Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Baton For God Bashing

Amit links to a devilishly well-written Guardian essay by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne that sets out to demolish the arguments for Intelligent Design.

They close by asking: Why, finally, does it matter whether these issues are discussed in science classes?

The seductive "let's teach the controversy" language still conveys the false, and highly pernicious, idea that there really are two sides. This would distract students from the genuinely important and interesting controversies that enliven evolutionary discourse. Worse, it would hand creationism the only victory it realistically aspires to. Without needing to make a single good point in any argument, it would have won the right for a form of supernaturalism to be recognized as an authentic part of science. And that would be the end of science education in America.

This debate over whether ID should be introduced as an idea -- not in substitution of, but in very limited conjunction with evolutionary theories -- has thus become, in the hands of some arrogant scientists and atheists, a baton for God-bashing.

The authors here blithely dismiss even the possibility of God as supernaturalism, a false and highly pernicious idea. Mr. Rushdie calls God an antique idea.

If a believer of one faith were to similarly attack the different faith of another, he would be correctly branded a bigot and intolerant. Somehow, we've allowed atheists to use enormously bigoted language against the faith of virtually the entire humanity without challenge.

This, therefore, is no more a reasoned debate of ideas. In fact, the hot-under-the-collar evolutionists don't merely want to teach their theories in class (which, incidentally, we accept humbly as being the mechanisms of nature), they arrogantly want to eradicate the very notion of God from our science-based society.

If secularism was about tolerance, this is surely kryptonite for secularism.


doubtinggaurav said...


Well, I have said it before and I will say it again.
I believe in God, I will be happy if existence and nature of this God is discussed.
However, I believe that such discussion should take place under the subject of philosphy.
Elementary/Secondary biology classes are not a place for discourse on God.
I don't agree that evolution negates the belief in God
I read tha article and broadly agree with it.
However, there were some points which rankled to me, the authors mentioned storks and alchemism to discredit belief in God.Now I think they should have stuck to main premise that ID as a scientific theory doesn't hold.
By digressing to make false analogy and in effect taking pot shots is typical for Atheist side.



PS. As an aside, I was most attuned to the presence of a higher conciousness (this is how I define God) while sutdying Maths in my school years. May we can teach ID in Maths classes :-| .

doubtinggaurav said...

Sorry for nitpicking but I dont think Secularism is about tolerance.
Most of the communist counteries were secular in character.


libertarian said...

I'm not sure you can call the commies secular. Secular connotes areligious or agnostic, while not denying the existence of God. The commies are actively anti-religious or atheist. The broad secular definition certainly covers atheism as a valid personal choice, just as it does religious beliefs of all hues. The commies have a massive bias against all religion, personal or organized.

seven_times_six said...

The authors here blithely dismiss even the possibility of God as supernaturalism, a false and highly pernicious idea.

haha, isn't a belief in God a belief in supernaturalism by definition?
Secondly, what Dawkins and Coyne deemed as "false and highly pernicious" is not the "idea of God" but the idea that "God" and "Evolution" are two equal theories/sides.
Thirdly, God IS an antique idea in the sense that its origins as an idea are quite ancient. Or perhaps you are furious with the idea that God is an idea.

That said, arguing with theists is a lost cause. Only you can see the light as it were. Here is Douglas Adams' interview; it has "converted" more people than any atheist bible I know of.

froginthewell said...

As for the article's merit, I side with doubtinggaurav. And let me remark that the article is nothing but a mediocre summary of pro-evolution arguments.

seven_times_six : "supernaturalism" literally might only mean a belief in a supernatural agency; but here it is suggestive of an unwarrantedly blind worship especially for selfish gains. Similarly "antique" conveys the impression of "outdated" and something that should be rejected by anyone who is "modern".

And let me agree with the authors' proposition that in general there is greater tolerance for atheistic fundamentalism. Sometime back France violated human rights by not allowing people to wear "religious symbols" ( eg. girls' veils ) to classes; but the so-called "religious-freedom" people" did not seem to mind it at all.

Had the atheists been under similar socio-economic situations and represented a specific country/community as many religious bigots, had they had a "charismatic" leader like Osama, I am sure they would fight too. Look at the normal educated people who don't face cultural and political issues - you will as much, if not more hatred and intolerance among atheists.

And Douglas Adams turned from agnosticism to atheism due to some biology book. So what?

