his great book, a must read for any who doubt that the world is purely physical and the supernatural a delusion, Dawkins says, "Science flings open the narrow windows... (of our anthropic models of reality) ... and we are liberated by reason to visit new possibilities..."
e-mail <robertsp (at) science.oregonstate.edu>