Monday, October 29, 2007

Ricard Dawkins and Religion

Recently, I browsed Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. It is obviously intended to be atheism's answer to Christianity (specifically Christianity, Dawkins suggests that the Eastern religions are more lifestyles than religions. They aren't.) Dawkins wants atheists to call themselves "Brights", and even goes to far as to approvingly mention an atheists version of the Ten Commandments, which he copied from a website. (I guess it was just too hard to think of his own).

Dawkins never explains why atheists would want commandments (the root of commandments is command, and who is giving the command?), but holds them up as proof of the superior desirability of the atheist philosophy. His commandments are:

(1) Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
(2) In all things, strive to cause no harm.
(3) Treat your fellow human beings,your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
(4) Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
(5) Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
(6) Always seek to be learning something new.
(7) Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
(8) Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
(9) Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
(10) Question everything.

If this is the best atheists can come up with, then that movement really can't reasonably claim the title of "Brights". Of these, numbers five through nine are more truisms then commandments; they are so obvious as to hardly need stating. Number ten doesn't really mean anything- it seems straight out of Catch-22. (Should we question whether we should question everything? Also, if we are to question everything, then these commandments are pretty pointless, aren't they?) Numbers one through four can be summed up as "the Golden Rule stated four different ways."

Richard Dawkins is widely respected expert on evolution. While his philosophical ideas are endorsed only by a minority, everyone is the scientific world acknowledges his knowledge of biology in general, and evolution in particular. Given these credentials, you would except him to have a better understanding of evolution.

Dawkins believes that any differences between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom are differences of degree, not type. The goal of an animals life is to pass on as many of his genes as possible. The fitter the animal, the more genes it passes on. That is how evolution works- the genes of the strongest are passed down.

"Doing unto others" doesn't aid in that endeavor in the slightest. Helping others, if looked at from a strict standpoint of survival, is nearly always a mistake. Considering that fact, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins should try to get his moral beliefs in line with science. Quite simply, either evolution or Dawkins' moral beliefs are wrong. Evolution isn't*, so Dawkins is.

*By the way, I have read most of the creationist arguments against evolution. They don't hold up. Here are some good articles regarding evolution and creationism. I don't agree with everything this person says, but he does make some good points.


At October 29, 2007 at 8:05 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Great analysis, Daniel!

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