Science kicked ass in TIME magazine’s “God vs. Science” cover story debate. Atheist biologist Richard Dawkins pretty much blew Christian geneticist Francis Collins out of the theological water.
The article points out that Dawkins is riding the quest of an atheist/agnostic literary wave, each of which I’ve read, or am reading. And can heartily recommend. Cited are Sam Harris’ The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, Dawkin’s The God Delusion, and Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell.
Some other titles mentioned, each of which provides support to the religious skeptic, are Marc Hauser’s Moral Minds, Lewis Wolpert’s Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and Victor Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis.
Reading the debate between Dawkins and Collins, it’s easy to see why authors have no trouble poking religiosity full of holes. Whenever Collins was backed into a corner, all he could do was stammer out some platitude that had nothing behind it but blind faith. For example:
Many of us think these qualities [of altruism] may come from God—especially since justice and morality are two of the attributes we most readily identify with God.
Well, it’s nice that many of you think that way. Many of you also believe the Earth was created a few thousand years ago and that fossils were planted by the Devil to throw people off the scent of God.
It’s also nice to observe such a marvelous example of circular thinking. Believers posit a God who has some positive anthropomorphic moral qualities. Then when people manifest those human qualities, this is taken as evidence that they come from God.
Such faulty reasoning would be laughable if it weren’t practiced by billions of believers. Some of whom fly airplanes full of other people into buildings because of their deluded faith. That makes religious belief unfunny.
Another example of Collins’ empty arguments:
Faith is not the opposite of reason. Faith rests squarely upon reason, but with the added component of revelation.
Good try, Dr. Collins. Problem is, once you add revelation to reason, you no longer have reason. Those who believe that the Bible or Koran is the revealed word of God shut off their rational faculties.
Dawkins tells the story of the American geologist Kurt Wise who earned two advanced degrees in geology and paleontology at Harvard. Then he found that he couldn’t stand the conflict between his religion and his science.
He took a bible and went right through it, literally cutting out every verse that would have to go if the scientific world-view were true.
There was little left. Wise decided that he would accept the Bible and throw out his dreams and hopes in science. Dawkins says that he finds this terribly sad. So do I. This statement by Wise is pathetic:
Although there are scientific reasons for accepting a young earth, I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand.
On exceedingly shaky ground, Dr. Wise. Along with Francis Collins and everyone else who elevates faith above facts.
Reality has a way of winning out in the end. Richard Dawkins won the TIME magazine debate, but religion will bounce back on other fronts.
Temporarily. A thousand years from now, I’m quite sure, our 21st century belief in imaginary gods will seem as quaint as the Greek’s embrace of their own divine pantheon. Zeus in various guises will remain alive and kicking until reality finally knocks him dead.
[Note: I originally said "Ten thousand years from now" above. Someone on a Yahoo discussion group said that I was 90% off on my time line estimate and I agree with them. Let's be optimistic and hope that religion as we know it will be dead and gone by 3006, not 13,006.]