The Dawkins Bell Curve

I noticed that Prof. Dawkins has provoked more than the usual number of responses after writing an article in the Times. Some people are exasperated that he’s used the Haiti situation as an opportunity to again fly his flag, yet others are remarking that the scientist has, this time, gone slightly too far. His repeated rants on the non-existence of a God who does not exist are slipping into the worst kind of fundamentalism, thereby eroding his respect amongst even those who agree with him intellectually.

Maybe that’s one of the more subtle laws of mental health: that those who fervently and repeatedly argue against something, with their consciousness firmly stuck on their own educated opinions as justification, do ever so gradually slip from a position of rational balance to something ever so slightly irrational. Fixation on the foibles of others inevitably causes the very same characteristics to be reproduced within oneself.

The prolonged intensity of their self-reference and pugilistic argumentation produces a bell-curve of mental stability and, with it, public acclaim followed by irritation. First comes the upward slope: people are listening. Then comes the curve: some people are shaking their heads and others are doubting. Then comes the downward slope: people are inattentive, others are nervously fidgeting, still others are looking for a new intellectual champion.

Dawkins is good at knocking over straw men. And some of the lighter weight Christian theologians – without a really solid philosophical substance – can be blown over by a gentle breeze. But Dawkins has very little to say that’s a real challenge to heavier theologians and weightier philosophers. He is good at presenting popular science; science simplified for the general public. And because the public generally think that ‘science’ is the topmost discipline in the intellectual hierarchy, they have been given to understand by Dawkins and his fellows that science can explain everything and, as such, philosophy should be always subject to the scrutiny of science; that science presents ‘truth’ whereas philosophy presents ‘thought.’

But philosophy – and particularly theology – does not agree with that basic premise, and when Dawkins steps into the ring with thinkers every bit as intelligent as him, but who do not share his convictions, his own status and lack of objectivity becomes gradually apparent. We watch and wait.



Filed under Journal

4 responses to “The Dawkins Bell Curve

  1. David Mc Laughlan

    Well done Kripamoya Das! The playground bully always picks on the weaker kids. Its a shame that the public are not aware of the counter arguments.

  2. DavidC

    Just now my eye caught a newspaper caption regarding a TV programme. It was the second time that I’ve been struck by this phrase used by the media recently, which has prompted me to write here in relation to your article above, although it could equally apply to your blog on Faith Schools, since the issue – taking a secular/scientific viewpoint and/or having an implicit, unacknowledged bias – applies equally there too.

    The phrase was: “The Mayans believe[d that]…”

    Similarly, I’d read previously, but had only now locked onto, an article noting that Religious Education was going to be expanded to cover ‘minority’ religions, and commenting on one such example religion that “Zoroastrians believe…”

    Contrast this with:

    “Scientists say…”

    “A recent study has shown…”

    As someone who was brought up with a scientific training, I know that the scientific method itself – by its definition – cannot PROVE anything. Scientific THEORIES can only ever be PROPOSED, followed by further confirmations – or contradictions. The latter results in either a modification of the theory, or a proposal of an alternative. (This topic is very well covered in one of the essays in the recently published “Vedas” book by the BBT)

    Scientists, therefore, can actually neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. They can only speculate – and their conclusions are (literally – and ironically) BELIEFS.

    So before Mr Dawkins mocks, or the media knowingly (or otherwise) belittle what religions may “believe,” perhaps they – and others – might care to take a look at what religions “SAY” – and what academic results seem to “SHOW.”

  3. DavidC

    Time to accept that atheism, not god, is odd

    IF YOU’RE one of those committed atheists in the Richard Dawkins mould who dreams of ridding the world of religious mumbo-jumbo, prepare yourself for a disappointment: there is no good evidence that education leads to secularisation.

    In fact, the more we learn about the “god instinct” and the refusal of religion to fade away under the onslaught of progress, the more the non-religious mindset looks like the odd man out.

    – New Scientist editorial, 03 March 2010
    ( )

    Meanwhile, in 2010 the scientists tell us:

    “Several strands of theoretical physics – quantum mechanics, string theory and cosmic inflation – seem to converge on the idea that our universe is only one among an infinite and ever-growing assemblage of disconnected bubble universes.”
    ( )

    This is old news for devotees! –

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