In the context of heated arguments between Dawkins fanboys and freer thinkers : can I request that everyone taking part in such debates first read Terry Eagleton’s review of The God Delusion, titled Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching? There is much material in it that is relevant to this kind of discussion. I would much love it if any further debates of that nature could be informed by every paragraph in that review.
I can just as easily deal in tired, overused, clichéd Dawkins-fanboy responses. They’re getting particularly boring and irritating. (Kinda like quoting Biblical truthisms? *ducks and runs*) That kind of rhetoric might work in certain fundie circles, it might even work on 95% of all Christians (I doubt it though), as most Christians are as “theologically illiterate” as Dawkins was when he wrote “The God Delusion”. (I prefer to believe Dawkins himself is a little more theologically literate than he lets on, or that he has learned quite a bit since the publishing of his polemic.) This blog isn’t a fundie blog though. If you want to spout fundamentalistic empiricism, please do so elsewhere.
Here’s an interview with Dawkins that might irk some fanboys: God… in other words. There is a lot of good stuff to read there. One little excerpt that is relevant:
“I do think that intelligent, sophisticated theologians are almost totally irrelevant to the phenomenon of religion in the world today. Regrettable as that may be.” Why so? “Because they’re outnumbered by vast hordes of religious idiots.”
Unfortunately for Dawkins, people often judge him based on the behaviour of those that look like his “followers”. These fanboys sadly lack Dawkins’ more admirable qualities. Jesus kinda has the same PR problem today.
Some thoughts from a review of Alister McGrath’s book, “Dawkins’ God”:
Throughout, McGrath maintains a balanced tone, treating Dawkins’ writing respectfully even when it is ignorant or nasty. He also contents himself by showing that Dawkins’ atheism is suspect rather than demonstrably wrong.
If that sounds odd, it is because we have been conned into the kind of over-simplistic thinking that Dawkins sometimes promotes and that McGrath criticises – specifically, the idea that unless something can be proved, it is false; that either you know something by proof or you don’t know it at all. McGrath shows that this is not so; that many theories are critically ‘underdetermined’ by evidence and that it is not just religious people who live by faith.
I’ve misplaced a link to another McGrath review that I quite liked. (It was more critical, and had a particular piece I wanted to quote.) Oh well.
Exercise to the reader, especially the atheistic ones: identify some of the things that you accept, despite them being “underdetermined” by evidence.