There are times I just really wish the non-specialists would stay out of this discussion:
Peter Higgs, of Higgs-Boson fame. You know, the fact that you've made a name for yourself in science doesn't make you a philosopher of science, nor of religion, nor a theologian nor an expert on anything outside of the field you gained your fame in. But we do love to ask famous people for their thoughts, and then react as if they had showered us with golden wisdom.
Anybody who is a convinced but not a dogmatic believer can continue to hold his belief. It means I think you have to be rather more careful about the whole debate between science and religion than some people have been in the past.
Take, since Mr. Higgs brought him up, Richard Dawkins for example. Please.
In a 2007 post on his website titled "How dare you call me a fundamentalist", Dawkins wrote: "No, please, do not mistake passion, which can change its mind, for fundamentalism, which never will. Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may 'believe', in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.Evidence? Evidence of what? Evidence that I love my wife? What evidence would satisfy Mr. Dawkins of that? Evidence even that I am who I say I am, and that I am married to my wife? What evidence would satisfy him on that? A marriage license with a name on it I claim to be my own? A driver's license with my picture and that name on it? Is that name truly exclusive and no one else could claim it? I know that isn't true, so what evidence of my identify is satisfactory? Evidence that will stand up in a court of law? Or evidence that will withstand scientific scrutiny? Bring me evidence of the existence of Richard Dawkins! And I don't mean evidence of his identity!
Evidence? Pah! As if that refuted the argument that he is a fundamentalist. Did he even try to define "fundamentalism"? Books have been written on the topic; did he read them? Or is this more information he famously doesn't need to be bothered with? He should since Dr. Marty makes a better argument for why Dawkins is not a fundamentalist than Dawkins does.
This is still my primary concern with Dawkins and questions of religion: he's an untutored boob. He's a clueless idiot. He has no education in the field and thinks his ignorance is proof of his insight. He would toss any student in his classroom out for such arrogance, but in him it is proof of his intelligence. Take this, for example, from the child psychiatrist Dawkins:
Responding to a direct question from the interviewer Mehdi Hassan, Dawkins related the story of a woman in America who had written to him about abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of a priest, and the mental anguish of being told that one of her friends, a Protestant girl, would burn in hell.I don't doubt being told other people will burn in hell is bad, but I never read a description of hell equivalent to the one recounted by Frank McCourt in his memoir, and yet Mr. McCourt seems to have survived that alright. Of course, McCourt's anecdote is no more an example than Dawkins; one can always find horror stories about any cultural event, from religion to school to holidays to families. Some of the worst horrors visited on people are done by family members, and yet no one argues we should abolish families. By Dawkins' argument, I wonder why not; except that it is absurd and not to be taken seriously because families do so much more good than harm in society, and yet abuse and incest are primarily the products of families, so.....
"She told me that, of those two abuses, she got over the physical abuse, it was yucky but she got over it. But the mental abuse of being told about hell, she took years to get over," said Dawkins. "Telling children such that they really, really believe that people who sin are going to go to hell and roast forever, that your skin grows again when it peels off, it seems to me intuitively entirely reasonable that that is a worse form of child abuse, that will give more nightmares because they really believe it."
You see what I mean. Dawkins' "arguments" are not arguments, they are self-refuting nonsense. And we're supposed to take this stuff seriously? Why?
But 'twas ever thus. I mean, even Peter Higgs steps all over himself in that quite I opened with:
"But that doesn't end the whole thing. Anybody who is a convinced but not a dogmatic believer can continue to hold his belief. It means I think you have to be rather more careful about the whole debate between science and religion than some people have been in the past."Mighty damned gracious of him to allow non-dogmatic believers to continue to hold their beliefs. Now can we have a discussion about what "belief" means? Maybe get a step or two beyond William James, if we can even get up to Mr. James' conclusion in the first place? And maybe even allow "dogmatic" believers such as Mr. Dawkins back into the tent?
Well, so long as he quits telling everybody else to get out. That gets a bit annoying.