Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Dawkins' ranters, please shut up.

Here is a handy instant reply you can link to next time some anti-theist ranter tries to drag the level of  online debate on the subjects of religion, ethics or science down to their own pathetic level by invoking "sky pixies" or "spaghetti monsters", or spouting intolerant bile about how religiously afflicted people are "delusional" and should be openly discriminated against.

The abridged works of Richard Dawkins.

Oh God no, not another reference to Dawkins. The man is a noted evolutionary biologist, but as a philosopher and a human he is quite lame. I respect his passion for science and reason, but faith in the non-existence of God is crazy stuff. Any scientist will tell you that abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence. Militant atheism and anti-theism are fundamentalist positions, while open minded agnosticism is a much more reasoned and pragmatic stance. Personally I prefer something a little more philosophical, an ignostic stance. I question the entire basis of the "does God exist?" debate that has earned this unremarkable upper class fellow his millions of pounds in royalties and hundreds of thousands of witless devotees. Put simply, if the term "God" is not properly defined the whole question is meaningless.

To an atheist or anti-theist "does god exist?" holds no meaning at all, reduce it down and it reads as "does something that doesn't exist, exist?" To a devout follower of perscriptive religion on the other hand it can be reduced to "does the most important and fundamental thing in the universe exist?" again pretty meaningless, since the answer is in the question. The question "does God exist?" is silly, a much better set of questions are, "if God does exist, what is it? why is it invisible? and why are humans so inclined to believe in it?" Plenty of answers to these questions can formulated from the very frontiers of science (quantum physics and the huge cosmological problems of dark energy and dark matter) and in areas that in my opinion transcend science entirely (such as love, art, imagination and ethics). Whether contemplation of these questions is worthwhile is debatable, though surely preferable to arguments about the answer to a meaningless question.

I hate the sad reactionary twerps that worship Dawkins and like him, hold a mystical faith that science can and will eventually explain everything. I hate them because they belittle the few good theological points Dawkins ever managed to make by blathering all over any open comment internet based religion/ethics/science article with their witless rants about "sky pixies" and "spaghetti monsters", as if they are actually adding anything coherent to the conversation by invoking these absurd words from the scripture of Dawkins. Even worse are the grossly intolerant comments that "religious people are all delusional", "they should all be locked up/prevented from voting/killed" for their crimes of cognitive non-conformity. This idea that people must be punished if they do not think in the same "rational" way and the claiming of the rational high ground to encourage the persecution of others, is a dangerously totalitarian stance.


Dawkins have every reason to resent religion,
non-conformist religions such as Quakerism and
Methodism were instrumental in the abolition of slavery, an
industry that made his forefathers spectacularly rich. Dawkins
 ancestors were amongst the small Tory minority that voted against
 the abolition of slavery in order to protect their own financial
 interests. Dawkins would have been born much richer, had
religious organisations been less influential in the 19th Century.
Many of these shouty Dawkins inspired fools have simply transferred their natural human "faith tendency" from old school perscriptive ethics to new school greed-is-good, ideology-dressed-up-as-science, neoliberal consumerism. Many of them are complete idiots that can't even properly understand the massive difference in conceptual content between the sociological effects of organised religion and the existence or not of an unintelligably superior intelligence.

Science cannot ever explain everything, it is against the very conceptual framework of science to adopt a belief that is undeniably true, every assertion must be up for scrutiny. Quantum indeterminacy dictates that nothing is ever absolutely certain, nothing is perfectly measurable. There is no perfect scientific answer and that is the beauty of it. For every wonderful thing that science reveals, it poses countless new questions.

Science is a spectacularly wonderful methodology for exploring and explaining the physical universe, but it is not a faith system and a complete conceptual substitute for the perscriptive ethical conformity of mass religion. The application of science without ethics or proper scientific scrutiny (such as unbiased peer review) has resulted in the grotesquely unfair and unsustainable neoliberal expansionist model of economics, where the greed of the few rules supreme over the needs of the many and the long term potential of the human species and the planet we inhabit is sacrificed to turn a short term profit for the few. 


Neoliberalism as an ideology is a fundamentally corrupt and pseudo-scientific construct, complete with it's own faith based dogma and mantras (the invisible hand, freedom of the markets, private sector is always more competitive than the state, the trickle down effect...) yet Dawkins' ranters seem reluctant to aim their criticism at the amoral neoliberal church of mamon, preferring instead to aim their unfocussed bile at the much more tangible and visible ideologies of mass religious indoctrination.

My God, what a ridiculously long comment, I should write a book or two full of this drivel and rake in the millions like Dawkins has.


Postscript. What I have written here was originally posted on a friend's Facebook status, several people responded to say that I should actually write such a book and that they would read it because my arguments are more coherent than Dawkins and my prose far superior. Not bad considering what I wrote was just a pissed, spur of the moment, four o'clock in the morning philosophical ramble about some of my views on the boringness of Dawkins' ever growing hoard of tedious reactionary anti-theists and their utterly feeble synthetic arguments like "God doesn't exist because organised religion is crap". If these people can't even master Dawkins own dumbed down (and often philosophically inconsistent) arguments and just mouth off angry, incoherent and reactionary "religion is evil" themed drivel, there really appears to be no hope for them. And little hope for humanity either, if this kind of idiot really does consider himself to be the very pinnace of rational sentience.
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