Finally, I am really afraid whether in an atheistic society there will be anything like morals/ethics - why should I be nice to others? I haven't found any atheistic answer to this question convincing - probably intelligent design is more convincing than those answers!

Happy to note that there still are bloggers who notice and stand up to oppose atheistic fundamentalism - without resorting to religious explanations. It requires a lot of courage and conviction to do something like this which isn't deemed "cool".

seven_times_six said...

froginthewell, please read Douglas Adams' interview again: he talks precisely about this point of "tolerance of different views".

giving equal credence to two hypotheses: one supported by muddle and antiquated fantasy; and one supported by empirical evidence --- is not tolerance, it is muddleness.

Tolerance is just that: I tolerate your view, I need not respect it.
You could believe in flying spaghetti monsters or invisible pink unicorns; but I need not respect your views.

Respect for a view has to be earned; it is not a birthright. Tolerance and the right to hold your view IS your right however. And that is all you're gonna get.

Take theists themselves: a Christian saying that a belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven is not being bigoted; in fact I believe it is an important part of the Catholic doctrine. Do you then want to say all Catholics are bigoted?

Bigotry means a lack of tolerance;
it DOES NOT mean a lack of respect.

As much as PR and theists might want to jump and foam apoplectically; they are not going to get the respect of atheists for their muddled up big man in the sky view.
Sorry for that.

[Please do read Douglas Adams interview again...]

doubtinggaurav said...


Secularism mean seperation of church and state (from what I understand it).Applied to a person or society, its common interpretation is atheism
Atheism is negation of religion.
Supporting atheism doesnt make you non secular (but I agree you can support a secular state and still be a theist).
In fact that is my grudge against secularists in India most of them (but not all PR being one of them)are closet atheist and in grab of secularism promote atheism by obfuscating masses.


God is not really a big guy in sky (that is sexist by the way ;-))
One problem that I have with modern atheists is that they are agaist concept of Judae- Christian-Islamic God.
The other problem is that they are basically reductionists rather than naturalists, which is a ANTIQUATED idea. (antiquated as in "out of date", sorry antiquated and ancient have different meanings)
May be atheists should study other religions, I don't guarantee that it will convert them, but atleast that will give them an idea what are they up against.
Atheism is really an old idea.
Buddhism, Taoism and other religions were atheistic in nature, atleast initially.
Regarding giving respect to theists, frankly I do not care for it. Giving respect is your own prerogative, if you think I am a lunatic for my belief in God, so be it.
But tolerance as commanly used does mean giving a certain respect to your opponent due to him out of the consideration for his effort.

"As much as PR and theists might want to jump and foam apoplectically".
While many do theists do jump and foam, PR is not one of them.

Ofcourse if some theist were to use such words he will be branded as bigot.

Primary Red said...

Thanks all for your responses. Will react in detail after reflecting on each.

Best regards.

froginthewell said...

seven_times_six : it doesn't matter if Douglas Adams believes in tolerance and not respect or whatever. And I am not saying that being pro-evolution per se amounts to God bashing either ( I agree with doubtinggaurav that "such discussion should take place under the subject of philosophy" ). For similar acerbity/derision in rhetoric, religious people are branded bigoted while atheists are not - I am objecting to the double standards there. And it is by no means true that all atheists are tolerant of other view points - as in the French example I cited. Several, probably most, atheists believe that Government/curriculum should actively discourage religion - and that I would say is intolerance, for instance the way Communist(?) China does. And my point is that such kind of atheistic fundamentalism should not be tolerated.

doubtinggaurav : I agree with almost all of your second post, but except that Buddhism originally was atheistic. The only source we have for Buddha's life and teachings is the earliest Buddhist canon and we only read of Buddha as being silent on the question of "reality". He urged everyone to get right knowledge, discriminate etc. but did not say something like "there is no reason to believe in God". I am not going into furnishing evidence as this discussion is about something else.

BFU Rector said...

I've Gotta play another side on this one.

A nice start would be to close all government schools.

We deserve better than having bureaucrats deciding what we will study.



doubtinggaurav said...

Frog in the well

Well when I called Buddhism atheist in nature, the reason was that accordign to Lord Buddha's philosphy the ultimate truth of life is Nothingness ("Shunyata")
. But yes he did not directly said anything against theism.

* My understanding of Buddhism is very hazy, so I may be wrong.


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