Sunday, November 12, 2006

Richard Dawkins vs. God

Beliefnet has an article up by Richard Dawkins, Why I am Hostile Toward Religion, in which he explains why he feels the need to attack religion so often and so vehemently. Dawkins is very convincing -- and this is where he is most valuable -- when he is defending science, and evolution in particular, from the onslaught of pre-rational religious thinking.

Dawkins is much less convincing, and often just comes across as hostile (not in this article, but in others of late), when he is arguing against all religion and all conceptions of god. For the most part, he can only conceive of god as the fundamentalists do, which suggests he has bought into that worldview hook, line, and sinker.

In what seems to be an attempt at balance, Beliefnet also posted an article by Greg Easterbrook called Does God Believe in Richard Dawkins? This is essentially a review of Dawkins' recent book, The God Delusion. But Easterbrook makes an important point toward the end of his article:
Dawkins states a case against God--but only against the fundamentalist conception of God as omnipotent, omniscient, and in direct control of earthly events. This is only one of many possible understandings of the divine. Many Christians and those of other faiths do not view their Maker as a flawless Absolute, nor does scripture necessarily claim this. In a sense, Dawkins argues against a straw God: the rigid, wrathful ruler of Christian and Muslim fundamentalism.
This is exactly true of Dawkins, and it has been true of Sam Harris much of the time as well.

The argument is going to get more heated before it gets less so. But it would help if those on the side of science and rational thinking could take a bigger-picture look at religion, or at least admit that they are only attacking fundamentalist thinking and not rejecting ALL forms of faith as harmful.

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