Why Richard Dawkins is Wrong about Religion

From David Sloan Wilson:

RICHARD DAWKINS AND I share much in common. We are both biologists by training who have written widely about evolutionary theory. We share an interest in culture as an evolutionary process in its own right. We are both atheists in our personal convictions who have written books on religion. In Darwin’s Cathedral I attempted to contribute to the relatively new field of evolutionary religious studies. When Dawkins’ The God Delusion was published I naturally assumed that he was basing his critique of religion on the scientific study of religion from an evolutionary perspective. I regret to report otherwise. He has not done any original work on the subject and he has not fairly represented the work of his colleagues. Hence this critique of The God Delusion and the larger issues at stake.

Worth reading.

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One Comment on “Why Richard Dawkins is Wrong about Religion”

  1. Collin Says:

    I’ll say it’s worth reading! Note this zinger at the end, where Wilson recounts Dawkins’s

    …heart-warming example of a scientist who changed his long-held beliefs on the basis of a single lecture, rushing up to his former opponent in front of everyone and declaring “Sir! I have been wrong all these years!”

    This inspiring example represents one end of the scientific bell curve when it comes to open-mindedness. At the other end are people such as Louis Agassiz, one of the greatest biologists of Darwin’s day, who for all his brilliance and learning never accepted the theory of evolution. Time will tell where Dawkins sits on the bell curve of open-mindedness concerning group selection in general and religion in particular. At the moment, he is just another angry atheist, trading on his reputation as an evolutionist and spokesperson for science to vent his personal opinions about religion.
    (from http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-07-04.html )

    Which reminds me of Sagan’s pronouncement that the cosmos is all that ever was, etc.

    As for my own moment of “I have been wrong all these years!” — that was over three decades ago, in the spring of 1978. I was totally opposed to the idea of Jesus rising from the dead. I had what McDowell called an anti-supernatural bias. (Of course I had! I had a bachelor of *science* degree, right? I believed in scientism, not in idiotic ideas propounded by religious dogmatists too lazy to investigate facts.)

    Of course I myself had refused to investigate facts around the death and purported resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This historical event, had it actually happened, would strongly suggest Sagan was badly mistaken. Dawkins too. I didn’t want to think it actually happened, because that could mean there was someone — Someone or Something out there to whom I might be accountable.

    Somehow, though, like the man in the gospels, the scales fell off my eyes, and I was enabled to see that my closed-mindedness might be hiding the truth from me (or, if you like, I was using my closed-mindedness to hide from the truth).

    And yes, it’s certainly possible for religious believers to do the head-in-the-sand thing; just look at Matthew 28:11-15 or John 11:43-50, but as Wilson points out, this closed-mindedness isn’t limited to theists.


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