Richard Dawkins, Darwin and psychogenic illness

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evolution darwin theory
Late in Charles Darwin's life, Darwin told the Duke of Argyll that he frequently had overwhelming thoughts that the natural world was the result of design.[1] In a letter to Asa Gray, Darwin confided: "...I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science."[2] See also: Question evolution! campaign

A psychogenic illness is one that originates in the mind or in a mental condition. Psychosomatic disorders and mental illness that is not caused by an underlying physical condition are examples of psychogenic illnesses.

There is a considerable amount of scientific evidence that suggests that theism is more conducive to mental and physical health than atheism (See:Atheism and health).[3]

The medical literature and historical evidence suggests that the evolutionist and agnostic/atheist Charles Darwin suffered from psychogenic illness related to the controversies that surrounded his evolutionary ideas (see: Charles Darwin's illness). In addition, the historical evidence indicates that Darwin had both agnostic and atheistic sentiments (See also: Religious views of Charles Darwin).

According to the evolutionist, new atheist and agnostic Richard Dawkins: Dawkins' doctors advised him to avoid controversy; he suffers from chronic high blood pressure; Dawkins believes his recent stroke may have been stress related and may have been caused by a controversy with his fellow skeptics which caused him to be temporarily disinvited to a skeptics conference; and Dawkins' says he is not very good at avoiding controversies (see: Richard Dawkins' health).

Furthermore, Richard Dawkins has a reputation for being an angry and aggressive man (see: Richard Dawkins and anger and Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins). Even Dawkins admitted, "Well, perhaps I'm angry."[4] His demeanor cost him large reduction in his amount of public influence (See: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence).

According to Glenn Gandelman, MD, "A recent study indicates that angry men have higher blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease.[5]

Charles Darwin, controversies, wavering unbelief and mentally caused illness

See also: Charles Darwin's illness and Atheists doubting the validity of atheism

Charles Darwin in 1880 at the age of 71.

For most of his adult life Charles Darwin suffered from very poor health.[6] The 1992 New Encyclopedia Britannica stated that Darwin's illness was psychogenic in origin.[7] A 1997 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association declared concerning Darwin's illness that the "variable intensity of symptoms and chronic, prolonged course without physical deterioration also indicate that his illness was psychiatric." [8] In addition, a journal article in the American Journal of Medicine states that Darwin suffered from "psychoneurosis provoked and exaggerated by his evolutionary ideas".[9] The American Journal of Medicine article also stated that his Darwin's wife, Emma, greatly disapproved of his evolutionist ideas and "This, facsimile of public reaction, must have kept lively his anxiety and torment".[10]

According to medical journals Darwin suffered the following symptoms: palpitations, shortness of breathe ("air fatigues" ), light headedness ("head swimming" ), trembling, crying, dying sensations, abdominal distress, and depersonalization ("treading on air and vision"), nausea, severe vomiting, flatulence, alimentary canal pain, various forms of eruption of the skin, and nervous exhaustion.[11]

Late in Charles Darwin's life, Darwin told the Duke of Argyll that he frequently had overwhelming thoughts that the natural world was the result of design.[12] In a letter to Asa Gray, Darwin confided: "...I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science."[13]

Darwin once wrote to his physician 'We are a wretched family and ought to be exterminated.' [14] Given Darwin's likely psychomatic or psychobiological illness, various creationists have stated that Darwin's illness was the result of guilt and/or fear.[15][16]

Richard Dawkins' public persona flip-flops between atheism and agnosticism

Richard Dawkins' public persona flip-flops between agnosticism and atheism (see: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism).

Cult of personalities and Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins

There is a cult of personality and type of religiosity currently surrounding Charles Darwin. Stephen Jay Gould wrote the following in 1978: ""... all theories [of natural selection] cite God in their support, and ... Darwin comes close to this status among evolutionary biologists ...".[17] In 2002, Michael White similarly wrote: "Of course today, for biologists, Darwin is second only to God, and for many he may rank still higher."[18]

Despite recently having a large loss of public influence (see: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence), Richard Dawkins also has a cult of personality which follows him (see: Richard Dawkins' cult of personality).

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins speaking in Reykjavik, Iceland.

On August 16, 2014, Andrew Brown wrote an article for The Spectator entitled The bizarre – and costly – cult of Richard Dawkins which declared:

...the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak...

But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’

The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.

