I almost feel sorry for Richard Dawkins

Almost.  He is being rightly criticized by atheists and believers for dodging a debate with William Lane Craig.  His latest excuse is the Craig is pro-genocide, and he just can’t bring himself to debate someone of such low character (ignoring the fact that Dawkins’ worldview can’t explain why genocide would be wrong — you know, survival of the fittest and all that).

See Uncommon Descent | Dawkins for Prime Minister!

Richard Dawkins tells us that we should allow our thinking to be based solely on rational facts.

I’m all for rational thinking, but Dawkins should be reminded that his worldview says we are selected for survival, not truth.  He has no reason to trust his rationality.

If, on the other hand, you let a little emotion in, then this link might lead you to feel a bit of pity for the famed misotheist: http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/10/richard-dawkins-for-prime-minister/

It’s a model demolition job, on the ex-prof’s latest excuses.

Dawkins apparently still has a loyal fan-base who believe that their master is  a serious philosopher. Seeing a live conversation with an actual philosopher would be a bit of a shattering experience for many of those fans. So Dawkins has to keep coming up with the excuses to maintain their loyalty.

It’s a bit pathetic really – all the public efforts to explain why he won’t publicly debate Lane Craig are in themselves a public debate. They are the handing of publicity to the one that Dawkins claims he refuses to hand publicity to. The pretence is hypocritical. If Lane Craig isn’t worth spending time on, then why is Dawkins spending so much time on him? If he’s unworthy to notice, why spend time writing for the Guardian’s readership about him?

I almost feel sorry for his fans, too.  That must be a huge letdown for them.

Does more education lead to more atheism?

No, but it may lead to more nominal faith instead of authentic faith.  See via The Myth of Atheism and Higher Education « Wide as the Waters.

One meme that frequently makes the rounds on New Atheist blogs is the supposed connection between atheism and educational attainment. So the story goes, the more education one has, the more likely one is to be an atheist. They point to the number of scientists that are atheists and the fact that more developed countries tend to be more secular. They rely heavily on polls and vague correlations in advancing this argument. Of course, they ignore the religious history of such countries and the educational institutions in which those scientists reside, but New Atheists aren’t ones to let facts stand in the way of a good meme.

More thoughtful and objective observers though find much to question about such claims. Obviously, some of the most intelligent countries in the world have some of the most religious populations (US and Italy come to mind) and some of the most atheistic ones (like Estonia and Latvia) have measurably lower IQs than the more religious countries like Poland and South Korea. So there is much for the truly skeptical observer to question about the blind assertions of New Atheists; and a recent study makes their claims even less tenable.

Indeed in a recent study sociologist Phillip Schwadel found that contrary such claims by the New Atheists, the more education one has in the US, the more religious one becomes. Utilizing the General Social Survey, which has been collecting data reglarly since 1972. His found that with each additional year of education:

– The likelihood of attending religious services increased 15%.

– The likelihood of reading the Bible at least occasionally increased by 9%.

– The likelihood of switching to a mainline Protestant denomination – Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian USA or United Methodist – increased by 13%.

Now the most conservative Christians won’t find much here to crow about either. In fact, it seems to affirm the belief many have that Christians often trade the power of their faith for the form of it; that is over time people tend to become institutional or nominal Christians rather than devoted ones.

My advice: Think carefully about your worldview.  If you claim the name of Christ, make sure you understand what that really means and take it seriously.

1 Corinthians 3:19-21 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”  So let no one boast in men.

Superstition and religion

A common dig used by New Atheists against religious people (mainly Christians, of course) is that we are superstitious and naive.  But here’s an interesting finding: As traditional religion declines, superstition rises?

“That’s roughly a four-fold increase in belief in ghosts and astrology, and a doubling of belief in tarot. Interesting, given that Richard Dawkins and other atheists think they are driving superstition away along with religious belief (they see the two as the same category, of course, which they are not).”

. . .

The US data in particular disconfirm skepticTM Michael Shermer’s claims altogether.

