Richard Dawkins and agnosticism

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Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is the denial of the existence of God.[1][2][3] In recent times, however, atheists have attempted to dilute the definition of atheism (see: Attempts to dilute the definition of atheism).

Although Richard Dawkins declared himself an agnostic in the book The God Delusion, he declared that atheist evangelism is important.[4] Author Vox Day wrote concerning this matter, "While the fact that Dawkins declared himself a literal agnostic in the very book in which he declared the importance of atheist evangelism is both ironic and incoherent, it will surprise no one who has read the chapter of The Irrational Atheist entitled "Darwin's Judas".[5] Atheist philosopher Dr. Michael Ruse declared concerning Dawkins' book The God Delusion: "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist."[6] Also, despite being an elderly self-declared agnostic, in his book The God Delusion, Dawkins said that "permanent in agnosticism in principle" is "fence-sitting, intellectual cowardice".[7]

In February of 2012, Dawkins declared that he believed that there is a 6.9 out of 7 probability of God's non-existence (approximately a 1 percent probability of God's existence according to Richard Dawkins).[8][9] Although Dawkins was an agnostic in 2006, in 2002 Richard Dawkins publicly argued for the position of militant atheism and declared that he will not feel anything after death.[10] [11] The historian Dr. Tim Stanley wrote that he believed Dawkins is taking a foolish gamble and Dawkins is risking spending an eternity in hell.[12] Dr. Don Batten, a scientist at Creation Ministries International, wrote that despite Richard Dawkins' skeptical protestations, Dawkins appears to be a God-hater.[13]

Many atheists like to make a distinction between strong atheism and weak atheism. They define strong atheism as believing God does not exist, while weak atheism as neither believing nor disbelieving. However, this usage is incorrect, and has been invented by atheists to boost their numbers. If you believe God does not exist, you are an atheist. If you neither believe nor disbelieve, you aren't an atheist, you are some kind of agnostic.

Contents

Criticism of fairies at the bottom of the garden analogy

On July 18, 2012, a supporter of the Question evolution! campaign showed the folly of Richard Dawkins' comparison of fairies at the bottom of the garden to the issue of God's existence. According to Dawkins' faulty and irrational analogy, there is about a 1% chance that fairies are at the bottom of the garden.[14]

A supporter of the Question evolution! campaign wrote:

Richard Dawkins wrote in his book the God Delusion: "I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden" (God Delusion, page 74). In addition, Dawkins said in his book the God Delusion that on a 7 point scale of being sure that God does not exists: "I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7."

In 2012, in video recorded discussion with Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Dawkins said he was 6.9 out of 7 of sure that God does not exist and counted himself as an agnostic.

A 6.9 out of 7 would mean that Richard Dawkins believes there is about a .986 percent chance that God exists. In short, according to Dawkins, there is about a 1% chance that God exists.

Since Richard Dawkins likened God's existence to fairies being at the bottom of the garden, why does Dawkins believe there is about a 1% chance that fairies are at the bottom of the garden?

Dawkins is either being disingenuous or he is being irrational or a combination of both is occurring. Anyone who gives weight to Dawkins' views on the existence of God or his views on the creation vs. evolution controversy is obviously displaying bad judgement.

Sin is very irrational. Dr. Don Batten, a scientist at Creation Ministries International, wrote that despite Richard Dawkins' skeptical protestations, Dawkins appears to be a God-hater. This seems to be the best description of Dawkins' behavior.

It really comes as no surprise that Dawkins has been noticeably quiet about the 15 questions for evolutionists of the Question Evolution! Campaign. He obviously cannot satisfactorily answer the 15 questions.[15]

Publisher's notice of his upcoming book and the issue of inconsistency and flip-flopping

On June 5, 2012, the Christian Post reported:

Famed atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins has set out to write a new book that will focus on his own evolution toward the path of atheism.

"Dawkins will tell the story of his own intellectual evolution, explaining how his groundbreaking work as a scientist led to his work as an atheist," states Dawkins' new publisher HarperCollins' Ecco. The book has not yet been given a title, but is expected to be on bookshelves by 2014.[16]

In response a supporter of the Question evolution! campaign wrote in an article entitled Atheism is rudderless and unseaworthy:

The article Atheism is rudderless and unseaworthy written by a supporter of the Question evolution! campaign wrote: "Christians should call Dawkins on his disingenuous flip-flopping if his publisher continues to promote the book as a book focusing on his journey to atheism without mentioning the fact that Dawkins is presently an agnostic who has rejected atheism."[17]
The publisher's notice of the upcoming book using the term "atheist" can be found on several other prominent internet properties besides the Christian Post such as Publishers Weekly, The Blaze, Christianity Today and Galleycat (Galleycat is on the Media Bistro domain).