At this point it is obvious to everyone except the participants that what we have here is a religion without the good bits.[19]

Dawkins is an extremely avid admirer of Charles Darwin

Dawkins is an extremely avid admirer of Charles Darwin and believes that Darwin was a genius who "had a big idea, arguably the most powerful idea ever."[20][21]

Richard Dawkins, anger and stress/controversy induced illness

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins has encouraged his supporters to go beyond humorous ridicule.[22] He wrote, "I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt."[23] See: Atheism and mockery

See also: Richard Dawkins' health and Richard Dawkins and medical science

As noted above, Richard Dawkins has a reputation for being an angry and aggressive man (see: Richard Dawkins and anger and Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins).

Additionally, as mentioned above, according to Glenn Gandelman, MD, "A recent study indicates that angry men have higher blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease.[24] PubMed has numerous studies relating to anger and high blood pressure.[25][26]

As indicated previously, according to Richard Dawkins: Dawkins' doctors advised him to avoid controversy; he suffers from chronic high blood pressure; Dawkins believes his recent stroke may have been stress related and may have been caused by a controversy with his fellow skeptics which caused him to be temporarily disinvited to a skeptics conference; and Dawkins' says he is not very good at avoiding controversies (see: Richard Dawkins' health).

Atheist Hemant Mehta reported about Dawkins' stroke and Dawkins' report that he had been once again invited to the conference:

It was the result of stress-related higher blood pressure, which he says he may have had as a result of recent controversy, including being booted from the NECSS conference. He added, however, that on February 5, he received a letter from conference organizers apologizing for disinviting him and asking him back to the conference.[27]

The Religion New Service reported about Dawkins: "He said doctors 'keep advising me not to get involved in controversies and I am afraid I had to tell them that controversy — that not getting into controversies — is one of the things I am not particularly talented at.'"[28]

Despite the medical advice of his doctors, Dawkins had a very active Twitter presence before his minor stroke (with a number of Twitter controversies) and numerous public controversies.[29]

Dawkins has accumulated over 30,000 Twitter tweets.[30] The Independent reported, "Dawkins also admitted he wasn't very good at managing Twitter and the strong reactions his posts tend to provoke. 'Twitter is very difficult medium to handle,' he said. 'I’m not much of a diplomat.'"[31] However, after his stroke, in May 2016, Dawkins gave up posting on Twitter for awhile and the tweets that appeared in his name were done by his staff.[32]

In December of 2016, Dawkins appears to have started to Tweet again despite his doctors warnings to avoid controversy (For example, he tweeted that Britain had become a "nasty little backwater" after the Brexit vote and his Tweet drew fierce criticism).[33][34][35]

In short, Dawkins repeatedly ignored the medical advice of his doctors.[36] [37][38]

In 2013, Martin Robbins wrote in the New Statesman concerning the public persona of Dawkins: "Increasingly though, his public output resembles that of a man desperately grasping for attention and relevance..."[39]

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins at the University of Texas at Austin.

The National reported concerning the agnostic and evolutionist Richard Dawkins:

There was a time when the British scientist Richard Dawkins was widely admired...

More recently, he has shifted his attention to religion and has become known as one of its fiercest opponents. His insistence on allowing for none of the shade and subtlety that characterise the works of scholars such as Karen Armstrong, author of acclaimed books on Islam and the history of the monotheistic religions, have offended and infuriated millions. But they also have thrilled his followers who wish all discussion of faith to be banished to the fringes of the public square.

Mr Dawkins has always been pugnacious. When I interviewed the philosopher Daniel Dennett, a professor at Tufts University and a fellow leading member of an atheist group that calls itself the Brights, he described himself as being the “good cop” to Mr Dawkins’s “bad cop”. Mr Dennett conceded: “Richard is so hostile and aggressive that he’s unsympathetic.”

But now, Mr Dawkins’s unwillingness to treat anyone who disagrees with him as though they had even half a functioning brain cell is putting off even his own supporters.

“Richard Dawkins, whatever happened to you?” read a recent headline in The Guardian, the British newspaper whose readers and staff are generally among the most sympathetic to him. What does it say when a home to some of the most ardent atheists wants Richard Dawkins, frankly, to put a sock in it?[40]

Christianity Today indicated about Richard Dawkins:

Some atheists have sought to distance themselves from Dawkins because they feel the combative way in which he argues against faith is doing more harm than good for the atheist cause.

Dawkins appears to care little about what others think about his approach, atheist or otherwise, as after all these years he's still gunning for the religious.

