Dawkins flogs the factual accuracy of evolution throughout this book. He is an evolutionary biologist, so I would expect nothing less. I respect his authority in this area of study and I appreciate the scientific explanations that it provides for the development and ongoing manipulations to life that see around us.
Unfortunately, Dawkins is out of his league when he tries to apply his learning to the religious domain. At best, he misses some key details when he attempts to criticize religious faith and its historical, philosophical and ideological ideals. At worst, he fails at the basics of which he should know better: he uses red herrings to distract from articulating and dealing with the topics at hand, he fails at applying proper logic in many of his arguments and when he questions Christianity, he fails to address the great volume of academic literature in support of Christian source validity. This is disappointing, as Dawkins’ valuable academic accomplishments should better equip him than what we see in this book.
For a moment, let’s take a look at “science as God-killer”:
The scientific method is not perfect. Early research into new areas of study can look like a child dipping a toe into a pool of water to check the temperature. If scientific method was bang on, there would be no wasted research or hypotheses that fail to obtain a tangible result. I know… I know… all research is valuable as even in failure, it can discount potential theories so that they can be discounted for further study. That is valuable, yes. But if science has all the answers, then why wouldn’t the hypotheses be right the first time?
As an example of science-gone-wrong, consider the recent problems highlighted in recent reports about Dr. Charles Smith, a high profile coroner who specialized in the field of forensic child pathology. His scientific conclusions significantly contributed to several convictions in suspected child abuse cases. The problem is that under closer examination, Smith’s findings were found to be problematic. Science definitely failed the ruined lives of those that were potentially falsely accused.
Or, closer to this discussion of evolution, let’s look at a recent finding by Maeve Leakey and his colleagues in Africa: Paleontologists continue to question the factual accuracy of evolution. Consider this article in The Washington Post as just one example off the ongoing debate:
Fossil shakes evolutionary tree
Nature, the “International Weekly Journal of Science” published these findings as well, so this is peer-reviewed work.
While I don’t dispute the basic claims made by Dawkins about evolutionary theory, I do question the logic that says that evolution completely replaces the idea of a creator God. Who’s to say that God didn’t use evolution as his tool to generate life.
My point here isn’t that evolution is wrong or that Leakey has disproved evolution. My point here is just that evolution has yet to be fully explained or understood. I would argue that we may never fully understand evolution. And similarly, God is not fully understood, nor do I think God ever will be. This doesn’t disprove God though.
And for those that are still claiming that there is no evidence for God, well… just because you refuse to examine the evidence and consider it in support of God doesn’t mean that the evidence doesn’t exist.
I’ve got two more “scientific conundrums” for you:
LOVE: Science has tried to explain love for years but with little success. For those materialistic atheists out there, I’d love to understand how you can explain love if you strictly look to the material world and empirical evidence to support your claims. Why do we love? Does love not exist because we can’t scientifically explain it?
FREE WILL: Does the scientific worldview support free will? Science can’t seem to answer either way, as it will end up contradicting itself either way:
- If yes, then doesn’t free will run contradictory to the idea that everything can be predicted based on the conditions and circumstances that lead up to each action? If science can ultimately answer everything, then it must subscribe to a worldview based on predestination.
- If no, then are we really capable of making any decisions for ourselves, including whether or not we follow a religion? In this case, does Dawkins feel powerless to make a difference on his own, or is he simply following the predestined path that has been set out for him?
- No – part 2 And further, if no, what caused this “causal chain”? And then where did that first un-moved mover come from? The 18th century Enlightenment philosophers questioned the validity of the causal chain, saying that we don’t necessarily live within the boundaries of a causal chain. So, if Dawkins’ scientific worldview does not support free will, then how does the idea of cause and effect balance out based on this paradox? Don’t we need cause and effect in order for evolution to work?
So, just as we don’t have all the answers about religion, there are plenty of problems there with the scientific worldview as well. I’m no expert in this area, but if my simple mind can understand these scientific problems, then I can just imagine the more complex problems that exist and that have no answer. So Dawkins, my question to you is, “Why are you so arrogant?” You don’t have all of the answers. You’re hardly in the right place to be talking down to other people with such an authoritative tone.
Ultimately, I think the answer becomes one of cohabitation. I feel the presence of God in my life every day. And, I appreciate God’s presence, just as I appreciate the scientific progress in understanding the world that God has provided for us. I am thankful for the scientific research that allows us to lead fuller, richer lives. But I am conscious of the limitations that surround practical scientific research. While science provides us with tools for survival, science lacks the moral compass required to be wise with it. for that, I look to God.
A quick thanks to everyone who has been patient and dedicated enough to take this trip through Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” with me. I hope that you’ve found it as valuable as I have found it. I’ll take the next couple of posts to respond to some reader comments. Thanks to everyone that has submitted comments so far. Your questions and comments have been enjoyable. I’m especially grateful to the skeptics out there who I have been constantly aware of when writing my posts. You’ve kept me honest and at the top of my game.
Thanks again and talk soon,