First, Richard Dawkins has gone from being a militant atheist to being an agnostic.

Vox Day wrote about Dawkins' inconsistency when it comes to the issues of atheism and agnosticism...

Christians should call Dawkins on his disingenuous flip-flopping if his publisher continues to promote the book as a book focusing on his journey to atheism without mentioning the fact that Dawkins is presently an agnostic who has rejected atheism.

An author calling himself an atheist or a publisher giving the impression that someone is an atheist may sell more books as it is more provocative, but it isn't intellectually honest if the author has rejected atheism and is an agnostic. If Dawkins claims to be an agnostic who is unsure if God exist or not, then he should clearly communicate this to the public and so should his publisher. Dawkins has been unreasonable as far as his alleged agnosticism and I recommend reading the article Why does Richard Dawkins have such a high belief in the possibility of fairies being at the bottom of the garden?

Given the weakness of his argumentation and the vitriol which often accompanies it, I agree with Dr. Don Batten that the weight of the evidence points to Dawkins being a God-hater.[18]

Title of the book The God Delusion displayed odd and inconsistent behavior

A July 25, 2012 article entitled Is Richard Dawkins a flip-flopper declared:

Another reason why Dawkins displays odd behavior in reference to the atheism and agnosticism issue is that he titled a recent book of his The God Delusion. Obviously, this is an odd title for an agnostic author to name a book - especially one who asserts there is about a 1% chance that God exist in his estimation. This odd behavior leads me to the conclusion that the reason the book was titled The God Delusion was for crass marketing reasons as it is more provocative title which would grab more press headlines and sell more books.

Think about it. If there was a 1% chance that something existed, would you call your neighbor delusional if he believed it existed? No, you would not. Sure, you would think the odds are against your neighbor in terms of his belief, but you would not think he is delusional. The term delusional is generally used in connection with ideas that are insane to believe due to there being overwhelming evidence to the contrary.[19]

Ben Stein interview with Richard Dawkins revealed Dawkins to be an agnostic/weak atheist

See also: Richard Dawkins and pseudoscience and Instances of Richard Dawkins ducking debates

In the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a documentary concerning suppression of the intelligent design movement, Ben Stein interviewed Richard Dawkins and Dawkins revealed himself to be an agnostic/weak atheist.[20] In addition, Ben Stein demonstrated the folly of evolutionism in his interview with Richard Dawkins (A clip of the interview has been uploaded to YouTube ). Moreover, in terms of the theism vs. atheism issue, Dawkins has shown himself to be rather ignorant in matters of theology and philosophy. For example, atheist philosopher Dr. Michael Ruse declared concerning Dawkins' book The God Delusion: "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist."[21]

The Discovery Institute provides an transcript of part of the interview along with some commentary:

BEN STEIN: "What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution?"

DAWKINS: "Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it's possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer."


Ho,ho! That is precisely what the Raelians say:

Years ago, everybody knew that the earth was flat. Everybody knew that the sun revolved around the earth. Today, everybody knows that life on earth is either the result of random evolution or the work of a supernatural God. Or is it? In "Message from the Designers", Rael presents us with a third option: that all life on earth was created by advanced scientists from another world.

Richard Dawkins and Rael; "clear thinking" kindred spirits! [22]

A Christian apologetics website provides some additional commentary on the Ben Stein/Richard Dawkins interview which focuses on Dawkins response to Ben Stein's questions about the likelihood of the existence of God:

In this interview there is the following exchange between Ben Stein and Richard Dawkins. Mr. Stein prefaces the exchange with this comment: “Professor Dawkins seemed so convinced that God doesn’t exist that I wondered if he would be willing to put a number on it.” Here is Professor Dawkins response, “Well, it’s hard to put a figure on it, but I’d put it at something like ninety-nine percent against or something like that.” Mr. Stein responded with this question. “Well, how do you know it’s ninety-nine percent (“I don’t,” Dr. Dawkins interjects.) and not, say, ninety-seven percent?” Dr. Dawkins continues, “You asked me to put a figure on it and I’m not comfortable putting a figure on it. I think it’s… I just think it’s very unlikely.” “But you couldn’t put a number on it?,” Mr. Stein clarifies. “No, of course not,” said Dr. Dawkins. “So it could be forty-nine percent?,” Mr. Stein asks. Dr. Dawkins replies, “Well, it would be… I mean I think it’s… it’s… it’s unlikely, but… but… I… and it’s quite far from fifty percent.” (He's very difficult to quote.) “How do you know?,” Mr. Stein asks. “I don’t know, I mean, I put an argument in the book,” Dr. Dawkins responds.[23]

