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Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Dawkins Is Wrong

Richard Dawkins, pictured, is wrong.

Stripping away the tedious arguments, his position is that a) God does not exist (as any of the major religions imagine such a being) and that b) belief in God is damaging to society, particularly as it leads to conflict and to fundamentalism that is anti-rationalist. Dawkins is one of the leading atheists of our age. And one of the richest.

My position is antithetical to his.

Taking a), first. It is impossible to prove, using scientific method, the hypothesis "God does not exist" - just as it is impossible to prove the opposite (logically unverifiable) statement. The best a scientist can do is accept an agnostic position - that there is no way of knowing whether or not a God exists. Agnosticism is a sound position. Atheism is an irrational one.

Now, b). If there was no belief in God (i.e. no religion) there would still be conflict and resistance to reason and science. Conflict, between humans, as individuals, tribes and nations (wars, ultimately) is driven by power relations and the need to control a limited supply of desired resources and objects, including other people. As most natural resources are finite, and becoming more so, conflict is likely to continue, with or without any religious sanction. Indeed, from a purely rationalist standpoint, conflict is sometimes the only logical away to defeat one's enemy, subjugate their people, and possess their resources (sadly). Furthermore, regardless of contrary claims, leaders simply use religion (and other causes and belief structures) to drive their own agendas. Other terms like "Freedom" or "Nation" or "Reason" can and have been used in place of religion, to justify the conquest and liquidation of millions of persons. Indeed, the worst atrocities of the 20th century were mediated by ideological and racist positions that had, at base, no religious cause.

There will always be an impulse within humanity to withstand a totalizing definition from Science for all we do and are - irrational, artistic, or spiritual as it may be. The fact is, those "scientists" who refuse to factor in the Religious impulse are only studying half of the human experience, and are therefore unable to make convincing statements about existence, or reality.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/hay2007/story/0,,2089947,00.html
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