Friday, February 03, 2006

Interview with Richard Dawkins

Q: "Still, so many people resist believing in evolution. Where does the resistance come from?

Richard Dawkins: "It comes, I'm sorry to say, from religion. And from bad religion. You won't find any opposition to the idea of evolution among sophisticated, educated theologians. It comes from an exceedingly retarded, primitive version of religion, which unfortunately is at present undergoing an epidemic in the United States. Not in Europe, not in Britain, but in the United States."

See the complete interview here.


diehard said...

These are the people that control the Republican party today.
Nixon, Reagen and Bush 1 were at least wise enough to keep them at arms length.
But the person that lives in the Whitehouse[I can't bear to call him President] Thinks that Good Lord was behind his election or a ---- appointment to the Presidency!
That God speaks to him.
This so-called Democrats that voted for him, and you know who you are, you are finding out it does matter who the President is !!
Not only will choice be overturned but also rulings that affect the envoirment, Labor, etc.

Saul Thomas said...

Several years ago Richard Lewontin wrote an interesting review of a Carl Sagan book in the New York Review of Books. Sagan's book, "The Demon Haunted World," was an attack on all forms of superstition, from theism to belief in UFO's, and a plea for people to accept the scientific mode of thought. While Lewontin agreed with Sagan that science offers the best explanations for understanding the world and universe around us, he did not think that we should attribute other people's superstitious beliefs to mere ignorance. Instead, he argued that "historical, regional, and class differences in culture" leads people to come to understandings about the world.

People embattled by all sorts of economic, social, and political forces in some cases turn to communal institutions centered around religion for some solace. And this solace isn't just illusory--people are able to build real, solid, important and lasting social bonds through religious communities.

Religion is not the only institution through which people can form these communal ties, but, for various social and historical reasons that vary from region to region and locale to locale, many people do form these ties around religion. Surely, not everything that comes out of every instance of these communal ties is good, but it also seems clear that the people who participate in them do seem to get something of real social value out of them.

What I'm suggesting is that arguments about evolution are not just about enlightened science vs. benighted religious ignorance. In fact, we might even say that arguments about evolution might not for the most part be "about" evolution at all. Instead, these arguments seem to be about how communities are constituted within a turbulent world, and how people construct their identities within these communities. These are things that can't easily be changed by appealing to arguments and statements that for us seem incontrovertible, but to others might have different meanings and implications.

I'm also not saying that everyone has his or her own beliefs and we should each leave everyone else be. And I'm certainly not defending Bush or any part of his agenda. Rather, I'm saying that in order to understand and attempt to change other people's beliefs, we need to try to understand the social, historical, and class forces that lead people to adhere to these beliefs. We can't just abolish religion without understanding and addressing the social forces that cause people to organize their communities around it in the first place.

Lewontin's (long) essay is here:

He only devotes a couple of paragraphs to the issues I mention here. Elsewhere in the essay he briefly criticizes Dawkins' views on evolution.