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Monday, October 02, 2006

Question of the Day #66: The Gospel of Richard

Richard Dawkins has famously said that evolution "'made it possible to be an intellectually satisfied atheist." What do you think of this statement? Do you agree? Does it logically imply that it is not possible to be "an intellectually satisfied atheist" without evolution? If not, what does it imply?

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6 Comments:

At 10/02/2006 5:11 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Derek Sansone always says that any debate between theism and atheism always comes down to the question of design. I think there's a good bit of truth to that, because one of the fundamental questions of life is "where did I come from?" Although an understanding of evolution is not necessary for one to conclude that atheism is true, it does go a long way towards answering that question. What Dawkins means, I think, is that before we could scientifically explain the development on life on this planet, theists always had a, if not a paralyzing, still a rhetorically satisfying rejoinder to any question of the existence of God. "How do you explain the existence of elephants and buffalo and butterflies, without first accepting the existence of God?!"

But I think confining his sentiment to evolution is perhaps a distortion of what Dawkins is really trying to get across. Not just evolution, but the whole of science has taken the place of God for atheists, insofar as God has been the great cosmic answer to the questions of life. Ultimately, proffering a god-concept as an answer is technically possible, but intellectually vacuous, becuase it's essentially admitting ignorance. On the other hand, science (although not absolute in its conclusions) gives a much more satisfying answer because we can have a high degree of confidence in its methods.

 
At 10/02/2006 7:15 PM, Blogger quailman declaimed...

In response to Mr. Moore, I don't see how we could claim that science has "a much more satisfying answer" because it simply has less than the theist answer. Theists may claim, and I think the most reasonable ones do, that God's law is the scientific law, for it is 'His' will that determines that law. Science, in respect of evolution, does not account for the existence of things at all, it simply says how they exist. However, you seem to claim that since science does not answer why things exist, but simply that they do and how they do, it is more satisfying. This seems to ignore the question of why things exist (which perhaps one may deny as a 'real' question), but nevertheless is what theists attempt to account for. And, even with science as opposed to religion, most opinion is that the way things are does not rely on people's perception of it, but how it is itself (the tree isn't there because I see it, but because it's there). Otherwise no theist could claim an atheist was wrong and no atheist could claim a theist was wrong. So, it seems that the theist answer being outside the realm of personal experience may as much recommend it to our satisfaction, as it may condemn it.

 
At 10/03/2006 1:39 AM, Blogger Francisco Rodriguez declaimed...

It's not that some atheistic arguments were any less congent before Darwin, but that life still seemed too complex to deny or cast doubt upon God's ecistence. What evolutionary theory did was shatter to pieces the already ill-conceived design argument.

 
At 10/03/2006 12:11 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"So, it seems that the theist answer being outside the realm of personal experience may as much recommend it to our satisfaction, as it may condemn it."

It's meaningless, therefore you like it?

 
At 10/03/2006 9:21 PM, Blogger quailman declaimed...

In response to Mr. Tremblay, Mr. Moore was arguing that science gives a more satisfying answer because of (I presume) its reliance on empirical repetition. However, I was saying that the Truth (whatever that may be) is not what we perceive alone, but a thing that does not need to be perceived by us, or even be perceivable by us. A mountain might tumble over on a distant planet or a volcano erupt and it does not matter at all (in regards to whether or not it does happen) that I see it happen. So on with things not perceivable by us. My point is nothing more or less than someone might be as well satisfied with a thing that explains everything and relies on something we can't understand, as a thing that explains somethings and relies on what we do understand. Such is theism and belief in science alone.

 
At 10/04/2006 5:35 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"My point is nothing more or less than someone might be as well satisfied with a thing that explains everything and relies on something we can't understand"

Oh, there are plenty of people who are satisfied by it, even if it makes their lives totally meaningless.

 

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