Dawkins: A Response

Submitted February 2016

In logic class, we watched Dawkins’ “The Problem with Religion” and answered the following questions on an online forum: Is the accusation fair? Is the logical argument sound (why/why not)? This was one of the first assignments, so I didn’t talk much about the logic.

Dawkins’ primary argument in this clip is that children are provided with an indoctrinated in a faith or worldview, answering the questions of why we are here, why we were born, and where we came from, without allowing them to ask these questions for themselves. He claims that faith, unsupported by evidence, is a dangerous weapon, and insinuates that Christianity was invented a mere 2000 years ago based on pure folly.

While I agree that faith without evidence can be dangerous, Dawkins here makes the assumption that any faith in God, in a religious setting, must be without evidence. Both theistic and non-theistic worldviews have the evidence of observations of the world around, leading to a faith or belief in how that came to be so. Some beliefs perhaps have more evidence than others, but I imagine it is pretty hard to believe something with absolutely no evidence for it at all. I could write a lot more about different sorts of evidence and the nature of conclusions and beliefs drawn from that evidence, but our lecturer has warned me sternly about going over the world limit (too much).

People, including children, naturally and necessarily ask questions about origin and purpose because they are raised by the world around them and their presence in it. When children voice these questions, their parents and others around them give answers; or perhaps they teach the children without being asked specifically. The answers vary, of course, based on what the person answering has seen, has understood, has read, and therefore believes.

It seems to me that Dawkins’ problem is not that the questions are being suppressed, nor even that they’re being answered, but that they’re being answered in a way which does not line up to his own beliefs – indeed, his own “faith”.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Dawkins: A Response

  1. Kevin says:

    “It seems to me that Dawkins’ problem is not that the questions are being suppressed, nor even that they’re being answered, but that they’re being answered in a way which does not line up to his own beliefs – indeed, his own “faith”.”

    That is a common criticism of Dawkin’s work. However, calling Dawkin’s beliefs a ‘faith’ is quite an easy answer to this whole complicated topic.

    I’m not a huge Dawkins fan, he’s overly agressive and makes a fundamental mistake by assuming that rationale argument can change people’s minds.

    If you try boil it down to a simple question, do people believe what they believe because of evidence, or because of what their parents/community showed them. In almost all cases, religion is decided by where you were born, not by an outside factor.

    Born to a christian family, you’ll be christian, born to hindu family, hindu etc…

  2. Rachel says:

    To an extent, yes, although I know people who have been born in practicing Christian families who are now atheists, just as I know people who were born to Hindu and Buddhist families (and, indeed, atheist ones) who are now Christian.

    Like I said in my response, most (if not all) believe systems/religions are based, at least to some extent, on evidence – it’s a difference in how that evidence is interpreted. We believe because of the evidence, but *what* we believe is very often determined by outside influences such as parents, teachers, friends and the wider community.

    Of course, I’m not convinced that much of Dawkins’ arguments are rational, either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s