Posted by: rusch | June 20, 2007

Don’t fear the Dawkins

This post was inspired by an email sent late last night in response to a blog post about Krista Tippet and how she counters Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

This journey began a few weeks ago when my next door neighbor Craig recommended that I read The End of Faith, by Sam Harris. I borrowed his copy and eventually picked a copy of my own thinking it would be a good read. After fifty pages I realized that this was the best eighth grade term paper that I have ever read. If you are thinking about reading this book, save your money and time. I will sum it up here. The main idea of Harris’ book is that unless everyone abandons faith in what he calls “ridiculous ideas”, we are going to destroy ourselves and the world. To me this is a rather simplistic way of viewing very complicated problems.

A few months ago, the “eminent” Richard Dawkins, whose contribution to science has been wonderfully produced documentaries for the BBC, wrote a book called The God Delusion that similarly states that all of the world’s problems are caused by religion.

After taking in a good portion of Dawkins and Harris, this idea seems ridiculous when some very simple facts are considered.

Dawkins asserts that if their were no religion, and everyone were atheist secular humanists, that a number of horrible things in the past, and that are happening now, would simply not be. One thing that he points out is that if humanity had moved beyond the point where they needed a belief in God, that the Crusades would not have happened. Dawkins assertion is so simplistic that once some simple facts are taken into consideration, you can see that there are serious problems with this, and Christopher Hitchens’ and Sam Harrris’, hypothesis.

The Crusades were garbed in Christianity. This is undeniable. But what Dawkins chooses to ommit is that the “Holy Land” presented great opportunities for wealth. Whoever controlled the Middle East, controlled important trade routes with Asia and thus a source of wealth that would strengthen Kingdoms at home, and significantly increase with your influence abroad. While there were many who died in the name of Christ on the hot sands of that region, there were a significant number of people who amassed large amounts of wealth when they held the Holy Land. Though they did not ever control the Holy Land, the Templars represent one group who were perhaps in it for the money when you consider how much wealth they were able to amass.

Dawkins also fails to mention that in the twentieth century, the atrocities on par with the Holocaust, were committed by governments that were Atheist. For example Stalin is responsible for just as many deaths, if not more, then Hitler. Mau and Pol Pot’s respective secular atheist governments in Asia slaughtered tens of millions.

Dawkins and Harris are dishonest and employ strawman arguments to make their case. They point out atrocities, that have complicated multiple causes, but let the blame rest on the shoulders of those who believe in God. I find this very dishonest, and for me, totally discredits their arguments.

Dawkins claims that his atheism is the result of years of studying evolution, the equivalent of the “F” word for many fundamentalist Christians. But someone who is making significant contributions to the human genome project, perhaps the most important area of scientific inquiry in our time, Francis Collins, is a Christian. I wonder how Richard Dawkins feels about that? Maybe he will make a documentary for the BBC.

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