Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Atheism and Agnosticism

Is there a difference? Well, I think there is. Both words may both mean the “disbelief or denial of the existence of God or gods” but atheism is a lot harsher, nay even fundamentalist.

Bush once said that American atheists should not even be considered as “citizens” of that country. Few other groups – bar terrorists – are regarded so poorly. In short, atheism is a dirty word. Little wonder then that many skeptics prefer to be called agnostic!

Richard Dawkins is one of the most famous atheists around today. His book “The God Delusion” makes a very strong case for atheism. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be wrong. And that’s why I think his rather uncompromising and rigid viewpoints can be rather nauseating at times.

What Dawkins forgets is that many scientists get it wrong – or at least they don’t get it all right.

Take Sir Isaac Newton for example. Probably the most famous scientist that has ever lived and a genius for coming up with a set of basic laws that could explain the motion of objects.

But are Newton’s laws always valid?

Well, actually not. Because while his laws do apply in the real world they don’t work in the world of atomic physics – something that Newton could not have foreseen but a fact which just goes to show that even the greatest of scientists are not always right. They can’t see beyond their time. And as we now know, we need to use quantum theory to explain motion at the atomic level – Newton’s laws of motion simply do not hold true.

In a similar way, perhaps Dawkins has got it wrong. Or perhaps not completely right. Who can say what other things we will discover in say the next 100 years (or what about the next 500 years or even 1,000 years?)

We may not be as clever as we think – and for us to understand the laws of the universe with our present knowledge might be like expecting a chimp to understand the workings of a combustion engine.

The other thing I don’t like about Dawkins is his stance on evolution. Does he really expect us to believe that life can be so easily explained by evolution? He doesn’t say why things happen but just gives a description of how he believes evolution took place. But does Dawkins really believe that humans are just another species of animal on earth? If he is right, then why aren’t there other creatures on Earth that come even remotely close to having the intelligence of humans? I mean if you look at the thousands and thousands of species of animal on earth today, there is only one that really stands out as being uniquely different. And it isn’t some fucking animal in Africa is it?

Note: post written while under the influence of Chivas Regal

1 comments:

Samuel Skinner said...

"Bush once said that American atheists should not even be considered as “citizens” of that country. "

Two things- that was Bush Sr. and that the quote might not have occurred. It isn't well backed.

"Few other groups – bar terrorists – are regarded so poorly. "

Terrorists can get married- gays can't. And unlike gays, terrorists can breed.

"In a similar way, perhaps Dawkins has got it wrong. Or perhaps not completely right. Who can say what other things we will discover in say the next 100 years (or what about the next 500 years or even 1,000 years?)"

The problem is your example holds true only because the fundamental forces have different values and power, so the ones that have the most effect are different depending on scale. God would be macro-scale and so we can deal with it.

"We may not be as clever as we think – and for us to understand the laws of the universe with our present knowledge might be like expecting a chimp to understand the workings of a combustion engine."

Our knowledge is pretty God- we can go back to the Big Bang and make explosions hotter than the hearts of stars.

"The other thing I don’t like about Dawkins is his stance on evolution. Does he really expect us to believe that life can be so easily explained by evolution?"

Yes. Just like the motion of the planets is explained by gravity.

"He doesn’t say why things happen"

Welcome to science.

"But does Dawkins really believe that humans are just another species of animal on earth?"

Yes. We use DNA just like everyone else.

"If he is right, then why aren’t there other creatures on Earth that come even remotely close to having the intelligence of humans?"

They do/intelligence is an expensive trait. It is like asking why they aren't so many bipeds- the pay off is occasionally good, but the costs are huge.

"I mean if you look at the thousands and thousands of species of animal on earth today, there is only one that really stands out as being uniquely different. And it isn’t some fucking animal in Africa is it?"

Correct- it is the naked mole rat.