Stein expressed surprise in the narration that Richard Dawkins "believe[d] in intelligent design."[24]

Instead of attempting to defend abiogenesis, Dawkins actually suggested directed panspermia—the very thing that Francis Crick once suggested to explain life's beginnings.

Richard Dawkins and deism

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins,

(photo by Shane Pope, Title: Richard Dawkins, obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

See also: Richard Dawkins and pseudoscience and Instances of Richard Dawkins ducking debates

In 2008, the reporter Melanie Phillips wrote in the American Spectator:

On Tuesday evening I attended the debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox at Oxford’s Natural History Museum. This was the second public encounter between the two men, but it turned out to be very different from the first. Lennox is the Oxford mathematics professor whose book, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? is to my mind an excoriating demolition of Dawkins’s overreach from biology into religion as expressed in his book The God Delusion -- all the more devastating because Lennox attacks him on the basis of science itself. In the first debate, which can be seen on video on this website, Dawkins was badly caught off-balance by Lennox’s argument precisely because, possibly for the first time, he was being challenged on his own chosen scientific ground.

This week’s debate, however, was different because from the off Dawkins moved it onto safer territory– and at the very beginning made a most startling admission. He said:

A serious case could be made for a deistic God.

This was surely remarkable. Here was the arch-apostle of atheism, whose whole case is based on the assertion that believing in a creator of the universe is no different from believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden, saying that a serious case can be made for the idea that the universe was brought into being by some kind of purposeful force. A creator. True, he was not saying he was now a deist; on the contrary, he still didn't believe in such a purposeful founding intelligence, and he was certainly still saying that belief in the personal God of the Bible was just like believing in fairies. Nevertheless, to acknowledge that ‘a serious case could be made for a deistic god’ is to undermine his previous categorical assertion that

...all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection...Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.[25]

Richard Dawkins 2006 interview with Alister McGrath

Dr. Carl Wieland is the Managing Director of Creation Ministries International

See also: Richard Dawkins and pseudoscience and Instances of Richard Dawkins ducking debates

Creation Ministries International reported:

A correspondent kindly let us know of a BBC television interview with Richard Dawkins which was first broadcast in Britain in September 2006, shortly after he’d published his latest book The God Delusion. During that interview, Dawkins let slip a comment which, on the face of it, seems to be an amazing softening in his (formerly?) scoffing disdain for the idea that a ‘Supremely Intelligent Being’ is behind the laws of the universe.

He made the comment while being interviewed with Alister McGrath on the BBC Heaven and Earth television program, hosted by Gloria Hunniford.1 The interview opened with both men recounting how they’d arrived at their present views—McGrath from atheism to belief in a Creator, specifically the God of the Bible; Dawkins from ‘a Christian upbringing’ to atheism. Note the two ‘events’ that Dawkins cited as being pivotal in his slide into atheism:

He remembers thinking, ‘Since there are so many different religions, they can’t all be right’, so he says he became an agnostic. [Indeed, they can’t all be right, but it is logically fallacious to argue from this to ‘they must all be wrong.’ For a counter to this, see: ‘Holy Books?’]

Dawkins says the key atheism-inducing event was ‘really when I discovered Darwinism’. [And he’s not the only one to have unfortunately (and erroneously) been so influenced — see ‘Playwright just plain wrong’.]

Sitting next to the eloquently-spoken McGrath, and under some pressure from interviewer Ms Hunniford’s challenge that Dawkins had ‘no proof’ to justify his ‘there is no God’ stance, in his following comments Dawkins—though still clinging to his belief in a self-creating universe—appears to forget his past outspoken disdain for the concept of an Intelligent Designer:

‘You can’t prove the non-existence of anything, so it’s impossible to prove that God doesn’t exist. … None of us believes in Thor and his hammer, none of us believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. … The best explanation I could just about imagine somebody saying [would be] some sort of immense cosmic intelligence—that I could …—I mean, I don’t believe that but I could just about respect that.’

