Monday 15 April 2013

My reivew of Chapter two of The Dawkins Proof

This part one of two for this chapter.  My friend Patrick disagrees with me about this book and I want him to  have room to place his comments next to this post.  He wanted to comment on my review of chapter one but his comment was too long for Blogger to allow.  He then did his commenting on a Wordpress blog post of mine.  I hope that by breaking up my review of chapter two, he will have room to comment here.

Patrick and I are friends and in no way in a teacher-student relationship, but this is my blog and he is 'just a commenter'.  I worry that there may be an asymmetry in our power here and that may affect the discussion. Still, he has agreed to use this forum.  If a perceived imbalance of power occurs, I hope we find a way to work it out.

Still to come: Part two of chapter two -this is becoming too long and my review are likely to become much shorter.  Review of chapter three (this one is about evolution so I suspect it will be long as well), then a 'tangents' post.  Patrick and I, over the course of our arguments, leave the book behind on occasion and I want a place to keep these digressions without losing focus on the book.

This pattern should continue to the end of the book: three chapter review posts and a tangents post...


This chapter is titled Powerful arguments.

Barns starts by arguing against Dawkins' claim that Christian areas of the US are more violent or have more crime. He feels that the standards Dawkins uses may not show what Dawkins thinks they show. Barns, without defending or offering any counter claims has, for the moment, clouded the issue enough that I cannot rebut him. I do have a copy of The God Delusion and will have to see what else Dawkins said on the subject.

“Oppressed Atheists”
In The God Delusion, Dawkins claimed that atheists in the US are oppressed.  Barns disagrees and offers counter evidence of Christians being persecuted.  His first example is of Dr. Michael Dini, a professor of biology, who required his students to affirm that they supported evolution.
Barns asks, “But what if the origin of human species did involve God?  That idea was ruled out of the question by Dini...”

This is an example of Barns mistaking his version of Christianity for all of Christianity..  Dini himself is a devout Christian.  From the New York Times.
Another student, Brent Lawlis, 21, from Midland, Tex., said he hoped to become an orthopedic surgeon and had had no trouble obtaining a letter of recommendation from Dr. Dini. ''I'm a Christian, but there's too much biological evidence to throw out evolution,'' he said.”
''He's [Dindi] a devout Catholic,'' said Greg Rogers, 36, a pre-med student from Lubbock. ''He's mentioned it in discussion groups.''
Mr. Rogers, who returned to college for a second degree and who said his beliefs aligned with Dr. Dini's, added: ''I believe in God and evolution. I believe that evolution was the tool that brought us about. To deny the theory of evolution is, to me, like denying the law of gravity. In science, a theory is about as close to a fact as you can get.''
Perhaps Barns is worried about scientifically illiterate Christians.  He seems to be defending the perpetuation of ignorance, rather than Christianity itself.

Barns then looks at  Richard Sternberg who published an article favouring the theory of ID.  Even before we dig into the facts of the case, note that ID proponents claim their work is not religious so I am not sure how attacking it is an attack on religion. Barns is probably correct in connecting ID to Creationism; that is, he is not lying but ID proponents are.

Barns repeats Sternberg’s claim that “attempts were made to force him out of his position” as editor of the journal.  And yet, he had already handed in his resignation letter six months ago. See Expelled Exposed.  His actual work in choosing who would review the article is also in question.

I found this comment of Barns interesting. “No doubt Souder is a supporter of ID - he would hardly be pursuing investigation of this issue if he were an opponent.”  I don’t know; I think many people are able to recognize injustice even when it is done by members of one’s own group.

In Wealthy Theists, Barns looks at Dawkins’ discussion of the .“Templeton Prize”
“Yet he never mentions funding awarded to atheists.  The expenditure of the Templeton Foundation is insignificant compared to the vast state of funding given to university scientists.”

After connecting Intelligent design to Creationism, Barns should be careful of discussing the Templeton Foundation.
The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.
"They never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.
"From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said.

Back to Barns and funding for atheists: “According to Dawkins, these scientists are largely atheistic and they are free to use that funding(...) to pursue their science based on an atheistic philosophy.”

First, clearly, funding to universities is not the same as funding for atheists or “atheist philosophy”. Secondly, what precisely is ‘atheist philosophy’? Is there any science that feels required to add “...and with the grace of God,...” to every conclusion?  Newton was famously devout but his equations and laws do not require any action from God for them to work. Atheists and theists alike can use them.  Even Dawkins admits to not being completely an atheist and would agree that no scientific experiment disproves God.  I think he would say, “God is never disproven but neither is he ever required.”

1 comment:

  1. I plan to discuss the link below in a future post. Just saving it here for now.

    Barns often uses the word 'physics' to describe all of science. I guess chemistry is 'applied physics' and some aspects of biology, too. However, the psychology and the study of mind get bogged down in too many variables and the physics model of science really bogs down.