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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Thursday, October 30, 2003

the world according to Richard

In the world according to Richard Dawkins most other people, but not Dawkins himself or his disciples, suffer from an “infected mind” - that “programmed-in gullibility of a child, so useful for learning language and traditional wisdom, and so easily subverted by nuns, Moonies and their ilk.” But not by atheists or Social Darwinists, or humanists…

Indeed we seem to be presented with the image of Richard Dawkins as a man who can’t sleep at night for worry over nuns subverting innocent minds?

Dawkins even coined a term - “memes” - to describe “the units of cultural inheritance, analogous to genes (the units of genetic transmission), which are acted upon by natural selection.”

In An Interview With Richard Dawkins in Skeptic magazine subtitled, ironically, DARWIN'S DANGEROUS DISCIPLE, Dawkins speculated:

[the religious view]... it's a kind of pathetic, childish response to some failure.

… I ask, "What would it feel like if you were the victim of a mind virus?" Well, you would feel within yourself this deep conviction that seems to come from nowhere. It doesn't result from any evidence, but you have a total conviction that you know what's true about the world and the cosmos and life. You just know it… You go around proselytizing and persuading other people to accept your view… an effective parasite…

The more you write down the features that… a mind virus would have, the more it starts to look like religion.

I do think that the Roman Catholic religion is a disease of the mind which has a particular epidemiology similar to that of a virus... Religion is a terrific meme… But that doesn't make it true and I care about what's true. Smallpox virus is a terrific virus. It does its job magnificently well. That doesn't mean that it's a good thing. It doesn't mean that I don't want to see it stamped out.

Why would he want to see it eliminated? Because he personally doesn’t “like” it? Or because there is some empirical scientific reason to do so? Dawkins doesn’t tell us. In fact he steadfastly refuses to discuss the basis of morality, and why his morality should be applied to others who differ with him e.g. religious believers.

But the questions remains: How does Dawkins define “truth” and “goodness”? What is moral and what is immoral? When Dawkins later asserts “I don't think racism is a good thing. I think it's a very bad thing. That is my moral position.” what is the basis and nature of the “position” he is referring to? Morality implies a binding code of behaviour and conduct that stands over and above the individual, so how does Dawkins objectively and scientifically assess the binding nature of his own morality while rejecting the “immorality” of the religious believer? “I think… therefore it is so?”

Rather bizarrely in the same interview he then blithely responds to the question “How do you determine whether something is good or not, other than by just your personal choice?” with “I don't even try. You keep wanting to base morality on Darwinism. I don't.” as if that represents an answer to the question. Is Dawkins saying that while he has moral positions nevertheless he doesn’t distinguish between good and evil?

Is Dawkins in this breath-taking piece of hypothesising, fantasizing and confabulation asserting that religion is immoral simply because he doesn't like it ... and, after all, he is a world-famous celebrity scientist. So there! It wouldn’t be, couldn’t be, the result of Dawkins’ own arrogant and superior anti-religious atheist mind virus now would it?

As Dawkins gets older and further removed from doing any actual science, he spends more of his time pontificating on matters philosophical, ethical and theological (badly at that). Eventually no-one will be able to take him seriously.

“Oh no, Cheryl, not that big mouth Dorkins again on the telly full of hot air, ranting and raving about Catholics and fundamentalists and other God-botherers.”

Dawkins has become the exact mirror image of the “religious fanatic” he is forever denouncing. And like them he has his fervent devotees, his acolytes and disciples, who hang upon every one of the master’s - the guru’s - words; they then go into all the world proclaiming the gospel of Dawkinism.

In his newspaper op-eds, his magazine pieces, his television appearances, Dawkins is forever playing the righteous - and rigid - moralist, on a mission to “stamp out” the evils of God and religion. But what does Dawkins base his own outspoken and passionate morality on? He is always spouting off about truth or falsehood, goodness or badness as if he is speaking objectively about some clearly identifiable empirical and scientific facts rather than personal preferences. If these are not merely expressions of his “personal choices”, what are they? Why should anyone else give a damn what Dawkins’ personal views or choices are?

Is Richard Dawkins, the man who holds the Chair in the Public Understanding of science at Oxford, really such an obsessive atheist, and hypocritical “blind guide” that he can’t even see the fatal flaw in his own worldview? In whuch case his own mental landscape is probably the best argument in favour of his theory of memes or mind viruses…

He denies it vehemently, but Dawkins’ “ultra-Darwinism” is just the old Spencerian Social Darwinism and Galtonian Eugenics dressed up in new clothes. And it ultimately leads to the same destination - a “brave new world” of dehumanization, terror, oppression, and enslavement - all in the name of “humanity”. Dawkins is quick to take offence at this characterization of his views. He states - and I agree with his sentiment totally - that:
In my opinion, a society run along "evolutionary" lines would not be a very nice society in which to live. But further, there's no logical reason why we should try to derive our normative standards from evolution. It's perfectly consistent to say this is the way it is--natural selection is out there and it is a very unpleasant process. Nature is red in tooth and claw. But I don't want to live in that kind of a world. I want to change the world in which I live in such a way that natural selection no longer applies.

I think it is not helpful to apply Darwinian language too widely. Conquest of nation by nation is too distant for Darwinian explanations to be helpful. ..I would prefer not to invoke Darwinian language for that kind of historical interpretation.

Is this the same Richard Dawkins speaking? "Normative standards"? Despite his rejection of “Darwinian ethics” it is hard, if not impossible to see, on what basis he, as a militant atheist, can build a workable framework of morality ("normative standards") on anything other than naturalism or materialism. And he's already admitted that can't be done...

In regard to his own "meme" theory, does Professor Dawkins realize how much his ideas about “religious viruses” reflect those of one of history’s bloodiest tyrants?

The executions involved entire families including small children for Pol Pot believed that dissenting ideas and attitudes, derived from one’s social position, education, or occupation, were “evil microbes” that spread like disease. Members of the communist party, considered susceptible to contagion, were also subject to liquidation.

…The toll of these massacres were appalling… the Pol Pot regime was responsible for the death or population deficit of some 2 million Cambodian citizens, or over one-quarter of the population.

Richard Pipes Communism: a History of the Intellectual and Political Movement Phoenix press London 2002 pp134-135

Who knows? Perhaps Pol Pot, during his years in France took time off from absorbing the ideas of the French Enlightenment thinkers (the precursors of atheism, Darwinism socialism and state terror - all in the name of humanity and the man-made utopia of course) to read Dawkins' The Selfish Gene?

Dawkins, the child of the Enlightenment, the reformer, heartwarmingly asserts: “I want to change the world in which I live in such a way that natural selection no longer applies.”

But not yet it seems…
It may be noted that there were no demonstrations anywhere in the world against these [Cambodian] outrages and the United Nations passed no resolutions condemning them. The world took them in their stride, presumably because they were committed in what was heralded as a noble cause.

Some western intellectuals, unwilling to blame ths unprecedented slaughter on the Communists, attributed it to the Americans, who in 1969-73 had bombed Cambodia in an attempt to destroy the Viet Cong forces that had sought refuge there. It is difficult to see, however, why the Cambodian’s’ rage against Americans would vent itself on the killing of 2 milion of their own people...

Pipes p135

[In a typical Hollywood liberal take this indeed was the very theme of Roland Joffe's film "The Killing Fields".]

Of course, Pol Pot’s killing fields pale into insignificance when compared to the pogroms of the Sisters of Mercy don't they?

So in the final analysis the Dawkins solution to a world of terror, bloodshed, violence, oppression, democide and genocide, red in tooth and claw, is to... stamp out nuns…?

10:04:00 pm