I had this discussion with my pastor way back when. I asked him, “Don't you think it is odd that every other major science discipline has figured out how the world works but biologists have gotten it completely wrong?” He admitted that this was puzzling and worthy of consideration. Unfortunately, it is also behind the many “academic freedom” bills that have littered state legislatures in the past few years, since the Dover decision. While there is lip service to the idea that all scientific disciplines should be examined for their strengths and weaknesses, no one seriously doubts that the entire thrust of these bills is aimed solely at evolution.
Q. Are you surprised that, in the 21st century, we're still debating evolution in the public square?
A. Yes, I'm very surprised. I'm not quite sure why of all the sciences, it is evolution that should be singled out for this remarkable treatment. Amateurs who know nothing of science don't attempt to dictate what goes into chemistry or physics textbooks, as far as I am aware. But in the case of my own subject, biology, it's a free-for-all where anyone can say what they think as a personal opinion. These are not matters of personal opinion, these are matters of fact. And matters of fact are determined by the evidence. And it is the evidence that should define what goes into textbooks.
Dawkins does say something somewhat startling, though. When asked:
Q. From your perspective is there any credible evidence for the existence of a God?He replies:
A. No, not to my mind. But I think it's a respectable thing to have an argument about. It's something we can have an intelligent argument in which intelligent people can make points on both sides.This strikes me as being a bit of a lurch from his “Age of Reason” program in which he castigated parents for imparting religious values to their children. If the religious people are “intelligent” people, why can they not pass on these values to their children?
A bit later, however, Dawkins reminds us that a good evolutionary biologist can be a very bad sociologist. The question posed is this:
Q. Do you fear the United States is on its way to becoming a theocracy?Unaccountably, Dawkins answers the question thus:
A. I think that when George W. Bush was president it was starting to look that way. I was of course hugely encouraged by the election of Barack Obama, so I don't think the United States is on its way to becoming a theocracy. But it's something we need to watch. I think there are countries in the world that are theocracies, and they're terrible, terrible examples. Looking at Saudi Arabia, we really, really don't want my part of the world or your part of the world to go anywhere near that.This is patent nonsense. The United States has never even come close to a theocracy, nor will it ever come close. He comments that during George Bush, it was "starting to look that way." No it wasn't. It was during the presidency of George Bush, for example, that anti-Christmas campaigns got going in earnest. There were no freedoms curtailed, there was no religious dictate from on high. There was nothing. One of the people who commented on the story also wrote:
It's hard to take seriously anything else the guy says when he says something that dumb. I'd love to know what Bush policy he's referring to. Is he talking about Bush's faith based initiative program? If so, he doesn't know his facts since Obama has continued the program.Like I said, great evolutionary biologist, mediocre theologian and sociologist at best. Read both the interview and the comments, if you have time.
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