Red-headed tot ponders the origin of the cosmos at Maria’s Taco Xpress, October 11, 2006
Richard Dawkins is pretty high up on the extremely short list of people for whom, if it were lunchtime and he’d forgotten his wallet, I’d like to buy a delicious taco. At this writing, the only person higher on that list is me. Here is why I would spot Dawkins a delicious taco:
“But even,” he says in an October 13 Salon interview supporting his new anti-god book, “if science doesn’t know the answer, I return to the question, what on earth makes you think that religion will? Just because science so far has failed to explain something, such as consciousness, to say it follows that the facile, pathetic explanations which religion has produced somehow by default must win the argument is really quite ridiculous. Nobody has an explanation for consciousness. That should be a spur to work harder and try to understand it. Not to give up and just say, “Oh well, it must be a soul.” That doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t explain anything. You’ve said absolutely nothing when you’ve said that.”
I identify with the dude, and not just because I’m the biggest atheist in South Austin. I identify with him because he is widely reviled for having unpopular ideas that make perfect sense, which of course is something that happens to me every day, albeit, since I’m not a world-famous intellectual, on a somewhat teenier scale.
[For example, feminists tell me that I'm 'hurting the movement' by suggesting that femininity, which has wiped out the autonomy of over half the world's population, is the most powerful WMD ever invented. I'm 'coming on too strong' when I propose that just because a woman makes a choice, it isn't automatically a good choice. I scare off potential recruits when I argue that fashion and marriage and 'girliness' and porn and reproduction (that's right, reproduction) have all got to go. In other words, I propose a social order that is repellent to people for whom gender is everything. And in so doing, I supposedly aid the patriarchy by making feminism appear un-fun.]
Dawkins takes similar heat from his colleagues. For some reason there exist evolutionary biologists who cling, at least publicly, to bogus conceits concerning mystical anthroidesque creators who are obsessed with humans. Some of these disingenuous biologists claim that Dawkins is playing right into the hands of the intelligent design godbags when with his mighty pen he blurs the imaginary but wildly popular line of demarcation between religion and science. For Dawkins, questions like “what is the origin of the universe?” are science. God is a hypothesis for which there is no evidence.
Scientists involved in the debate on behalf of evolution are aware that fundie godbags are only too eager to equate Darwinism with screwy bedeviled atheists, so they (the scientists) wish, for the sake of the argument against intelligent design, that Dawkins would just put a sock in it. But he doesn’t! He doesn’t put a sock in it, praise jaysus!
In fact, although it is a felony in the US not to pretend to worship some sort of superhuman male deity, and atheists in particular are required to ‘respect’ everybody else’s ‘faith’, Dawkins — a Brit who is not constrained by parochial American superstition — comes right out and says what we’re all thinking: that religion is ‘evil’. So when he opines that teaching little kids that God created the universe 6000 years ago is tantamount to child abuse, nutjobs like William Dembski froth at the mouth and send him letters thanking him for making Darwinists look so crazy.
As a spinster aunt who has had it up to here with women who want to make feminism all about the honky middle class joys of ‘choice’, I am entirely down with Dawkins’ response to the accusation that his ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ merely fuels the fire of anti-evolution protest. He views the ‘real war’ not, as so many right-thinking people seem to do, merely as a matter of teaching evolution vs. teaching creationism. He sees the bigger picture.
” [...] because we need to get the mainstream orthodox religious people on our side, we’ve got to concede to them their fundamental belief in God, thereby — in my view — losing the war in order to win the battle for evolution. If you’re prepared to compromise the war for the sake of the battle, then it’s a sensible political strategy.”
For Dawkins, it’s science vs religion. You know. Truth.
Addendum: Dawkins on Bill Moyers Now