On the face of it, that’s quite a concession, compared to Dawkins’ previous rants and disparaging railings against any such suggestion of an ‘immense cosmic intelligence’ being behind the laws of the universe.[26]

Richard Dawkins and misotheism

Recently, a Christian apologist called Richard Dawkins a "cowardly clown" for refusing to debate apt debate challengers such as the creation scientists at Creation Ministries International.[27] Dr. Jonathan Sarfati recently published the book The Greatest Hoax on Earth which rebuts Richard Dawkins' recent book The Greatest Show on Earth.[28]

In 2008, Dr. Don Batten of Creation Ministries International wrote:

Dawkins’ proselytizing ways remind me of my pimply youthful days at boarding school where those into smoking cigarettes and boozing (worse was yet to come) seemed to be really keen to get others to follow their destructive and illicit behaviour. Why did they try to coerce their fellow students into doing such things? Was it ‘safety in numbers’, that they felt a little guilty for their behaviour and would feel more secure if they could get more to join in their little rebellion?

Professor Dawkins’ obsessive campaign to try to convince others to be atheists reminds me of those days. Perhaps it is not that Dawkins really believes that there is no Creator-God, but that he wishes there were not and if he could just convince enough others to agree with him, then he will feel more secure. Has he confused his wishful thinking for reality? Perhaps ironically, the Humanist Manfesto III says, ‘We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be.’ Dawkins’ wishful thinking comes out in his definition of biology, where he wishes away the evidence for design (a Creator):

‘Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.’

Another self-professed atheist, Thomas Nagel, Professor of Philosophy at New York University, put it rather candidly:

‘I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and naturally, hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.’...

So, is Richard Dawkins an atheist? He seems more like a God-hater than a genuine atheist. That’s why my colleague, Jonathan Sarfati, invented the word ‘misotheist’ (hater of God), which he has applied to Professor Dawkins and other fanatical opponents of the God of the Bible.

George Orwell identified this sort of ‘atheist’ in the character of Bozo, in Down and Out in Paris and London: ‘He was an embittered atheist (the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him)’. Interestingly, in The God Delusion, Dawkins carries on about what he doesn’t like about the God he doesn’t believe in.[29]

See also

References

  1. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philisophy - Atheism and Agnosticism
  2. Is Atheism More Rational? by Creation Ministries International
  3. Atheism - Etymology
  4. Mailvox: Richard Dawkins is not an atheist!
  5. Mailvox: Richard Dawkins is not an atheist!
  6. http://www.alternet.org/media/47052?page=entire
  7. The God Delusion, page 70
  8. Mailvox: Richard Dawkins is not an atheist!
  9. I'd go to church just to reduce the probability of spending eternity in Hell with Richard Dawkins by Dr. Tim Stanley, The Daily Telegraph, February 27, 2012
  10. Mailvox: Richard Dawkins is not an atheist!
  11. I'd go to church just to reduce the probability of spending eternity in Hell with Richard Dawkins by Dr. Tim Stanley, The Daily Telegraph, February 27, 2012
  12. [http://creation.com/is-richard-dawkins-an-atheist Is Richard Dawkins an atheist? by Dr. Don Batten
  13. Why does Richard Dawkins have such a high belief in the possibility of fairies being at the bottom of the garden?
  14. Why does Richard Dawkins have such a high belief in the possibility of fairies being at the bottom of the garden?
  15. Richard Dawkins' Next Book to Focus on Personal Path Toward Atheism
  16. Atheism is rudderless and unseaworthy
  17. Atheism is rudderless and unseaworthy
  18. Is Richard Dawkins a flip-flopper?
  19. http://www.discovery.org/a/4589
  20. http://www.alternet.org/media/47052?page=entire
  21. http://www.discovery.org/a/4589
  22. http://www.readyalways.org/Home/does-god-exist
  23. D'Souza, Dinesh. "Ben Stein Exposes Richard Dawkins." <Townhall.com>, April 21, 2008. Accessed April 21, 2008.
  24. http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/2543431/is-richard-dawkins-still-evolving.thtml
  25. http://creation.com/is-richard-dawkins-weakening
  26. http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/richard-dawkins-cowardly-clown
  27. http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/richard-dawkins-cowardly-clown
  28. Is Richard Dawkins an atheist?
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