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Dawkins does not understand the debate that has made him rich


So Kurt Wise has said (and Dawkins quotes it in the God Delusion also)

"if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate."

Well obviously!  If that is "what the Word of God seems to indicate" and the Word of God is, well, the Word of God, what other position could Wise take?

Dawkins would love it if the debate were about differing interpretations of the same agreed sources of evidence.  But that would be a debate that assumed the very issues at stake!  If Dawkins wants to debate people who agree that the scientific method is Lord, let him do so.  But that would be an in-house debate within the scientific community and it wouldn't make him anywhere near as much money.

The real debate does not concern differing interpretations of the same data.  It's about what counts as evidence, who says and how can it be verified.

Wise says Jesus is Lord and science is great.  And if there's ever a conflict, Jesus wins.  Well naturally!  If he didn't say that he wouldn't be a Christian.  And if Dawkins can't grasp that, he hasn't understood his opponent, nor the nature of the debate in which he's engaged.

For Dawkins, Science is Lord, end of story.  And in the God Delusion he seeks to prove how very broad minded he is (as opposed to Wise - that disgrace to the human race).  He says that if "all the evidence in the universe" points towards creationism he'd switch sides.

But of course that would be no switch at all.  Even if he believed in six hour creation, it's the basis on which he formed such beliefs that is decisive.  Dawkins might come to believe in a 6000 year old universe and not have budged an inch on the issue that really matters.  Is Jesus Lord or is the scientific method Lord?

The debate is not a simple weighing of already-agreed evidence.  And if Dawkins can't understand that he only proves that he's unqualified to discuss the matter.

0 thoughts on “Dawkins does not understand the debate that has made him rich

  1. chris oldfield

    i'm all for presuppositions, the problem is it can become a way of circumnavigating the debate - the question in hand being what does holy scripture actually say?

    eg i believe in the rapture, because that's what holy scripture says
    I believe in young earth 6 day creationism because that's what holy scripture says
    i believe in old earth creationism because that's what holy scripture says
    i believe in the cultural mandate because that's what holy scripture says
    i believe in the scientific mandate because that's what holy scripture says (thinking of early modern interpretations of "knowledge will increase" in daniel 12)
    i believe in the fall (another word scripture never uses) because that's what holy scripture says...
    i believe in wild beasts like leviathan, & 'thorns and thistles' outside the garden before genesis 3 because that's what holy scripture implies (by job & gen 3v1)...

    and so on. From the last example it's clear that regulative/normative debates would come in here too.

    with the "disgrace to the human species" dawkins is simply trotting out kant's implicit anthropology in his answer to the question 'what is enlightenment' (1784):
    'Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another…The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! [lit. “dare to know”].…Dogmas and formulas, those mechanical instruments for rational use (or rather misuse) of his natural endowments, are the ball and chain of his permanent immaturity'.

    that implicit doctrine of humanity & correlate doctrine of divinity is the problem, as you say, but it would be a little naive to overextend that as if your doctrine of humanity/divinity entails young earth/old earth/creationism as a matter of right. Personally I'd say the contingence and non-necessity of the cosmos (it is neither an emanation of nor essential to God but a gift of his love) means we can't just speculate as to the essence or nature of his creation; we have to go out and explore it. (cf aristotle who said the universe was both eternal and essential & whose paradigm reigned for thousands of years with people trying to figure out the essential nature of eg motion). The classic example being that everyone of course knew that perfect motion was circular, and so the planetary orbits had to be circular because that was the essence of motion. Likewise everyone knew that the universe had no beginning (that's why even aquinas' doctrine of creation is about gift not time, building on aristotle...?) until the 1960s when that assumption just became unsustainable. So there's an (albeit sketchy) attempt at a sketch of a doctrinal mandate for seeking evidence & coming to conclusions based on evidence not assumption (NB1: that's not natural theology; NB2: that's not because science is lord, but because jesus is lord, and creation isnt)

  2. chris oldfield

    to bring a more <a href=""suspicious tone, perhaps we could rephrase those "i believe..." examples by "i will believe..." showing that these are in part an assertion of will, and not merely arguments of reason/humility from what's given (in scripture)

    then we might say
    "you will believe [in eg the rapture] not so much because of some 'pure' no-creed but the bible reading; but because of various social conditions to which you are inclined by social stability and of which you are perhaps not as aware as you ought to be."

    it strikes me that a humble locating of ourselves in adam would be able to admit that, and locate our faith in christ.

    - we are located in at least two ways: in creation (we are finite), in sin (we are frauds) and in salvation (we are found). Our creaturely located-ness means that being wrong is not always a sin: we may simply be mistaken about eg what exactly there is outside the garden, by virtue of not having been outside the garden... to extend the analogy, we may will or be inclined to believe things which aren't exactly right because of our embeddedeness in various traditions & social ways of life.

    our located-ness in sin means that we will or are inclined to distort and twist the truth prevalent in God's world and his word. In point of historical fact, these first two considerations led the early moderns eg Francis Bacon to develop the 'scientific method' explicitly in conversation with and out of the fact of human and individual fallibility since the fall.

    Our located-ness in salvation means that we are found and saved by the truth, beauty & goodness of which we are not the incarnation (we are inclined towards the false, ugly & bad)

  3. Glen

    Hi Chris,

    Good link to Enlightenment anthropology. An enlightenment fundamentalist is forced to consider those who are "guided by another" as sub-human. Just part and parcel of the whole myth of progress I suppose - the immature must be left behind to perish. But again, for Dawkins to spout Enlightenment propaganda as his argument is precisely to miss the point that such assumptions are the very subject of the debate.

    As for creationism issues - I think they are secondary to the main point of the post. I realize it's a big assumption to say:

    "If that is what the Word of God seems to indicate"

    but *if* it is, then the rest of the post follows. But we could as well be talking about the resurrection of Christ. That really is an indisputable biblical assertion against which all of science says otherwise. That's a much more clear cut example of "Jesus is Lord" trumping "the Scientific Method is Lord", but Dawkins used creationism...

  4. John B

    The cover story on the new Christianity Today is "The Search for the Historical Adam". Unlike with creationism, in this case "an indisputable biblical assertion" comes up against clear scientific evidence to the contrary.

    Unlike the age of the earth, Adam's existence is a fact of central importance in the history of redemption. Theologians and scientists need to consider each others perspectives in view of their own disciplines. The kind of arrogance that Dawkins displays here won't help to foster understanding, any more than will a biblical fundamentalism that regards scientific evidence as inadmissible to the discussion, from the outset.

  5. The Orange Mailman

    And the world applauds Dawkins. Ugggh!

    That's okay. One day Christ will make all of this right. Every detail about how it all went down will be made known.

    Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

  6. Pingback: Church Dogmatics – 1.1 The Doctrine of the Word of God – Pt. 1 « Karl Barth X Hong Kong

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