Saturday 22 August 2009

The Ancestor's Tale

"A voice of reason in irrational times, Richard Dawkins is both theorist and explainer of one of the greatest discoveries of the human mind"

This is the promising introduction to the leading editorial in today's Times. It is a good read and on the whole doesn't disappoint. It is a precursor to the Times's publication next week of extracts from his latest book "The Greatest Show on Earth", in which RD lucidly expounds evolution and its mechanism of natural selection.

"The book’s most obvious accomplishment is to rout “scientific” creationism and its equivalent (and equally absurdly named) doctrine of Intelligent Design. But while that is an exhausting and necessary task, it is only indirectly Professor Dawkins’s message. He is rightly impatient that scientists need devote any time to dogmas that are not testable and yield no predictions, and that are thus exactly unlike science."

However, even the Times, no doubt with an eye on circulation, cannot avoid a concessionary nod to the religiosi:

"Religious faith can be entirely compatible with science and reason. Professor Dawkins’s belief that “moderate religion makes the world safe for extremists” is mistaken and tactically disastrous."

There are two points I would make about this unjustified assertion:-

a) The so-called "moderates", by which I presume is meant those who don't advocate or resort to violence against "unbelievers", have had 2000 years to exert some influence. Surely we could be expecting some results by now?

b) Is it, in any case, "moderate" to believe in an Invisible Magic Friend and, if you do, are you in any position to exert practical influence on those who have their own Invisible Magic Friends giving instructions with which you happen to disagree? Isn't this the very root of the problem? All you will end up doing is to argue about which of you has the true IMF; to which of course there can never be an answer.

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