Thursday, November 26, 2009

For once, Dawkins sticks to his expertise

Amazingly, in THIS INTERVIEW, atheist Richard Dawkins refuses to give anything other than a "hunch" when asked to deal with issues that fall outside his field of expertise. Now, I have to commend Dawkins for this. As I WROTE a few days ago, you shouldn't argue something when you haven't done your homework. That is, stick to what you know. And when Dawkins is pressed to answer questions like, "what existed before the beginning of the universe," Dawkins rightfully refused to answer, since his field is in evolutionary biology. And since "Hunches aren't interesting, hunches aren't valuable. What's important is scientific evidence," it would have been futile for Dawkins to engage in issues that fall outside his field; at least not in public forums in front of thousands of viewers.

But what I don't understand is why Dawkins would write a book hundreds of pages long, namely, The God Delusion, dealing with arguments that he describes as "hunches." Sure, there is a substantial amount of information that falls within his field. But it would be no stretch to say that the bulk of the material falls completely outside his realm of expertise. Is Dawkins going to admit that the vast majority of his book is merely a "hunch?" I highly doubt anyone reading The God Delusion would ever get that impression. Instead, they will read the words of an author who is "almost certain" that his views are correct (in particular, his view on God's existence).

Let's put this into perspective with Dawkins' words in regards to "hunches," i.e. things that fall outside his field. And in this example, I will show what Dawkins is really implying when we substitute "the bulk of the material in The God Delusion" for "hunches":

"[Most of what I wrote in The God Delusion] isn't interesting, [Most of what I wrote in The God Delusion] isn't valuable. What's important is scientific evidence"

As I stated in my BOOK REVIEW of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins needs to be challenged to hold his arguments to a higher standard. And to be fair, i'm not suggesting that Dawkins cannot argue philosophical points unless he has a philosophy degree. If that were the case, then i'd be in trouble. But what I am suggesting is that if you are going to write a best-seller and appear on major TV and radio outlets in dealing with subjects that fall outside your field, then you should at least do your homework. That way, you wouldn't have to refer to areas outside your expertise as mere "hunches."

(ht: Ray Comfort)

1 comment:

Chaz said...

Mike, have a look at this article. IMO it is the best crisp assessment I come across of Dawkins' (and the like minded) dilemma.