25.3.08

Richard Dawkins, "Lying for Jesus"

Richard Dawkins has written an article on Expelled, a movie about ID coming out soon (maybe =]):

http://richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins

Now, before you read the rest of this blog post, PLEASE go read the article without my opinion coloring your view.










He raises several good questions which need to be answered by the film makers, but he made at least one logical blunder:

"The alleged association between Darwinism and Nazism is harped on for what seems like hours, and it is quite simply an outrage. We are supposed to believe that Hitler was influenced by Darwin. Hitler was ignorant and bonkers enough for his hideous mind to have imbibed some sort of garbled misunderstanding of Darwin (along with his very ungarbled understanding of the anti-semitism of Martin Luther, and of his own never-renounced Roman Catholic religion) but it is hardly Darwin's fault if he did."

Ahem.  May I please point out that you seem to be strongly implying that Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church were responsible for Hitler's anti-semitism? 

Another logical flaw:

"Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen. That, for goodness sake, is the creationists' whole point, when they bang on about eyes and bacterial flagella! Evolution by natural selection is the only known process whereby organized complexity can ultimately come into being. Organized complexity -- and that includes everything capable of designing anything intelligently -- comes LATE into the universe. It cannot exist at the beginning, as I have explained again and again in my writings. "

I could think of another source.  Maybe, just maybe, it could possibly have been a designer from outside the universe?  Maybe?  I don't argue with Dawkins on the point that organized complexity does not spontaneously come into existence.  But maybe he should have allowed for the slight possibility of another solution?


He also berates conservatives:

"I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian). It is one of the classic philosophical fallacies to derive an 'ought' from an 'is'. Stein (or whoever wrote his script for him) is implying that Hitler committed that fallacy with respect to Darwinism. If we look at more recent history, the closest representatives you'll find to Darwinian politics are uncompassionate conservatives like Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, or Ben Stein's own hero, Richard Nixon. Maybe all these people, along with the Social Darwinists from Herbert Spencer to John D Rockefeller, committed the is/ought fallacy and justified their unpleasant social views by invoking garbled Darwinism."

Now, I understand where he's coming from, and his problem is that he doesn't see the whole picture.  He's looking at everything like a good liberal: the government will fix all our social ills, etc., etc., ad nauseum.  Actually, that's not the responsibility of the government (as can be seen from the bungling of things like Social Security and most welfare plans), but instead the responsibility of the church and community.  Yeah, I know that's politics, but still, Dawkins, look at the whole picture of the other side before criticizing them like this.

And, man, this isn't very academic or scientific, or even dignified:

"So, bending over backwards to accommodate the IDiots..."

Name-calling is rude and, dare I say it, juvenile.  I had hoped Dawkins was above this, but unfortunately not.  If there were two laws of academia, they would be "Cite your sources" and "Don't call names".  By calling people names, you turn them off to what you're saying and keep them from being able to accept what you say is true. 

And, finally, to provide a different perspective on the whole Crosssroads became Expelled thing,

"
Could Mathis have been sincere when he originally told PZ and me the film was an honest attempt to examine evolution and intelligent design? The evidence that they had already purchased the Expelled domain name argues against this."

Well, that could be true, but (and I say this not knowing a whole lot about the top-level protocol of film producers) couldn't they have been thinking Expelled might be a good title and bought the domain to keep it available to them?

Those are my thoughts on Dawkins' post. 

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