Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world

DARWIN, DAWKINS AND DOUBT

The motto of The Royal Artillery when I served was ‘Ubique’ and Professor Dawkins is a bit the same. I read a review of a D-Book on Saturday and then an interview that appeared on Twitter. (A year ago I even bought a D-Book.) The interview showed that there is far more to him than just atheism and I was pleased to learn it. What bugs me is how somebody can be so vehement about creationism, which seems to me rather a non-issue. So I asked myself what harm does creationism do anybody? I mean, we don’t get up-tight about flat-earthers or people who believe the sun goes round the earth.

The best I can come up with is that creationism destroys the critical capacity. But other ‘isms do much the same. Communism is an example, and so are racism and nationalism. Ideals are made into forces for good or evil by humans. So long as we exist we will be creating that divide. Each new scientific discovery will be subject to that same law. So why so much anger about creationism?

Perhaps because adherents of creationism often hold extreme religious views. The question then is, “Does religion do any harm?” The answer has to be “Yes”. There are a great many obvious examples. But it has also had many good results. What a man chooses to believe, and what he does on account of that belief determines the good/bad classification. The action of “Believing” is neutral and has some similarity to those scientific discoveries that have come about by accident. A philosopher or prophet or spin doctor has had a vision, and it has then been developed into a belief and propagated. Along the line, good and bad uses have been perceived. The vision was neutral. The good/evil dimension is added by man. Science gave us atomic power and the bomb and cheaper electricity.

Some of the things that have come about because of believing are an enrichment of human life. A thing not scientifically true can still affect us for good. Our literature is full of stories that could not possibly have happened but that still inspire us. Be modern and think of Frodo Baggins – a being who struggled on against terrible difficulties in the hope of completing a task he had accepted. Many biblical stories are an inspirational guide for right living. Read great poetry. Listen to great music. If something ‘unreal’ can give us joy and improve the way we live then surely we should value it. I don’t think science gave us love.

But perhaps that argument is outweighed by the claim that religion is untrue and that to tolerate religion is the same as deceiving people? Our scientific generation accepts that the biblical creation story is an allegory. We think that Darwin got it right. But we have so far failed to prove that God (or a purposeful force) does not exist. So eradicating religion (If that were possible) might be premature.

I can’t see that belief, as a force influencing humans, has any inherent bias towards evil. It is neutral, as are scientific discoveries. So if belief is not inherently harmful, I can’t condemn it. Nor can I condemn it because of proven UNREALITY. (If I knew what REALITY was.) But I might become so convinced of the infallibility of the scientific method that I reached the position of saying, “If it’s not science, then it must be wrong.” That would be making enemies of Belief and Science. I would rather regard them both as provisors of INPUT to humanity, and both subject to evaluation.

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