Re: [asa] Beauty rather than Design

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Mon Oct 01 2007 - 13:35:14 EDT

Let's be clear, Pim, on why you and I differ here. Dawkins will not define
as "religion" anything that does not invoke a "supernatural" realm. IMO,
that's far too simple and inaccurate a view of "religion," one indeed that
would leave us having to say that many liberal Christians (I think here
especially of the Protestant and Catholic "modernists" from 100 years ago
and their intellectual & spiritual descendants) are *not* religious, even
though they think of themselves as religious and that lots of Buddhists are
not religious, either. No doubt many other people could be added here.

IMO, Dawkins does this b/c he knows that he hates "religion," as he defines
it, and also that (as he admits) his own type of religion (I'm sorry, I
shouldn't say that since he doesn't have any religion) does in fact function
in important ways that are traditionally seen as religious. In other words,
Pim, Dawkins painted himself into a corner and he wants to get out before it

This idea, that religion must involve a supernatural element, is of course
pushed by many secularists, since they want the constitutional advantage (in
the USA) of being able to claim that irreligion is not a religion. Well,
you know, for some in this category that's a fair statement--whatever
religion is, they don't want it; but for others, such as Dawkins, their
hatred for what they call religion goes so far beyond real neutrality that
it amounts to a kind of religion itself. He's religious, Pim. He looks for
reverence and awe in something much bigger than himself, he makes
uncompromising proclamations about morality based on his view of ultimate
reality (namely, that there is no right and wrong b/c utlimate reality is
impersonal nature rather than personal God/gods), and he takes on the mantle
of a true believer, with his screed that *his* view of ultimate reality is
the only true one, that the others are creating false gods.

So, my questions for you, Pim, are these:

(1) Do you agree with Dawkins that "religion" requires adherence to the
"supernatural"? If so, do you maintain that Robert Millikan (who endorsed
Einstein's God, yet served communion in a Congregationalist church) and
Albert Einstein were not religious? If not, then why would you not regard
Dawkins as believing in something like Compte's religion of science?

(2) Is perhaps your own association with PT, which aggressively pushes a
view of "religion" and the first amendment that is friendly to secular
humanism (I mean here the genuine, self-identified religion of secular
humanism, to which prominent NCSE members such as Eugenie Scott and Barbara
Forrest belong) while unfriendly to those of other "religions" who want the
schools to respect their values as much as they respect those of secular
humanists, coloring your response to my questions?


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Received on Mon Oct 1 13:37:41 2007

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