Irreducible foolishness

I’ve finally started reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. From everything I’ve read by Dawkins so far, and from the reviews I’ve read of his book, I really shouldn’t be surprised by the book, but I have to confess that I still am. I am only in Chapter 3, but from what I’ve read so far, I have to conclude that Richard Dawkins is either incredibly foolish, or incredibly dishonest. As I am prone to think the best of people, I will voluntarily toss out the dishonest option. I am, therefore, inclined to think that Dawkins may turn out to be one of the most incredibly foolish people of the 21st Century.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also started reading Victor Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis, but have become too frustrated with him to read any more at the moment. There’s obviously a reason why his book is nearly universally omitted in any of the recent New Atheist or Anti-God books. So, why would I choose Dawkins as “most foolish” rather than Stenger? The reason is simply popularity; he’s pushed himself to the front of the line of New (Angry) Atheists with his arrogant rhetoric, and may be remembered when Stenger won’t.

So far, Dawkins’ book is mainly a rant against all things religious. He lashes out at everyone he can think of, going back and forth between generalized raving and somewhat more specific lambasts. While he tries to argue against any deity of any definition, he seems particularly annoyed with what he characterizes as the God of the Bible. He makes it clear that he actually knows very little about the Bible or theology, and doesn’t seem embarrassed at all about having definite opinions about things he knows nothing about.

He also seems particularly annoyed (or obsessed) with the United States, which I find interesting. What gives the British any frickin’ right to complain about America? It seems to me that any country who maintains a facade of royalty and whose population has seemingly adopted Diana-worship should provide enough ranting material. But, I digress.

A short example of more Dawkins-foolishness is his seeming review of Behe’s latest book, The Edge of Evolution. Dawkins obviously is quite taken with his own rhetoric, and lays it on pretty thick here. He starts with an ad hominem attack, then goes downhill from there, ignoring the real issues of Behe’s book and mis-characterizing what he does discuss. He even has the gall to plead, “Don’t evade the point by protesting that dog breeding is a form of intelligent design. It is (kind of) …” It’s embarrassing, or at least should be. For a good explanation of how Dawkins’ “review” misleads, jump over to Uncommon Descent.

It has been my experience with bullies (whether on the school ground or in the business world) that those who carry on this kind of rhetoric are compensating. Bullies as children are usually covering up a lack of self-confidence. In the business world (especially with attorneys, who often resort to this type of rhetoric), it’s usually a sign that they are arguing from a very weak position. For years, I have hung a small wooden plaque above my desk that says, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Those who rely on the facts, truth or sound logic do not need to scream to be heard.

So why is Dawkins screaming? Is it a cover-up (i.e. dishonesty), or just the ranting of the irreducibly foolish?

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7 Responses to Irreducible foolishness

  1. me says:

    For those interested in the dog breeding issue, here’s Lawrence Selden’s thoughts on Dawkins’ foolishness.

  2. me says:

    Goffer, are you meaning dog species or dog breeds? Even the family of “dogs” is itself currently considered a sub-species of lupus. And, are the hundreds of dog breeds “mutations” or does the variety result from the genetic potential of doggie DNA? Again, the point is made that at least at the present time, left to interbreed I suspect that more commonality than variety would result.

  3. Goffer says:

    Hey, just saying about the review and the dogs reference…

    Behe argues that mutations are the ‘edge of evolution’ point, that they are to far and few between to make any reasonable change.

    That is why the dogs reference in Dawkin’s review is relevant. That there are enough mutations to create over 500 species of dogs within a few thousand years really doesn’t say a lot for Behe’s argument.

    A more reasonable natural selection choice would have been cats. Instead of humans ‘selecting’ the various breeds, the environment has(deserts, jungles, the various prey in these locations, etc). Lions, cheetahs, pumas, panthers, tigers and the variety of others all are different species that would have come from the same common ancestor. But, the time scale isn’t as pronounced as dogs, which has happened within recorded time.

  4. What are you, then, Robin?

    I am asking you as an atheist, how a vocal atheist becomes a fundmentalist? Any atheist will tell you that if any god were to make an unmistakable evidentiary sign of its, his or her existence we would concede. The lack of such evidence has not deterred in any manner shape or form the fundamentalist religous. They say we have to take it on “faith” that there are other ways of knowing the world and yet can’t produce any coherent structure for knowing; and in fact start wars over the proper way of knowing. Even the less radical ways that fundamentalist politicians in the U.S. who call themselves preachers such as Pat Robertson and James Dobson have as their stated goal to take away religious freedom from the non-believer.

    What kind of ass would be so patronizing as to make such a comment that Dawkins and his “ilk” are God-fearing? We don’t believe in God. Period. It isn’t backsliding. It is non-belief.

    All the so-called “fundamentalist atheist” is saying is NO. You can’t have it that way. If that is your belief and I find it silly I retain the right to say so as much as a Yankee fan has the right to say that the Red Sox are a bunch of wankers. You have the right to retain your beliefs but you don’t have the right to write it into law at the expense of my rights. You should read the Reconstructionists and Dominionists such as Roberston and Gary North and Rushdoonie and the commandants of the Air Force Academy if you want to know what a fundamentalist really is. No quarter will they give.

    Check out the Yurica Report occasionally and then re-evaluate your complaint whether or not Dawkins is a “fundamentalist atheist.” (As if there were shades of nothing.)

  5. me says:

    Perhaps Dawkins doesn’t scream in a literal sense, but the tone of a lot of his writing tends in that direction; it certainly qualifies as a rant, especially when he leaves logic trailing in the dust.

    With regard to the dogs, the only reason that breeds remain distinct is “intelligent selection.” If all dogs were allowed to run wild, I don’t think we’d end up with more breeds, but less. Natural selection does not appear to always (if ever) lead to diversity.

  6. Robin Edgar says:

    “It has been my experience with bullies (whether on the school ground or in the business world) that those who carry on this kind of rhetoric are compensating. Bullies as children are usually covering up a lack of self-confidence. In the business world (especially with attorneys, who often resort to this type of rhetoric), it’s usually a sign that they are arguing from a very weak position.”

    I generally agree. I have to say that fundamentalist atheists like Richard Dawkins and his ilk are amongst the most God-fearing people I know. . . 😉

  7. Alden, I think you are the one guilty of overblown rhetoric here. Screaming? Ranting? Seriously, Dude. It may be a matter of perspective, I guess, but I hardly see him as screaming.

    As for breeding dogs, the point is that the mutations are there, whether Behe allows for them or not. Behe is famous for misusing probability, and any defense of Behe at Uncommon Descent is going to hurt Behe more than help him.

    And the United States is, unfortunately not immune from fawning at royalties. We just can’t grant titles of nobility. We let the press do that. I wrote an entry about the Bushes and the Kennedys a couple of years ago, and celebrity. Don’t get me started on celebrity. Anna Nichole Smith is still dead.

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