Friday, September 2, 2011

The Times (of London) says something weird

The Times has a great article about Richard Dawkins' new book, The Magic of Reality (behind a paywall, but reproduced here), but right in the middle of it they have a couple of paragraphs that leave me scratching my head a bit:

Pitting religion against science, at least in enlightened cultures, is to formalise a dichotomy that need not exist. While [Dawkins] may not agree, many would argue that religion has provided mankind with a moral framework possessed of a strength and clarity that, without God, thinkers since the time of Socrates have struggled to replicate...

The argument that creation requires a sentient creator — the teleological argument — had been ably sunk long before Professor Dawkins’ hero Charles Darwin began to fret whether a benevolent deity would have wilfully created a parasitic wasp that lays its eggs inside the body of a living caterpillar. David Hume perhaps scuttled it best, pointing out that if something as complex as the Universe required a creator, then that creator, being more complex, must have required one, too.

Losing our belief in a creator, though, should not entail we lose our wonder too.

Huh. If I might glibly paraphrase, what I'm hearing here is, "Religion is totally AWESOME! But you know, there's obviously no God, and educated people have known this for centuries..."

(I realize the passage leaves room for a God that is a part of the universe rather than its creator, but... for a lot of people that wouldn't really be God.)

I know what they are trying to do. They are trying to play the usual condescending game of "belief in belief": "I know a lot of you are turned off to Dawkins because he's always hating on religion -- but we don't hate on religion, and we liked this book!" I don't want to get too hung up on this point, it's otherwise a great article. I just feel like the inherent condescension of this position is really on display here. I mean, if I believed in God, I think I'd find that passage a bit off-putting. "I don't believe in that rubbish, but I think it's totally awesome that you are deluded in that way!" Blech. Heh, oh well.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree. "Blech" to that portion of the article (I won't read the rest either).