Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The Dawkins Delusion

Professor Richard Dawkins, the high priest of mechanistic rationalism, has attracted a lot of attention over the years which, alas, has been largely favourable, due primarily to the failure of organised religion to expound any credible guidance on the likely nature of the afterlife. Many of his books, including The God Delusion attacking religious belief, have been bestsellers. Some years ago in the Channel 4 programme Enemies of Reason Dawkins turned his attention to tackling ‘the epidemic of irrational, superstitious thinking which is blotting the light of logic and evidence’. Targets for his scorn included astrologers, water diviners, tarot card readers, aura photographers, faith healers, mediums and new age psychics.

Dawkins places great emphasis on scientific observation, reason, logic and evidence. However, his fanatical insistence that the mysteries of life can be explained entirely in terms of matter, and his rejection of a cosmic designer, leads him to shamelessly break his own rules whenever it suits him. For example, he believes, without a shred of evidence, in the sudden emergence from inorganic matter of a ‘self replicating molecule’ as the source of all life on earth, despite it being contrary to the most fundamental laws of both biology and chemistry. Yet Dawkins believes in its existence just as irrationally as those who claim that our personalities are determined by the conjunction of the planets.

Dawkins defines a monkey as a ‘machine that preserves genes up trees’, in the same way presumably as cars are machines for travelling along roads. However cars, unlike monkeys, are unable to move themselves without human assistance. Dawkins ‘explains’ the perfect order of the universe in terms of trillions of ‘multiverses’ in which our own universe, just by chance, happens to be the one that is so finely tuned that it functions correctly. Needless to say he provides no evidence for the existence of these multiverses, which instead are nothing more than the figments of his fertile imagination.

Dawkins is no doubt correct when describing many religious beliefs as superstition. However, at its core religion is unquestionably right in its belief in the existence of the soul. This can be defined as the permanent non material life entity or spirit which cloaks itself in matter, namely the physical body, in order to gain experience and provide a vehicle for self expression. This cannot be proved scientifically, but it appeals to reason and logic much more persuasively than Dawkins’ doctrine, also unproven, that living beings are nothing more than the molecules that comprise their bodies.

In a recent TV series Wonders of Life, fellow atheist Professor Brian Cox pondered the question of how life came into being. He put forward the theory that life first arose in ‘hydrothermal vents’ in the ocean. But he completely avoided explaining how the DNA code, the blueprint for the diversity of life, could miraculously become embedded in early cellular life which (also unexplained) mysteriously arose out of non living molecules. Neither Dawkins nor Cox appear in any way perturbed by this sleight of hand evasiveness, sticking to their evidence free dogma that DNA encoded cellular life arose spontaneously from inorganic molecules.

Returning to Enemies of Reason, Dawkins mischievously lumped together the obviously bogus with the genuine. So who was genuine? The answer must clearly be the medium linked to the Spiritualist church (but not the one at the psychic fair). Dawkins suggestion that his responses were the result of a supposed technique known as ‘cold reading’, (that is the asking of leading questions to elicit a favourable response), is nonsensical and ludicrous given the accuracy and specific nature of the messages that Spiritualist mediums regularly provide time after time. In the preparation of his TV programme Dawkins would, of course, have noticed this, but he is not such a fool as to destroy his reputation by admitting as much publicly. It is accepted that the response of our materialistic focussed society is dismissive towards Spiritualism, by individuals who have mostly never taken the trouble to investigate the matter for themselves. But there can be no justification for pandering to their collective ignorance.

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