In his own eyes at least, "aggressive" would be too strong a term for his stinging attacks on faith.

"I'm not aggressive!" Dawkins exclaimed in last week's appearance at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (University of Connecticut), when Dean Jeremy Teitelbaum asked him why he had come to take "quite an aggressive stand against God and promote atheism".

On second thoughts, "Well, perhaps I'm angry," he admitted, before dropping the pretences altogether and making clear what he thinks about anyone who teaches children anything other than his beliefs on evolution.[41]

Richard Dawkins' stroke and Christians praying for his recovery

Richard Dawkins' website on faith healing. Bible believing Christianity and prayer experiment

See also: Studies on prayer and Argument from religious experience

Dawkins' website published an article against faith healing on his website written by the atheist Jerry Coyne.[42]

Bible believing Christianity and prayer experiment

The Christian Post reporter Stoyan Zaimov wrote:

Double-blind prayer experiments: where people pray for others with terminal illness. Habermas admitted that most such experiments have not worked, but the three that he knows of that have indeed worked were cases of orthodox-Christians praying for the sick.[43]

Gary Habermas has also discussed documentations of miracle claims and referred to thousands of cases around the world of documented miracles, including those where medical doctors witness prayer healing people with severe physical disabilities.[44]

See also

Notes

  1. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/notes.html
  2. http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2109
  3. Multiple references:
  4. Richard Dawkins: I'm not aggressive about God...perhaps just angry
  5. Anger, Stress and High Blood Pressure, Glenn Gandelman, MD, MPH
  6. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v17/i4/darwins_illness.asp
  7. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v17/i4/darwins_illness.asp
  8. Charles Darwin and Panic Disorder" by Thomas J. Barloon, MD and Russel Noyes, Jr., January 8, 1997 Journal of the American Medical Association
  9. "The Illness of Charles Darwin", William B. Bean, September 1978, American Journal of Medicine
  10. "The Illness of Charles Darwin", William B. Bean, September 1978, American Journal of Medicine
  11. "The Illness of Charles Darwin", William B. Bean, September 1978, American Journal of Medicine and "Charles Darwin and Panic Disorder" by Thomas J. Barloon, MD and Russel Noyes, Jr., January 8, 1997 Journal of the American Medical Association
  12. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/notes.html
  13. http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2109
  14. The descent of man Mail Online, February 23, 2009
  15. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v17/i4/darwins_illness.asp
  16. http://www.pathlights.com/ce_encyclopedia/Encyclopedia/20hist06.htm
  17. http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/dar1.html
  18. http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/dar1.html
  19. The bizarre – and costly – cult of Richard Dawkins, The Spectator, Andrew Brown 16 August 2014
  20. Why Darwin matters by Richard Dawkins, The Guardian
  21. The three-part television documentary The Genius of Charles Darwin was written and presented by Richard Dawkins
  22. Dawkins: Mock them. Ridicule them! In public
  23. Dawkins: Mock them. Ridicule them! In public
  24. Anger, Stress and High Blood Pressure, Glenn Gandelman, MD, MPH
  25. PubMed - Anger and hypertension
  26. PubMed: Anger and high blood pressure
  27. Richard Dawkins Gives Update on His Health in Audio Message
  28. Richard Dawkins says stroke caused by stress over controversy, Religion New Service
  29. Richard Dawkins Twitter
  30. Richard Dawkins defends Ahmed Mohamed comments and dismisses Islamophobia as a 'non-word'
  31. Dawkins: I’ve Given Up Twitter.
  32. Richard Dawkins: England becoming a 'nasty little backwater' after Brexit vote, The Telegraph, March 2017
  33. SHOCK RANT: Richard Dawkins mocks Christians for 'pretending' there's WAR on Christianity, Express, December of 2016
  34. What British Scientist Dawkins Thinks Of Islam, Swaraya, June 7, 2017
  35. An update on Richard’s condition in his own words, Richarddawkins.net
  36. Richard Dawkins Said He Was Stressed by Controversy Over Tweet Before Stroke, Christian Post, February, 2016
  37. Richard Dawkins says stroke caused by stress over controversy, Religion New Service
  38. Atheism is maturing, and it will leave Richard Dawkins behind
  39. Richard Dawkins has gone so far, he’s lost even his atheist friends, The National
  40. Richard Dawkins: I'm not aggressive about God...perhaps just angry
  41. [Faith Healing Kills Children] by Jerry Coyne
  42. Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism by Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post, October 14, 2013
  43. Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter