It’s been far too long since the last post. And when I saw that Time Magazine (its cover reads: “God vs. Science”) was weighing in in the debate that was sparked, primarily, by Richard Dawkins’ newest book The God Delusion, I knew it was well past time for us to join in the discussion. Morgan, I know you are currently making your way through the book, and I will have to rely on your knowledge here, as law school has left me with little time for leisure reading. My understanding of Dawkins’ book comes entirely from reviews and commentary, so I leave it to those of you who have read or are reading the book to correct my errors.

Wired’s cover story (“The New Atheism”) is a nice starting point for anyone interested in the debate.

First, let me make clear the fact that I do not defend creationist science, or for that matter, any other religious doctrine that comes under the aegis of “science.” I think Dawkins, Gould, Darwin, and others have rightly corrected (many people’s) erroneous beliefs about the natural world. Religion should not encroach upon science’s dominion.

But Dawkin’s book, from what I gather, is not about the natural world. It is, rather, a treatise against religion. In my opinion, just as religion should leave science alone, science or “reason” should leave religion alone.

Sure, there’s a fascinating and undoubtedly massive literature on the psychology of religious belief. And I don’t think it’s inappropriate to study religion from a scientific perspective. But, as I understand, this is not what Mr. Dawkins is doing. He is critiquing religious belief wholesale, and not merely studying it as a curious scientist.

Dawkins’ work may or may not spend time studying the psychology of belief. To the extent he does this, he is acting appropriately in his role as a scientist. But to the extent his work comes to normative conclusions (one of his gems: drawing an analogy to the gay rights movement, that more atheists should “come out” and, oddly, drawing an analogy to the evangelical movement, “spread” their cause), it is bad science, and as such a blemish on an otherwise stellar career.

Those are my initial thoughts. I will, of course, read the book when I have the time. For now, I’d like to get some feedback: am I way off-base? Is Dawkins onto something here?

Daniel Corbett

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