Re: [asa] Expelled

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Apr 29 2008 - 13:39:08 EDT

Dawkins' problems fall into at least three main categories. First is
the tendency to be combative/obnoxious. This is independent of the
merits of his arguments, but it doesn't win friends and positively
influence people. Second is the poor quality of many of his claims at
the factual level. Atheists aren't all morally upstanding
intellectuals who have carefully thought out their positions, and
religious people aren't all brainwashed stupid terrorists. There are
atheist terrorists and religious terrorists, reasonably well-behaved
but annoying atheists and religious people, and nice atheists and
religous people. Atheist and religious are both far too broad a
category for general claims to be accurate. Most atheists and most
religious people hold their views in conformity to some group (such as
parents, peers, etc.; probably the majority of atheists worldwide are
atheists because of indoctrination or coercion by communist
governments); some hold their views as a reaction against a particular
group, and a few have seriously examined their beliefs. Dawkins does
not believe that he needs to actually find out what religious people
believe in order to criticize their beliefs. Finally, there is the
issue that George has been pointing out, namely that Dawkins'
arguments are fundamentally illogical. He claims that there is no
good or bad and claims that atheism is good and religion is bad.

As the moral law is not arbitrary, but actually is what's good for us,
it should come as no surprise that a non-Christian observer can
independently come to the recognition that similar principles are a
good idea, nor that evolution may favor similar principles. (The role
of conscience, etc. means that the moral standards of any human
probably are not entirely independent of God's revelation, though the
fall leaves our innate moral sense highly inadequate.) C. S. Lewis
uses this general sense of right and wrong as a major component of his
argument in Mere Christianity, so it is not a good argument against
Christianity. The evolutionary explanation has two major weaknesses.
First, one can produce scenarios in which evolution could favor any
number of activities, some of which are widely accepted as moral, some
of which are widely recognized as immoral. The mere fact that one can
envision an evolutionary scenario for the origin of something does not
mean you have the full picture. Secondly, the fact that evolution
favors a cultural norm that enjoins particular behavior doesn't
convince me that I ought to obey that cultural norm.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Apr 29 13:40:32 2008

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