Many sources would point out that superstitions are often survivals of inchoate early religions, thus not likely to be welcomed by an ethical monotheist one.

But then new atheists may be more likely than other people to believe in space aliens.

But how can that be, when the “brights” have had a monopoly on education, politics and media for a century or so?

As a Christian, I scoff at superstitions.  I leave those to non-believers.

Interview with atheist PZ Myers: Pure self-parody

See Evolution News & Views: New Atheist Atheology for Michael Egnor’s interview with and commentary about New Atheist PZ Myers.  As the Wintry Knight noted,

First, I should say that if you don’t know who P.Z. Myers is, you should know that he is an incredibly arrogant and vulgar internet atheist. He is very popular on the Internet with atheists because of his foaming-at-the-mouth, howling-at-the-moon ranting against intelligent design, theism in general and Christianity in particular.

Anyway, Myers is interviewed by Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon and professor of pediatrics, who appeared in the movie “Expelled”. He asks P.Z. Myers questions about the New Atheism, then comments on Myers’ answers.

Here’s a sample:

7) Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an artifact of nature (natural selection, etc.)

Myers’ answer: It doesn’t.  

My answer: Of course objective Moral Law exists. It exists in itself, and we all know that it does. The risible New Atheist assertion that the Moral Law is merely a product of evolution, like earwax, is so far removed from genuine insight that it’s difficult to satirize, let alone defend. Moral Law doesn’t exist? Then why is Richard Dawkins suing fellow New Atheist Josh Timonen — who ran Dawkins’ online store — for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars? If Moral Law isn’t an objective reality, what right has Dawkins to sue Timonen for merely struggling to survive? If Moral Law is merely an opinion, how can one man’s moral opinion (“it’s ok for me to take Richard Dawkins’ money”) be objectively wrong whereas another man’s opinion (“it’s right for me — Richard Dawkins — to keep my own money”) is objectively right? If the Moral Law doesn’t exist in itself, then all moral opinions are subjective and relative (that’s what “doesn’t exist in itself” means). Torturing babies? Carrying out the Final Solution for a pesky religious group? I think it’s wrong, but who am I to say what’s right for you?

To assert that it’s wrong or right for someone else to do anything is to assert that Moral Law has objective existence independent of individual men. To assert the moral rightness of Moral Relativism is to deny Moral Relativism.

The classical theist understanding of Moral Law is that it is an aspect of Natural Law, which is the manifestation of Divine Law in the natural world. Men have natural ends; human life is teleological. Our natural end is to know and love God, and obedience to Moral Law is part of the path to that end.

New Atheist denial of the objective existence of Moral Law is incoherent self-contradictory gibberish. If you want to know whether P.Z. Myers thinks that Moral Law has objective existence, steal something from him.

Myers can’t go three sentences without making a moral claim, but he denies objective morality.  His whole worldview is a farce.  If he really believed it then he’d “know” that Christians have no choice but to say and act as we do.  After all, if the universe is purely materialistic then the molecules in motion would be the cause of everything.  Nothing immaterial could exist.

Myers is a Romans 1 poster boy (and 1 Corinthians 3 as well).

Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

1 Corinthians 3:19–21 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men.

The conclusion of the link is nice:

New Atheism is an intellectual and moral vacuum. It’s all sneer, mockery, self-contradiction, and juvenilia. New Atheists aren’t defenders of “science and reason.” The inverse is true. They misrepresent science and reason for ideological ends. New Atheists have no answers to the fundamental questions of man. They don’t even have coherent attempts to answer the questions. They don’t understand the profound insights of classical theism. Most New Atheists don’t even understand the questions. And their nihilistic atheist superstition denies even the most basic imperatives of Moral Law.

This is the reason for the raging clash between atheists who are accomodationists and atheists who are confrontationalists. The accomodationists are just as clueless metaphysically, but they know a “framing” nightmare when they see it. Nihilistic Luddites like Myers and Dawkins and Coyne are exposing New Atheism for the intellectual fraud that it is.

Not that I have any problem with that.